Claims in a lawsuit filed against cult specialist and court expert Rick Alan Ross and others were dismissed last month. United States Federal Judge Katharine S. Hayden ordered, “NXIVM’s claims against…Ross, the Ross Institute [now known as Cult Education Institute], [Dr. Paul] Martin, and Wellspring Retreat…dismissed in full.”

The legal action was filed against Ross by a relatively obscure self-help guru named Keith Raniere of Albany, New York who runs a group called NXIVM (pronounced nexium). Media coverage regarding Raniere has often focused on his wealthy followers, particularly Clare and Sara Bronfman, two heirs to the Seagram’s Liquor fortune of billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr. The Bronfmans have apparently backed many of Raniere’s schemes and lawsuits.

Raniere, whose followers call him “Vanguard,” sought to silence criticism of his large group awareness training (LGAT) programs staged through his company NXIVM formerly known as “Executive Success Programs” (ESP). Through ESP/NXIVM Raniere trains participants to believe in a composite philosophy he calls “Rational Inquiry.” Raniere appears to have largely copied ideas for his LGAT from Scientology, Ayn Rand, Werner Erhard and Amway.

Keith Raniere

Keith Raniere

Raniere was once an Amway distributor and later put together his own multi-level marketing scheme called “Consumer Buyline,” which ultimately failed when legal restraints were placed on Raniere.

The lawsuit known as NXIVM v. Ross, was first filed in New York and later moved to New Jersey. The litigation dragged on for more than a decade through a series of legal maneuvers and stalling tactics managed by NXIVM through its successive attorneys. The lawsuit centered upon three reports. Two by a psychologist and another by a psychiatrist about the NXIVM programs. Raniere didn’t like what the doctors had to say and so he sued both of them, Ross, the Cult Education Institute (formerly known as the Ross Institute of New Jersey) and others after the reports were published by the institute online.

Psychologist Paul Martin wrote one report titled “A Critical Analysis of the Executive Success Programs Inc.” and another “Robert Jay Lifton’s eight criteria of thought reform as applied to the Executive Success Programs.

Psychiatrist John Hochman wrote a report titled “A Forensic Psychiatrist Evaluates ESP.

A family hurt by NXIVM commissioned the reports and was also sued. One family member who had gone through NXIVM training provided study notes regarding the programs, which largely formed the basis for the doctors’ criticism of the LGAT. Raniere included members of the family as codefendants in the lawsuit filed against Ross.

Raniere attempted to obtain an emergency court injunction to remove the reports from the Web. But the injunction was repeatedly denied including on appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The reports have never been removed from the Cult Education Institute database and have remained intact and online throughout the litigation.

Raniere claimed defamation, copyright and trade secret violations because the doctors quote the study notes to make specific points in their reports.

Judge Hayden evaluated the defendants’ argument that quotes from NXIVM’s study notes constituted “fair use.” In her opinion she concluded, “The Second Circuit held that this fourth factor ‘weigh[ed] heavily in defendants’ favor.’ NXIVM, 364 F.3d at 482. ‘It is plain that, as a general matter, criticisms of a seminar or organization cannot substitute for the seminar or organization itself or hijack its market.’ Id. The Court agrees, and finds that defendants’ use of NXIVM materials was limited and protected critical reporting under the fair use doctrine. Defendants did not attempt to use the copyrighted work for commercial profits, for unfair business advantage, or as an attempt to compete. Insofar as plaintiffs characterize the psychologists’ articles as an attempt to undermine NXIVM’s business, the Court notes there are First Amendment concerns to be reckoned with. ‘If criticisms on defendants’ websites kill the demand for plaintiffs’ service, that is the price that, under the First Amendment, must be paid in the open marketplace for ideas.’”

Keith Raniere lost another lawsuit recently when U.S. District Judge Barabra M.G. Lynn dismissed his claims against AT&T and Microsoft. Raniere sued based upon claims that he held certain patents, which the companies had violated. However, his apparently false testimony unraveled the case. Judge Lynn subsequently awarded attorney fees and costs to both defendants, AT&T $935,300 and Microsoft $202,000.

Clare Bronfman

Clare Bronfman

Raniere has spent millions of dollars in legal fees and costs on NXIVM v. Ross alone. But the money to pay for such frivolous litigation comes from his wealthy supporters such as Clare and Sara Bronfman, not his own pocket. The Albany Times-Union reported that NXIVM “has swallowed as much as $150 million of their fortune.”

