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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melton frequently hires himself out to “cults.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Here are some glaring examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tama-chan the “little seal with a lousy sense of direction” became a TV star in Japan. A whole series titled “The World According to Tama-chan,” chronicled the life of this ocean orphan lost in the Tama River.

The adorable mammal became a “national sweetheart” as his exploits were watched in a series of episodes on Japanese national television. He even had a fan club, reports Daily Yomiuri.

But by Episode 4, Tama-chan had some trouble from strange new fans that wanted to “rescue” him. And that “fan club” is now known as the “cult” called Pana Wave.

“Cult leader” Yuko Chino and her devoted cohorts tried to kidnap little Tama-chan. Later she would claim that the seal’s “rescue” would somehow “save humanity.”

But perhaps all Chino really had in mind was moving into the limelight generated by darling seal, rather than rescuing either Tama-chan or the human race.

Eventually the media dug a little too deep and made Chino unhappy. She then had her followers chase them off with a bulldozer.

So is Yuko Chino a dangerous doomsday cult leader, or a manipulative media hound?

Maybe she is both rolled up into one odd combination?

It wasn’t that long ago that another “cult” known as the “Raelians” burst into prime time, claiming they had produced the “first human clone.”

However, all they really ever produced was an orchestrated media blitz.

Perhaps then Chino’s fascination with Tama-chan is telling. It does seem to mirror a Raelian-like publicity stunt.

Raelian leader Claude Vorilhon (“Rael”) seems to feed his voracious ego on such self-indulgent fare. Is Chino cut from the same cloth? They are both “cult leaders,” do they have more in common?

Everything has now seemingly come around full circle. Yuko Chino and Pana Wave are now the stars of their very own media series, seen through daily news coverage.

If the cult leader craved attention, she has certainly fulfilled her dream.

But it may turn out that the odd woman in the white van, will once again not like her close up.

Japanese authorities continue to closely monitor a strange “cult” called “Pana Wave.”

The nomadic group’s eerie caravan of white vans continues to roam across Japan, reports The Japan Times.

Pana Wave’s leader Yuko Chino makes increasingly strange pronouncements and proclamations.

In one statement the 69-year-old woman said, “approach of the Nibiru star will be delayed nearly a week from Monday, and those who do not listen to this message will face death.”

This may mean her previous prophecy that the world would end May 15th has been “delayed.”

Chino claims she is dying from cancer, which her followers attribute to a conspiracy by “extremists” and “radicals” bombarding her with “harmful electromagnetic transmissions.”

Pana Wave members wear white to protect themselves from these alleged death rays.

In one recent interview the cult’s leader said that a baby seal “would spare mankind from certain destruction,” reports Mainichi Daily News.

It must be understood that the Japanese have good reason to be disturbed by doomsday cults. After all, in 1995 the city of Tokyo endured a poison gas attack launched by the doomsday cult called Aum.

Aum’s leader Shoko Asahara, much like Yuko Chino, fed his followers with constant prophecies of coming catastrophe.

Eventually, this madman personally fulfilled his dark visions by creating a catastrophe himself that sent thousands of Japanese to hospitals and killed twelve.

Asahara’s long trial only recently ended and he is likely to be sentenced to death by hanging.

However, it is also possible that Chino and her cult following are simply publicity seekers. After all, most cult leaders are ego-driven and appear to need and feed upon attention.

Despite reports that the Pana Wave leader will die in days, it seems Ms. Chino is well enough to do demanding interviews and prepare public statements, reports BBC.

It may be that Pana Wave has more in common with a “cult” called the Raelians than it does with Aum.

The Raelians and their leader “Rael” (Claude Vorilhon) became known through a series of publicity stunts. The most recent was the claim that they had produced the “first human clone,” which now appears to have been a deliberate hoax.

Perhaps Chino like Rael craves the media spotlight. And the strange activities of Pana Wave are cynically calculated to garner as much attention for the cult and its leader as possible.

Let’s hope so.

After the horrors of Aum the Japanese could use a good laugh.

Cult apologist Susan Palmer likes to call the controversial “Raelians” her “friends,” and proclaims that they are now the “world’s largest UFO religion,” within an article run by Trinity College’s online newsletter.

The Canadian religious studies teacher recounts, “My Raelian friends boasted that membership had skyrocketed from 50,000 to 60,000 since [making their clone claims].”

However, whatever Palmer says must be taken with more than a grain of salt. She is a self-professed “cult lover” who has been paid by such groups to defend them in court.

Palmer chooses to describe Raelian leader “Rael,” as a playboy and a sportsman and a social satirist.”

However, news reports routinely refer to him as a “cult leader.”

