J. Gordon Melton 1994J. Gordon Melton has made a substantial income over the years by selling himself as a “cult apologist.” His list of clients has included the notorious “Children of God” (COG) known for its fund raising through prostitution and child sexual abuse.

As CultNews previously reported Melton received $10,000.00 from a charity controlled by COG members, now known as “The Family.”

He has also defended the existence of “Ramtha” — the 35,000-year-old spirit from the “Lost Continent of Atlantis” allegedly channeled by Judy Z. Knight for her follower’s edification in Yelm, Washington.

Melton was hired by Knight to “research” her claims and concluded that she is “not a fraud.”

It seems that no matter how bad or ridiculous a purported “cult” may be Gordon Melton can come up with an apology, for the right price.

This same “researcher” also traveled to Japan after the cult Aum gassed subways in Tokyo and surmised quickly that the group “was a victim of excessive police pressure.” Aum reportedly paid for all of his travel expenses.

Now Mr. Melton offers up his apologies for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In an article published by the Grand Rapids Press, largely skewed to the Witness point-of-view, the supposed ”religious scholar” and former UC Santa Barbara library worker claimed the controversial religious organization is “very benign.”

Melton apparently chose to ignore the many Witnesses that have died due to their religion’s rules regarding blood transfusion. And he likewise neglected mentioning the frequent court interventions ordered by judges around the world that have at times saved the lives of Witness children. Kids that needed blood who would have otherwise become a needless sacrifice made by Witness parents through medical neglect.

Melton also ignored the countless families that become estranged because of the undue influence exerted by Jehovah’s Witnesses and its leaders. A seemingly endless stream of child custody battles that trail in the wake of Witness divorces, when one spouse won’t follow another into conversion, prompted by the door-to-door proselytizers.

And then there is the Jehovah’s Witnesses sexual abuse scandal, a series of allegations concerning the church’s inadequate handling of reports regarding child molestation made by its members.

Never mind about all these very serious issues.

Mr. Melton says the Witnesses should be thanked for ”some of the basic rights we enjoy today [which] they won for us.” He means like the right to pester people at their homes repeatedly through unwanted visits with redundant prophecies of doom.

Mr. Melton is also reportedly fascinated with vampires.

Maybe there  is something about people dying over blood loss that makes Melton a fan of both Jehovah’s Witnesses and the mythical predators of the night?

Perhaps Gordon Melton sees himself as something like a familiar, the people who according to some stories guard the vampire’s lair during the day when they are confined to coffins. Protecting their “Master” while the sun shines, so that he can crawl out safely at night to prey upon humanity.

Dracula in his coffinIn much the same sense Melton the “scholar” can be seen as a protector providing cover for his ”cult” patrons that exploit others. He offers up apologies about how supposedly benevolent they are, thus shielding them from ”persecution” so that they can continue to recruit unsuspecting potential victims.

Sound a bit over the top?

Jim Jones was responsible for the cult mass murder-suicide of more than 900 people in Jonestown November 18, 1978. However, Mr. Melton said, “This wasn’t a cult. This was a respectable, mainline Christian group.”

Whether it’s Dracula or a murderous cult leader like Jim Jones, J. Gordon Melton apparently sees something ”respectable.”

Known for their persistent door-to-door missionary work and handout magazine called “The Watchtower,” ”Jehovah’s Witnesses” have repeatedly predicted the “end of the world” with a sense of urgency to anyone willing to listen.

The Watchtower in BrooklynHowever, the sect seems to repeatedly fail regarding its dates, including a purported final judgment set for 1925 and another that never came some fifty years later.

According to the ”Religious Tolerance” Web site, which is known for its frequent apologies rather than admonishments regarding groups called ”cults,” the Witnesses have actually made many more failed predictions. The theologically tolerant site without apology lists 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920 and 1994, as examples of additional Witness failures.  