Meanwhile throughout the long NXIVM v. Ross litigation that ended last month in dismissal of all claims against cult specialist Rick Alan Ross, Dr. Paul Martin and the Cult Education Institute they were represented pro bono by a number of lawyers. Beginning with Douglas Brooks of Massachusetts and Thomas Gleason of New York and later by Peter Skolnik, Michael Norwick and Thomas Dolan of Lowenstein Sandler in New Jersey. And there was additional help provided by both Public Citizen of Washington D.C. and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Due to the dedication of these attorneys, law firms and public interest groups freedom of speech prevailed and a purported “cult” leader’s efforts to censor criticism backed by a billionaire’s daughters failed.

Note: Keith Raniere and NXIVM are mentioned within the book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” by Rick Alan Ross. Raniere’s training scheme is cited within a chapter about LGATs (large group awareness training).

Falun Dafa, more commonly known as Falun Gong, is recruiting on Boston University (BU) campus. The group, which has been called a “cult,” has weekly meetings attached to the Marsh Chapel at BU.

The Falun Dafa Club announced at the BU website that it wants to teach “exercises,” but the group will also “study spiritual teachings.”

College students have historically been targeted by groups called “cults” as a vulnerable demographic over the years going back to the 1970s.

BU has a history of exposing cult recruitment on its campus going back to the 1980s. Dean Robert Thornberg once opposed a group called the International Church of Christ, which was banned from many college campuses. He said, “I refer to it as a destructive religious practice.” Thornberg said that ICOC was “banned” at BU beginning in 1989 and he noted that “a whole bunch of other colleges use [the BU] model.”

Dean Robert Thornberg

Dean Robert Thornberg

Often when cults recruit students it can negatively impact their studies. In a 1989 interview Thornberg explained, “We figure in 1989, at the high point here, 40 students dropped out entirely to follow them. Two guys were second year medical school students. They dropped out after four years of college and two years of med school.” He added, “An awful lot of kids were swept up by [the ICOC] and the results were almost always a disaster.”

An authoritarian leader named Kip McKean led the ICOC. McKean was extolled as “The one man God has used above us all.” One ICOC leader explained within the group’s official publication, “There is no greater discipler, disciple, brother, husband, father, leader, and friend than Kip McKean. Some say it is dangerous to respect any one man that much. I believe it is more dangerous not to.”

Master Li

The authoritarian leader of Falun Dafa is Li Hongzhi, known to his disciples as “Master Li.” Purportedly imbued with divine authority Li supposedly knows “the top secret of the universe.” He says, “No religion can save people” only the “almighty Fa,” which Li exclusively represents.

Falun Dafa exercises and meditation are an introduction into the world of Li Hongzhi and his idiosyncratic teachings, which revolve around Li’s often egocentric claims.

Li Hongzhi

Li Hongzhi

Li Hongzhi’s teaches his followers that only he can install an invisible spinning “falun,” which is a mystical “wheel of law” within their abdomens telekinetically. This is the key to salvation, and the basis for incredible health claims, such as a cure for diabetes and the ability to reverse aging.

Falun Dafa practitioners believe that whatever Li Hongzhi says is right is right and whatever he says is wrong is wrong. Master Li’s authority is absolute.

The absolute authoritarian role of Li Hongzhi has caused many researchers and academics familiar with cults to see Falun Dafa as a personality-driven group that fits the description of cult formation.

Hateful teachings

CultNews has reported about Li Hongzhi’s racist and homophobic teachings. Li has said that “mixed-race people [are] instruments of an alien plot to destroy humanity’s link to heaven.” And that interracial unions are somehow part of “a plot by evil extraterrestrials.”

Li Hongzhi has also claimed that a “black substance” accumulates in the body due to homosexuality, which causes bad health. He labeled the LGBT community “disgusting,” and stated one day the LGBT community will be “eliminated” by “the gods.”

What will BU do to protect its students from this hateful and homophobic “cult” recruiting on its campus?

Will students be informed?

Will BU educate its students about the dangers of cults?

A new voice in Marsh Chapel?

Marsh Chapel

Marsh Chapel

Dean Robert Thornberg died in 2013. He was once the Dean of Marsh Chapel at BU. Thornberg oversaw religious activities at BU and taught at its School of Theology. “For 23 years he was the voice of Marsh Chapel,” according his obituary in the Boston Globe.

