The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly called the Hare Krishna movement, founded by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is embroiled in yet another scandal concerning the sexual abuse of hundreds of children at its schools in the movement’s Myapur headquarters, located in West Bengal, India.

Historically, ISKCON in the United States was sought refuge in bankruptcy after a class action lawsuit was filed against it by adult children of its devotees that had been sexually abused as minor children within its ashram communities and schools. The matter was then settled through bankruptcy court.

Mayapur, ISCON headquarters

In October, ISKCON’s Child Protection Office (CPO) released a damning report regarding the abuse perpetrated by the ex-headmaster of the school, Anirdesya Vapu (aka Alan Ross Wexler), formerly known as Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami (BVPS).

Excerpted quotations from the CPO report as follows:

“This decision pertains to new allegations that between 2005 and 2010 BVPS perpetrated the sexual abuse, (sexual) harassment and psychological abuse of a minor.”

“This panel recommends the GBC examine the culture of enabling child abusers that is prevalent amongst some senior ISKCON leadership and management. BVPS had previous CPO restrictions that prohibited him from managing schools, yet he was allowed to continue doing so, either directly at the girls’ school, or indirectly at the boys’ school via his proxies and disciples.”

“Despite there being at least two previous CPO cases highlighting BVPS’ abusive/harmful behavior, other sannyasis, gurus, senior devotees, and yatras, continued to support, protect, and defend him, as well as give him a high-profile. For example, his senior godbrothers invited him to their temples, encouraged their disciples to send their children to his school, disregarding serious complaints of abuse dating back to the 1990s, and visibly supported him and his schools by visiting them.”

“The support and endorsement that BVPS received from his seniors and peers enabled him to become the child abuser with the longest span of activity in the history of ISKCON. Their public support of him was in essence a seal-of-approval of BVPS. There is a need for a massive culture shift amongst senior leaders in ISKCON aimed at preventing and discouraging further abuse of children.”

“ISKCON needs to stop defending known child abusers because of ‘how much service they have done.’ The panel believes that if ISKCON’s senior leadership had been more mindful of, and prioritized child protection, BVPS would not have been able to continue abusing children for so many years and the lives of many children would have been spared the unnecessary abuse he perpetrated.”

BVPS/Anirdesya Vapu (aka Alan Ross Wexler) has now been stripped of his sannyasa status and exiled from Mayapur. But as of yet, no criminal charges have been brought against him. But before the dust settled, one of the former students, Vedasara, now an adult and leader in ISKCON Atlanta, reported horrific levels of abuse of young children by the former Swami, other students and teaching staff.

The report sent shock waves through the Hare Krishna movement. But ISKCON leaders seem to be conspicuously quiet, perhaps under legal advice. They haven’t even revealed the outcomes of an investigation that they commissioned about the movement’s schools in India — a report that was submitted to them some time ago.

ISKCON leaders are being criticized by the Society’s members for not doing enough to keep the movement’s children safe –- in fact, turning a blind eye for decades whilst this monster wreaked havoc in so many young lives. Red flags were everywhere. His abuse of children was an open secret. There were three CPO investigations.

Certain leaders, known to be friendly associates of BVPS, have released messages trying to distance themselves. But many of their disciples are not buying this. There is a massive crisis of faith. Many previously faithful disciples are now openly challenging their gurus.

Another leader embroiled in scandal

Most recently, yet another ISKCON leader is embroiled in scandal. Lokanath Swami has initiated a defamation lawsuit against two whistle blowers that have raised awareness of all of this and its mishandling over the last 30 years.


In 1990, whilst staying in a family home in New Jersey recuperating from an injury incurred, he sexually abused an eleven-year-old girl. She reported this to her mother. But the family only shared this with ISKCON’s leaders three years later. The ISKCON did not report this to the New Jersey authorities –- and also dissuaded the family from reporting it, promising that Lokanath would be severely punished. But in the end, they only gave him 2.5 years restrictions on initiating disciples and allowed him to remain a guru. And everything was kept hidden from the general devotee population.

Despite instructing Lokanath to inform prospective disciples of what happened, he stopped doing so and later contested the authenticity of an admission letter.

Details of the matter came to public attention in 1998. But the ISKCON Governing Body Commission (GBC) sought to play down the gravity of the crime. However, details surfaced again in 2010 when the victim, in her thirties, publicly spoke out about the specifics of the crime.

But each time the matter came to public attention, the GBC nevertheless allowed Lokanath to remain in a leading position, most likely because of his high profile status within ISKCON India.

The whistle blowers social media campaign in April 2021 once again brought this matter back into the public consciousness, which apparently increased public pressure.