Much more religiously conservative Christian Web sites have longer lists of apparent blunders, such as a “Watchman Expositor,” which examines the organization’s supposedly “biblical” calculations.

Perhaps as a result of all these mistakes the Witnesses appear to have given up on the dating game. The group says now that the “end is fluid,” which sounds more like “hedging a bet” than anything related to the bible.

However, an embarrassing fact still remains despite all the sect’s calculations, recalculations and subsequent spin.

Jehovah’s Witnesses historically bought a great deal of real estate over the years in what seems to be a very shrewd long-term investment effort.

But if they really expected the world to end so soon, why didn’t the Witnesses just lease?

Well, the reasoning for buying up so much property becomes quite clear when looking at the group’s recent penchant for selling off some of its valuable accumulated assets.

As CultNews previously reported the Witnesses religious devotion apparently includes developing real estate in New York.

And the controversial organization that some have called an End Times ”cult” has recently made millions selling off and/or developing its holdings in Brooklyn alone.

Where there was once a Watchtower magazine warehouse and distribution center near the East River, ”swanky condominiums”  are going up with a view of Manhattan.

And now the Witnesses have put more of their New York property up on the block reports Knowledge Plex.

For sale is a three-story residential building at 409 Central Park West between West 100th and 101st streets.

The Witnesses want $4.5 million for the “air rights” to this property and expect to stay on the first three floors, allowing a developer to build on top or adjacent to the property.

Jehovah’s Witnesses also own a building at 960 E. 174th St. in the Bronx, which is currently used for worship.

However, the faithful will have to meet somewhere else, as this property is currently listed at $1.35 million, for development as affordable housing.

Knowledge Plex points out that many nonprofit organizations and other tax-exempted religious groups in New York are also taking advantage of recent real estate appreciation to sell off their properties for record prices.

But the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses have always attempted to separate their organization from such worldly things. 

Witnesses don’t vote, participate in clubs, organized team sports or the military because to do so would somehow represent involvement with an earthly “system,” which is ultimately influenced by Satan.

Witnesses claim that their organization is the only one today that is sanctioned by Jehovah on earth.

However, it seems when it comes to making money, Witness leaders can be very worldly indeed. And they have no problem cooperating with developers and making savvy business deals to work the worldly system for profit.

Jehovah’s Witnesses historically have predicted the end of the world four times. Needless to say nothing happened and they now insist that no such specific prophecies were ever really made. Now the organization claims the “end is fluid,” whatever that means.

But for a group that seemed so sure that the end was near the Witnesses made some pretty savvy long-term investments.

Prime Witness property with Manhattan viewFor example, they bought up real estate in Brooklyn right on the East River opposite Manhattan, which has paid off quite handsomely.

Recently a huge windfall came to the controversial religion through the redevelopment of an old distribution center located in Brooklyn at 360 Furman Street. This building will be replaced by new luxury condos.

The Furman property will become 450 “swanky condominiums” called “One Brooklyn Bridge Park” reports the New York Daily News.

The developer says that it will have “exquisite waterfront views,” with a  ”lush 85-acre park setting, meditation room,” “refrigerated storage for grocery delivery” and that ”residents may purchase their own … private riverfront cabanas.”

Most Witnesses probably couldn’t afford a cabana, let alone a condo.

And these luxury digs will be a far cry from the humble dormitory-like existence Witness full-time workers known as “Bethelites” endure. These ”volunteer ministers” survive on a small monthly stipend and work for little more than room and board.

However, that low-cost labor force combined with the income from the publications they produce and of course donations, enabled Jehovah’s Witnesses to amass a real estate empire. The Brooklyn development deal is just one example of how the organization has cashed in on its member’s hard work.

Did the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses ever really believe the end of the world was so imminent?

If this was so, why didn’t they just lease?

It seems they did believe that the “end was near” for the hot real estate market, so they sold short. 

