By Brian Birmingham

Often when somebody exits an abusive group or relationship there’s an internal struggle in the person’s mind, in which one wonders about oneself, “How did I get involved in such a situation? Why did I stay involved for as long as I did? What’s wrong with me?”

Often, there is a lot of self-blame involved in leaving an abusive group or relationship.

It takes time for one to process such experiences. To figure out how and why it happened.

One of the most important things that a former member of an abusive authoritarian group, or “cult,” can realize, which will help in the recovery process, is that it’s not a question of “what is wrong with me?” But more pertinent and helpful, in terms of healing, is to question instead, “What was done to me while I was involved in the group, that made it so hard to leave for so long?”

This effectively reframes the recovery process from “What is wrong with me?” to “What was done to me?”

Once one comes to understand that there is an intentional planned process of coercive persuasion and thought reform involved and that the recruitment and indoctrination process was deceptive, then one is well on the way to genuine recovery regarding the pain inflicted by an abusive group or relationship.

Sinasta J. Colucci understands this very well. And this understanding is reflected in the pages of his book “Better Than a Turkish Prison: What I Learned from Life in a Religious Cult.”

As far as I know, this is the first book ever written by a former member of the religious, Bible-based cult called the “Twelve Tribes.” And since I have recently reported about the death of Twelve Tribes leader Elbert Eugene Spriggs and his followers, it seemed meaningful to review this book, even though it was published in 2018.

“Better Than a Turkish Prison” is the story of how one young man got swept up into the highly controlling world of the Twelve Tribes, and his eventual disillusionment with and defection from the cult.

It’s as if Colucci did not so much “join” the Twelve Tribes, as he just intended to visit the Stepping Stone Farm in Weaubleau, Missouri in 2004. However, that visit turned into nine years.

Colucci was assimilated or absorbed in a what can be seen as a “Borg-like” hive. The Borg are a fictional sinister predatory alien group that appear within the Star Trek series. They are a cybernetic “Collective” and their motto is “resistance is futile.” Much like the fictional victims of the Borg Colucci was historically absorbed by Twelve Tribes.

However, Colucci eventually broke free, along with a woman he met in the group, who he later married.

It’s been said that nobody joins a cult, they just postpone the decision to leave.

Sinasta Colucci is a striking example of this truth, which he vividly explains in his book. He describes occasions in which he noticed hypocrisies and double-standards in the group’s lifestyle. Times in which Twelve Tribes teachings were not consistent with the way they were living and doing business.

However, despite these contradictions Colucci writes very plainly that the main reason he stayed for so long was because he once believed that there were no viable options for survival outside of the group.

At no point throughout the book does Colucci describe himself as a victim of the Twelve Tribes. Nor as a victim of its leader Elbert Eugene Spriggs.

And at no point does he ask “What was wrong with me? Why did I join? Why did I stay as long as I did?”

What Colucci does instead, at least in this reader’s opinion, is explain what was done to him. He also goes into the circumstances of his life, just before he was recruited at the age of nineteen. What made him vulnerable.

This is a unique book written by a former member of the Twelve Tribes. And as a former member with almost a decade of direct experience Colucci gives the reader a very good and insightful look into what life is really like day-to-day in the Twelve Tribes for both men and women. The author also provides interesting and valuable details about the group’s theology and practices.

For example: the description of how the loaf is made for the Sabbath-night “breaking of bread.” And details about Ha-Emeq (Marsha Spriggs, Yoneq’s wife) and her “Shiners” was intriguing.

Also, especially interesting are the descriptions of Spriggs’ personal behavior in Hiddenite; how he complained about his corn not being sweet enough. And how he made fun of a woman for being overweight. These insider accounts show Spriggs to be the hypocrite that he was.

My only criticism of Colucci’s book is that the last fifty or seventy-five pages, of the approximately two-hundred-and-fifty-page book, are basically a treatise on the author’s atheism. It seems to me that Colucci went from a preachy Twelve Tribes member to a somewhat preachy atheist.