Now Falun Dafa has announced it will be a weekly voice within the “Room of Robinson Chapel, Marsh Chapel, Boston University.”

Note: The book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” has two chapters devoted to Falun Gong. One focuses on the history of the group and its leader and another about how an American family staged an intervention to get someone out.

Children are dying of medical neglect needlessly while the Idaho State legislature dithers doing nothing to protect them.

The Idaho Statesman recently reported that five children died directly due to medical neglect because their parents belong to religious groups that don’t believe in modern medicine.

But rather than being prosecuted for manslaughter parents in Idaho are instead protected by a religious exemption.

Religious groups such as General Assembly of the First Born and Followers of Christ implicitly expect adherents to refuse medical care.

But does religious liberty preclude the right of child to live and somehow negate the responsibility of a parent to facilitate proper care? Certainly such needless deaths fit well within the realm of child abuse of the worst sort.

Parents have been charged, convicted criminally and sentenced to prison terms in other states for what apparently is considered a religious right in Idaho.

The Child Fatality Review Team annual report covered 2013 and now brings the total number of deaths to 10 since 2011 in Idaho.

All five dead children added to the list recently were infants.

Causes of death included birth-related complications and according to authorities they all could have been saved with proper medical care.

Why won’t Idaho protect helpless babies?

Well, Idaho Governor Butch Otter says that state lawmakers have agreed to at least talk about it, but so far there is no schedule even set for the promised discussion.

While the lawmakers look for an opening on their calendars children continue to suffer and die needlessly in Idaho.

Other states have removed religious exemptions regarding the medical care for minor children such as South Dakota, Oregon and Colorado.

When will Idaho act? How many more deaths will it take to convince legislators that changing the law is necessary?

Former White House director of public liaison Linda Chavez says, “As I have for the past few years, I will be emceeing an event that brings together tens of thousands of opponents of the Iranian regime…”

But does Ms. Chavez know that the “convener of the Paris conference” she will emcee is a purported “cult” leader once officially recognized by the US as a terrorist?

The event convener is Maryam Rajavi, wife of notorious “cult” leader Massoud Rajavi (rumored to be dead). The couple is known for their authoritarian control of the so-called “People’s Mujahedeen” (MEK), which was once listed by the United States State Department as a “terrorist organization.” That is, until 2012 when it was decided that the MEK be dropped from the list.

However, Mila Johns of the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism told Wired, “The delisting of the MEK, following a well-funded political lobby campaign, creates the dangerous impression that it is possible for terrorist organizations to buy their way off the [terrorism] list.”

Maryam Rajavi

Maryam Rajavi

In a 2004 New York Times Magazine reported about the “cult-like behavior” of the MEK. Journalist Elizabeth Rubin wrote, ”Every morning and night, the [MEK] kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,” One former member told Rubin that the group was little more than a “husband-and-wife cult” that subjected its adherents to enforced celibacy and public confessions of sexual desires. Rubin reported that not unlike some of the most extreme cults MEK members were often extremely isolated within a compound where there was little if any access to “newspapers or radio or television” and that all devotees knew was whatever Mr. and Mrs.Rajavi “fed them.”

In a recent interview a former Rajavi follower Masoud Banisadr said that “In MEK, we were not even allowed to think of our children and their well-being.” He further explained, “You have to teach your children: instead of loving you, love the leader.” Banisadr is the author of the book Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez

Why would Linda Chavez want to align herself with such a notorious group? Is it possible she is clueless and doesn’t know the group’s history and how the MEK has hurt and/or horribly exploited people?

Or is Ms. Chavez simply picking up a paycheck?

Four years ago the BBC reported that “the going rate for a pro-MEK speech seems to be $20,000 (£12,500).”

How much might the purported “cult” be willing to pay for a prominent emcee to imbue its event with a patina of authority?

Is Linda Chavez cashing in on her past status as the highest-ranking woman in President Ronald Reagan’s White House? Or is she trying to look important after the embarrassment of not being confirmed as President George W. Bush pick for Secretary of Labor?

Why would someone like Ms. Chavez want to help a “husband-and-wife cult” once listed as a terrorist organization?

Cult leader Jim Roberts is dead. He died in Denver during December according to an official coroner’s report obtained by a member of the Cult Education Institute (CEI) message board. Roberts ruled with absolute authority over his small flock of followers, which probably never numbered much more than a hundred core members.