Note: CultNews previously reported that Jehovah’s Witnesses “see Jesus as an angel rather than the Son of God.” For further clarification they specifically don’t acknowledge Jesus as the “only begotten Son of God.” At times Jehovah’s Witnesses may parse their language to obscure or avoid this point.

Postscript: CultNews correctly should have said that unlike Christians who believe that “Jesus is also God” included through the trinity, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny this historical Christian doctrine (see comments below).

Jehovah’s Witnesses successfully shut down a Canadian Web site that featured often-embarrassing quotes from their previously published materials, but now a new English Web site has popped up with even more.Witness headquarters in Brooklyn, New YorkThe Witnesses claimed that Toronto resident Peter Mosier, a long-standing, but unhappy member had unlawfully misappropriated and disclosed confidential information and damaged their copyright.

Interestingly, similar claims have been made by groups called “cults” such as Scientology and NXIVM that have seemingly used copyright and trade secret claims in an apparent effort to control information and stifle criticism.

Regarding Mosier the Witnesses claimed that the Canadian “defendant’s main purpose [was] not fair use but rather to try to embarrass [them]¦[and is] likely to cause confusion.”

Mosier responded that his “Web site [had] clear quotes that enable people to study.” And that the “Watchtower wants people to learn¦only on their own terms.”

But the Canadian eventually surrendered the legal battle rather than endure the onerous expense of probable protracted litigation.

Now comes a new Web site “Watchtower Quotes” recently launched from the United Kingdom, which features a collection of quotes from literature published by the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society,” otherwise known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The site’s main page announces that it is a resource “for people who wish to study the changing doctrines of the Watchtower Society.”

Charles Taze Russell, founder of Jehovah's WitnessesFor example, Charles Taze Russell the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses beleived that the Great Pyramid of Egypt contained “…an outline of the plan of God, past, present and future…”

Another portion of the Web site archive contains quotes regarding the teachings in Witness literature about aluminum published during the 1930s, which warned that “salts of aluminum¦[were] killing the whole country.”

Later there would be so-called “new light” supposedly from Jehovah channeled by the Watchtower leadership, which would allow Witnesses to wrap up leftovers with some handy aluminum foil.

“As there are so many doctrinal flip flops and silly quackery, all I can say is, they must have a very bad line with the Almighty,” the man who runs the new British Web site told CultNews.

During the 1960s many Witnesses died rather than accept organ transplants.

“Jehovah God did not grant permission for humans to try to perpetuate their lives by cannibalistically taking into their bodies human flesh, whether chewed or in the form of whole organs or body parts taken from others¦” concluded the Witness publication Awake in 1968.

This is another quote that can be found on the new English Web site, which has been carefully, organized through various topical categories.

“Richard Lloyd-Henderson,” the pen name used by the man that launched this new repository of historical Witness wisdom, says, “Jehovah’s Witnesses have paid the ultimate price with their lives after adhering to previously banned practices, such as vaccinations and blood fractions that are now perfectly acceptable.”

He concludes, “The Watchtower is blood guilty and their members need to know¦many Witnesses, who would probably still be alive today if the new light’ had arrived just a little bit sooner.”

“Lloyd-Henderson” is known to many on Internet discussion boards as “xjwRichard” and he is thankful for the pioneering efforts of Mosier.

“My thanks go to Peter Mosier for all his hard work in collating the quotes for the original site,” xjwRichard told CultNews.

So it seems that Jehovah’s Witnesses may have won one legal battle, but lost the war and actually only achieved focusing more attention upon their failed teachings.

An alleged bigot convicted of disorderly conduct and accused of using racial slurs was sentenced to attend church instead of jail in Ohio reported The Enquirer of Cincinnati.

The man sentenced Brett Haines told the presiding judge Tuesday that he had attended services at a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.Alleged bigot Brett Haines stands up for his final judgement

The judge seemed pleased and apparently hopes that a religious experience will somehow broaden the man’s narrow mindedness, but how is this possible given the church he chose? 

Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the most intolerant, narrow-minded and ethnocentric religious organizations in the world today, not some ecumenical group of do-gooders.

Witnesses don’t celebrate Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter because they are labeled “pagan.”

They also eschew any involvement in other officially organized groups such as Boy Scouts and even exclude their children from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at school, because this would somehow demonstrate divided loyalties. Is this the example of inclusiveness and tolerance the judge had in mind?

According to Witnesses only their organization known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and its so-called “Governing Body” is used by Jehovah to communicate with the world today.

Therefore in contrast, any other church or organization is essentially suspected of serving “Satan” and/or under some sort of “Satanic” influence. Maybe the judge should reconsider his sentence given his hope of reforming and rehabilitating Mr. Haines?

Why not be more specific and assign him to work at some urban program that serves the poor?

Perhaps a community project run by the NAACP?

Haines is unlikely to learn the ideal of tolerance from the Witnesses, who after all go door-to-door preaching that “Jehovah” will ultimately murder all those that don’t agree with their beliefs when the final judgement day comes.

The Artist once again known as Prince is making something of a comeback. The singing sensation of the 1980s is in the midst of a 38-city tour bouncing off the buzz created by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a recent performance at the Grammys.

But fans will find that Prince has changed, and it’s not only his music.

Joining a growing group of middle-aged stars seeking more “spirituality,” the 45-year-old former funk phenomenon has found religion.

However, unlike his contemporary Madonna who hooked up with a rather trendy rabbi/guru that sells “Kaballah water,” this 1980s pop icon has chosen Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Despite his past reputation as an innovator and trendsetter Prince has picked something old.

For more than a hundred years Jehovah’s Witnesses has thrived through its dark prophecies about an ever-imminent “final judgement.” The controversial religion is also known for its rejection of “worldly” things, from blood transfusions to birthdays.

Four years ago the funkster converted reportedly to satisfy his mother’s dying wish, but since then Prince has gone so far as to add religious lyrics to his theme song “Purple Rain.”

The new line in the song goes, “Say you can’t make up your mind? I think you better close it and open up the Bible.”

Close your mind?

Isn’t that like being “brainwashed“?

Prince may have even recast his old battles with record companies into something religious.

“I can tell you who made the System,” he told Newsweek cryptically (April 12, 2004). The “System,” according to Prince apparently includes the music recording business that he says once “enslaved” him.

But the word “System” has a darker connotation than slavery amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses. It encompasses everything “worldly” outside of the organization, which includes all world governments, businesses and any other religious organizations.

And “who made the System” and essentially controls it today?

According to the Witnesses its creator and guiding light is Satan.

This is why Witnesses shun such things as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, military service and political parties, because it’s all part of the “System” and therefore linked to “Satan.”

The “System” by definition also would certainly embrace such worldly things as the Grammys and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So why did Prince perform at these gatherings and become the willing “slave” of “worldly” Columbia Records?

Apparently there may be some other rulebook for famous Witnesses, who might easily make hefty gifts to “Jehovah’s Kingdom.”

This seemed to be the case for the “Gloved One” Michael Jackson during the 1980s, who was raised a Witness, but left the group after his hit album Thriller.

Following in the footsteps of the former “King of Pop,” Prince now proselytizes door- to-door.

Though when this five foot two androgynous performer promotes Jehovah’s Witnesses in Minneapolis he wears his trademark mascara and is “dressed in a tailor-made suit…stack heels” and driven to doorsteps in a “limo…surrounded by four bodyguards” says the London Mirror.

Well, Prince may still be “revolutionary” amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The New York Times is often cited for its “politically correct” view of the news, but it seems like the “paper of record” has gone a bit too far and invented its own version of history.

In an article misleadingly titled “Commune to Close” a NY Times reporter describes a cult compound forced into liquidation by bankruptcy as “an enduring relic of the hippie commune explosion of the 1960′s” based upon the “principles of Christian love.”