In May ISKCON leaders publicly promised to give the case to the CPO, which is in line with their espoused policies regarding such matters. However, days later, they secretly withdrew the case and in August announced that they would set up a special designated panel to review the facts and prior handling. This became their preferred approach as opposed to the previous policy of giving the case to the CPO. The panel was composed of five members, two were former CPO Directors, but two others were loyal Lokanath supporters, though that bias was disputed.

It seems like no surprise that this panel concluded that no further action was needed and the GBC considered the matter closed.

The publicly released panel report officially documents the abuse that took place, along with all of the mishandling. The report included a co-authored letter of admission by Lokanath.

The European and North American temples indicated that Lokanath would not be welcomed in their jurisdictions.

Despite widespread circulation of these documents, significant community awareness and the restrictions imposed upon him, Lokanath decided to sue the social media whistle blowers, which now draws more attention to the scandal.

By Brian Birmingham

There is a new development in the child abuse case at the Hare Krishna TKG Academy in Dallas, Texas.

Documents obtained by CultNews reveal that the parents of the abused child did not immediately report the abuse when they were questioned by hospital staff and authorities.

ISKCON’s Child Protection Office did complete a report confirming the abuse, but it is not clear if that written report was copied to Child Protective Services (CPS) in Dallas.

See the official report by ISKCON’s Child Protection Office.

See this detailed narrative compiled by the family of the abused child.

Hare Krishna Devotees

But both parents of the abused child failed to explain what happened when questioned by child protective services and medical personnel. Sadly, they lied to CPS and the hospital staff, in order to protect the school and the Hare Krishna community in Dallas.

Failure to pursue the child abuse may have occurred at multiple levels.

First, and foremost, ISKCON CPO, which was created to protect children, had a responsibility to share their report with the authorities in Texas, and to demand definitive action be taken by the temple in Dallas.

It must be noted that at the end of the ISKCON CPO report it states, “Case was reported to local Dallas child protective services (CPS). No further action was taken by CPS once they determined that Rasakeli was no longer teaching at TKG Academy, and Ramananda was no longer under Rasakeli’s care.”

But what does “case reported” mean?

CultNews cannot confirm that ISKCON’s final report was sent directly to CPS.

Someone may have reported something to CPS, but Dallas CPS would not confirm who reported the abuse. Only that there is a record.

CultNews has made a record request, which is now pending, to determine the details.

The family claims that they offered to share medical records related to the abuse with the Dallas temple.

Here is what the father stated online:

“Jan[uary] late Jan[uary] – Social services/social worker calls our home asking about abuse, if our child was being abused and questioning if he had access to the restroom, and when was he potty trained, etc. They said that such frequent UTI’s [urinary tract infections] are not normal in a boy and is also a common sign of a child being in a situation of where they are being abused. Doctors had also expressed concern about the dangerous bacteria that had been found in his urine. We do not, at that time, provide any information about the school and Rasakeli [the abusuive teacher] not letting Ramananda use the bathroom in fear of causing trouble with the school. We did speak with the school and started mentioning the concerns from doctors and how they had social workers call us asking questions. We also asked both school principal and school board if they needed to see the hospital papers or speak with the doctors, they never reply.”

Hare Krisha kids

Here is the mission statement of the CPO according to its website:

“Our mission is to protect the children of Srila Prabhupada’s Movement from child abuse and neglect. By doing so, we strengthen the future of the Movement —the children—while providing an example to the world of a spiritual society that practices compassionate caring and protection.”

See ISKCON Child Protection Office

However, it appears that ISKCON’s CPO failed to take decisive direct action by actively encouraging and insisting upon a criminal investigation regarding child abuse as no criminal charges are evident.

And apparently the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple has done little to punish the teacher that abused the minor child, who remains within the Dallas Hare Krishna community.

So, how effective is the ISKCON Child Protection Office?

Is it adequately protecting the children of ISKCON from child abuse and neglect, or is its purpose rather public relations through investigations that accomplish nothing definitive?

ISKCON seems to be more concerned about lawsuits than protecting its children.

The abusive teacher at the Dallas Hare Krishna school was found guilty of child abuse by the ISKCON CPO. So why isn’t she being criminally charged and/or purged from the community?

It must be noted that according to sources inside the Dallas Hare Krishna community the Dallas temple leaders sought to have the CPO report findings reversed.

Is the Dallas temple more concerned with protecting its children from abuse or protecting its teacher and silencing criticism?

Krishna Temple, Dallas

The safety of children must come first, or so ISKCON has publicly stated.

Have the leaders of the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple learned nothing from their past mistakes?

Has ISKCON learned anything from the personal injury lawsuits that forced the organization into bankruptcy?

