NXIVM (not to be confused with Nexium the “purple pill” for antacid relief) also known as “Executive Success Programs” (ESP) recorded another strike in its ongoing court battle yesterday.

Strike Three was thrown by the United States Supreme Court, the third court to reject NXIVM’s efforts to silence its critics. The controversial organization has run out of courts to approach in search of an injunction.

This allows the last ruling of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to stand, which was a harsh rebuke of NXIVM’s claims.

NXIVM sued the Ross Institute of New Jersey (RI), Rick Ross, John Hochman, MD, Paul Martin, Ph.D. and one of its former students claiming that quoting its material within the research reports somehow violated “copyright” and “trade secret” law.

See the following reports:

“A Forensic Psychiatrist Evaluates ESP”

“A Critical Analysis of Executive Success Programs Inc.”

“Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of thought reform as applied to the Executive Success Programs”

NXIVM founder Keith Raniere appeared to experience his Andy Warhol “15 minutes of fame” last year when the failed former multi-level marketing guru made the cover of Forbes Magazine as “The World’s Strangest Executive Coach.”

But that dubious distinction soon faded and a downhill slide seemed to begin, certainly in the courts.

In an ultimately futile effort to change his legal lot Raniere retained one of the largest (1,400 attorneys) and most expensive law firms in the United States with offices in Washington D.C.

However, even the Ivy League lawyers at Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood were unable to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

Perhaps the D.C. attorneys explained to their client that his chances of overturning the lower court’s definitive decision was likely to occur “when pigs fly.”

Mr. Raniere, known to his faithful as “Vanguard” and his preeminent disciple nurse Nancy Salzman who is called “Prefect” seem to have no problem wasting money in a hopeless effort to somehow circumvent the First Amendment.

But maybe the dynamic duo doesn’t care since it’s likely that the funding for their legal crusade comes largely from devoted students.

Douglas Brooks of Massachusetts and Thomas Gleason of Albany, New York represent RI and Dr. Paul Martin pro bono.

University professor Dr. John Hochman has been provided legal representation by the University of California in Los Angeles.

Attorney Douglas Brooks with help from the nonprofit organization Public Citizen prepared the response to NXIVM’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

Now NXIVM faces a motion to dismiss its entire lawsuit before a federal judge in Albany.

Attorney Thomas Gleason will appear in that court proceeding.

No doubt Mr. Raniere and Ms. Salzman will keep swinging hoping somehow to improve upon their terrible legal batting record.

However, more than a few judges have weighed in and it seems like they’re about to call the game.

Nevertheless NXIVM has unintentionally achieved something. It has helped to better legally define freedom of speech on the Internet.

In that regard Mr. Raniere may be more than just a courtroom joke and have finally found for himself some sort of lasting legacy, his court losses may be cited in the future as legal precedents.

For those who have been waiting breathlessly since last summer, it’s time once again for “Vanguard Week.”

Vanguard Week is that annual event set aside to commemorate the birthday of Executive Success Programs (ESP) and NXIVM creator Keith Raniere, known to his devoted fans as “Vanguard.”

The event will take place August 26th through September 5th at Lake George New York, touted as “10 days of synergy, enthusiasm and reflection.”

Mr. Raniere was previously best known as a failed multi-level marketing guru who beget “Consumer Buyline,” his business brainchild that ended less than a decade ago amidst a much-publicized financial meltdown.

But this time around Mr. Raniere seems to be selling enlightenment, and it’s pretty pricey.

Just for the privilege of seeking synergy with Vanguard “Nixians” will shell out about $2,000.00 per head, though there are “flexible payment options.”

Assisting Mr. Raniere will be his faithful sidekick Nurse Nancy Salzman known to her pupils as “Prefect,” self-proclaimed as “one of the top trainers of human potential in the world.”

Over 400 devotees are expected to turn out for Vanguard Week at the Roaring Brook Ranch and Resort Center and Silver Bay Association Conference Center in upstate New York.

And they will be regaled with programs that include “forums, inquiries, workshops” and of course “synergy…around the clock.”

“Select world-class entertainment will include…one of the world’s leading hypnotists…[an] internationally-acclaimed pianist, author of a New York Times Best Seller” and “special surprises.”

All this will be done for a proposed budget that totals about $130,000.

$50,000 just to bring in the best-selling author.

