Someone at the National Post in Canada isn’t exercising much due diligence these days concerning sources for news articles posted at the newspaper’s Web site.

An “uncategorized” article titled “Priest whose church was burned by mob jailed for breach of building code” was picked up on Thursday by the Post from the blog of a fugitive sex offender wanted on a warrant issued for his immediate arrest in the United States.

antonhein2.jpegFormer US resident Anton Hein (1996 police file photo left) is hardly a credible source for much of anything, but he runs a blog and assorted Web sites for profit from the Netherlands. Hein relies upon his Internet presence to sell Google ads and other assorted advertising for an income.

The article picked up by the National Post isn’t an original news story and relied heavily upon other sources such as Compass Direct News.

Interestingly,  Crosswalk (an evangelical Christian Web site) chose to go with the report by Compass Direct News rather than Hein, an evangelical and self-proclaimed “expert”.

So why did the secular National Post favor this fugitive sex offender with a link advising its readers to go there if they wanted to “Read the full story”?

CultNews reported about a similar mistake like this before.

The New York Times once recommended  Hein’s Web site as a resource for information about polygamists.

Later the newspaper scrubbed that recommendation.

Don’t the mainstream media have the time or patience to better research sources these days?

Here is a basic tutorial on how to avoid the embarrassment of unknowingly promoting this fugitive sex offender.

1. Click on the link  “About Religion News Blog“. A link at the top of this page appears “Who Operates Religion News Blog“, which states,  “Religion News Blog is published by Apologetics Index”.

2. “Apologetics Index” is Hein’s main Web site. At the top of that page is the link “About Apologetics Index“. And then on that page is the link “About the Apologetics Index Team.” Finally at the end of this list appears the name Anton Hein the site founder and leader of the “team” who was “born and raised in Amsterdam…briefly lived in Switzerland, Germany, and England — as well as 16-years in the USA — before returning to Amsterdam.”

Of course Mr. Hein doesn’t mention his criminal conviction for a “lewd act upon a child” and his stint in jail before being placed on probation. Shortly after his release Hein chose to violate probation by “returning to Amsterdam” without permission, which is why a warrant was issued for his arrest.

3.  A simple Google search of either “Anton Hein” or his site “Apologetics Index” should yield on the first page of results links to articles exposing Hein’s background. Under Anton Hein is “Fugitive sex offender runs counter-cult Web site“.  A search for Apologetics Index yields an index page about Hein.

Mr. Hein has chosen to bury his name behind a virtual labyrinth of links imbedded on a “team” list.

However, you would think that a news outlet like the National Post would take some time and click through a few links to confirm the credibility of a cited source.

And when someone makes such an effort to obscure their name there just might be a reason for it.

Coincidentally,  Hein’s brother Ruud Hein (listed on his team) “is an extraordinarily skillful WordPress Web site programmer and SEO specialist”. A search engine optimization (SEO) specialist is someone that attempts to improve a Web site’s search results. And Anton Hein has launched a number of Web sites such as “Cult“, “Cult“, “Cult” and “” in an apparent effort to manipulate search results.

Isn’t it ironic that a man who would most likely be denied entry into Canada due to his criminal record and fugitive status can manage nevertheless to get into a prominent Canadian publication like the National Post as a cited source?

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antonhein2.jpegThousands on Twitter follow a convicted sex offender wanted by authorities in the United States.

Anton Hein (1996 photo right), a self-proclaimed “expert” and “minister” dispenses religious news and advice from Amsterdam. However, the preacher is a probation violator with a warrant issued for his immediate arrest.

Mr. Hein was convicted for a “lewd act upon a child”, his 13-year-old niece, and served jail time in California before being placed on probation. Shortly after his release Hein chose to violate probation by leaving the country to relocate in Amsterdam without permission.

Hein uses his Web site “Apologetics Index” and assorted blogs as profitable platforms for Google ads. The former US resident and Dutch citizen has also managed to collect disability payments in the Netherlands, though he seems to be quite able at managing his Web business.

Despite pleading guilty to sex charges Anton Hein incredibly claims that he is innocent of any crime and calls comments about his criminal conviction “ad-hominem attacks“.

However, Mr. Hein has been listed as a registered sex offender in California. And he also has the dubious distinction of being named at a Web site as one of the “ministers who have sexually abused children”.

Supposedly an evangelical Christian Hein seems to have somehow forgotten the proscribed process for addressing bad behavior according to the New Testament.

The Christian scriptures explain that the first step on a genuine path of repentance requires that the sinner admit the sin and take responsibility, something Anton Hein appears unable and/or unwilling to do.

Instead, Hein bashes the United States judicial system, as if the courts could somehow be blamed for his crime.

Wouldn’t it be a more meaningful response if Mr. Hein summoned up the integrity to exemplify the old adage “practice what you preach”?

Despite all these glaring personal and public contradictions, Anton Hein, sex offender and self-styled preacher, has successfully managed to garner a faithful following on Twitter.

Update: Anton Hein has posted that “RNB’s Twitter stream is edited by David Anderson.” However,  Twitter followers should know that everything at “RNB” including its “Twitter stream” is ultimately controlled and operated by Anton Hein.

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01newman.jpgFred Newman (photo above), notorious anti-Semite and purported “cult” leader died late Sunday July 3rd of renal and subsequent cardiac failure, he was 76.

NY1 reported Newman’s death and described him most notably as the “founder of the controversial New York City Independence Party”.

Fred Newman was a philosophy teacher, but was fired from seven colleges. Later he created something that he called “Social Therapy.” According to Newman, who was not a psychologist, this “therapy” helped people to “overthrow” what he labeled the “bourgeois ego.”

However, some former participants called Newman’s process “brainwashing.”

According to Newman his therapy is about “two workers, revolutionary therapist and slave/patient, [and their] struggle together to make a revolution through their practice.” The goal is “helping the slave reach the point of insurrection” and “to make proletarian truth and freedom where there is now bourgeois truth and slavery.”

However, Newman was hardly a “revolutionary” and somewhat “bourgeois” himself, with a four-story townhouse in Greenwich Village. He also often spent his  summers in the Hamptons and was chauffeured about in a Lincoln Town Car.

Newman taught that his therapy should include social activism. The net result of this activism appeared to be people working for Fred for free. This might include fund raising for one of his charities like All Stars, or perhaps petition drives for the Independence Party.
Newman headed a myriad of front organizations populated by his fervent devotees often called “Newmanites.”

“He had a long career of promoting unethical behavior in his clinics, children’s programs and politics in NYC”, explained Cathleen Mann. Mann, a psychologist and court expert witness who once debated Newman on television.