It seems that neither ISKCON nor the local temple in Dallas have genuinely learned much from the past mistakes, which hurt so many people. And apparently these religious institutions plagued in the past by child abuse scandals, may continue to have the same problems in the future.

Does ISKCON mandate reporting to the CPS and local police when a child is abused?

Or instead simply paper over such abuse by producing a report from its CPO, with no specific policy of mandated reporting to authorities by its affiliated temples?

What is the meaningful outcome and consequence of child abuse within ISKCON?

Will there be criminal charges far all of those found guilty of child abuse?

How does ISKCON’s CPO and its affiliated temples actually protect Krishna kids?

CultNews has updated this report based upon the latest disclosures from Dallas CPS and will continue to do so as records are delivered and further scrutinized.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

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By Brian Birmingham

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (also known as ISKCON, or colloquially as “the Hare Krishnas”) was founded in New York City in 1966, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, ISKCON was one of the most recognized new religious movements introduced to the United States. ISKCON enjoyed some positive attention in the media. George Harrison of the Beatles was one of the most noteworthy of the celebrities who helped to promote ISKCON.

History of scandal

As it grew in the US, ISKCON became increasingly controversial and was one of most notorious groups called “cults” drawing increasing attention based upon the behavior of its leadership and devotees. At times families tried to rescue their loved ones through interventions with cult deprogrammers.

ISKCON devotees

ISKCON was likewise plagued by scandal. This included its most influential leader in the 1980s. Ultimately that leader Swami Bhaktipada (aka Keith Gordon Ham) was criminally charged. Ham was one of the first Hare Krishna disciples in the United States and he ruled over the largest Hare Krishna community in the country near Moundsville, West Virginia. Ham eventually pleaded guilty to racketeering, fraud and conspiracy to commit murder. But he ended up only serving 8 years in prison.

ISKCON moved on to more scandal, which involved child abuse that took place within ISKCON boarding schools in the United States and India.

The reportedly horrific physicals and sexual abuse began in the 1970s and continued through the 1980s. A class-action lawsuit was filed in Dallas, Texas on behalf of the victims in 2001. ISKCON subsequently sought refuge in Federal Bankruptcy Court, which ultimately forced the adult children to accept a greatly reduced settlement.

ISKCON claimed it would implement sweeping changes to ensure that no such abuse would ever occur again.


One of the most important changes is that ISKCON temples became independent and autonomous legal entities. This insulated ISKCON regarding legal liability. So certain temples today are not officially “ISKCON” temples, but rather only ISKCON-affiliated. Under this arrangement, if a temple is sued for misconduct or abuse, the larger organization ISKCON itself theoretically cannot be held liable, leaving liable only the local temple and its leadership.

In Dallas, Texas the local leadership does business as the “Texas Krishnas, Inc.” This supposedly means that Dallas temple is wholly independent and not an ISKCON temple at all.

ISKCON has made a tremendous effort at public relations to burnish its tainted image. In the past twenty years, the organization has become adept at PR. Anuttama das, is now ISKCON’s “Minister of Communications” and he has done his best to soften the media perception of ISKCON and persuade the general public that ISKCON has changed, and for the better.

ISKCON has apparently curtailed most of its questionable activities.

But has it essentially changed, at least at the local level in Dallas, Texas?

Recent events prove that the answer to this question is “no.”

Abuse in Dallas

It has come to light the families of several students in the Dallas Hare Krishna school were interviewed by ISKCON’s “Child Protection Office,” which revealed that their children were being abused by a certain teacher there.

Dallas Krishna temple

The mother of one abused boy has written about abuses in the school on her Facebook page. She describes physical, psychological, and emotional abuse that her son endured. The boy was forced to urinate and defecate on himself, and was humiliated by the teacher in front of his classmates. The teacher would ridicule the boy, denigrating him and encouraging his classmates to do the same.


Quotes from an ISKCON mother’s Facebook page as follows:

“The ISKCON Child Protection Office investigated this abusive teacher, and found her guilty of child abuse. She was removed from her position and is not teaching in the school today. However, at every step of the investigation the Dallas temple management, headed by the temple president, blocked the investigation by telling school administrators and others to lie, and by threatening families in various ways. After the Child Protection Office made their decision regarding the abusive teacher, the Dallas temple management further tried to undermine their judgment by threatening legal action against that office, in an effort to have their judgment and decision reversed.”

The only way that this family found resolution in their situation, was to physically move and leave Dallas entirely.

They’d been banned from the Dallas temple, and told that their services at the Dallas temple were no longer required.


The leadership of the Dallas Hare Krishna temple is no more accountable or transparent than they were in 1972. And the abuse within the local Hare Krishna school in Dallas is still apparently going on as the hierarchy of this temple chose to side with the teacher, not the students and their families.