$12,500 for “gourmet vegetarian…specialty foods.”

$12,500 for sweatshirts.

$7,500 for T-shirts.

$8,000 for a “24-hour gourmet coffee bar.”

$7,500 for a “performance by the world’s leading hypnotist.”

$5,000 for decorations,

$10,000 for that “acclaimed pianist.”

$12,000 for the “NXIVM internationally acclaimed Harmonic Choir.”

$3,000 for “NXIVM entertainment night.”

$2,000 to be spent on “welcome gifts for Vanguard, Prefect and proctors or VIP attendees.”

The $130,000 price tag for Vanguard Week does not include another $60,000 proposed for an “Oscar winning director of leading documentary.”

Nexians have been asked specifically to sponsor a item “toward the investment of creating a memorable experience.”

CultNews has learned from a reliable source that one loyal disciple of Mr. Raniere has already agreed to sponsor “gourmet vegetarian chef and specialty foods” from their restaurant in exchange for training “intensives.”

As Keith Raniere says, “Humans can be noble. The question is: will we put forth what is necessary?”

Putting forth fat fees for high profile speakers and performers is nothing new for controversial groups.

Rev. Moon, founder of the Unification Church, has hosted former presidents, including the father of our current President Bush, not to mention well-known entertainers like Bill Cosby.

Rev. Moon, a self-proclaimed “messiah” and leader of a purported “cult,” is willing to sign off on exorbitant fees, which in turn often lead to photo ops or at least a few blurbs citing big names at one of his events.

Mr. Raniere, the self-proclaimed “Vanguard,” probably cannot afford the level of notables nailed by Rev. Moon, but last year he did almost snag actress Goldie Hawn.

However, after Ms. Hawn heard that NXIVM had been called a “cult” she demurred and was a no-show for Vanguard Week despite the fat fee she might have picked up.

This year NXIVM has carefully kept its roster of alleged celebrities under wraps.

Whoever does show up at Lake George for Vanguard Week this year one thing is for sure, Mr. Raniere and Nurse Nancy will be there to hold forth for the faithful, shoveling out what Forbes Magazine once speculated might be labeled “horse manure.”

“Horse manure” was not listed as a line item on the proposed budget, but it may be provided at no additional charge.

Note: NXIVM is suing the Ross Institute (RI) and this CultNews reporter for “trade secret” violations and “copyright infringement.” This frivolous litigation has led to one court defeat after another for Keith Raniere, despite his willingness to spend big bucks on legal fees. Most recently Raniere has retained Carter G. Phillips and Eric A. Shumsky at the prestigious Washington D.C. law firm of Sidley, Austin, Brown and Wood to represent NXIVM on appeal before the United States Supreme Court. Were faithful Nexians asked to “sponsor” this too? RI is represented pro bono by Boston area attorney Douglas Brooks and Albany attorney Tom Gleason.

Some have wondered whatever happened to notorious “get-rich-quick” guru Bill Gouldd?

He ran something-called Equinox; a multi-level marketing (MLM) business that once pulled $194 million dollars in annual sales.

However, a judge ruled that Equinox was a “pyramid scheme” and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shut it down.

A receiver was appointed and Gouldd’s financial empire was quite literally liquidated.

Once the high-profile MLM guru sought status and attention through his mansion, luxury cars and a yacht, but when his business crumbled it seemed Bill vanished from sight.

A Gouldd victim called Equinox, “One of the best planned and rehearsed scams I have ever seen!”

The mantra often recited by Bill’s seemingly brainwashed distributors was “Fake it till you make it.”

But Gouldd found out you can’t fake the books to the FTC.

Two of the MLM guru’s disciples, Kale Flagg and Rich Von (previously known as Richard Vonalvensleben) cooked up there own scheme essentially copying the master. That effort was called Trek Alliance. And the FTC shut them down too.

So whatever happened to the master planner, or “scammer”?

It seems that it’s hard for MLM gurus like Bill Gouldd to move on to a normal life. More often they appear to prefer working a crowd, rather than really working.

So the aging Gouldd is back on the road again, this time with a new weekend seminar called “Peak Performance,” designed “exclusively” for a yet another venture called “Avant-garde Marketing Solutions.”

Bill will be holding forth tomorrow morning through Sunday evening at the Los Angeles International Airport Marriott Hotel, it’s all day and all Gouldd (10:00 AM till 6:00 PM).