The relatively obscure group often drew attention because of its bizarre behavior. Known as both “The Brethren” and “The Brothers and Sisters” the group was also frequently called the “garbage eaters” due to its practice of feeding from garbage dumpsters. The nomadic cult recruited on college campuses and was the subject of news reports when students that joined suddenly vanished.

Roberts, a former Marine, known to his followers as ”The Elder” or “Brother Evangelist,” lived a very secretive life and was rarely photographed. In 1998 an ABC News crew, led by journalist Dianne Sawyer, managed to confront him. Roberts subsequently refused to answer questions and quickly ran away.

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts

Roberts was pronounced dead on December 6, 2015 at 6:59 AM. The likely cause of death was cancer. Cult members identified the body and claimed that Jim Roberts had not seen a doctor in 40 years.  Upon his death Roberts, who was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 105 pounds and was clothed in a green T-shirt, khaki trousers and an adult diaper. Authorities obtained fingerprints and digital photographs.

Followers in the Roberts group often “suffered health problems” that could have been cured through modern medicine. Instead at times they died due to medical neglect. One reportedly passed away from pneumonia.

The Roberts group claimed to be based upon the bible, but was known for encouraging its members to terminate contact with family with and old friends. Members then wandered from place to place under Roberts’s guidance fund raising and attempting to persuade people to join the group. Cult members lived largely from charity and whatever food they could find, much like homeless people. One former member explained that Roberts “weaseled his way into control until next thing you knew he was running every aspect of your life.” Another former member described Roberts as a “paranoid megalomaniac.”

CEI has maintained a subsection about the Brethren led by Jim Roberts since the 1990s. Many complaints over the years came from families desperately trying to locate lost loved ones submerged in the group that remained isolated and dominated by Roberts. Hopefully, now that Jim Roberts is dead some of those families will find their lost loved ones through restored communication. However, it is likely that long-time Roberts loyalists, influenced by the cult leader’s teachings, will try to maintain the group mindset and to some extent its historic pattern of behavior.

Note: There is a website run by parents of members of the Jim Roberts group. Many are still searching for their children.

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As people become more aware of the bad behavior of Scientology through press reports, books and documentaries, some families and individuals directly affected by the organization may be asking, “How do I get someone out?”

Moreover, former members of Scientology struggling to unravel what they perceive as its embedded programming may be wondering, “How do I get rid of that leftover stuff?”

The answer can be summed up in one word — EDUCATION.

Rather than simply dismissing Scientologists as examples of “blind faith,” it’s far more useful understanding how they were blinded.

One of the largest online archives with a trove of historical articles, reports and documents about Scientology is the Cult Education Institute.

Psychologist Margaret Singer was stalked and harassed for decades by Scientology and other groups called “cults” due to her expertise and understanding of cultic manipulation. She wrote about an educational process proven to be quite helpful to current and former cult members. Singer explained, “Deprogramming is, providing members with information about the cult and showing them how their own decision making power had been taken away from them.”

An illustration of the process of deprogramming can be pictured by the action of the little dog Toto in the movie “Wizard of Oz.” In the climactic scene of the film classic Toto pulls back the curtain and exposes the man and machinations, behind the facade that is the mystical “Great Oz.” It is through this exposure that Dorothy and her companions realize they have been tricked and manipulated. They are then freed from their former fears about Oz.

ToTo pulls the curtain

Toto pulls the curtain

Today people can pull back the curtain on groups called “cults” like Scientology through research and study, which is made easier by the Web and information technology.

My recently published book “Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out” is a synthesis of this specific research from the fields of sociology and psychology that includes substantial historical information. All of this material is carefully footnoted and attributed.  There is also a very detailed, up-to-date and precise explanation of how deprogramming actually works illustrated vividly through case vignettes used as working examples. This book is based upon my more than 30 years of experience exploring the world of cults and facilitating hundreds of interventions to get people out of destructive cults. The book is being published in Mandarin for the Chinese market. The English version is now available on Amazon.com. Included are two chapters about Scientology. One about Scientology itself and another specifically detailing the deprogramming of a man who spent 27 years in the organization, but left through a family intervention.

Could Tom Cruise or John Travolta be successfully deprogrammed?

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Sadly this seems unlikely, because both of these movie stars have no one to get them out.