Perhaps Colucci thinks that his current choice of atheism reflects his progressive path of enlightenment?

Or maybe this reader/reviewer is a bit oversensitive about this.

All in all, though, “Better Than a Turkish Prison: What I Learned from Life in a Religious Cult” is a good read and I recommend this book.

By Brian Birmingham

I recently interviewed a former member of the Roberts group (aka The Brethren, “Garbage Eaters”).

The Roberts group, established and led by Jim Roberts, is known as one of the most controlled, restrictive and enigmatic groups in America. It’s members, nick named the “garbage eaters,” for their habit of scrounging for food in dumpsters.

The group members have wandered about North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Africa, fund raising and at times recruiting college students, who then would disappear for decades.

Known for their total isolation and nomadic lifestyle the families of members frequently searched in vain for their loved ones. Typically, there was little if any communication with family and old friends, which was strictly controlled by Roberts.

Since the death of Jim Roberts in 2015 the group has undergone several substantial changes in its leadership and practices according to the former member I interviewed.

Jim Roberts

First of all, the group is no longer led by one man, but instead is now run by a small council of “older brothers,” who were appointed by Roberts before he died.

These designated leaders are David Kurtz (known as “David” in the group), Jerry Williams (known as “Hatzair”), Jonathan Schmidt (known as “Johannon”) and Channon Lill (known as “Hopeful”).

Bart Wilcox (known as “Zephaniah”) was also originally one of the appointed elders, but it’s been reported that he married, and was replaced by Lill.

The group is apparently now relaxing some of its strict rules involving marriage, communications with family, as well communications with former members.

Today they’ve got no real base or headquarters, but are now reportedly in Flagstaff Arizona, Knoxville, Tennessee, Asheville, North Carolina and Denver, Colorado. These locations are apparently maintained more or less permanently.

The leaders or elders listed above have phone numbers and email addresses, and one of them is known to have a positive relationship with a former member with whom he is in contact.

However, even with all of these relatively major changes the group remains very secretive. And they do not want to be easily found.

There are certain things that are not known about their current practices.

For example: are there still so-called “bozo camps,” where supposedly troublesome members are assigned and sent to for punishment?

Does the group continue to abandon especially problematic members?

In the past problem members often would be sent to bozo camp only to find out that there was no one there, and that everyone there had left the location before the problem member arrived.

Does the Roberts group still do this?

What are their recruitment tactics like today?

There are many unknowns that remain about how the Roberts group is run today by its current elders/leaders.

It does seem that fewer people are joining the group and then disappearing, which greatly distressed families.

It also seems like there are fewer people leaving.

CultNews could not find out how many minor children are now part of the group.

The group is also aging.

Some of the men Jim Roberts hand picked as elders are now entering their seventies.

What will happen to the group as the older members begin to die?

Most personality-driven groups called “cults” wither and disintegrate after the establishing founder/leader is gone.

Perhaps the Roberts group too, will follow that pathway to ultiamate extinction.

Note: Researcher Brian Birmingham was the first to uncover the medical examiner’s report concerning the death of Jim Roberts.

By Brian Birmingham

Some basic background information for those readers who may be less familiar with the so-called “Jesus Christians” (JCs), led by American Dave McKay, who now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

The McKay group is more or less a watered-down version of the Roberts Group/Brethren, nick named the “garbage eaters” for their practice of scrounging food from dumpsters. The JCs, like the Roberts group founded and led by Jim Roberts (now deceased see Medical Examiner Report), is defined and controlled by its founder and leader Dave McKay.

Dave McKay

Though McKay and his followers seem a bit angrier and more resentful that the Roberts group.

Both groups see themselves as the epitome of First Century Christian disciples living minimally on the road, while sharing what they represent as the original teachings of Christianity.

Dave McKay’s craving for attention has put his group in the news at times. Most notably when he hatched a scheme to have his followers donate their kidneys to strangers. For a time, the JCs were called the “kidney cult.”