And for those on the East Coast Bill is bound for Philadelphia.

Next weekend Gouldd is scheduled to perform his traveling show at the Loews Hotel on Market St. in the city known for “brotherly love.”

Oh brother!

It should be noted that Pennsylvania’s Attorney General once said that Gouldd’s “illegal business practices deceived consumers into spending thousands of dollars when it knew the vast majority of participants would never recover their money.”

If you call the LAX Marriott there is still room at Bill’s seminar. According to the events manager at the hotel registration has been slow.

Can it be that Bill is past his “Peak Performance”?

But could the coming seminars still be an opportunity anyway?

That is, for Equinox victims to confront Bill Gouldd face-to-face.

Bill probably won’t appreciate this, though some of those attending his seminars might benefit from a few Equinox testimonials.

After all, there was a time when Gouldd encouraged Equinox participants to speak out at his meetings.

MLM schemes are so often little more than smoke and mirrors.

Applying basic business and marketing principles to an MLM proposition is an invaluable tool to discern its worth and/or risk. Such due diligence is also a means of avoiding the heartache, financial losses and humiliation that so many former Equinox distributors have endured.

But it seems that no matter how many people are victimized by “get-rich-quick” schemes, there will still be someone like Bill Gouldd selling “dreams.”

FYI—Bill says he wants seminar participants to “come prepared with pencils, paper and a calculator.”

Hopefully they will be “prepared” by researching the facts about Bill’s last business plan before becoming involved in his new enterprise.

BTW—Meals will not be included, but there is likely to be bologna delivered.

NXIVM, a controversial organization called a “cult,” proposed a 67,000 square foot complex to be built in the town of Halfmoon near Albany, New York. But it seems that project may be effectively blocked reports the Albany Times-Union.

The Sartoga Count Planning Board has nixed NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) proposed building.

More than a hundred residents signed a petition saying they didn’t want NXIVM in their neighborhood.

The controversial organization’s titular head and self-proclaimed “Prefect” is Nancy Salzman, though the real power behind NXIVM seems to be Salzman’s “mentor” Keith Raniere, who students call “Vanguard.”

Troubled history

Keith Raniere has a troubled history. His previous business incarnations include a multi-level marketing scheme and vitamin/health food concerns. Both businesses failed.

Mr. Raniere’s multi-level marketing business called Consumer Buyline was labeled a “pyramid scheme” by New York Attorney General Robert Abrams and literally sued out of existence by several state attorney generals including New York, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.

Consumer Buyline left in its wake unpaid taxes, liens, judgments and many unhappy participants.

A class action lawsuit filed in Boston was apparently the final round for the company. Raniere agreed to pay $25,000 in a final settlement during 1992, which effectively restricted his business. At this time he claimed to be broke.

Lesson learned?

What did Keith Raniere learn from his past business experiences?

In an affidavit filed last month in Albany federal court Mr. Raniere states, “Throughout this process I had learned how people can cheat to win.” And he seems to think that the collapse of Consumer Buyline was somehow due to “political problems.”

New business

The man they call “Vanguard” today is described as a “scientist, mathematician, philosopher and entrepreneur.” And he is now selling something called “Rational Inquiry.” This is what NXIVM says is a “science based on [a]…belief.”

Learning this “science” in-depth includes 16 consecutive days of intensive training 12 hours a day. This comes to 192 hours of structured coaching classes. Students may then take additional intensives, courses and attend various events and classes.

Expert opinions

Forensic psychiatrist and noted cult expert John Hochman, who reviewed the NXIVM program warns, “Mind control represents indoctrination without informed consent. It relies on calculated strategies to mislead and to misinform. It particularly relies on emotional manipulation.”

Hochman concluded, [NXIVM] is a kingdom of sorts, ruled by a Vanguard, who writes his own dictionary of the English language, has his own moral code, and the ability to generate taxes on subjects by having them participate in his seminars.”

Psychologist Paul Martin whose work is focused upon the treatment of cult victims also reviewed the NXIVM programs and compared them to thought reform often called “brainwashing.”

Martin said, “ESP has characteristics that are consistent with the themes of thought reform.”

He also offered this observation within a separate critical analysis. “What then are some of the consequences of those subject to thought reform programs? [Robert J.] Lifton [author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism] observed certain clinical symptoms in the subjects he studied. For example: ‘borderline psychotic state, split identity, fear…’”

Martin adds, “There were first-hand reports of some becoming psychotic.”