In fact, Rael’s own family sees him quite differently than Palmer.

The man’s real name is Claude Vorilhon. And the aunt who raised “Rael” calls him “little Claudy.” When confronted about her nephew’s claims of communication with alien beings from outer space she says Vorilhon is a “cornichon” (pickle), which is French for nitwit.

Palmer disregards Vorilhon’s personal history and seems to be deeply invested in Raelian myths. After all she has a book coming out about the Raelians.

“The [cloning] affair was…an unqualified success. The media…played right into his hands…[and] for the first time elicited a direct response from the Vatican,” says the seemingly infatuated Raelian chronicler.

Palmer doesn’t seem to care that the clone claims were a hoax, or that the group reportedly bilked a couple for a considerable amount of cash. She is impressed by “little Claudy,” even if his family is not.

Don’t expect this religious studies teacher to critically or objectively analyze anything about Rael or his Raelians. Palmer has pronounced the group “benign” and she is invested in that position, despite serious allegations of sexual abuse and various investigations still pending in France.

Perhaps that’s why when the cult apologist “bumped into a group of [Raelians]…they pecked [her] cheeks enthusiastically.”

The corporate shell called “Clonaid” seems as hollow as its post Christmas claims about creating the first human clone.

Everyone tied to the company apparently is connected to the “Raelians,” an alleged “cult” led by Claude Vorilhon who calls himself “Rael.”

Under oath in a deposition the “vice-president” of Clonaid appeared to be little more than a dutiful “cult” dupe, willing to take the heat for his leader.

When asked, “There is no Clonaid, correct? He bluntly replied, “Correct,” reports the Boston Globe.

Clonaid first popped up in West Virginia during 1997, through an apparent scam, which included a rich couple trying to bring back their dead son. It seems they were bilked out of a considerable sum.

The company was once registered in the Bahamas as “Valiant Venture Ltd.,” but was really more of a mail drop, until the Bahamian government shut it down.

Clonaid looks like another scheme contrived by “cult” leader Vorilhon for money and attention.

Claude Vorilhon came to Canada from France, where he left behind a deeply troubled personal history and estranged family.

Despite Vorihon’s grandiose claims about himself and his “cult” following, he offers no meaningful proof regarding anything he boasts about.

But the alleged “cult leader” appears clever enough to insulate himself from accountability through a myriad of contrived layers composed of loyal cult followers or “independent contractor[s]” between himself and the “clone” business.

As Vorilhon says, ”I have all the advantage without the inconvenience. It’s really a win-win situation.”

Clonaid hopes to grab $200,000 a crack for its “clones” and has an ”Insuraclone” program for $200 annually, whatever that is. It also wants to sell “donated eggs” for $5,000 apiece and is looking into the “pet cloning” business too.

This all sounds like another con for cash put together by “cult leader” Vorilhon.

Who is “Rael,” the odd, balding, middle aged man with the outlandish flight suits and silly ponytail?

During a news lull after Christmas of 2002, the followers of a bizarre French expatriate, now a resident of Canada grabbed headlines and television coverage around the world, by making fantastic and unsubstantiated claims that they had produced “the first human clone.”

The stories told about the funny little man from Montreal have never been proven and it seems the latest one about “clones” is just another stunt to gain media attention for this apparent megalomaniac and “cult leader,” whose followers are called the “Raelians.”

Rael has created a mythology about his birth, life and eventual realization as a worldwide “prophet,” would-be “savior” and/or interplanetary “messenger.”

But what is the real story behind this strange man who has become a media curiosity?

The place to start on any quest for the truth about Rael is in France. There are the people who really know him the best, which include his family and old friends.

French journalists have investigated the background of Rael. The following is his biography pieced together from various news articles recently run and/or recounted.

“Rael” was born some 57 years ago and named Claude Vorilhon.

Interviews with family members paint a vastly different portrait of the man who now insists he be addressed as “His Holiness Rael” (French “Sa Sainteté Raël”), as one precondition before granting an audience or interview.

Claude Vorilhon was born in Vichy, in the “Massif Central.” An area within France famous for its old volcanoes. He spent his childhood in Ambert, a small town of only 7,500 at that time. Ambert is widely known for its very distinct cheese, the “fourme d’Ambert.”

The Vorilhon family was well established and had lived within Ambert for generations. They owned a fabric factory.

But scandal surrounded Claude’s birth. Colette, his mother, had a liaison during World War II with man referred to as “Marcel X.” He was a married man. And from this union came Claude, born out of wedlock.

Marcel was a refugee from Alsace, an eastern part of France. Germany annexed this region during the war and Marcel’s life was subsequently at risk due to his Jewish heritage. The Massif Central provided safe harbor for the Jew fleeing the horrors of the Nazi death camps.