Long-time cult-watcher and researcher Dennis King describes the Newmanites as a “very bad…tightly organized cult composed of psychotherapists and skilled political operatives.”

King credits Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s support as playing a pivotal role in giving the group “access to teenagers in New York and to young adult volunteers whom they recruit…The researcher’s blog contains critical articles offering detailed information and penetrating analysis about the Newmanites, their fund-raising and political connections.

CultNews has reported about Fred Newman and his followers in the past.

A mental health professional once involved with Newman, but who later left his Social Therapy organization observed, “Therapy should be empowering and inclusive; it should help people build the lives they want. It should not be used as a recruitment tool for a particular movement.” The licensed counselor concluded, “Anyone considering cooperating or working with..and/or practicing Social Therapy should first read whatever historical and critical information is available.”

This week upon learning of Newman’s death the same counselor said, “If there is anything to be relieved about in this, it’s that maybe the group will fizzle out and stop using ‘therapy’ to introduce vulnerable people to their political agendas.”

Psychologist Cathleen Mann warned, “They are a disastrous group posing as legitimate psychology and counseling”. She added, “They still have Dr. Lois Holzman and nationwide recruiting centers, plus a large body of written work, and they might just find another leader”.

Associated Press reports that the conviction of self-help seminar leader James Arthur Ray (photo below) came quickly, after less than 10 hours of deliberation following four months of testimony and hundreds of exhibits. The jury concluded that the man, who once was a guest on “Oprah” and interviewed by Larry King, was ultimately guilty of “negligent homicide” in the wwwseattlepicom.jpegdeaths of three people, who sought enlightenment through his programs.

Instead of discovering the meaning of life, Ray’s victims lost their lives in his version of a “sweat lodge.”

This is not a new story.

Ray’s seminar format fits well within what is often called “large group awareness training” (LGAT), though its proponents would prefer to generically include it within what is euphemistically referred to as the “human potential movement”.

Since beginning my work in the early 1980s I have received persistent complaints about LGATs like the one Ray led from affected families, former participants and others concerned.

The Ross Institute Internet Archives includes news reports, articles, court documents and research material about LGATs.

LGATs are a burgeoning business and have become a virtual industry in the United States. Now spreading around the world such seminars have generate many millions of dollars in sales. Before beginning his criminal trial James Ray was reportedly worth millions.

Some of the LGATs included at the Ross Institute Internet Archives are Est, Landmark Education, Mankind Project, Sterling Institute of Relationship, Lifespring, Asiaworks, NXIVM and information most recently about James Arthur Ray.

Some LGATs have a long history of bad press, personal injury claims and repeated complaints. Nevertheless, they still manage to draw in new customers, despite the fact that critical information about them is often readily accessible through the Worldwide Web.

That critical information includes suicides, which have been linked to NXIVM and the Mankind Project.

Psychiatric casualties have reportedly been linked to EST and Landmark Education, which has repeatedly been the defendant in personal injury lawsuits. In recent years Landmark training has also been cited as background related to murders.

Litigation filed against Lifespring apparently led to that company’s demise.

LGATs are most often carefully crafted, deliberately planned and scripted programs, which seem by design to preclude or largely inhibit  a participant’s critical and/or independent thinking.  Many new initiates may only have a vague understanding in advance, about what they will actually go through within such training seminars. This ignorance is often reinforced through confidentiality agreements, which preclude the sharing of specific detailed information about the training with p0tential new participants.

Most LGATs appear to have the same inherent, systemic problems.

In a research project psychologist Philip Cushman listed 13 liabilities, which were first identified within encounter groups, but which Cushman later used to explain some of the core issues of concern regarding LGATs.

Cushman referred to LGATs as “mass marathon training” and identified the following key problems:

  1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.
  2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.
  3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.
  4. They sometimes foster pseudo authenticity and pseudo reality.
  5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.
  6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.
  7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.
  8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.
  9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of “experiencing” without self-analysis or reflection.
  10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.
  11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.
  12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously “fabricate” a cure.
  13. They fail to adequately consider the “psychonoxious” or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.

LGATs also often rely upon coercive persuasion techniques and authoritarian control, rather than careful consideration and independent thinking. That is why the LGAT process has been compared to the established criteria associated with “coercive persuasion” or “thought reform,” commonly called “brainwashing” in popular culture.

Sociologist Richard Ofshe identified the key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other forms of persuasion such as education and advertising and that also frequently seem to typify the techniques used by many LGATs.

Those factors include:

  1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual’s sense of self to promote compliance
  2. The use of an organized peer group
  3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity
  4. The manipulation of the totality of the person’s social environment to stabilize behavior once modified

Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton detailed the social control characteristics of organizations that operate what he described as “thought reform” programs.

Lifton identified eight primary themes or properties within rigid reform environments, which taken together contribute to a milieu of manipulation and totalistic control.

These eight criteria are:

  1. Milieu Control, through the control of information and communication
  2. Mystical Manipulation, or what can be seen as emotional and behavioral manipulation
  3. Demands for Purity, which requires absolute conformity to the behavior prescriptions as derived from the ideology
  4. Cult of Confession, expressed through the obsessive demands for confession without meaningful boundaries
  5. Sacred Science, the implicit agreement that the proscribed ideology is faultless
  6. Loaded Language, or the manipulation of language as characterized by thought-terminating clichés, which become a substitute for analytic thought
  7. Doctrine over Person, which means the reinterpretation of all human experience and emotion in terms of the group’s doctrine
  8. Dispensing of Existence, or the classification of those not sharing the ideology as inferior and not worthy of respect

At least six, but usually all eight of these characteristics, are evident within many LGATs.

Cushman concluded that LGATs can be determined to be dangerous when:

  1. Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. And when they should change.
  2. Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.
  3. Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.
  4. Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, “blaming the victim.”

Psychologist Margaret Singer noted the differences in various forms of persuasion and determined that programs, which were focused on gaining undue influence over participants, most often included six primary conditions.

These conditions are:

  1. Obtaining substantial control over an individual’s time and thought content, typically by gaining control over major elements of the person’s social and physical environment.
  2. Systematically creating a sense of powerlessness in the person.
  3. Manipulating a system of rewards, punishment and experiences in such a way as to promote new learning of an ideology or belief system advocated by management.
  4. Manipulating a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in such a way as to inhibit observable behavior that reflects the values and routines of life organization the individual displayed prior to contact with the group.
  5. Maintaining a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure in the organization.
  6. Maintaining a non-informed state existing in the subject.

The net result of such coercive persuasion techniques is the virtual shutdown, though a step-by-step process, of critical thinking. This renders victims intellectually defenseless and subsequently quite suggestible and vulnerable to the dictates of the group and/or leader. 