McKay himself was once a member of the notorious “Children of God” (COG) led by pedophile Moses David Berg (now deceased).

Moses David Berg

McKay has incorporated facets of COG and other teachings he copied to create what can be seen as a composite of cult beliefs, which are used by the JCs.

The net result is that in many ways the JCs are a cloned version of very early COG, with the wandering nomadic aspect of the Roberts Group thrown in and just a sprinkle of the Jesus Army (disbanded) for flavor and a dash of Heaven’s Gate-ish sci-fi (mass suicide all deceased) overtones thrown in for good measure.

If you are looking through a menu of groups called “cults” Dave McKay has concocted quite a stew. But his recipe isn’t very original.

The JCs are pretty much an Australian version of the Roberts group, with two major differences:

1. The McKay group uses the Internet. The JCs create and promote videos online and also actively recruits online. Whereas the Roberts group (again, as far as I know) never made the transition to online proselytizing.

2. The McKay group does not have a uniform, unlike the Roberts group, which has a very distinct style of dress.

Here is What most people don’t know. The similarities between the McKay and Roberts groups are not a mere coincidence. Dave McKay and his followers met Jim Roberts in Oregon, and even camped with the Roberts group for a while in Berkeley, California. This was around 1990.

But when Jim Roberts found out that Dave was in fact not a mere junior member of the group, which he represented himself to be, and instead the group’s leader, things got just a bit testy.

Jim Roberts

Roberts concluded that McKay was in fact attempting to infiltrate and poach his group. Subsequently, he told Dave McKay and his followers to leave the NE Ivy Street house, where they were all staying in Oregon at the time.

JC member Attilla Danko and a woman, who were in the USA at the time, met with two Roberts group members. One is named Jonathon Schmidt, who is still with the Roberts group to this day. Another Roberts group member named Thomas was also there in Berkeley at that time. Thomas has since left the Roberts group.

Eventually, McKay met face to face with Jim Roberts in Oregon. The two “cult leaders” apparently had a confrontation at the house on NE Ivy Street.

Thomas shared this information with CultNews about the Dave McKay and Jim Roberts’ meeting in Oregon.

Thomas was there and witnessed everything first hand.

This history demonstrates that the McKay group is simply a mishmash copied from other “cults” and that McKay has historically drifted through various groups, which he studied and then appropriated teachings from them as he saw fit. Making the JCs a highly eclectic and syncretistic group.

That meeting in Oregon must have been quite a scene. Two mutually exclusive “cult leaders” facing off, each wanting to be dominant top dog demanding obedience.

Of course, most of McKay’s followers today probably have no idea how Dave McKay manufactured his group’s identity and what groups and events contributed to its teachings.

It seems that the readers of CultNews now may know more about this group’s history than the so-called “Jesus Christians.”

But it’s not surprising that Dave McKay probably wants to keep his followers ignorant about all of this.

As the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

And as some might also observe, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

But Dave McKay is an old dog that learned old tricks, which he copied from even older now deceased “cult leaders.”

Note: The Medical Examiner Report concerning Jim Roberts linked in this report was first obtained by Brian Birmingham to be archived online at the Cult Education Institute.

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By Brian Birmingham

Q: You’ve seen a lot of changes take place in ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) over the years, at least in North America. What are some of the biggest changes the institution has made, in your estimation? What things have not changed, or need changing?

A: I joined ISKCON in 1978, just when they instituted the zonal guru system. Under this system, eleven men were named to give initiation within their own zones. This was the biggest change I observed in ISKCON, and probably the biggest change in ISKCON’s short history. I remember being there when Ramesvara announced the plan to a packed Los Angeles temple room. It was unwelcome for most of the disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Some felt Prabhupada should be the only guru even though he was no longer present. They thought any future disciples should be connected to Prabhupada, even if someone else did the initiation ceremony. Others believed all Prabhupada disciples should become gurus and initiate their own disciples. Things split in that direction, because within ten years the GBC had named many more men to become gurus.