Marcel had run a wood factory in Alsace, which he returned to at the end of the war. He abandoned Colette and Claude. But Marcel continued to see Colette and they made trips together.

Colette eventually left Claude with his aunt.

The French press has extensively interviewed Claude Vorilhon’s family members.

In the Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche January 5, 2003, reporter Emmanuelle Chantepie recounts her meeting with Claude Vorilhon’s aunt Thérèse, who is now 87. She raised Vorilhon with her mother in Ambert. The elderly woman still lives there in a small apartment.

Thérèse says Vorilhon was a very gentle boy, despite all the nasty stories about him today. She is still fond of him and calls her nephew “little Claudy.” Thérèse never had a child and raised Claudy as if he were her own son.

But Thérèse admits that “little Claudy” at times may go too far. She says, “For instance, when he claims that he was born from the union of his mother Colette with an Extraterrestrial.” When Vorilhon makes such claims the old woman calls him a “cornichon” (pickle), which is a French word for nitwit.

Thérèse made the same statements to another reporter François Vignole, quoted within the popular French daily newspaper Le Parisien on January 15, 2002.

And what about Vorilhon’s mother? What does she think of her son now?

Colette Vorilhon when interviewed chose to hide her face. She is apparently ashamed of her son.

Journalist Hervé Bouchaud on a program that aired three times on the network M6 presented by Bernard de la Villardière on April 10, 2001, April 14, 2002, and on January 14, 2003 interviewed Colette for French television.

Bouchaud prodded the woman, “Don’t tell me that you have been inseminated by an Extraterrestrial!”

Colette replied laughing, “Who knows? Like the Holy Virgin? An angel came through my window. Well, I sleep with my window open!”

Aunt Thérèse does not seem to respect Colette. She made negative comments about her to both journalists Chantepie and Vignolle. Thérèse confided, “She was bad.”

It seems that little Claudy’s aunt feels her nephew suffered due to an unstable home. His mother sent him away at seven and they often quarreled when visiting.

When Vorilhon was 15 his father died. His mother then forced him to abandon his studies. He went to Paris hoping to become a entertainer, imitating the famous singer Jacques Brel. Vorilhon used the stage name Claude Celler. But he failed.

Not long after his singing career fizzled Claude met Christine, whom he married in 1971.

Christine Vorilhon has also been interviewed by French journalists and offered details about their troubled marriage.

In the beginning she loved Claude and would bear him two children. But in the coming years as Vorilhon’s incredible ego grew, he became unbearable. The marriage ended in 1985.

Christine says she was “completely destroyed by her husband.”

She left their marriage with nothing. And despite his growing income derived from the so-called Raelian movement, “He never raised a little finger for me,” she said.

But long before their bitter divorce Claude Vorilhon had essentially ceased to exist. His new stage name became “Rael.”

The former Mrs. “Rael” is now attempting to build a new life. She hopes to remain anonymous. “I don’t want to be harassed by his supporters. This is a dangerous sect,” Christine warned.

Vorilhon made one more failed attempt at a career before becoming Rael. While he lived with his wife and children in Clermont-Ferrant, the main city of Massif Central, he put together a little auto-racing magazine called Auto Pop.

According to an old friend Patrice Vergès the magazine was a “little rag” (“canard”). And after a brief run in 1973 it went under and folded.

Vorilhon now would embark on the only successful endeavor he would ever experience; little Claudy launched his career as a “cult leader.”

The failed magazine publisher now began telling fantastic stories about meetings with alien beings from outer space. Vorilhon said these encounters began at a volcano called “Le Puy de Lassalas.” The extraterrestrial had supposedly given little Claudy an important message for all mankind.

These sensational claims attracted some media coverage. And from this time forward Vorilhon apparently became obsessed, intoxicated with media attention, which ultimately seems to have become an addiction.

Vorilhon appeared on Le Grand Echiquier, a popular French television program in 1974. And after that appearance he received thousands of letters. Those fans were probably the beginning of what would become Vorilhon’s “cult” following.

Roland, a childhood friend of little Claudy, still lives in Ambert. He was also interviewed for French television. On M6 TV Roland recalled an evening with Vorilhon some years ago, during which the two men spoke frankly.

Roland asked Claude if he had lied about his encounter with alien beings from outer space.

Vorilhon reportedly replied, “Yes, I lied&but you knew it, anyway, so I am not teaching you anything!”

Claude went on to explain that he had never seen any “little green men,” but that the tale helped him achieve the attention and eventual status he wanted.

It seems that Claude Vorilhon may be misrepresenting more than his close encounters with extraterrestials.