Ofshe and Singer specifically concluded that LGATs “appear more likely to induce mood and affect disorders.”

The researchers also cited miscellaneous reactions often associated with thought reform programs,  which included anxiety combined with cognitive inefficiencies, such as difficulty in concentration, inability to focus and maintain attention, and impaired memory (especially short-term); self-mutilation; phobias; suicide and homicide; and psychological factors affecting physical conditions such as strokes, myocardial infarction, unexpected deaths, recurrence of peptic ulcers and asthma.

Rather than being an anomaly, the tragedy that took place in Arizona under the leadership of James Arthur Ray should be seen as yet another warning about the dangers posed by many LGATs.

Some LGATs are potentially unsafe and may become toxic.

The toxicity of James Ray’s LGAT became so overwhelming it ended in death.


The Politics of Transformation: Recruitment “ Indoctrination Processes in Mass Marathon Psychology Organizations” St. Martin’s Press 1993

Coercive Persuasion and Attitude ChangeEncyclopedia of Sociology Volume 1, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York by Richard J. Ofshe, PhD

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism” the University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill and London by Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.

Cults in Our MidstJossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco by Margaret Singer, PhD

Characteristics of participants in the Forum, psychotherapy clients, and control participants: A comparative studyThe British Psychological Society 2005

Psychiatric Disturbances Associated with Erhard Seminars Training: I A Report of CasesAmerican Journal of Psychiatry March 1977 by Leonard  L. Glass, M.D., Michael A. Kirsch, M.D. and Frederick N. Paris, M.D.

Cult of PersonalityForbes Magazine October 13, 2003 Michael Freedman

An Espian’s Brief LifeThe Albany Times-Union February 1, 2004

Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of thought reform as applied to Executive Success Programs” by Paul Martin, PhD published by The Ross Institute of New Jersey 2003

A Critical Analysis of the Executive Success Programs Inc.” by Paul Martin, PhD published by The Ross Institute of New Jersey 2003

 Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric CausalitiesPsychiatric Annals 20:4, April 1990 by Margaret Singer, PhD, and Richard Ofshe, PhD

By Cathleen A. Mann, PhD

wayne-bent-strong-city-cult1.jpgWayne Bent, known to his followers as “Michael Travesser,” leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church (LOR) in Northeastern New Mexico, recently ended a self-imposed prison protest fast.

 Bent received a 10-year prison sentence for sexual misconduct in December 2008. His criminal conviction was on a single count of touching the breast of a 16-year-old member of LOR during a “healing ritual.” 

 Mr. Bent is the self-proclaimed “prophet” of LOR, which has a small following within its compound known as “Strong City.” The group was the subject of an in-depth investigation televised by National Geographic titled “Inside a Cult.” Despite the fact that Mr. Bent and his followers spoke freely to reporters, the group continues to blame the producers of the documentary for its leader’s travails.

Bent and his church believe that anyone outside of their group is “the Beast.” Mr. Bent declared that he would “not eat at the hand of the Beast” while serving his sentence in prison.

However, on March 2, 2011 the prophet provided an explanation for ending his prolonged fasting, which included lengthy biblical and supposedly prophetic reasons. 

During his fast Bent proclaimed that “God” was going to release him from prison.  But of course that never happened and his sentence won’t end soon. He isn’t eligible for release until 2017. 

So why did Mr. Bent really decide to start eating regular meals again?

This was probably due to more personal, pragmatic considerations rather than anything prophetic and quite possibly health concerns.

 “God told me I don’t need to fast anymore. So my family is buying me food in the store and I eat that. I don’t eat the prison food, since it is not good for me. God wants me to eat things that are good for me,” Bent said in a letter to LOR children (March 2, 2011).

Bent’s age (67 at time of sentencing in 2008) and apparent frailty certainly have made his life in prison more difficult.

And though he may prefer the relative comfort of the prison infirmary to a cell block, Mr. Bent probably doesn’t like the court-ordered forced feeding he has received.

Despite his criminal conviction Bent continues to insist he is a religious martyr. He steadfastly refuses to admit any wrongdoing regarding the females (some underage) he allowed and/or encouraged to lie naked with him in bed, while he stroked their “sternum.” Mr. Bent claims that he did not receive a fair trial. He and his followers say that the prosecutor and judge responsible for his conviction, as well as anyone else who criticizes the LOR prophet, is not on the side of “God.”

Bent explains, “So the purpose of my fast has been accomplished, and it has taken away the authority of the Beast. This little king with no clothes on has been revealed for who he is. But we warned the State early on. Over and over, proud men were given an opportunity to stand down, but their self-righteous boasting can now be seen by souls covered with the righteousness of God, as only farts in the wind.”

Such division, externalization, and refusal to accept responsibility for wrongdoing is a typical ploy of most cult leaders. 

I evaluated an LOR follower in 2009. This also included examining the inside workings of the cult group, which are pretty horrific.

Wayne Bent lacks the character to admit when he is wrong.  Instead he wants everyone to believe that he is the physical incarnation of the “divine.” He continues to write long missives to his followers from prison, which are difficult to comprehend, full of biblical references, but supposedly explain his every action and thought.

For example in his recent letter Bent states, “My fast wasn’t for myself; my fast was for the people. I gave myself for them. I was sacrificed for them. Now all of those who are led by the Spirit and could gain by these events have done so. There is no further need or purpose for my fast. And to those who cannot receive the truth, but willfully remain in their illusions, no amount of fasting would benefit them.”

At this point it’s hard to know how many LOR members actually believe Mr. Bent’s rambling letters and remain totally loyal to their imprisoned leader. 

But in my opinion Wayne Bent fears that he is becoming increasingly marginalized and irrelevant, so he continues to post on an obscure group Web site hoping to garner attention, while he remains incarcerated and isolated. 

Note: During the criminal trial of Wayne Bent cult apologist, Dr. J. Gordon Melton testified that Bent was a misunderstood religious leader. Melton seems to use this same apology for all cult leaders and controversial groups, including Scientology. However, his testimony apparently had little if any effect.

Cathleen Mann, PhD can be reached at

The Ross Institute of New Jersey (RI) has been a pioneer regarding free speech on the Internet and has faced legal challenges over the years, which have set significant precedents.

But before discussing the specific lawsuits filed against RI by controversial groups, some general historical background seems appropriate, to better understand the inception, purpose and function of RI (sponsor of CultNews) and its Internet archives.


In 1995 I (Rick Ross photo below left) launched the Web site, This was initially a personal effort to share collected files with the general public gathered about controversial groups and movements, some that have been rick_new11.jpgcalled “cults.”