Deprogramming a current member of Scientology would depend upon the concern and support of family and friends.

Tom Cruise’s three ex-wives, Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes, apparently have left Scientology. But it’s doubtful that any of them or Cruise’s family, who are Scientologists, would help to get him out.

John Travolta is a pitiful example of someone that seems too afraid to leave. It appears that Scientology knows most if not all of his secrets, which they accumulated by providing him with spiritual counseling services called “auditing.” Kelly Preston, Travolta’s wife, is a deeply devoted Scientologist. And John Travolta’s extended family seems unwilling and/or unable to do anything about his involvement with the group no matter how much bad press the purported “cult” receives.

Scientology can be very nasty when it comes to its treatment of ex-members, even Hollywood’s elite, just ask Paul Haggis, who was ostracized by his Scientology friends when he left.

John Travolta

John Travolta

But if John Travolta and Tom Cruise genuinely wanted to unravel the Scientology programming instilled in them through endless courses, training routines and auditing sessions, it could be done through the educational process known as deprogramming.

Cult interventions are done with the help of family of friends, much like an intervention to address concerns about drug or alcohol abuse.

What occurs in such an intervention is essentially a dialog or discussion. During this discussion those present offer their sincere impressions, first-hand observations and opinions about the group or leader that has drawn concern. My role during such an intervention is to facilitate and often lead the discussion to focus attention on specific points.

There are four basic blocks or areas of discussion essential for the completion of a potentially successful intervention.

The four blocks are:

  1. What is the nucleus for the definition of a destructive cult?
  2. How does the process of coercive persuasion or thought reform used to gain undue influence really work?
  3. What is the frequently hidden history of the group and/or leader that has drawn concern?
  4. What are the concerns of family or friends?

The nucleus for the definition of a destructive cult was identified by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton in a paper published at Harvard University titled “Cult Formation.

Lifton says that cults can be identified by three primary characteristics:

  1. a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
  2. a process [Lifton calls] coercive persuasion or thought reform;
  3. economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Rather than focusing on what the group believes an effective intervention instead must focus on how the group is structured and behaves.

That is, if it is structured like a destructive cult and behaves like a destructive cult, it may be a destructive cult.

For example, does Scientology acknowledge that its charismatic founder L. Ron Hubbard made mistakes? Do Scientologists today feel free to discuss the mistakes made by their current leader David Miscavige? If so, what mistakes specifically made by these men do Scientologists feel free to discuss?  Did Hubbard become an object of worship? Does David Miscavige today occupy the position of an absolute dictator? If this is not true what are the limits of Miscavige’s power over Scientology staff and what boundaries exist to limit his authority within Scientology?

Does Scientology practice thought reform or coercive persuasion to gain undue influence over its members?

This can be seen by comparing Scientology training, polices, practices, behavior and group dynamics to eight criteria that define a thought reform program as outlined by Robert Jay Lifton in his seminal book “Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism.” Essentially, Lifton explained that if a group can substantially control whatever information and impressions enter into a person’s mind the group can largely control the individual. This includes the control of information, group behavior, emotional manipulation and ultimately the restriction of critical thinking.

How does Scientology do that?

This can be seen in part through the auditing process, which solicits confession, encourages suggestibility and engenders dependency upon the auditor and the organization to make value judgments, either directly or indirectly.  It is also evident in the control over personal associations accomplished by declaring someone a “Suppressive Person” (SP) and the practice of disconnection, which is cutting people off that Scientology has labeled as an SP. The label of SP itself can be seen as what Lifton calls “loaded language” used to inhibit critical thinking and restrict reflection?

Finally, does Scientology hurt people? The evidence mounting through personal injury lawsuits, bad press and now documentaries, is that Scientology has apparently hurt many people.

In a Scientology intervention it is important to examine the mythology that revolves around L. Ron Hubbard.

L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard

Hubbard often greatly exaggerated his accomplishments and Scientology has a penchant for spinning fanciful stories about him. In fact, Hubbard had a deeply troubled life filled with family turmoil and it seems mental illness. Reportedly he took an anti-anxiety drug Hydroxyzine (Vistaril); his assistants reportedly said that this was “only one of many psychiatric and pain medications Hubbard ingested over the years.”

This can be a curtain puller or reality check for many Scientologists. That is, the historical facts about the wizard of Scientology. According to a coroner’s report, Hubbard ingested drugs prohibited by the religion he created.