Hardly.

Instead, the group known as “Love Israel” is one of the most notorious cults of the 1970s, as repeatedly exposed through numerous press accounts readily available to any serious researcher.

This information is largely glossed over and/or ignored by the Times reporter, who prefers to describe the group as a “commune,” rather than the much more obvious and historically accurate “c” word, “cult.”

The Times also allowed the group’s dictatorial leader Paul Erdman, who goes by the name “Love Israel,” to have the last word about everything.

Erdman brushed off any reports about sexual and financial exploitation within the group as merely “rumors” and “falsehoods” based upon “prejudice.”

Right.

The Times does not report the allegations of abuse about Love Israel in any meaningful depth, which ultimately led to the group’s bankruptcy. No cult victims or affected families are quoted, even though talk-show host Steve Allen discussed his son’s involvement publicly.

For an accurate portrayal of recent and past events surrounding the cult see the commentary of Rabbi James Rudin, a long-time expert observer of the group.

About 40 diehard followers still remain loyal to the 63-year-old Erdman. The cult leader told the Times, “Wherever we go we can do the same thing…we’ll just take that right with us.”

No doubt “Love Israel” will continue to control and manipulate his remaining followers in the same way he always has.

By the way, the New York Times calls such control being “like-minded.”

Does this mean that the Times reporter might view Jonestown through such a politically correct prism as simply a “commune” of “like-minded” people?

Perhaps, given this reporter’s seeming penchant for revisionist history.

CultNews previously reported that The New York Times declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses a “Christian denomination,” conferring a status upon the group that they have never possessed historically.

And once the Times lauded Sai Baba, a purported “cult leader” UN officials expressed concerns about due to “widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youth and children,” as “a friend of India and all the world.”

Isn’t it about time for the Times to tell its reporters to take more time researching their stories.

Michael Jackson has joined Louis Farrakhan’s controversial Nation of Islam reports the New York Post.

Jermaine Jackson joined the group in 1989 and later began trying to recruit his brother Michael reported Fox News.

The Jackson family has a history of involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses, another controversial religion with a troubled history, which does not allow its members to celebrate birthdays, holidays and discourages blood transfusions.

Michael Jackson disassociated himself from that faith not long after releasing his hit album Thriller. He has since said the religion was a source of sorrow in his life.

Now the former “King of Pop” has reportedly become “panicked” about the criminal charges he faces for child sexual abuse, but can Louis Farrakhan help him “beat it”?

The Nation of Islam didn’t prevent brother Jermaine from crashing into bankruptcy after his conversion.

Apparently some around the embattled “Jacko” are advising him to play the race card. And certainly Minister Farrakhan knows that game.

Farrakhan and Jackson seem to have little in common, other than taunting Jews.

Jackson once sang “Jew me, Sue me” and “Kick me, Kike me,” in his 1996 composition They Don’t Care About Us.

Farrakhan has derided Judaism, calling it a “gutter religion.”

Though the Nation of Islam leader would readily admit that according to his faith sexually molesting children might be somewhere beneath the “gutter.”

If Jackson is guilty will Farrakhan counsel him to confess and accept his punishment as the right thing to do?

The story of Malcolm X offers an example of a religious epiphany that led to higher moral ground.

However, Jackson is not unlike other celebrities that have fallen in with “cults” during times of distress and/or depression. He seems to be looking for a way out, a faith that can somehow deliver him from problems.

But given the seriousness of the star’s current situation, there may be no easy escape.

Note: Michael Jackson was charged today with nine criminal counts, seven for child molestation and two of administering an intoxicating agent for the purpose of a committing a felony. the complaint includes special allegations that could make Jackson ineligible for probation reports CNN.

Psychologist and peripatetic professional “cult apologist” Dick Anthony is on the road again.