At least three NXIVM students that attended its intensive programs subsequently sought psychiatric care. One of those students, while in the midst of a “Level 2 Intensive,” had a psychotic episode and was hospitalized in Albany.

Lawsuits

In an effort to remove the reports written by Hochman and Martin from public view, Keith Raniere and his “mentored” associate Nancy Salzman have filed lawsuits in federal court against the good doctors, the Ross Institute and myself. They claim “trade secret” and “copyright” violations, because the doctors quote NXIVM material to substantiate points made within their reports.

This is the same legal strategy often employed by the notorious “cult” Scientology in numerous failed lawsuits filed against its own critics on the Internet.

In an interesting twist it appears that Nancy O’Meara, a well-known Scientology operative, has assisted Raniere and Salzman in their current litigation.

O’Meara wrote in an August email, “I am working on two cases right now where [Rick Ross] is being sued for copyright trademark violation.”

Whose model?

Raniere claims NXIVM courses are based upon “my model.” And NXIVM’s “12 Point Mission Statement” states its goal is to reach “an internal “state of clear.”

Ironically, this is precisely the same verbiage often used by Scientology to describe a goal of its training. Raniere also frequently uses the description “suppressive person,” more language commonly associated with Scientology.

Another apparent source for some of NXIVM’s language and principles seems to be Landmark Education, previously known as EST, a controversial company also engaged in the business of large group awareness training, courses and seminars.

Mr. Raniere also likes to quote Ayn Rand the author of Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead.

So whose model is NXIVM really based upon?

Is Keith Raniere guilty of trade secret and copyright violations?

Reported losses

NXIVM sought court ordered injunctions to either close down this website or remove the critical articles about its programs previously mentioned.

Last week a federal judge denied the injunctions .

Mr. Raniere claimed in a recent court affidavit, “We have even lost a 4 year veteran Principal Coach… Goldie Hawn cancelled her engagement…a billionaire network founder…has left…we are losing $10,000 a day in revenue and the problem is escalating.”

With his building plan blocked, the above claimed losses and a federal judge denying his court motions, is Keith Raniere on another losing streak?

A controversial group called a “cult” by local residents suffered a serious setback in New York federal court yesterday reports the Albany Times-Union.

NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) also known as “Executive Success Programs” has filed lawsuits against John Hochman, MD and Paul Martin, Ph.D. regarding their written analysis of the group and its programs.

The Ross Institute (TRI) was also sued for publishing those reports.

The group founded by Keith Raniere, a failed multi-level marketing guru, wants $9 million dollars in damages.

Raniere’s lawyers claim that because NXIVM material is quoted within the reports Hochman, Martin and TRI are guilty of “trade secret” and “copyright” violations.

However, a federal judge once again denied NXIVM’s requests for temporary injunctions, aimed at removing the critical articles from the Internet.

This is the third time the court has turned down Raniere’s efforts to suppress the information.

Interestingly, NXIVM’s recent defeat comes not long after The Hague gutted Scientology’s last hope of removing its own trade secrets and copyright protected material from view on the Internet.

Scientology, the controversial church that Time Magazine dubbed the “Cult of Greed,” has a long history of legal defeats. Observers have often claimed the organization simply uses litigation as a vehicle to target its perceived enemies.

In an ironic twist, a well-known Scientology operative Nancy O’Meara claimed that she is cooperating with NXIVM regarding its current New York litigation.

“I am working on two cases right now where [The Ross Institute] is being sued for copyright trademark violation (filed in July 2003),” stated O’Meara in an email dated August 22nd.

It appears that Raniere is being coached by Scientology, arguably the most litigious “cult” in the world.

And judging by his recent court setbacks, the man NXIVM devotees call “Vanguard” may be losing his edge by following in Scientology’s dubious legal footsteps.

More controversy is swirling around the Executive Success Programs (ESP) led by a failed multi-level marketing guru Keith Raniere, now known to his devotees as “Vanguard.”

Raniere is pushing ahead with a proposal to build a 66,000 square foot NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) center in a small town near Albany, which would then be run by ESP.

But the townsfolk seem to dislike both the building plan and Raniere’s group, reports The Community News.