Despite all of the public relations efforts of Anuttama das and whatever he might say to sway the media, the Hare Krishnas, at least in Dallas, have not substantially changed, it seems, very much at all.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

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By Rick Ross

In a recent opinion/editorial New York Times piece titled “The Cult Deficit” columnist Ross Douthat stated, “the cult phenomenon feels increasingly antique, like lava lamps and bell bottoms.” He concluded, “Spiritual gurus still flourish in our era, of course, but they are generally comforting, vapid, safe — a Joel Osteen rather than a Jim Jones, a Deepak Chopra rather than a David Koresh.”

Interestingly, Deepak Chopra was a disciple of Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was often called a “cult leader.” Maharishi was the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM), a group frequently included on cult lists and still quite active amidst allegations of abuse.

Douthat doesn’t seem to care much about destructive cults or the damage they do. He laments that the Branch Davidians were “mistreated and misjudged.” Apparently the columnist hasn’t bothered to do much research as he has ignored the facts reported in the press about the Davidians and as established through the congressional record, the Danforth Report and submitted through court proceedings. Suffice to say that despite anti-government conspiracy theories David Koresh was one of the most vicious cult leaders in modern history. He was a deeply disturbed man that sexually preyed upon children and stockpiled weapons for the purpose of a violent end.

Journalist Tony Ortega at Raw Story points out that “The same week the US goes to war with one, NYT’s Douthat asks, where are the cults?” Ortega recognizes that many terrorist groups today are little more than personality-driven cults, such as al-Qaeda once was under the influence of Osama bin Laden. History is strewn with examples of the destruction wrought by totalitarian cults from the Nazis led by Adolf Hitler to the family dynasty that continues to dominate and control North Korea.

Not surprisingly following up Douthat doesn’t quote Ortega’s response, but instead prefers “Reason Magazine,” a Libertarian leaning publication that essentially agrees with him. Calling a column written by Peter Suderman a “very interesting response” Dauthat again ignores the facts and reiterates his opinion, as supposedly supported by a “religious historian” and venture capitalist. Suderman doesn’t dispute Douthat’s claim that cults are in decline, but rather uses it as a hook for his own spin about the “rise of subcultures.”

However, despite all the liberal or Libertarian posturing performed by these pundits the cult phenomenon has actually expanded around the world.

Unlike the United States, other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have taken steps to respond to cults both through regulation and law enforcement. For example, in Japan and Germany cults have been closely monitored and in China some have been outlawed. Recently in Israel cult leader Goel Ratzon was convicted of sex crimes. Ratzon’s criminal conviction followed a lengthy government investigation and raid by law enforcement.

In addition to malevolent cult movements that have captivated nations the old familiar groups called “cults” that Douthat thinks have faded away actually are still around such as Scientology, the Unification Church, Hare Krishnas, Divine Light Mission, International Church of Christ, and Est (the Forum), although they may now use new names to avoid easy recognition.

In fact the United States has become something of a destination point and haven for groups called “cults.”

Dahn Yoga, led by Ilchee Lee, which started in South Korea, later set up shop in Arizona and now has a following across America.

Another recent arrival is the World Mission Society Church of God led by Zhang Gil-Jah, known to her devotees as “Mother God.” Not long ago Zhang opened her first church in New Jersey. Since then the group has grown rapidly across the US and Canada. Mother has even rented space in Manhattan not far from the New York Times.

Exiled “evil cult” leader Li Hongzhi, founder of Falun Gong, had to leave China, but found refuge in New York. According to researchers Li now has a flock of about !0,000 followers in North America. He claims to channel miraculous healing powers, which has allegedly led to medical neglect and death. The group has regular parades and demonstrations in NYC, Apparently Mr. Dauthat missed that.

Just as there will always be con men running schemes to take people’s money, there will always be destructive cult leaders exploiting the vulnerabilities of humanity. For con men and cult leaders it’s a business and it seems to be quite profitable. When Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986 his estate totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, Scientology reportedly has a billion dollars in cash and vast real estate holdings. When Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died he left behind a spiritual empire valued in billions. Rev. Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, likewise left behind a hefty financial legacy, which is now managed by his children. Whenever there is cash and assets someone will step in to take over. And in the United States cults can operate with relative impunity as an unregulated industry.

No one knows exactly how many cult members there are in the United States. But almost every day I learn of a new group or organization that seems to fit the core criteria, which forms the nucleus for most definitions of a destructive cult. These core criteria were established by Robert Jay Lifton back in the 1980s. Rather than focusing on what a group believes Lifton’s criteria focus on the structure, dynamics and behavior of a group.