This time the man who often defends Scientology and considers Rev. Moon’s Unification Church and the Waco Davidians “non traditional religions” is plying his trade in Dixie.

Anthony charges $3,500 per day for his services and is now working for Jane Whaley, the leader of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, North Carolina.

WOFF has often been called a “cult,” so it seems that would qualify Whaley as a client for Anthony.

Whaley and her followers are warring against a mother for custody of her four minor children. The alleged “cult leader” has apparently decided that some parents can’t leave her church with their family intact.

Former members say Whaley essentially controls her following through “brainwashing.”

However, Anthony is slated to submit an affidavit that will rebut such claims reports the Digital Courier.

Such a job is rather routine for the traveling professional apologist whose trade seems to be getting “cults” off the hook in legal situations.

“Have apologies, will travel,” must be Anthony’s motto in what appears to be a lucrative business.

And he certainly has his work cut out for him in the WOFF case.

The group is known for its bizarre behavior through such practices as “blasting.” This is when members are subjected to so-called “strong prayer” to deliver them from evil influences and/or sinfulness. Blasting basically amounts to surrounding and then screaming at someone designated as a likely “sinner.”

Not a pleasant experience according to some former members.

During recent court proceedings in Spindale Anthony was seen taking copious notes.

But at $3,500 per day is Whaley really getting her money’s worth?

Maybe the alleged “cult leader” should have checked out Anthony’s references first, case by case.

Dick has been on a bit of a losing streak lately.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology, two of his most recent clients, each paid out substantial settlements despite Dick’s help.

The Witnesses alone opted to pay a plaintiff $1.5 million, the largest settlement in their history, rather than rely on Anthony as an expert in court.

Such settlements don’t really support the effectiveness and/or professional ability of this “cult apologist.”

Never mind. Anthony still seems to be laughing all the way to the bank and it looks like another good payday for him in Spindale.

Tomorrow the world may end, or so says Yuko Chino, the 69-year-old leader of the bizarre wandering “Japanese cult” clad in white called Pana Wave, reports England’s The Independent .

However, a purported “cult” making doomsday predictions is nothing new.

Many groups before the turn of the century seemed enveloped in a kind of “millennial madness,” making dire predictions of coming catastrophe and calamity.

If it were not quite planetary extinction, then at least there would be a kind of technological meltdown due to the “Y2K” computer glitch.

Nothing happened.

Never mind. Cult leaders and/or prophets of doom simply came up with some savvy spin to satisfy their followers and moved on, with the tragic exception of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments in Uganda.

Historically long-established groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses have learned that failed end times dates don’t mean “The End” for them and actually may increase baptisms, essentially becoming a useful recruitment tool.

People join up as if membership is the equivalent of an insurance policy against the event of Armageddon.

Yuko Chino seems to be carefully hedging her bets, by alternating between the claim that a lost seal in the news will somehow save humanity and/or that changes in outer space have already provided for a postponement, reports the New York Times.

One Pana Wave follower said, “I think it will be delayed till around May 22.”

But Japan’s Prime Minister just doesn’t get “why people believe in things said by such a group,” he asked plaintively.

After cult tragedies like “Heaven’s Gate,” the Solar Temple and most notably for the Japanese the doomsday cult called Aum, authorities in Japan are not taking any chances.

This week police raided Pana Wave locations just to make sure the group wasn’t concealing anything dangerous, like Aum once did, reports Mainichi Daily News.

However, one Japanese resident observed, “They’re not dangerous.” And added his main worry was “their…cars blocking…traffic.”

Yuko Chino has become a familiar figure in Japan through a series of such traffic jams. Perhaps that is what she always wanted.

Many cult leaders do seem to crave attention.

Despite Chino’s claims that she is suffering from terminal cancer and at death’s door, it appears the woman in white will be around for the foreseeable future.

Though judging from the reactions reported from several Japanese towns, Pana Wave is not a popular potential neighbor.