Would Tom Cruise take Vistaril? Would he recommend it to a friend suffering from stress and/or anxiety?

If the pseudo-science of Scientology calls its “technology” couldn’t clear its founder’s mind and save him from seeming insanity how can Scientology (per its mantra) “clear the planet”?

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

The book “Cults Inside Out” goes into all of this in far greater depth and detail chapter after chapter, explaining how groups called “cults” use deception and mind games to manipulate and control people.  The book can serve as an educational self-help guide to pull back the curtain on any cult scheme. It can assist concerned families to help loved ones out of a cultic situation. And it can also help cult victims sort through and clear the residue of cult involvement, which often can impede recovery from cults.

To my critics who have often called me a “dog feeding on my own vomit,” my hope is to be a dog like Toto. That is, by sharing the relevant research and my many years of experience through the book I might pull back the curtain a bit and contribute to the growing awareness about destructive cults. Margaret Singer once told me that the principle difference between a cult leader and a con man is that a con man typically runs his scam and moves on, but a cult leader may essentially run the same scam on many of the same people indefinitely.

Knowledge through specific education about destructive cults and how they work is the key to freedom from their undue influence and exploitation.

(Written by Rick Alan Ross)

Note: At the time I wrote the book Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out I had facilitated approximately 500 cult interventions. More than 70% on an average annually left the cult at the conclusion such intervention efforts. My book is the product of more than three decades of experience. I have also been qualified and testified as an expert witness regarding groups called “cults” (e.g. Scientology) in about 20 court proceedings across the United States, including United States Federal Court after a Daubert hearing.

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Cult watcher Steve Hassan is specifically recommending and promoting a fugitive sex offender through his Freedom of Mind website. Hassan recommends through numerous links, the website of convicted pedophile and wanted fugitive Anton Hein.

CultNews has previously reported about Anton Hein, who is a self-proclaimed expert and supposed lay minister. Hein runs a website called “Apologetics Index.”

Anton Hein pleaded guilty to sex charges in the United States that involved lewd behavior with his niece, a 13-year-old child. He served jail time in California before he was released on extended supervised probation. Hein violated his probation by leaving the US. He now lives in Amsterdam. A fugitive warrant has been issued and remains currently in effect for the immediate arrest of Anton Hein.

Hein now apparently makes a living from a combination of Dutch welfare benefits and revenue from online Google ads featured at his “counter-cult” website. Steve Hassan helps him by including numerous links to Hein’s site and apparent endorsements naming Hein as a credible resource.

Hein reciprocates by endorsing and promoting Hassan.

Anton Hein runs a group of websites including www.cultexperts.org, www.cultfaq, and he also controls religion news Twitter feed.

220px-steven_hassan_headshot_02Steve Hassan (photo left) says he is opposed to sexual abuse and is a supporter of the Child-Friendly Faith Project. Hassan states at his website that this is “focused on ending child abuse and neglect within religion affiliated groups by educating the public.” Hassan also is currently involved in an effort to end sexual exploitation through human trafficking.

However, Steve Hassan states, “I recommend subscribing to the free Religion News report, compiled by Anton Hein Apologetics Index.” And at the top of one page Hassan posts, “Click here to read a review of Releasing the Bonds on the Apologetics Index!”

Hassan literally linked to Hein

antonhein2How can Hassan on one hand be opposed to sexual abuse and exploitation and then on the other hand recommend a sexual predator convicted for abusing a child?

Hassan features links to Anton Hein’s website Apologetics Index at numerous pages within his site Freedom of Mind concerning various groups of interest such as the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, where he recommends Hein (1996 photo right) as a resource.

Steve Hassan features links to Hein’s website on no less than 38 pages at Freedom of Mind.

There is a connection bettween Hassan and Hein. That is, they each promote the others interests. Hassan promotes Hein by recommending him as a resource and providing links to his site, while Hein reciprocates by promoting Hassan.

It is understandable that someone like Anton Hein, seeking recognition and validation, would want to associate himself with professionals. This might appear to imbue him with an aura of credibility.

How can Steve Hassan credibly be fighting against the sexual abuse of children and the victims of human trafficking, while simultaneously promoting a convicted sexual predator?

Isn’t this just a bit inconsistent, hypocritical and/or unethical?

CultNews contacted Steve Hassan’s office by email and phone for comment. His office advised that Mr. Hassan was not immediately available to comment on this article.