That Web site grew and evolved to become one of the largest and most comprehensive online sources of information about destructive cults, controversial groups and movements on the Internet.

Today RI contains thousands of articles and documents organized within hundreds of individual group and subject subsections.

RI also features a virtual library with hundreds of books made available online through and a public message board that contains the personal comments and recollections of thousands of people affected by controversial groups and movements.

Thousands of individual unique users visit the site daily.

RI is an educational nonprofit corporation recognized by the United States government as a tax-exempted charity.

The advisory board of RI includes noted cult experts in the United States, such as Ford Greene, a California attorney specializing in cult-related litigation, as well as Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, co-authors of the books Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change. Psychologist Margaret Singer, one of the most well-known cult experts of the 20th Century and author of Cults in Our Midst, was an advisory board member until her death.

RI functions as an online library and an institutional member of New Jersey Library Association (NJLA). Established in 1890, the NJLA is the oldest and largest library organization in the state of New Jersey.

RI is a collection of Web sites, which includes this blog, Cult News Network a links sharing page featuring breaking news stories about cults, controversial groups, movements and featuring educational DVDs and a virtual library. The “Open Forum” or public message board, which now contains more than 75,000 individual entries in its database.

There is also a “Links” page with hundreds of hyper-links to other relevant resources available on the Internet.

This array of resources provides a multi-layered approach to the subject of cults, controversial groups and movements and related topics. A combination of recent news, personal first-hand accounts and growing permanent archives composed of in-depth articles, research papers and court documents.

The basis for inclusion within the archives is as follows:

1.      A group, movement or leader has become noteworthy by generating interest either through news coverage and/or through an individual/family situation.

2.      A subject, which generates a number of press accounts and/or court documents, may then become an individual subsection within the archives with related material made readily accessible there.

3.      A subsection on the Links page might also be added with listed links to Web sites elsewhere on the Internet with additional information specifically about the subject, which has drawn concern.

4.      A subsection may be added about the subject on the Books page if there are books readily available about the group, topic or leader online.

Some groups such as Scientology, the Unification Church and Falun Gong have large individual subsections, while other groups may only be briefly mentioned and/or have a small subsection that contains a very limited amount of material.

However, the mention and/or inclusion of a group or leader within the archive does not necessarily define that group as a “cult” and/or an individual mentioned as either destructive and/or harmful. Instead, such inclusion simply reflects, that archived articles and/or research about the group/leader is available.

A disclaimer explaining this explicitly is linked throughout the Internet archives from every page.

Nevertheless RI has been subjected to ongoing harassment through frivolous lawsuits filed in an apparent attempt to eliminate from the Internet whatever criticism may be contained within its substantial database.

The lawsuits filed against RI over the past few years afford a window into the world of groups called “cults,” operating within the United States.


There have been five lawsuits filed against me personally and/or RI.

This type of lawsuit, typically accusing me and/or the institute of defamation and related torts, is known in various American jurisdictions as a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) brought to court not for its merits, but for the specific purpose of silencing a critic, often one who may not have the financial resources for a defense.

Church of Immortal Consciousness

picphp.jpegThe Church of Immortal Consciousness” located in Arizona is led by Steven and Trina Kamp (photo right). Ms. Kamp claims that she is “an unconscious trance medium” and that a spirit speaks exclusively through her body. This spirit, which imbues Ms. Kamp with special authority over her followers, is known as “Dr. Duran” and the doctor’s “spiritual teaching and communication” define the group and form its basis of belief.

I have received very serious complaints over the years from former members of this group, alleging that the Kamps controlled, exploited and hurt them. In 1995 during a lecture at Arizona State University and also through a local television news interview in Phoenix, I identified the Church of Immortal Consciousness as a “destructive cult.”

The Kamps promptly filed a lawsuit against me for “defamation” claiming damages. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit in 1999. I was awarded taxable costs. And a subsequent appeal by the church was denied.

One of the largest law firms in Arizona at the time, Brown & Bain, represented me throughout the Church of Immortal Consciousness litigation at no charge “pro bono.” My specific attorneys at Brown & Bain were Paul Eckstein and Daniel Barr.

Pro bono publico (shortened to pro bono) is a Latin phrase meaning “for the public good.” The term is generally used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as a public service.

Pure Bride Ministries

“Pure Bride Ministries” is an independent Pentecostal group in Florida led by the Rev. Judy Hammond. Ms. Hammond has no accountability through any denomination and/or significant oversight through a governing body. Rev. Hammond holds herself out as the ultimate spiritual authority for her relatively small flock of believers.

During the 1990s I received and reviewed numerous complaints about the group and was retained to evaluate Pure Bride Ministries for the purpose of a custody hearing in court. This involved a married couple purportedly estranged by the influence of Rev. Hammond.

Ultimately, my client, the husband, was awarded custody of his minor children.

Pure Brides Ministry was initially listed at within a section titled “Other Groups,” on file, but without material archived and available online at the Web site.

Judy Hammond filed a SLAPP suit against me in 2001. Rev. Hammond asked the court to award her $15 million dollars in libel damages. But after six months the pastor decided to drop the action, apparently concerned about the costs of the litigation.

Again, RI was represented pro bono, this time by prominent Florida attorney Robert Rivas, who later became a member of the Ross Institute’s advisory board.

Subsequent to the press exposure related to the litigation Ms. Hammond and her followers left Florida.


A company called “Executive Success Programs” (ESP) now known as NXIVM (pronounced nexium) led by Keith Raniere in Albany, New York, filed a lawsuit against the Ross Institute in 2003.

NXIVM sells self-improvement courses, including a 16-day “Intensive,” which has been compared to thought reform commonly called “brainwashing.”

As reported by Forbes magazine, three NXIVM participants required psychiatric treatment after attending its courses, one was hospitalized.

In 2004 a devotee of the group committed suicide. Her suicide note read in part, “I attended a course called Executive Success Programs based out of Anchorage, AK, and Albany, NY. I was brainwashed and my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. I still have feeling in my external skin, but my internal organs are rotting. Please contact my parents … if you find me or this note. I am sorry life; I didn’t know I was already dead.”

RI published three critical professional reports regarding NXIVM training, one by a forensic psychiatrist John Hochman of Los Angeles and two by clinical psychologist Paul Martin of Ohio, one analyzing the company generally and another about how the criteria of thought reform might potentially be relevant to ESP/NXIVM training. 

Both the psychologist and psychiatrist quoted sections of a NXIVM course manual for the purpose of reviewing the techniques used by the company in its training.