Nori Muster

One thing that has not changed is the place of women. As far as I know, ISKCON still has no women gurus, and they do not allow women to give the morning Bhagavatam classes or lead the morning kirtans. I like to believe they stopped arranged marriages, since I’ve spoken to ISKCON women who told me their assigned husbands beat and raped them. As far as the children, they did change the rules, so children are now allowed to live with their families. That’s one good change.

Q: If there was one thing that you would recommend that that the institution could and should change right away, then what would that one thing be?

A: It’s none of my business since I’ve left the organization. However, when I was a member, we tried to be more open about the truth in the ISKCON World Review. From 1986 to 1988 we published articles, interviews, and editorials on a variety of issues, including the guru reform movement, the gurukula, changes in the BBT, and the murder of Steven Bryant (Sulochan). However, it was the 1980s, and the organization was not ready for that. The GBC kept trying to make us stop writing about ISKCON’s problems. They wanted us to go back to printing only good news, so we resigned. If we had kept going, they probably would have found a way to fire us. However, I still believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, and wish the organization would be more open about airing their internal issues with their members, and the public. We just knew way too much in the PR office we were not allowed to talk about. It seemed awkward and unbalanced. Thanks to covering up the secrets, I left ISKCON with a load of guilt that took years to resolve.

Q: In other words, you’d recommend greatly enhanced levels of transparency and accountability, both within the organization itself as well as in its public-relations dealings? Do I understand you correctly?

A: Yes, I support transparency and accountability. Most of what I know about ISKCON these days is from what people tell me. Lots of people contact me after reading my book or finding my website. Some of the things people say make me think things are still a big mess in ISKCON. Let’s compare that to my undergraduate college. My college has a great reputation and always scores in the top ten public colleges. However, if my college had ongoing scandals and a bad reputation, I would feel embarrassed to tell people that’s where I got my degree. It’s the same for ISKCON. I spent ten and a half years in ISKCON and wish the organization would get it together so I could feel proud of them. I feel they’re still too secretive and defensive about their issues.

Q: What do you think about the ongoing “Hiduization” of ISKCON, and the emphasis placed (in recent years) placed upon outreach and evangelism to the Indian immigrant community? I thought that ISKCON is a non-sectarian spiritual society. Why are they identifying as “Hindus” now?

A: Over the years I watched ISKCON go downhill under white American leaders. About the time I left, 1988, I started to think Hindus could probably do a better job of running it. It is, after all, their religion. They grew up in the religion, while most of us grew up as Christians or Jews. As long as the Hindus are honest and treat everyone fairly, I’m all for it. I would hate to see the whole thing break down.

Srila Prabhupada

My other choice would be for the children of ISKCON to run it. However, most of them leave the organization when they grow up. Either way, actual Hindus or children who grew up in ISKCON, seem like the best options for cleaning it up and carrying on Srila Prabhupada’s legacy.

Q: Thank you for your time and help. I’m going to conclude this interview now.

Note: Nori Muster is the author of “Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement” (University of Illinois Press, 1997), “Cult Survivors Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life” (2010), and “Child of the Cult” (2012). She was an ISKCON member from 1978-1988, then earned her Master of Science degree at Western Oregon University in 1991 doing art therapy with juvenile sex offenders. She is currently a freelance writer and adjunct professor, based in Arizona. Muster also has a website for cultic studies information.

By Brian Birmingham

Here are some more memories from my visit to “Twelve Tribes “ Morning Star Ranch,” which is near San Diego, California about eight years ago. A group that has often been called a “cult” by researchers and the media.

Twelve Tribes has a standard “Friday Night Celebration.” Everyone gathers in “the schoolhouse” at six, where tea and cookies are served.  Then at about six-thirty the singing and dancing begins. 