“Their Web (site) sounds like a brainwashing type of cult,” wrote in one resident.

In an apparent dedication ceremony to launch the project, before receiving Planning Commission approval, one perplexed resident witnessed ESP members “on their hands and knees kissing the ground, scooping up the soil and kissing it, some…rolling on the ground.”

The president of ESP Nancy Salzman, who was mentored by Raniere, told the planning commission that the proposed center would offer instruction for “people to maximize their potential through parenting, relationship and executive success classes.”

Does this mean the project is business related or a social service?

Salzman is called the “Prefect” by devoted “ESPians” and seems to be the second in command.

Right now the group is preparing to throw a weeklong birthday bash for “Vanguard” later this month.

Vanguard Week is a celebration of the human potential to live a noble existence and to participate in an interdependent civilization,” says Raniere.

So why is it named “Vanguard Week” and celebrated on Raniere’s birthday?

During this week of “celebration” there will be “forums every night with Vanguard and Prefect [Salzman],” notes the ESP website.

Sound a little creepy?

Does this mean reaching the “human potential to live a noble existence” is somehow dependent upon this dynamic duo?

Is that what Raniere means by an “interdependent civilization”?

Raniere’s last scheme was an interconnected multi-level buying club called “Consumer Buyline,” which collapsed amidst scandal and lawsuits.

It doesn’t look like many of the residents near the proposed NXIVM complex feel like celebrating Raniere’s birthday during “Vanguard Week.”

Americans seem to routinely lose both money and self-esteem through multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes year after year, caught up in dreams that eventually become nightmares.

Equinox and Trek Alliance are just two examples

But the direct marketing approach of Mary Kay Cosmetics certainly bucked that trend and achieved for thousands of women what many MLMs only promise.

A new book More Than a Pink Cadillac shares the management principles of founder Mary Kay Ash, who died at 83 in 2001, reports USA Today.

Mary Kay’s legendary success like many corporate gurus included a “cult-like” following of true believers. But unlike so many MLMs, she did not garner a legion of lawsuits, federal regulators, class action grievances and/or bad press.

Ash focused on positive but realistic thinking, practical inspiration and made sure that her product line was sensible, desirable and competitive. She clearly saw herself as a role model for women who wanted a better life through hard work.

That hard work paid off for many Mary Kay devotees through the much-touted pink Cadillac, given to top sellers by the company. Whether women worked full-time or part-time, there was real hope for an honest income through Mary Kay.

Many women found greater independence and self-esteem through Ash and her company, which became a 2 billion-dollar empire.

Ash proved that clever marketing and devotion could pay off for both top management and a sales force working effectively together.

Mary Kay’s minions, that eventually included almost a million worldwide, got a square deal from a lady who knew the bottom line in business was not only profits, but also integrity.

Many people lose money on schemes that involve multi-level participation. Such programs have often been described as “pyramid schemes,” due to the disproportionate amount of people who lose at the bottom as opposed to the elite few who reap benefits at the top.

Laws in the United States are often ambiguous, riddled with loopholes or weak regarding multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes. The Federal Trade Commission has on occasion shut down such businesses like Equinox and Trek Alliance, an Equinox spin-off that was recently shut down by court order.

Sadly, most often by the time such companies are closed by the authorities; many people have already lost money.

Some of those caught up in MLMs say there is a kind of “cult like” process of coercive persuasion, which takes place through the recruitment, seminar and conference formats used by such businesses. Spouses and friends have at times described distributors as “brainwashed,” when explaining their seemingly irrational commitment and conduct.

A recent article appeared in the Portsmouth Herald, which spelled out how and why these schemes are simply “mathematically improbable” and therefore fail.

Assistant Attorney General Connie Stratton, of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau explained this succinctly. She said, “The reason they don’t work is because they have so many levels of distributors. If you work out the math, what happens is that a very few people make money and the majority do not. All the money goes to the top, so you’d have to recruit your way to the top. The problem is that so many people are needed to get there that the market gets saturated and the scheme falls apart.”

One expert stated that the loser rate typically exceeds 93% and in some schemes 99%. And that product-based programs are the most damaging.

Here are a few comments from people who were damaged by MLMs.

“I lost all I had, great job, my financial future, my wife, children, and soul.”

‘I lost $5,000.00 and some of my dignity.”