NXIVM alleged copyright infringement amongst other claims, insisting that the doctors had no right to quote its materials and that the reports misled readers into thinking of the Executive Success program as a “cult.”

NXIVM filed for emergency relief through an injunction, requesting that the offending reports be immediately removed from the Internet archives.

A New York federal court denied the motion for preliminary injunctive relief made by NXIVM on the grounds that the quotations used by the doctors in their critiques of the course constituted what is called “fair use.”

In 2004 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that ruling on appeal and the United States Supreme Court refused to review the case. The decision read, “in order to do the research and analysis necessary to support their critical commentary, it was reasonably necessary for defendants to quote liberally from NXIVM’s manual.”

NXIVM then filed an amended complaint, parts of which the court dismissed; litigation in this matter currently continues as of this year.

During the course of this litigation it was discovered that NXIVM hired a private investigation company, which illegally obtained my personal banking and private phone records. RI then filed a counter-suit against both the investigation firm and NXIVM.

RI has received pro bono legal assistance in the NXIVM case from attorneys Douglas M. Brooks of Massachusetts, Thomas F. Gleason of New York, Peter Skolnik, Michael Norwick and Tom Dolan of the New Jersey law firm of Lowenstein Sandler, Public Citizen of Washington D.C. and the Berkman Center of Harvard University.

The NXIVM court decisions as cited by law journals effectively expanded free speech through the Internet by establishing new legal precedents.

Attorney Douglas Brooks subsequently became a member of RI’s advisory board.

c0201033029.jpgInterestingly, the exiled Dalai Lama of Tibet has supported both NXIVM and its founder Keith Raniere. In a personal appearance in Albany, New York the religious leader awarded Raniere a scarf (photo above) of honor along with two of his disciples, both heiresses to the Seagram Liquor fortune.

The Albany Times-Union reported that NXIVM devotees traveled to India to visit the Dalai Lama, in an effort to convince him to come to Albany as their “honored guest.”  A spokesperson for the religious leader told the press that the Dalai Lama’s commitment “to supporting the expression of worthy ideals” prompted him to agree to an appearance in Albany.” When questioned about any financial incentive connected to the visit the Dalai Lama’s spokesperson said that whatever money was received would be “used for charitable and other purposes as per His Holiness’ guidance.”

This is not the first time that the Dalai Lama has supported a purported “cult” leader.

Chizuo Matsumoto known to his followers as “Shoko Asahara” founder of Aum, the Japanese cult responsible for gassing the Tokyo subway system in 1995 reportedly donated $1.2 million dollars to the religious leader and subsequently seemed to be rewarded through several high-level meetings and photo opportunities with the Dalai Lama.

Gentle Wind Project

gentlewind.jpgThe “Gentle Wind Project,” led by John and Mary Miller (photo right) of Kittery, Maine, sued RI in 2004.

The Millers claimed within paid advertising that they had created special “instruments,” which represent “a new technology that employs scientific principles from classical acupuncture and Tibetan medicine¦designed to offer home users and health care professionals a user-friendly, drug-free option that may produce relaxation and cleansing of the acupuncture meridian system.”

Former members of Gentle Wind “alleged in postings to a Web site that the organization was involved in group sex, mind control, extortion, child neglect and misappropriation of funds” as reported by the Portsmouth Herald.

RI included a link at its “Links” page the former members’ Web site.

When RI refused to remove that link per Gentle Wind’s demands the group filed a lawsuit. This suit was dismissed later the same year.

But as a direct result of the press attention the group received related to the litigation filed against former members, RI and others the Attorney General of Maine began an investigation.

The attorney general ultimately filed suit against Gentle Wind Project, alleging 13 violations of the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

“The instruments were sold to consumers via (Gentle Wind’s) Web site and through seminars’ for requested donations’ of often hundreds or thousands of dollars,” read a statement from the attorney general’s office. “The research that (the group) claimed to have done on the instruments does not support their alleged benefits.”

John and Mary Miller were found liable and paid civil penalties of $20,000 and agreed to pay $30,000 to the attorney general’s office for the cost of the investigation and attorney’s fees.

Gentle Wind’s assets were promptly liquidated to pay creditors and victims.

Massachusetts attorney Douglas Brooks assisted by local counsel William H. Leete Jr. of Portland, Maine represented the Ross Institute pro bono in this litigation.

Landmark Education

In 2004 Landmark Education, another private for-profit company similar to NXIVM, which sells self-improvement seminars, filed a lawsuit against RI for “product disparagement.”

Landmark claimed damages of $1 million dollars. 

This company has historically been widely and publicly criticized by many former participants, researchers and the press for using methods that are described as “bullying,” “harassing,” “destructive,” and “potentially dangerous.”

est2.jpgLandmark Education, originally known as EST (Erhard Seminars Training) during the 1970s, initiates its participants through a weekend seminar known as the Forum. Werner Erhard (also known as “Jack” Rosenberg photo left) created the Forum.  Erhard’s sister and brother now run the company, which has branches throughout the United States and around the world.

Landmark purportedly has “58 offices in 28 countries” including both Singapore and Bangkok.

In 1977 an article in the New York Times reported about persons that “developed severe disturbance” after taking EST seminars. Psychiatrists, writing for the American Journal of Psychiatry initially reported these cases. Those examined “developed psychotic reactions, some of them life-threatening, at the time or soon after the training.”

Many persons have also complained that Landmark uses inappropriately aggressive recruiting techniques, and intimidates participants who wish to leave the program. 

RI has received such complaints and critical news articles have been archived as well as negative comments about Landmark, EST and the Forum posted by users of the institute’s public message board.

In an effort to suppress such unfavorable information, Landmark has historically used litigation and threats of litigation as a tool to silence its critics. 

Landmark apparently sued RI largely because the search engine, Google, which ranks web sites by popularity, lists the RI archives on the first page of search results for “Landmark Education.” Thus, anyone seeking information about Landmark’s programs could easily access both the information provided at the company’s Web site, as well as the critical information archived by the Ross Institute.

After Landmark’s legal effort to uncover the identities of those posting critical comments anonymously about its practices on the message board was rebuffed by a federal judge, the company learned that all discovery made through the lawsuit by the defendant about its past litigation and settlements might potentially become part of the court public record.

Landmark subsequently sought to dismiss its own lawsuit.

Landmark’s motion to dismiss was granted on December 27, 2005.

Lawyers Peter L. Skolnik and Michael A. Norwick of the law firm Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland, New Jersey represented the Ross Institute pro bono regarding this litigation.

As can be seen from this list of litigation free speech in the United States can potentially become quite expensive.