First, the single and most salient feature of a destructive cult is that it is personality-driven and animated by a living, charismatic and totalitarian leader. It is that leader who is the defining element and driving force of the group. Whatever the leader says is right is right and whatever the leader says is wrong is wrong. He or she determines the relative morality of the group and its core identity.

Second, the group engages in a process of thought reform to break people down and then redevelop them according to a predetermined mindset, which includes a diminished ability to think critically and/or independently. This is accomplished through a synthesis of coercive persuasion and influence techniques, relentlessly focused on individuals subjected to the group process.

Finally, the third criteria, is that the group does harm. This may vary from group to group as some groups are more harmful than others. One groups may simply exploit its members financially or through free labor, while others may make much more intense demands such as sexual favors, medical neglect or even criminal acts.

Whatever the group may present as its facade, be it religion, politics, exercise, martial arts, business scheme or philosophy, it is the structure, dynamics and behavior of the group that sets it apart and aligns it with the core criteria, which forms the nucleus for a definition of a destructive cult.

For those who would attempt to diminish the power of persuasion used by cults we have only to look at the pattern of behavior within such groups. Why would people act against their own interests, but instead consistently behave in the best interest of the cult leader? Why would cult members allow their children to die due to medical neglect or surrender them for sexual abuse? The most compelling explanation for such otherwise improbable behavior is that cult victims are under undue influence and therefore unable to think for themselves independently.

The dirty little secret about cults and their bag of tricks, is that we are all vulnerable to coercive persuasion and influence techniques. And this is particularly true when we are at a vulnerable time in our lives. This might include a period of grief, financial instability, isolation or some other personal setback. It is at these times that cults can more easily and deceptively recruit people. No one intentionally joins a cult. Instead, people are tricked by cults, through deceptive recruitment practices and a gradual indoctrination process that doesn’t immediately fully disclose the group’s expectations and agenda.

If people were not vulnerable to persuasion and influence techniques there would be no advertising or political propaganda. Every person approached isn’t taken in by cult recruitment tactics, just as everyone doesn’t buy a product promoted by slick advertising. The question is not why don’t cults recruit everyone, but rather how do they recruit people and why do those people often stay to their determent.

Instead of denial and fanciful claims about the decline of cults our best response regarding such groups is education and increased awareness. Understanding the basic warning signs of a potentially unsafe group is a good start. And utilizing the Web to find information about specific groups before becoming more deeply involved is always a good idea. More information helps people make more informed choices. Ignorance may lead to devastating consequences.

As Tony Ortega concluded, “As long as the media remains in the dark about destructive cults and the way they work, we’ll continue to get bewildering statements about ISIS, and ignorant columns from the New York Times.”

J. Gordon Melton, a somewhat specious “scholar” of what he refers to as “new religious movements” received a rather questionable gift from a foundation linked to a purported “cult,” reports Moving

Moving is a Web site created by and for young adults with parents who joined the notorious “Children of God” (COG).

The Web site recently made public a portion of a 2000 IRS disclosure document that lists a $10,000.00 gift given to the so-called “International Religious Directory,” which is a pet project of Mr. Melton.

The gift-giver is the Family Care Foundation, an organization founded by COG leaders.

Infamous sexual predator “Moses” David Berg who died in 1994 once defined COG as its absolute leader.

The group taught members to sexualize their minor children and encouraged its women to become “hookers for Christ.”

COG is now known as “The Family” and has been in the news lately due to a grizzly murder-suicide.

Ricky Rodriquez the son of its current leader Karen Zerby, Berg’s widow known as “Mama Maria” to her followers, committed suicide after murdering his former nanny Angela Smith. The young man who left COG about five years ago claimed she had molested him as a child.

Ms. Smith at the time of her death was listed as a director of the Family Care Foundation, which is reportedly “an arm of The Family.”

J. Gordon Melton has often been labeled a “cult apologist” because of his friendly relationships with such groups, but until now no one knew exactly how lucrative his COG connection was through the Family Care Foundation.

Mr. Melton seems to have made something of a career out of selling his scholarly services to various fringe groups, often called “cults.” His list of sponsors and/or clients has included JZ Knight or “Ramtha,” a new age guru that funded a Melton book project. And also Aum the terrorist Japanese cult, which paid the peripatetic apologist’s expenses to come to Tokyo after they gassed that city’s subways sending thousands to hospitals.

Mr. Melton’s motto seems to be, “have apologies will travel,” apparently that is when some substantial funding is made available.