Visitors are greeted with applause and a man named Thomas praises the visitors. He says that all of the Twelve Tribes members are so grateful that visitors have come to be with them.  Thomas also praises “the zeal of the new brothers.” Everybody claps like they are welcoming some long-lost relatives.

Was this a carefully crafted performance of “love bombing”? It certainly seems a bit over the top.

After all the singing and dancing Twelve Tribes members go around the gathered circle, telling everyone what they were grateful for, as well as the things they want to repent about that happened during the week. 

Some members cry when they describe the depth of their gratitude for having “come into the Body of Messiah” (aka Twelve Tribes). Others speak about their guilt, frustration and discouragement “in the flesh.” 

This sounds like group confessional. And it looks like what is called the “Cult of Confession,” an aspect of thought reform (aka “brainwashing”).

One little girl, maybe twelve years old, talks about how privileged she is to be raised in this community, as part of the “Body of Messiah.” But she still sinfully wishes that she could be a part of “the world” and have her own iPod to listen to worldly music, go to movies, and do other worldly things.

Twelve Tribes appears to sharply divide humanity into a “we vs. they” dichotomy. And the “worldly” people apparently are outsiders living in sin. An example of a seemingly cult-like mindset typified by black and white thinking. Or what has been called the “demand for purity.”

As the little girl speaks, her mother is pinching her arm and audibly whispering to her, “Show it, show it!”  The little girl begins to emote more in response to her mother’s insistent coaching. She is coerced to portray more regret and repentance. 

The little girl subsequently explains that she really does not need any of those toys that the children in the world have, and that she knows that toys are all a waste of time. 

She cries repeatedly when she speaks about the privilege she feels for being raised in Twelve Tribes and how grateful she is to submit to her parents’ authority. 

The little girl speaks glowingly about her parent’s discipline. But Twelve Tribes children are beaten with wooden sticks. But the little girl says that such punishment is because her parents truly love her and don’t want her to fall into “the temptations of the world.” 

It is disturbing to watch how controlled the Twelve Tribes children are at the meeting. And is it a privilege for the little girl to be pinched and coached so intensely by her mother? Why does the little girl need to hear her mother say, “Show it, show it!” over and over again?  

No one in the Twelve Tribes seems to see anything wrong. Everybody gives little girl a hearty “AMEN” after she cries and talks about her endless gratitude for her supposedly privileged existence.

The message of the Gathering is simple, “the outside world is bad and unsafe, but the Body of Messiah is edifying, fairly perfect and always “safe.”

Twelve Tribes leader, Mevesehr and his family is at the ranch visiting for the weekend from Vista.

Mevesehr and his wife Poriah have six children.  Even though Elkin-ha is the leader at the ranch, he defers to Mevesehr, who is a 21-year member of the group. Mevesehr does most of the talking and teaching. 

A handful of ranch leaders  are also attending a Twelve Tribes conference in North Carolina, where the top Twelve Tribes leader “Yoneq” (Delbert Eugene Spriggs) lives. 

Delbert Eugene Spriggs

After praising the guests and the seemingly coached personal expressions of gratitude, Mevesehr offers a brief homily about gratitude and forgiveness in the Body.,

Mevesehr tells everyone that he has just been to North Carolina and that he spoke with Spriggs. He says that when Spriggs is convalescing from some kind of serious illness. But that Spriggs is regaining his health. 

Mevesehr claims that he literally entered Spriggs’ room backwards, with his back turned, so that he could not look directly at “Yoneq,” like Shem and Japheth when they entered the tent of Noah backwards, in the Bible. Unlike Ham’s sons who were cursed. 

Mevesehr says that Spriggs is a father to him, and that he would not even so much as look directly at face, unless Spriggs asked him. 

It certainly seems that “Yoneq”/Spriggs, who is now dead, was an object of worship when he was alive, for all of his followers in Twelve Tribes. This is a defining feature of a cult, when the leader becomes an object of worship.

