By Benjamin Spector, New York
I am an environmentalist, liberal and former cult member and am very sad that you spoke at the “Ramtha School of Enlightenment.”
You may not be aware of this, but J.Z. Knight will take full advantage of your attendance at her school and use your name, your reputation and the reputation of your father and your family to promote her group.
Maybe you need an education about what a [destructive] cult is?
A [destructive] cult is the most fascist, dictatorial type of group known to man.
In America, you and I and all the liberals and environmentalists have the freedom to speak out against our government and to change that government in a democratic fashion.
Also, within mainstream religious organizations from the Catholic Church to the “Religious Right,” members may express their own points of view to a varying degree and debate the relevant issues.
At Riverkeeper, you and your associates probably debate issues and have disagreements.
However, there isn’t meaningful debate or disagreements in a [destructive] cult.
A [destructive] cult is an organization where typically one person is held as “God-like,” infallible and essentially above the law.
Followers do not seriously question leaders like J.Z. Knight, Reverend Moon, and Sri Chinmoy, who was once my leader. In fact no dissent is really tolerated. Either you swallow the group dogma, hook, line and sinker, or you are out and will be ostracized and shunned forever by all your former friends and associates that remain involved.
That is totalitarianism.
You were quoted in The Olympian to say, “Someone who doesn’t like you very much told me I was speaking at a cult”… “I guess it would be OK if I spoke at Bob Jones University.”
I don’t recall a Kennedy ever speaking at Bob Jones, but I remember your Uncle Teddy speaking at Jerry Falwell’s school. He was treated quite courteously, although everyone there knew he didn’t agree with Mr. Falwell.
The “Ramtha School of Enlightenment” may seem like a “New Age” alternative education, holistic kind of place, but in reality the dogma is much more rigid and dissent is probably less tolerated there than at Bob Jones University.
You would never have been allowed to raise questions or encourage debate within the Ramtha group about its leader or her absolute authority.
[Destructive] cults expect their members to obey the leader at all times.
At the Ramtha School perhaps students feel they are not actually obeying Ms. Knight, but rather the 35,000-year-old spirit from the lost continent of Atlantis named “Ramtha” that she claims to channel.
Do you know what “Ramtha” has said?
In one channeling session Ramtha reportedly said, “Mother Nature” wants to “get rid of” gays.”
And “Ramtha” has recommended buying Ms. Knight’s Arabian horses as an investment.
It is said that you are considering running for New York Attorney General. Maybe one day you may even run for President. This is why I am so deeply concerned about what you said at this recent lecture.
You told the audience at the Ramtha School, “I was really excited; because I just really wanted to see this place…You’re good people with good values, and all the values this country is supposed to stand for.”
But to me the freedom to express one’s point of view and to speak out against injustices of any kind are the fundamental pillars of any democratic society. These are the “good values,” which forms the basis for our society.
However, at the Ramtha School the leader isn’t democratic and other views are not really tolerated.
How can you support and commend this, and then condemn George Bush or the Republican Party?
Please let me know where you stand concerning [destructive] cults.
Much like battered women, the followers of charismatic cult leaders often remain loyal unless they find some way to break free and begin to reason and reflect again independently.
Believe it or not, the followers of cult leaders are very frequently well educated, sophisticated and sensitive, but authoritarian leaders rob them of their ability to think independently as individuals and dominate them.
I urge you to examine the “Ramtha School of Enlightenment” and research its history.
J.Z. Knight has been called a “cult leader.”
It is hard to believe that a Kennedy would dine with such a person in a palatial mansion probably paid for largely though the pain and suffering of cult victims.
Her followers paid $1,000.00 each to attend the retreat you lectured at and an additional $30.00 to hear you talk.
They buy her tapes; books etc. and probably serve Ms. Knight in many other ways. Some may have left their homes, given up jobs and even their families to help her there. Whenever they finally move on many may not be employable and perhaps they won’t be able to afford health insurance.
My one-time leader Sri Chinmoy encouraged many of us to work below the minimum wage and without benefits, at businesses owned by senior group members in New York and other locations. Many workers were illegal aliens.
Do you think that this type of behavior represents “good values”?
As New York State Attorney General would you do anything to stop or prevent such bad treatment?
Or will you stand idly by allowing cult leaders to become rich at the expense of their followers, often illegally abusing and exploiting them?
Are these “the values this country is supposed to stand for”?
I really want to know where you stand on these issues.
Note: After repeated inquiries Robert F. Kennedy Jr. finally responded to Mr. Spector March 28th. His response read “Thanks for your note. I would gladly go to Bob Jones, Ramtha or Liberty College to spread my message, which is anti-fascist, pro-democratic and pro-environment. Ramtha School has been involved in several successful battles to keep developers like Wal-Mart out of Yelm. Those are the values I was applauding.”