Note: Supposedly objective academic papers by J. Gordon Melton and others often called “cult apologists” have recently been linked on-line through a Web site database. Many of the authors listed such as Dick Anthony & Thomas Robbins, David Bromley, Jeffrey Hadden, James Lewis, James T. Richardson and James Tabor have been recommended either by Scientology or the Scientology-linked “new Cult Awareness Network” as “resources.” Anson Shupe who is listed once worked for lawyers linked to Scientology. Another listed author Eileen Barker has received funding from Rev. Moon. Scholar Rocheford E. Burke cashed some checks from Krishna/ISCKON while Professor Susan Palmer worked closely with the Raelians. Cult apology appears to be a meaningful source of income for some within the academic community. The Web site CESNUR, which is home for many of the papers listed is run by Massimo Introvigne, a controversial man that works closely with many groups called “cults.”

Cult apology is a trade for some, but it may be a “politically correct” calling for others.

This week National Public Radio (NPR) “All Things Considered” apparently was on a mission, the program featured well-known “cult apologists” in a broadcast about “New Religions.”

The two-part series hosted by Barbara Bradley Hagerty discussed the history of so-called “new religious movements (NRMs),” which is a politically correct euphemism for groups commonly called “cults.”

Feigning academic objectivity was J. Gordon Melton and James Lewis.

Both men have long been closely associated with well-known “cults,” such as the notorious “Cult of Greed” (Time Magazine May 1991) Scientology, which has recommended the two as “religious resources.”

Melton frequently hires himself out to “cults.”

Melton, the founder of the “Institute for the Study of American Religion,” has worked for the likes of J.Z. Knight, a woman who claims to channel a 35,000-year-old spirit named “Ramtha.”

“Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati” a former Brooklyn housewife and the leader of the Kashi Ashram in Florida also has retained Melton.

Melton’s professional “research,” which frequently flatters “cult leaders,” seems to provide them with academic cover, but for a price.

The peripatetic apologists Lewis and Melton were once flown to Japan all expenses paid by the notorious cult Aum, just after its leader and many members were arrested for gassing Tokyo’s subways.

Lewis claimed at a press conference after conducting an “investigation” based upon photos and documents provided by the cult, that Aum could not have produced the poison gas used to murder 12 Japanese and send thousands to hospitals.

Not to be left out Melton chimed in that the Japanese authorities “were threatening the group’s religious freedom.”

For those that don’t already know, Aum’s leader Shoko Asahara and his key subordinates were found guilty and sentenced to death through a court process that included overwhelming evidence.

Apparently Lewis and Melton overlooked and/or ignored such factual information.

Another “scholar” featured on the NPR program was Catherine Wessinger.

This academic once described the suicide cult “Heaven’s Gate” led by lunatic Marshall Applewhite as “definitely Gnostic…very similar to Hinduism (and also Buddhism).” She concluded, “The outcome with Heaven’s Gate certainly calls into question traditional Hindu beliefs and practices.”


What about the more obvious explanation that Applewhite was crazy? After all, the cult leader did once sign himself into a mental hospital, wasn’t his psychological instability a factor?

Wessinger says, “I’m not trained in psychology so I don’t articulate those opinions…”

Wessinger also engages in something like revisionist history regarding Jonestown led by another madman Jim Jones. This cult tragedy claimed the lives of more than 900 Americans in 1978. According to Wessinger “they would still be here. But due to the attacks and investigations they endured…”

Melton, Lewis and Wessinger might be the cult version of the “Three Stooges,” or maybe more like the proverbial monkeys that “hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil” when it comes to cults.

Whatever they are NPR appears to be just plain dumb, for either not doing its own research, or simply ignoring the facts in favor of some sort of “political correctness.”

Here are some glaring examples:

NPR discussed Krishna without even mentioning that the “cult” is currently embroiled in a $400 million dollar class action lawsuit filed by its childhood victims.

The Waco Davidians were labeled as a “new religious movement (NRM),” even though they are commonly called a “cult.” No mention was made about David Koresh’s bizarre claim that he was “The Lamb of God” or how the cult leader exploited and abused his followers, including the rape of a 10-year-old.

Another “NRM” mentioned was the Raelians, but again nothing about the sordid history of leader Claude Vorilhon (“Rael”) or the context of the group’s clone claim, within an endless series of self-serving publicity stunts.

Instead, all these groups were essentially whitewashed under the politically correct rubric of “new religious movements.”

And the word “cult” was never even used once throughout the entire program.

After all, according to the NPR “scholars” any meaningful discussion of “cult” bad behavior may be characterized as “persecution” and/or an “attack” upon “religious freedom.”

Note: In its second installment yesterday NPR featured yet another “cult apologist” Lorne L. Dawson. This program discussed the “Toronto Blessing,” an aberration on the fringes of the Charismatic Movement. However, in what can easily be seen as misleading, the report focused on the bizarre aspects of this Canadian group as if it offered listeners a pivotal understanding of Pentecostal Christianity.