By Brian Birmingham

Elbert Eugene Spriggs, founder and leader of the Twelve Tribes cult, passed away on January 11th, at the age of 83 (Death Certificate).

Twelve Tribes is a racist, sexist, homophobic “Messianic Bible-based” group, which supports itself through the exploitation of various forms of what amounts to slave labor.

Some years ago, I dropped in on the group to witness firsthand how they operate. The following is what it’s like inside the Twelve Tribes. You can see why the group is often described as “racist,” which is due directly to the teachings of Ebert Eugene Spriggs, who called himself the “Prophet Yoneq.

At the gathering in the “big house” a few songs were sung, but there was no dancing, and two members, Mevesehr and Elkin-ah, did the teaching and exhortation. Members of Twelve Tribes often are given new Hebrew sounding names.

Mevesehr spoke about the “Nation of Ham,” and how Abraham Lincoln was an “evil emperor” who upset the law of God by taking Ham [African-American slaves] out of the boundaries that “God” had made [sic]. Mevesehr went on to say that this “liberal social engineering” was at the heart of so many of our social problems today.

Elbert Eugene Spriggs

Mevesehr stated, “Multiculturalism was a lie right out of the pit of hell” and that the only way that peace and harmony can be had on this earth is if “Shem [Europeans], Ham [Africans], and Japheth [Asians] all stay within their God-ordained boundaries.”

Ham, according to Twelve Tribes doctrine is supposedly protected by Japheth as a “little brother” and must be the “servant of Japheth and Shem,” Mevesehr said.

The Twelve Tribes teacher also explained that “all of slaves before the Civil War were happy and carefree and grateful to be under the tutelage of the white man.

Mevesehr taught that even if a slave was being whipped by his or her master on some plantation, all of the other slaves were happy that this errant slave received discipline and grateful that their master had provided it.

Mevesehr said that once the “evil Lincoln” set the slaves free, poor Ham did not know what to do, since he was no longer under the loving hand of Japheth.

And so society in the United States turned into a total mess according to Twelve Tribes because it deviated from this “divine doctrine,” Mevesehr concluded.

Mevesehr then called the only female African-American member of the community “our mammy” and praised her for being a humble “mammy” servant. He stated his conviction that the only way in the world that Shem, Ham, and Japheth could truly live together in peace and harmony is in the “Body of Messiah” (aka Twelve Tribes). Not mixed up together in the Satanic world where the “Godly boundaries” [sic] have been erased where the races will only fight amongst themselves.

Ultimately, according to this Twelve Tribes doctrine, Ham, left on his own, will only self-destruct unless he has Japheth to guide and protect him.

At the meeting one African-American “disciple” in the room (thirty or forty people were there) stood up and confessed hesitantly that he was feeling “offended in his flesh.” He said, “We’re always talking about welcoming Ham into the ‘Body of Messiah,’ but most folks who are of the Nation of Ham would be very offended by this teaching.” He continued, “Black folks were not happy about their situation, and they certainly did not enjoy being slaves. And I don’t want to leave this room with people thinking that this is true,” he said.

Mevesehr then gently reprimanded the man (whose name is pronounced something like Isha-Dosh) by reminding him that any opinion that is contrary to a teaching that is coming from “The Anointing of the Holy Spirit” [sic] must to be considered “strange fruit” and as such is part of the venomous learning of “the world.” And this, Mevesehr told Isha-Dosh, “is why you are offended in the flesh.” Isha-Dosh then sadly sat down.

These racist teachings are the legacy left behind by Elbert Eugene Spriggs, who also reportedly was homophobic and anti-Semitic.

CultNews Note: Brian Birmingham is a cult researcher who has studied Twelve Tribes. He was the first person to obtain the death certificate of Spriggs, which he shared with media outlets and other researchers in the field.

By Joan Jones

I became aware of the man known as Nature Boy nearly a year ago. I was following a YouTube channel whose objective was exposing an impostor pretending to be a psychologist. Periodically, I would receive a recommendation for videos featuring someone named “Nature Boy.” I ignored them. But eventually I clicked on one of the videos. What I saw was discomfiting.