However, with the help of dedicated pro bono attorneys over the years RI has prevailed, expanded its archives and legal precedents regarding free speech on the Internet.

The Albany Times-Union reports that a former high-ranking member of NXIVM says  “the cult-like group” is little more than “a place for its leader [Keith Raniere] to explore opportunities for sex and gambling money.”

bronfman2.jpgFormer NXIVM follower Susan Dones states in court documents that Keith Raniere (photo above), known to his devotees as “Vanguard,” uses the supposed self-help group  to help himself  to “students … who might fit into [his] profile of sexual conquest and who might be willing to ‘give’ [him] money to feed his gambling problem.”

A New York blogger has all the court documents neatly linked here.

Court records in California corroborate that Raniere is “a man with many girlfriends and a gambling compulsion.”

Dones the “whistle blower” says, “I was informed and believe that Raniere/Vanguard was having sexual relationships with multiple women, sometimes with more than one of them at the same time (many of these women were told that they were the chosen one; several of them were members of NXIVM’s executive board which is a per se conflict of interest and all them had to keep their relationship with Raniere a secret from the NXIVM community because it was feared that many members were not ‘evolved enough’ to be able to deal with this information).”

“Evolved enough”?

Is that a Vanguard-speak euphemism for “brainwashed”?

At least one psychologist seemed to say as much in his report about “Executive Success Programs,” the evolving process concocted by Keith Raniere.

Dones goes on to reportedly state that NXIVM leaders can do no wrong as they seek to teach ways to become “unified” — “whole and complete with no attachments to the outside world.”

But doesn’t this jargon read more like an internal contrived language about isolating and manipulating people through some bogus self-serving ideology?

Purportedly Raniere, NXIVM and friends are now shelling out about $1 million per month on a mountain of litigation, which includes suing former members and an assortment of perceived enemies (on the list is The Ross Institute of New Jersey sponsor of CultNews).

According to numerous reports ( e.g. Macleans Magazine) Raniere’s penchant for gambling has thus far cost two heiresses to the Seagrams liquor fortune about $100 million dollars and counting.

The hemorrhaging of cash continues as Vanguard pours other people’s money into the coffers of local attorney Stephen Coffey of Albany and the law firm of Latham & Watkins (attorney Robert D. Crockett) in California.

Canada’s Globe and Mail (October 19, 2010) recently reported “Falun Gong wins legal fight to protest outside Chinese consulate.”

inreuterscom.jpegSpecifically, an appeals court in British Columbia overturned a lower court ruling made last year regarding the removal of a “rudimentary hut” the group maintained around-the-clock outside a Chinese consulate for seven years.

However, the court also allowed the city of Vancouver six months to redraft its sidewalk bylaw. During that time, Falun Gong will remain under a court injunction, preventing its members from rebuilding their protest hut.

Not much of a victory for the controversial group.

But a local Falun Gong follower said, “In China, you don’t have freedom of speech or basic human rights. But here, it’s Canada, and we think we should be able to express our rights.”

However, ironically Falun Gong doesn’t seem to think that others have the right to “freedom of speech.”

Samuel Luo of San Francisco, who ran a Web site critical of Falun Gong, sought help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2005 after his domain provider received a letter demanding that they reveal his identity and contact information.

Falun Gong labeled Luo’s Web site “defamatory” and “highly immoral,” and accused him of “endorsing the inhumane treatment and killing of Falun Gong practitioners.”

Their legal argument was couched in the claim that Luo had somehow infringed on Falun Gong’s trademark by using its name on his Web site.

The ACLU stated that this “clearly did not violate trademark law.”

Luo told the press, “They want to shut me down just because I criticize them.”

Later in 2005, Mr. Luo was scheduled to be a speaker at a conference of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) in Spain.

However, ICSA officials told Luo his presentation had been canceled after a lawyer representing Falun Gong threatened to sue them (“Falun Gong activists make appealsSan Gabriel Valley Tribune December 29, 2007 By Dan Abendschein).

How do these actions exemplify the values of “truth,” “benevolence” and “forbearance” extolled by Falun Gong?

Like Scientology, another group that has been called a “cult,” Falun Gong has become litigious, filing lawsuits against its perceived enemies and almost anyone that dares to criticize and/or seemingly obstruct its actions.

Falun Gong was denied participation in San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade, they sued (“Falun Gong dispute hangs over S.F. Chinese parade” San Francisco Chronicle January 30, 2006 by Vanessa Hua).

Nevertheless, exclusion from the parade was upheld by the California Supreme Court (“State top court OKs excluding Falun GongSan Francisco Chronicle August 22, 2008 by Bob Egelko).

In 2007 Falun Gong sought to enter a float in the Pasadena, California “Rose Bowl” through the “Caltech Falun Gong club,” which was rejected (“Rose Parade caught up in Chinese politics” Daily Bulletin July 9, 2007 by Kenneth Todd Ruiz).

Later the group was refused a permit to stage its own protest march before the iconic parade (“Falun Gong members to sue Pasadena leadersSan Gabriel Valley Tribune January 3, 2008 by Kenneth Todd Ruiz).

It’s easy to understand why Chinese community leaders have often resisted Falun Gong’s participation in local events.

During 2008 Falun Gong launched a parade in New York City after an earthquake in China killed more than 60,000 people. Devotees displayed banners and placards that read “Only Without the Communist Party There Will Be a New China” and “Earthquake Cover Up Cost Lives.”

Reportedly Falun Gong members were also discouraging donations and spreading rumors that the Chinese government would steal the money.

When the Falun Gong parade finally marched through the Chinatown district in Manhattan its members were booed. Some spectators gave the thumbs-down sign while chanting a derisive oath in Chinese. Water bottles were also thrown at some of the marchers

The recent Globe and Mail article reported, “the People’s Republic of China…has jailed, tortured and executed many [Falun Gong] followers, according to human rights groups.”

The Epoch Times, which is published by Falun Gong devotees, once reported that a hospital, in Shenyang City functioned as a death camp, claiming that thousands of Falun Gong prisoners were murdered and their body parts were then harvested.

Former Canadian Liberal MP David Kilgour said that he was convinced that these allegations were true.

During 2006 Kilgour and a lawyer named David Matas undertook an investigation and issued a report supporting such claims, which drew media attention.

However, the U.S. Congressional Research Service concluded that the Kilgour-Matas report “did not bring forth new or independently-obtained testimony and [relied] largely upon the making of logical inferences.”

Harry Wu, a prominent US-based campaigner for human rights in China expressed skepticism concerning Falun Gong’s claims, despite his dislike and distrust of the Chinese government.