The most notable member of the so-called Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON), often called a “cult,” was former Beatle George Harrison, who gave the group millions.

Harrison penned the song that was to become an enduring Krishna anthem titled My Sweet Lord. But that hit went sour when it was later the subject of a copyright infringement suit, which the singer lost.

Today ISKCON “spokesman” Anuttama Dasa is busy trying to persuade the public that the organization has changed since “the sad days of the ’80s and ’90s.” He is at the hub of a public relations effort and the organization’s seasoned spinmeister.

Dasa held forth recently within what amounts to a puff piece published within the Dallas Morning News.

He wants Texans to believe that ISKCON devotees have gone mainstream. They reportedly “dress in clothes from Brooks Brothers or L.L. Bean” and have joined Middle America.

E. Burke Rochford Jr., a professor at Vermont’s Middlebury College, has worked very closely with Hare Krishna and had articles published within the organization’s official journal. He told the Dallas newspaper, “They’re just now part of the culture in ways that the average person couldn’t have imagined some 20 or 25 years ago.”

Long-time “cult apologist” Larry Shinn not only agreed with Rochford, but claimed that historic “accusations” against the group were somehow based upon “the same activities that made the movement an authentic expression of Hinduism.”

However, Hare Krishna founder Swami Prabhupada once stated, “The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion…. One should clearly understand that the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion.”

Rather than accepting all this spin from the likes of Dasa, Rochford and Shinn it seems more prudent to carefully examine the real basis for “accusations” against the Hare Krishna movement.

The so-called “sad old days” featured horrific psychological, emotional, physical and at times sexual abuse, that many ISKCON adherents endured at the organization’s hands, including children.

Some of that abuse has been openly acknowledged by ISKCON, since the facts have become common knowledge.

“Speaking as a member of the first generation, we made a lot of mistakes,” Anuttama Dasa admitted within the Dallas article. Later in the report such “mistakes” were consigned to the acts of “overzealous” devotees.


How did Krishna devotees become so “overzealous,” if not through the indoctrination, continuing influence and policies of ISKCON’s leaders?

This “abuse excuse” has become something of a mantra amongst “cults.”

That is, whenever abuses are publicly exposed, they often blame this on “overzealous” members, rather than admit the obvious, which is that such abuses stem from the leadership, its policies and/or its own gross negligence.

Published author and former decade long Hare Krishna devotee Nori Muster sees things differently than apparent apologist Shinn and ISKCON published researcher Rochford.

Muster wrote a thought-provoking piece titled Can Cult Groups Change (1999). Speaking specifically about ISKCON she said, “If the organization now really wants to change for the better, it should remove all illegitimate gurus, Governing Body Commission (GBC) board members, temple presidents, sannyasis (priests), and zone managers. There are at least 20-30 illegitimate leaders that still remain firmly in place within its hierarchy.”

But ISKCON didn’t do that.

The same leadership that controlled the Hare Krishna movement through its so-called “sad days” remained essentially intact. And ISKCON’s leaders continue to lack any meaningful constitutional accountability through organizational checks and balances implemented through bylaws and institutional financial transparency.

Instead, the reported “new faces of Krishna” can easily be seen as a largely superficial pose and part of an ongoing public relations strategy, made necessary by a $400 million dollar class action lawsuit.

ISKCON has currently sought refuge from that lawsuit through the protection provided by Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

The litigation addresses the damage done by Hare Krishna’s “mistakes,” which includes the gross abuse of its children consigned like chattel to ISKCON “boarding schools.”

Krishna kids were not only frequently subjected to substandard living conditions, but also at times brutally beaten and even raped by adult devotees.

Certainly these were “sad days” for the children who were not later meaningfully compensated.

According to ISKCON’s peripatetic spokesman Dasa we are to believe that they will eventually receive something through a settlement plan being devised through the current bankruptcy proceeding.

However, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs called the bankruptcy a “dodge,” contrived to avoid any serious settlement. And to date Hare Krishna has reportedly only paid a paltry $2,000 per victim in “grants” to some of the victimized children.

By comparison Muster suggests that it would be “more reasonable to give $30,000 for each count of abuse to each victim.”

Incredibly the Hare Krishna movement wants everyone to believe it is impoverished. “The movement is poor – surviving, but poor,” claims one devotee interviewed by the Dallas Morning News.

However, this incredible claim ignores the vast wealth accumulated by the organization through real estate holdings, book sales and donations. One Ford Motor heir alone is now giving millions for building projects in India.

It is sad to see how many responsible people seem to have been taken in by ISKCON’s spin and apparent apologists.