I would describe Nature Boy as tall, somewhat unkempt, and erratic. He was shirtless and wearing a sarong. He seems not particularly bright or articulate. In fact, his vocabulary was street. But he has the skills of manipulation often associated with a good charlatan or charismatic con man.

Beliefs of Carbonation

Nature Boy preaches that the “end times” are near, and that he is the messiah. His rhetoric includes a theory about people of color living close to the equator. According to him, this is imperative for maintaining health and peace of mind. One must leave what he calls “Babylon” (America) and live a natural lifestyle in the Tropics. There, people must eat his version of a B6 diet, and defecate at the base of trees. There will be no need for a doctor or medication. In the world of Nature Boy, all disease is psychological.

As I listened, it all sounded like some bizarre mixture of organized religion, astrology, and new age concepts. A rational person might conclude that Nature Boy is spouting moronic nonsense to be believed by no one. However, our history with groups called “cults” founded by charismatic authoritarian leaders, reflects otherwise. And Nature Boy has been called a “cult leader.”

Names change of Nature Boy and his followers

Originally, Nature Boy called his group the Etherians. Then, it became Melanation. Later the name was changed again to Carbonation.

Nature Boy’s real name is Eligio Lee Bishop. He has also used the name Eligio Prada.

Bishop’s background and criminal record

Arrest records from the state of Georgia show his birth date as April 29, 1982. He is now 37 years old. Bishop’s past criminal charges include forcible entry, theft, aggravated battery, and driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

Eligio Bishop aka “Nature Boy”

By his own admission, Bishop is a former barber, model, gay escort, stripper, and porn star.

Nature Boy is not his only title. His spiritual awakening also propelled him to become, Father Tehuti/ Master TeacherTehuti/ Father Nature, Most Honorable Chief Eligio the Christ/ Commander and Chief of the Earth Plane/, Master Chief Eligio the Christ, Immortal Chief, etc.

Nature Boy’s idyllic place to build his nation was Latin America. But Bishop does not speak Spanish. Nor do most of his followers. He insists that it is the warm climate that led him to Central America. However, I think it had more to do with getting away with deeds you could not get away with in America. Mainly, the abuse of women and children.

Cult moves through Central America

So far, Bishop has set his group up, which can be seen as a personality-driven “cult,” in Honduras, Belize, Costa Rico, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. However, if he thought these nations would look the other way at what seems to be essentially a sex cult, he was wrong; because, it seems he was kicked out of every single country he landed in.

A new identity

When one joins Carbonation, all assets must be turned over to Nature Boy. Members then receive a new identity. They discard their birth names or as Bishop says, their “Babylon” name. Bishop then bestows upon his followers new names. Bishop’s followers must also release what he calls “attachments.” These “attachments” are families left in America. When referring to those families, his followers are taught to dismiss them as their “Babylon Family.” Their new family is Carbonation.

People have left partners and minor children to join Carbonation. One woman left her four children in America to become a wife of one of the members. Though Nature Boy has fathered children with women in the group, he also abandoned children in America. Does this all sound familiar?

Women in Carbonation

A woman’s place in Bishop’s group will not surprise those familiar with male authoritarian leaders. Women are classified as inferior to men. Women gaining a measure of equality is what Bishop says is wrong with Babylon/America. Women are to be subservient, docile, and bear children. This is their only purpose in life. Women must also be willing to accept the true nature of a man and that true nature is polygamy. Bishop says that it’s man’s destiny to have as many wives and father as many children as he can.

Nature Boy loves to boast of where he learned his concept of manhood, which is within prison. Think about that for a minute.

When discussing sex Bishop uses pornographic terms. He gloats about the sex he has had with his wives and other women in the group. He’ll speak about their genitals using detailed, explicit and often vulgar terms.