Wu said, “I tried several times to see the witnesses, but [Falun Gong] said no.” He further explained. “Even today, I don’t know their names.” Wu told the press that his investigators were never able to corroborate the claims of forced organ removals (“Harry Wu questions Falun Gong’s claims about organ transplantsAsia News August 9, 2006).

One Canadian journalist, Glen McGregor, openly expressed skepticism about the Kilgour-Matas report (“Inside China’s crematorium’” published by The Ottawa Citizen November 24, 2007).

McGregor wrote that there is tremendous political pressure placed upon Western journalists to accept such stories as fact, or potentially be labeled as a “Holocaust denier.”

Falun Gong largely relies upon negative historical stereotypes of the Chinese Communist government and concerns about China’s growing global influence to gain sympathy and garner attention within the United States, Canada and other Western countries.

Falun Gong’s credibility regarding its claims about “death camps” largely rests upon this premise. That is, that those who distrust and/or harbor negative feelings about China should be sympathetic and believe Falun Gong.

falun.jpgLi Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong (photo right) has claimed that he possesses supernatural powers and knows “the top secret of the universe” and that “no religion can save people” but the “almighty Fa,” which he correctly and exclusively represents (“For Whom the Gong TollsThe Washington Post February 27, 2000 by Peter Carlson).

Li also teaches his followers racist beliefs.

Master Li says that “mixed races” are excluded from the “truth” and “have lost their roots…They belong to nowhere, and no places would accept them¦the higher levels do not recognize such a human race.”

Apparently this would include the current President of the United States and his children.

But thankfully according to Li even though the Obamas are purportedly “intellectually incomplete,” he can “take care of it.” That is, if the President and his family begin practicing Falun Gong and “cultivate” in accordance with his teachings.

Li Hongzhi also encourages the hatred of homosexuals.

He has said, “The disgusting homosexuality shows the dirty abnormal psychology of the gay who has lost his ability of reasoning at the present time,” Li Hongzhi wrote this in Volume II of “Zhuan Falun,” or “Turning the Law Wheel,” which was translated into English during 1996.

In one talk in Switzerland Li said, gay men and women will ultimately be “eliminated” by “the gods.”

250 Falun Gong devotees from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa sued Les Presses Chinoises for defamation, claiming the newspaper produced “hate literature” against them by running a report, which was critical of the group.  After a long court battle an appellate court in Montreal refused to award damages (Cultic Studies Review Vol.: 07 No.: 03 2009).

But not a single Falun Gong devotee in the United States, Canada or Europe has ever spoken out against the hate speech or hate literature of Master Li. Instead, if this issue is brought up, they will attempt to change the subject to “human rights” violations regarding Falun Gong members in China.

But what about the human rights of everyone else?

Some newspapers have at times reported about the hateful teachings of Li Hongzhi often ignored by journalists.

A reporter for the San Jose Mercury News noted, “Li gets more extreme when he expounds on his teachings to followers in his numerous talks, some of which have not been translated, and in the second volume of his book, which is no longer available in English” (“A Chinese Battle on U.S. SoilSan Jose Mercury News December 23, 2001 by Sarah Lubman).

When that same California reporter confronted local politicians who had supported Falun Gong and/or its founder with his homophobic and racist statements, they appeared embarrassed.

California Congressional Representatives Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren and Pete Stark joined 41 other lawmakers and signed an official letter praising Li for promoting the “highest humanitarian values” and recommended him for a Nobel Peace Prize.

When the reporter asked the California Congressional representatives whether they knew about Li’s views on homosexuals and race before they signed the letter, all three said no.

“Obviously I wouldn’t recommend to the Nobel Institute someone who’s anti-gay, because that’s a human right,” Eshoo said. She subsequently rescinded her nomination, writing to the Nobel Institute, “Mr. Li has made statements that are offensive to me and are counter to many of my core beliefs.”

Stark pleaded plausible ignorance. He said, “If Mr. Li holds views, which promote intolerance of any kind, I was not aware of it.”

Lofgren also subsequently conceded that Li was not Nobel Prize material.

That same year Falun Gong was denied participation in San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade (“Falun Gong dispute hangs over S.F. Chinese paradeSan Francisco Chronicle January 30, 2006 by Vanessa Hua).

The “cult” sued yet again.

But its exclusion from the event was upheld by the California Supreme Court (“State top court OKs excluding Falun GongSan Francisco Chronicle August 22, 2008 by Bob Egelko).

To date perhaps the most chilling example of the destructiveness of Falun Gong is the horrific event, which occurred in Beijing during January of 2001.

Five Falun Gong followers set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square, reportedly to protest persecution by the Chinese government.

falunvictim.jpgTwo died, including a 12-year-old child. A young woman was also horribly disfigured and crippled for the rest of her life.

“We wanted to strengthen the force of Falun Gong,” said Chen Guo (photo left), when interviewed in her home town of Kaifeng. Her face now a mass of grafted skin with no nose and no ears (“Survivors say China Falun Gong immolations realReuters April 4, 2002 by Jeremy Page).

Extreme devotion expressed by “cult” members willing to die for their leader, has been demonstrated historically by such tragic events as the mass suicide at Jonestown in Guyana, the Solar Temple deaths in Switzerland and the group suicide of “Heaven’s Gate” in California.

But when Falun Gong was asked to explain the horrible self-immolation that took place in  Tiananmen Square, the group completely ignored its significance and assumed no responsibility whatsoever.

First, Falun Gong claimed that those involved were not practicing members.

Later, Falun Gong attempted to spin a story based upon an elaborate conspiracy theory.

When Canadian journalist Glen McGregor questioned what happened in Tiananmen Square Falun Gong devotees “dumped a pile of printed material in [his] lap and insisted [that he] watch a video that they claimed proved the self-immolation of Falun Gong in Tiananmen Square was a conspiracy orchestrated by the Chinese government to discredit Falun Gong.”

CultNews likewise received the same material.

This level of denial is often understood within the framework of what is called “cognitive dissonance.”

Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas at the same time. The theory concludes that people need to reduce this dissonance and do so, by either abandoning certain previously held beliefs, through denial, some form of justification or simply blaming someone or something else for whatever has caused the conflict (“A Theory of Cognitive DissonanceStanford, Stanford University Press 1957 by L. Festinger).

This can be seen through Falun Gong’s denials concerning the self-immolation in Tiananmen Square.

That is, Li Hongzhi’s followers believe “Falun Gong is good,” but suicide and killing children is bad, therefore the dissonance must be resolved by blaming the Chinese government.