Vorilhon and his followers have made claims about the vast membership of Raelians. But the Raelian movement in France is not really that successful. According to a French official specifically assigned the task of watching specious sects, there are less than a thousand Raelians in France.

It appears French authorities are interested in the group’s finances and tax payments.

Some Raelians also have serious legal problems.

According to Christophe Dubois, reporting for The Parisien January 15, 2003, official sources say that there are no less than five cases of sexual abuse currently under investigation regarding Raelians.

Vorilhon hasn’t done well in civil court either.

Rael sued French journalist Jean-Yves Cashga in 1991 for defamation. However, he lost and was ordered to pay court costs. The judgement remains uncollected.

Amidst growing legal problems Rael decided to leave France. He immigrated to Canada, where he is a resident and achieved tax-exempt religious status for his Raelian movement.

Claude Vorilhon’s mother told reporters recently that she hasn’t seen her son since 1996.

The last time that “little Claudy” phoned home he told his mother that he was afraid to return to France. He said that authorities there might put him in “handcuffs.”

Note: This article was assisted by the research and translation provided by Gildas Bourdais

The “cult” called the “Raelians” staged a “four day seminar” near Lake Mead in Nevada, but they failed to draw much interest.

Only fifty people showed up for their touted “national meeting,” reports the Las Vegas Sun.

It seems the bizarre group that once claimed without evidence it produced a human clone, is now running on empty as its publicity machine plays out.

Apparent megalomaniac and “cult” leader Claude Vorilhon, known to his followers as “Rael,” will no doubt try to come up with a new publicity ploy to generate more attention.

Vorilhon’s need for notice certainly seems insatiable.

First he claimed to be planning an earth embassy for space aliens. Then it was burning crosses to protest the Catholic Church.

The strange “cult leader” finally hit the media jackpot with clone claims, which appear to have been a hoax.

But this time there was no payoff for the Raelians in Nevada.

Has Rael played the media too long? It seems like his ability to work hot news topics is busted.

Vorilhon recently gambled on the Iraq war for publicity. Some of his followers stripped naked at a peace rally, but barely grabbed a mention.

Rael’s streak of luck seems to be over.

One peace movement leader said, “I just don’t take [Raelians] seriously.”

Very few people take Rael and his seemingly mindless “cult” clones seriously these days, which appear to be the only “clones” he ever really produced.

Maybe the French expatriate, whose estranged family once called him “little Claudy,” should pack up his hokey costumes and perform elsewhere?

Interestingly, before becoming a “cult leader” Vorilhon was a failed entertainer. His act doesn’t seem much improved.

Free lounge shows in Vegas are likely to be less boring.

In fact, the only place Rael’s act is likely to be booked, is within his “cult” compound called “UFO Land” in Canada.

Hopefully “little Claudy” will stay there for an indefinite and exclusive engagement.

Long before the Raelian “cloning cult” garnered media coverage for its leader through publicity ploys, the devoted followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Transcendental Meditation (TM) were at it.

Now it seems TMers are churning out one story after another in hot pursuit of publicity. This has included the creation of Maharishi money, peace palaces and even a country for the aging guru.

Former presidential candidate and Maharishi man John Haeglin pitched the latest hype.

Haeglin’s last effort at propaganda was trying to convince American voters he was a viable political candidate and not just a Maharishi sock puppet.

Now the supposed “political activist,” who is back at his day job as a professor at Maharishi U in Iowa, wants to go “political” again for the old man. His latest act of devotion will be to form a “peace government,” reports the Fairfield Ledger.

Haeglin says this government will promote, “the strategic application of meditation,” which is Maharishi-speak for more TM. And of course the guru immediately endorsed his disciple’s effort.

In another interesting TM development, the guru-controlled Iowa town “Vedic City” wants loan guarantees to build dormitories for 1,600 Indian immigrants, a likely source for cheap labor within the small community.

It’s interesting that probably the wealthiest guru in the world wants loan guarantees for cheap financing.

Maharishi may be 92, but the master hasn’t lost his TM touch—that is for generating money and attention.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi makes his own money and apparently it’s legal according to banking authorities in Europe, reports CNN.

That is, as long as the aging guru “doesn’t suggest that this is legal tender and it doesn’t resemble the euro,” said a European official.

CNN’s reporting seemed somewhat fatuous regarding claims made by Maharishi, which were quoted without qualification, such as his supposed “six million followers” and the benefits of the guru’s meditation techniques.

Some followers say they can “fly” by practicing Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation.


The old guru is perhaps the precursor of “Rael,” a.k.a. Claude Vorilhon, the leader of the Raelians, or so-called “clone cult.” Both men seem willing to do anything for attention and publicity.