But Muster sees through such maneuvering and instead has focused her attention steadfastly on the behavior, policies and leadership structure of the organization.

“In order for ISKCON to really change all these attitudes must change and then it could really become a better organization,” Ms. Muster summarized succinctly.

An heir to the Ford Motor fortune wants to build a center for the Krishna movement in Moscow, but has encountered stiff opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church reports the London Guardian.

The group has often been called a “cult” and has a sordid history of child sexual abuse. And one of its most important leaders was criminally convicted and sent to prison.

However, Ford seems oblivious to Krishna’s troubled past and intent upon giving them millions for construction projects. He has already dropped $10 million for what has been labeled the Krishna “Vatican” in India.

The leader of the group’s Russian devotees is seeing red though, over the Orthodox Church’s opposition to his Moscow building plans.

He called the historic church “one of the most totalitarian sects in the world.”

Sounds like “the pot calling the kettle black” doesn’t it?

Krishna’s history of dictators began with its founder “His Divine Grace” Prabhupada, down to the present hierarchy.

“For me the most important thing is to spread the Hindu knowledge,” claimed the Krishna leader.

But Hindus have said that the so-called “Krishna Consciousness movement” is little more than an aberration and fringe group, outside of mainstream Hinduism.

And within the ranks of “cults” it is Krishna that appears to be “one of the most totalitarian sects in the world.”

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) went bankrupt to avoid financial problems due to child abuse claims.

However, despite claims of insufficient cash to cover a court judgement ISKCON has found the spare change to remodel a temple complex in India reports Mid Day of India.

New additions will include “a wedding hall, guest houses and new classrooms for its ICSE board[ing] school.”

It was within boarding schools run by Krishna that children were raped and horrifically abused.

In the recently dismissed class action lawsuit some of those Krishna kids sought compensation for their pain and suffering, which was openly acknowledged by ISKCON leaders.

A Ford Motor heir donated $10 million dollars to build yet another temple for ISKCON in Calcutta. Alfred Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, says he wants it to be Krishna’s version of the “Vatican.”

But why doesn’t the organization earmark this money for rebuilding the lives of abused Krishna children rather than erecting another edifice?

ISKCON wants the public to believe it has “changed,” but many of the key leaders that presided over the group’s darkest days are still in power.

It often seems that when Krishna leaders say “change,” they really mean a bit of remodeling, like the announced additions to an Indian temple.

However, the basic problems that have caused many to consider ISKCON a “cult” still seem intact.

Maybe that’s why former Beatle George Harrison, a long-time supporter of the group, left all his money to family and no cash for Krishna in the end?

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is opening the gates of its Golden Temple near Hillsborough, North Carolina later this month for a night of celebration reports The Herald Sun.

A spokesperson for ISKCON says this will be “a wonderful opportunity for the public to experience cultural diversity.”

But critics of Hare Krishna often call the movement a “cult” not a culture.

ISKCON has a troubled history, which includes a top leader’s arrest and imprisonment for mail fraud and three counts of racketeering, including conspiring to kill a former member. And that leader once controlled one of Krishna’s most important Temples in West Virginia.

ISKCON has also admitted the horrific abuse endured by many of its children held within its private schools.

Some of these childhood victims joined in a class action lawsuit claiming they had never received meaningful consideration or compensation for what was done.

Rather than take the case to trial ISKCON declared bankruptcy to protect its assets.

However, that lawsuit was dismissed recently by a federal judge in Texas reports

Many say Hare Krishna leaders ignored abuse allegations for years. And some of those same leaders still rule over the organization today.

ISKCON continues in an apparent public relations effort to convince people they have changed. So it’s open house in North Carolina with pretty flowers and a picnic area.

But despite the decoration and public party has anything really changed within the Hare Krishna movement?

It should be noted that many Hindus reject the Krishna’s claim that it represents a legitimate branch of Hinduism rooted in that religion’s long history.

According to the mainstream magazine Hinduism Today, “There are reports of Hindus who joined ISKCON only to be taught to reject their family’s religion…so many have assumed they are Hindus. To find out they are not will certainly surprise many–Hindus and non-Hindus alike. It may even surprise a few Hare Krishnas themselves.”

ISKCON has certainly learned the hard way that they are vulnerable to the courts and public opinion and they seem intent upon changing their sordid image.

A Krishna monk is now traveling across Canada in what he calls a “spiritual healing walk” for that country in yet another apparent image-improvement effort reports The Sault Star.

But what has really changed other than appearances?

One visible sign of meaningful change might be no more chanting Krishna devotees peddling books at airports.

But ISKCON lawyers continue to litigate against any restriction that might stop that business endlessly.

Some things never change.