Note: Some years ago upon discovering the fugitive status and detailed criminal record of Anton Hein the Cult Education Institute (CEI), formerly known as the Ross Institute of New Jersey, purged any links to Anton Hein’s website from its database. Since that time CEI and CultNews has endeavored to make Hein’s background more publicly known. This has been done through the CEI archives and CultNews reports. Anyone involved in cultic studies can readily discover Hein’s criminal history of child sexual abuse and know about his current fugitive status.

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Julaine Semanta Roy 85, the wife of Rama Behera later known as Rama Samanta Roy and then Avraham Cohen, died May 5th of this year. But her death was not reported until this month by The Shawano Leader.

Julaine Semanta Roy’s husband Rama Behera has historically been reported about by investigative journalists for many years. Behera has often been called a “cult” leader. He and his followers have been the subject of numerous media reports in Wisconsin and nationally. It seems that Rama Behera sought to escape his bad reputation by changing his name to Avraham Cohen and identifying himself as “Jewish.” Rama Behera moved to Maryland, where he became a member of Beth El Congregation in Baltimore.

The curious religious transformation of Rama Behera, who is of Indian descent, was the focus of a previous CultNews report some time ago. At that time Behera/Cohen was affiliated with Yeshivat Rambam, a Jewish day school in Baltimore, which has since closed.

The Shawano Leader reported that Behera/Cohen’s wife, like her husband, apparently went through a similar metamorphosis concerning her own identity. Born Julaine Smith, she became Julaine Semanta Roy and later was reportedly known as Sarah Steinberg and/or Sarah Cohen.

CultNews contacted Beth El Memorial Park cemetery in Randallstown, Maryland. Staff responding to the call confirmed that Behera/Cohen is a member of the Beth El Congregation and explained that though there is an Inter-faith section at the Beth El cemetery where non-Jews are buried, Julaine Semanta Roy was laid to rest in the Jewish portion of the graveyard.

rama3Behera/Cohen’s claim that he is somehow a Jew seems quite bizarre. The group Behera/Cohen led for decades was once called “The Disciples of the Lord Jesus,” which appears to make him a Christian. Past members of Behera/Cohen’s group say that he has a penchant for inconsistency. One former devotee told the press, “It doesn’t have to be logical, it doesn’t have to make sense; Rama [now known as Avraham Cohen] says so and that’s it.”

The choice of the names Avraham and Sarah Cohen by Rama Behera (photo left) the long-time “cult” leader is interesting. Apparently, continuing to see himself in grandiose terms, Behera chose the name Avraham (Abraham) the founder of Judaism and the corresponding name of Sarah the patriarch’s biblical spouse as the name for his own wife. The choice of the last name Cohen also has special significance. Cohen indicates a claim that a family are supposedly descendents of Aaron, the high priest and brother of Moses.

But is being a Jew just a claim anyone can make? Is it based upon name changes? Is this somehow enough to become officially recognized as Jewish? Maybe it’s enough for an old “cult” leader, but is it enough for Beth El Congregation and its cemetery?

CultNews contacted Senior Rabbi Steven Schwartz at Beth El to ask him how it is that Julaine Semanta Roy (aka Sarah Cohen) was allowed to be buried in the Jewish portion of the Beth El cemetery. CultNews asked Rabbi Schwartz very specifically that if to the best of his knowledge, Julaine Semanta Roy had undergone a ritual conversion per Jewish traditional law before being buried in the Beth El cemetery.

CultNews has received no response from Rabbi Schwartz.

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The Cult Education Institute (CEI) formerly known as the Ross Institute of New Jersey, has launched a completely redeveloped modern database.

The CEI archives includes more than 36,000 articles and documents in an online library organized through hundreds of subsections by group or topic of interest. There is also a virtual library listing relevant books in association with Amazon.com and one of the largest link collections now online about groups called “cults.”

The CEI site was first launched in 1996 and has grown from a modest website to one of the largest archives about destructive cults, controversial groups and movements accessible through the Internet.

There are also other sites online included under the CEI umbrella such as the Cult News Network, Cult News and the CEI message board. Taken together the CEI Web presence offers the general public a free interactive resource for research and study, which broadly encourages the sharing and networking of information for those concerned about cults and related topics of interest.