“I became a Director with the firm several years ago–eventually my sales force did over $100,000 per month in product sales. Despite this I lost over $75,000 as a result of the lies and deceptions of this company. I could tell so many stories of people going broke and the reality of the cult like brainwashing.”

“When we started this business we were only $7,000 in debt, now we are $32,000 in debt, due to this crap. Since the day we left the organization, we have been working nonstop to pay off credit card bills, and loans totaling $25,000.00. We fell for their lies, deception and faulty ad and practices. I hope the Feds make them feel, pay and suffer like we now are.”

What can be done?

It seems that federal regulations regarding the MLM industry are needed to protect people. Essentially, there is no such effective regulation now.

Anyone considering participation within an MLM should do his or her homework and research in-depth before becoming involved or paying a penny.

Sadly, most participants don’t do this and instead are taken in by the pitch. However, today through the Internet investigating such companies is actually becoming an increasingly easy process.

The Reserve Bank of India has notified the police that Amway in India may be violating certain laws regarding a “money circulation scheme,” reports Siffy News.

Amway denies its actions are in violation of Indian law. An investigation will take place.

Historically, many Amway distributors in the United States have lost money or barely made minimum wage for their time. Some say that Amway is really more about making money from recruiting people to become distributors, as opposed to selling products.

The organization, which is a multi-level marketing scheme, has drawn frequent complaints, bad press and often-contentious litigation.

Nevertheless, Amway has made its two ruling families, the Devos and Van Andel clans, billionaires.

In recent years sales and recruitment for the company have slowed in the United States. In an apparent effort to improve its sagging situation Amway launched Quixtar on the Internet and also moved into international markets.

However, Amway has encountered resistance in China and Quixtar doesn’t seem to be doing that well.

If Amway is exploiting the citizens of India in some way, which is certainly not an affluent country, the company may have hit a new low.

A controversial organization called “Champions for Christ” is recruiting prominent pro athletes like quarterback Mark Brunell of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The organization now boasts it has 100 NFL, 20 NBA and 10 NHL members. It is also targeting college athletes for recruitment as well.

But what articles about Champions for Christ seem to neglect is its links to “Maranatha Ministries” founded by Bob Weiner. Maranatha was often called a “cult” during the 1980s

Greg Ball and Rice Brooks who co-founded Champions for Christ in 1991, were once both leaders within Maranatha Ministries, which folded in 1989 amidst serious allegations. Former members and families said Maranatha was excessively authoritarian, abusive and controlling.

Maranatha promoted something called “shepherding.” That is, the concept of putting members under the authority of a “spiritual shepherd.” This practice is often discussed in close association with authoritarian forms of “discipleship ”

Bob Weiner and Maranatha are mentioned within the book “The Discipling Dilemma” by Flavil Yeakley, which is a critical analysis of such practices.

An ad hoc committee of Christian scholars produced a report about Maranatha in 1984, which acknowledged that it had “an authoritarian orientation with potential negative consequences.” Five years later the ministry folded. Weiner admitted mistakes, but insisted that “Ninety-nine percent of what we did was right.”

Is any part of Weiner’s admitted 1% of wrongdoing now part of the game plan put together by his former subordinates Ball and Brooks at Champions for Christ? According to Charisma Magazine they have brought their “passion” from Maranatha to their new work. Does that “passion” include any portion of the “shepherding” that sank Maranatha?

Greg Enis running back for the Chicago Bears caused some concern when he chose Greg Feste of Champions for Christ as both his minister and agent. Feste also negotiated endorsement deals for Mark Brunell.

Later Enis fired Feste and said “I think I was taken advantage of.”

According to tax records Feste gave Ball $34,015 in 1995. Was that Ball’s cut from Enis or a tithe?

What is Champions for Christ? A ministry or multi-level marketing scheme that uses the Gospel for profit as well as prayer? Is it simply a spin-off of a former “cult” using “shepherding” tactics to fleece a new flock?

As the group expands its turf amongst professional athletes in America it seems that such critical questions might be answered more fully and in-depth.

It certainly appears that some athletes that have become involved with Champions for Christ are intensely devoted to the organization. Mark Burnell says he plans to be “working full-time” for the group after his football career ends. Houston Texans lineman Tony Boselli said, “I believe God has called me to the full-time ministry when I retire.”

But who would Boselli be serving, God or Mr. Ball and his cohorts at Champions for Christ?