But what the tragedy in Tiananmen Square demonstrates instead, is that Falun Gong is potentially unsafe and can be seen as a destructive “cult.”

ht_raisley_100923_mn.jpgBruce Raisley (photo left), the “computer programmer” who was convicted in federal court this past week for launching DDOS attacks against the Ross Institute Web sites, made the FBI’s “Top Ten” list.

According to a press release posted yesterday Raisley ranked number “7”on the “FBI’s Top Ten News Stories of the Week Ending September 24, 2010.”

The FBI released an account of Raisley’s rise and demise titled, “Hacker Convicted of Unleashing a Virus and Attacking Media Outlets.

The FBI reported, “The jury returned a guilty verdict against Bruce Raisley, 49, of Kansas City, Missouri”formerly of Monaca, Pennsylvania”following a six-day trial before United States District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden. Raisley was convicted of the count charged in the Indictment on which he was tried: launching a malicious computer program designed to attack computers and Internet Web sites, causing damages.”

CultNews previously reported about Bruce Raisley last year when he was first arrested.

The U.S. Attorney stated: “Raisley’s …attacks on computer systems were misdirected vengeance. It is unacceptable when a personal vendetta turns into criminal behavior, and we will track down cyber criminals who launch such malicious attacks.”

Raisley’ conviction carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as restitution to the victims of his offense.

Sentencing is currently scheduled for January 7, 2010.

By Jim Bergin, M.A., Gentle Wind Project Cult former member

A book review

gentlewind.jpgHere they go again “ “Caught in the Act of Helping: How a government official destroyed 23 years of effort aimed at producing revolutionary, new stress relief technology” by Mary Miller (aka Moe Miller, Claudia Panuthos, Mary Elizabeth Carreiro, etc. (photo right) of Gentle Wind Project (GWP): aka GW Retreat, Brothers & Sisters of the Spirit World, Family Systems Research Group,  FSRG-I Ching Systems, and on and on) is a sadly predictable diatribe whose only redeeming value is as a pitiful example of cult post-apocalyptic strategy, whereby cult leaders display typical delusions of persecution and distorted reality when they are exposed and “caught in the act of manipulating.”

These delusory responses, as expressed in Miller’s book, arise due to the inevitable conflicts the cult has with reality.  When cults, such as GWP, are exposed by former followers, as well as prosecuted by the justice system, the group and leaders must devise strategies to recreate their prevarications.  Typically, these self-induced perceptions are ones of being surrounded by “peril” whereby the proclaimed enemy seeks to destroy the cult’s and its hapless followers’ path to “save the planet.”  The cult, as usual, attempts to evade all blame, deflecting it to the outside world, as cited on every page of Miller’s missive.

In Miller’s duplicitous fantasy, where anyone with critical views of the cult, and those who don’t perform like Miller’s cult followers, are defamed, GWP and its leaders, the Miller “family” (Tubby, Moe, and the other females living with them), are portrayed as the “poor” victims who only want “to save the world,” but are thwarted when their deceptive dealings are exposed by multiple legal difficulties: one recklessly initiated by the cult leaders themselves; the other by government legal authorities responding to complaints from victims of GWP.  Miller blames the first “assault” on a married couple, Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey (using pseudonyms “Bernie” and “Grady” in her book) “ two former GWP Cult followers and one time so-called GWP Board members (now conveniently cast as having some sort of fictional “catastrophic mental illness,” according to the dissembling author) “ and several international cult watchers and well known cult educators (including Rick Ross, Steve Hassan, and others) who posted Bergin and Garvey’s exposes of seventeen years as GWP followers on their own websites. (In the real world Bergin, Garvey, and the others were defendants, over several years, in federal and state courts, from frivolous lawsuits unwisely concocted against them by the Millers and their GWP Cult).  Bergin and Garvey were assisted in their successful landmark defense “ which in the book Miller fantasizes as a conspiracy “ by Jerrol Crouter, Esq.,  the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University (see Gentle Wind Case Summary, and experts with a specialty in cults, Dr. Arthur Dole and Dr. Cathleen Mann.

GWP’s second set of legal problems “ about which the author vainly attempts to transform the Millers from snake oil hustlers to victims throughout tedious pages of indefensible libelous misrepresentations, in the reviewer’s opinion “ came from Maine’s Assistant Attorney General, Carolyn Silsby, Esq., with whom the Millers and GWP subsequently signed a Consent Decree on August 14, 2006 pleading to lesser charges of deceptive practices and misuse of funds, and were summarily told to pack up GWP’s bags of expensive “healing” hockey pucks and obtuse laminated computer-designed cards, return all funds illegally obtained, and leave the state.

Unfortunately, the obsessive disinformation, that continues for 451 pages, doesn’t end there:  Bergin and Garvey are defamed by Miller as somehow able to influence not only Maine’s Attorney General, but national and international media; Federal Judge Gene Carter, who ruled against the Millers in their frivolous federal lawsuit against Bergin and Garvey; Governor John Baldacci; cult recovery experts worldwide; and former GWP followers. Miller’s irrational conspiracy theory goes on ad nauseum maligning anyone outside her convoluted interpretation of reality.  The Millers even condemn their own high priced attorneys. Top government officials are accused of surreptitiously sleeping with each other; Federal Judge Carter is said to be influenced by Maine’s Governor Baldacci, and it only gets worse for those who take the plunge into this circular narcissistic rant.  Miller goes so far as to misappropriate the work of Dr. Robert Jay Lifton “ Distinguished Professor Emeritus, CUNY, Harvard Medical School, contributor to Cultic Studies Review, and past keynote speaker at the International Cultic Studies Association Conference “ on GWP’s behalf.  Anyone familiar with Lifton’s work on brainwashing might find this humorous, if it wasn’t so embarrassingly outrageous and an insult to Lifton.

Many will have sympathy for those long-term followers still trapped in this Alice in Wonderland GWP-hole.  Now morphed back in business under yet another name, this time in Massachusetts, the Millers are up to the usual old scams (see  Mary “Moe” Miller might be seen sporting a new “research” Volvo Cross Country, and John “Tubby” Miller with now-limited success, reportedly attempting his same lurid “energy work” tricks on a former generous female follower/benefactor, and “ if history repeats itself “ on others (see Wind of Changes,

In sum, this book is a spurious and malevolent attempt to rewrite reality and obfuscate this group’s illegal activities in the eyes of the Millers’ unwitting followers. Researchers into cult behavior and delusions, and legal authorities needing a better understanding of how these groups function, would find this poorly edited trumped-up apologia pro vita sua vanity publication a repetitive and obsessed example of a typical cult strategy to reframe perception, but hardly worthy of the time or price tag.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks – William Shakespeare

Copyright © 2010 Jim Bergin