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Today US District Court Judge Gene Carter dismissed a lawsuit filed in Maine by the Gentle Wind Project (GWP) against Rick Ross and the Rick A. Ross Institute For The Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements (RI).

The judge also denied the plaintiff’s motion for any further discovery, effectively ending the litigation in Maine entirely regarding both this “cult watcher” and the nonprofit RI database.

Previously, Maine magistrate David Cohen recommended that the suit be dismissed and the presiding federal judge agreed, ruling swiftly.

Judge Carter also refused to hear any oral arguments on the matter.

GWP is a nonprofit charity run by John and Mary Miller of Kittery, Maine. The group holds seminars across the country and sells “healing instruments” for suggested donations reportedly ranging from $450 to upwards of $10,000. GWP claims that its instruments are based upon a healing technology that is supposedly channeled telepathically from “spirit world.”

Some time ago I called the group “rather odd” in a Flaming Website award, which was given after GWP published a rant about me at their Web site. That rant was prompted by a link posted at the RI Links page to a Web site launched by former members of the group James Bergin and his wife Judy Garvey, which is critical of the group.

The Garvey/Bergin Web site describes the healing tools as modern day “snake oil” and claims that the group manipulates its members. The couple left GWP about four years ago after a 17-year involvement.

GWP’s lawsuit initially included several defendants, now only two essentially remain, Ms. Garvey and Mr. Bergin.

One defendant Ian Mander of New Zealand did not respond to the legal action and has been declared in default. He continues to carry negative information about GWP with a link to the Garvey/Bergin site. Mander warns that GWP is an “extreme New Age group. Believed by many to be a…cult/scam.”

Other defendants in the lawsuit Steve Gamble and Ian Fraser negotiated a settlement, which restricted the content and meta tagging of their Web site, and included deleting their link to the Garvey/Bergin site. That settlement allows them to retain some information about GWP, but within certain guidelines.

One defendant dismissed from the suit through settlement, noted anti-cult professional Steven Hassan, has complied completely with GWP demands by deleting any and all information about the group from his Freedom of Mind Web site.

The remaining active defendants Bergin and Garvey also received good news today from the court; one of the primary counts against them was dismissed.

Since the filing of the lawsuit GWP has garnered increasing media attention, which has largely been critical of both the group and its products.

“Our concern is that they are scamming people by selling basically pieces of paper and plastic,” attorney Carl Starrett of the Special Investigations Agency of California told a San Diego news channel last year.

Starrett later said, “The whole thing is ludicrous. They’re bilking people.”

“It seems the Gentle Wind Project is selling what Health Canada considers ‘risk class 1′ devices, something the group is not allowed to do without a license” reported Now Magazine.

Robert Baratz, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud in the U.S. said that GWP’s scientific explanations of their instruments are “high-sounding phrases that mean nothing.”

While doing a story about the lawsuit a reporter for the Ellsworth American dug into the publicly accessible financial records of GWP.

The group’s latest IRS disclosure shows assets of $2,077,324 as of August 31, 2003, up from $1,918,205 the year before. Revenue for the 2002-03 fiscal year totaled $1,969,923, with expenses totaling $1,810,804.

Direct donations, accounted for $1,889,227 of revenues.

Expenses during the 2002-03 fiscal year included $1,015,899 for “program services.” The project spent $358,995 in compensation to officers and directors.

As president of the corporation, Mary Miller earned $71,799 during the 2002-03 fiscal year, the same salary as the corporation’s treasurer and clerk.

GWP also spent $379,845 for other salaries and wages. Expenses also included $43,474 for employee benefits and $176,072 for “supplies.”

The project’s books also show that gifts, grants and contributions collectively totaled $4,112,751 during the fiscal years that began in 1998 through 2001. Total revenue for that same period was $5,593,033.

One filing notes a $231,660 loan to a GWP employee who is the brother of a corporation officer. No purpose for the loan is listed.

The Attorney’s General office in Maine is reportedly “looking into” GWP.

According to court records GWP has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Prominent Massachusetts attorney Douglas Brooks who was generously assisted by local counsel William H. Leete Jr. of Portland, Maine represented the Ross Institute pro bono.

GWP’s current attorney Daniel Rosenthal seems unfazed by the group’s latest legal setbacks. “It streamlines things and creates a tighter focus,” he told the Portland Press Herald.

However, it seems like Gentle Wind has blown its situation badly through all its legal wrangling and would have been better off as a quiet breeze.