With the sex, there is often violence within this group. There is a video of Bishop abusing one of his wives while she was holding a baby. There is a video of him bragging about beating another wife.

Several weeks ago, Bishop reverted back to his days as a stripper. While dancing, he began to simulate sex acts with his wives. Later, Bishop displayed his wives face down on a bed wearing only a thong.

Women in Carbonation may find that sex acts may be videotaped and uploaded on porn sites. This is what Nature Boy did with two of his so-called wives.

Click here to see Bishop talking about physical abuse of woman.

Does this describe the new messiah?

Social media rants

Social Media is the cornerstone of Carbonation. Bishop exploits all of its platforms. He utilizes them to preach his dogma, beg for donations, and attract new wives. He has thousands of followers online, and has collected thousands of dollars.

The seemingly psychotic behavior Eligio Bishop so boldly exhibits online contributed to his deportation from Latin America. It appears that no nation or rational person would want him in their midst.

There are times online while professing to be Christ, Bishop will give an impassioned sermon laced with profanity and racist expletives. Christ is not the only identity he’ll assume. He may emerge in what looks like a Shia Muslim turban claiming that he is Muslim. Bishop can also be seen lecturing drunk online wearing what amounts to a cheap knockoff of an American Indian War Bonnet.

Click here to see some online rants by Eligio Bishop

Carbonation death

The physical and sexual abuse of women is not the only evil within Carbonation. Though most of the cult members are in their 20s and 30s there was a middle-aged woman who joined the group. Her name was Magdalena “Maggie” Sevilla. Nature Boy changed her name to Mamma Dia. She appeared to be in her late 40s or early 50s. She had a heart condition that was stabilized with medication. It is alleged that Nature Boy told her to stop taking her medication. Bishop claims that all diseases are psychological. Two months after joining the cult, Magdalena Sevilla died. Her family had to solicit donations online to return her remains home. There are other allegations of deaths associated with the Bishop cult.

Child abuse

One of the most disturbing videos online is of Nature Boy abusing his son. There is also video of him boasting of having sex in front of children. There is a video of Bishop explaining that he allowed his son to touch his penis after having sex with the child’s mother.

Click here to see Eligio Bishop share his thoughts about women and children.

Cabonation diet and health

The so-called B6 diet the group lives on has left them looking sickly and malnourished. It seems to me that if the parents are sickly, then the children are unlikely to be healthy.

There are allegations of sexually transmitted diseases within the group. There are two members that admitted online that they have Herpes. There are allegations that have circulated since the beginning of Carbonation, that Nature Boy is HIV positive. Bishop recently uploaded a video of him taking a home HIV test. According to him, there results were negative.

Online followers and the media

When you view Carbonation online, you will see a group of about 12 to 17 people. But Eligio Bishop has thousands of online followers. In addition to his wives in the group, Bishop also has virtual wives online.

There is a video of one of his female followers abusing her son based upon the ideology she learned online from Nature Boy.

The BBC has reported about Carbonation. In 2017, they did an entire documentary on the cult. CBC in Canada also reported on Carbonation in 2017 after a Canadian citizen joined the cult.

The Latin American press has posted numerous articles. The only press that has somehow largely overlooked Bishop is the American press.

Bishop deported

Finally, on or about December 5, 2019, the Panamanian Police arrested Eligio Bishop and the members of Carbonation. They were deemed a threat to Panama’s national security, and were immediately deported.

Guess where they’ve been deported to?

Back in the United States

On December 6, 2019, a video was posted on YouTube of Bishop/Nature Boy ranting about those he perceived had reported him to the Panamanian Police, which led to his deportation. Bishop then claimed to be in Texas. But now, it appears that he is living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Social media petitions

Numerous attempts have been made to remove Nature Boy and Carbonation from social media. There is an online petition concerning this.

There was some success in getting Nature Boy expelled from Facebook.

Bishop was briefly suspended from Instagram.

However, Bishop the uses the accounts of his followers.

Despite Carbonation’s long and continuous condemnation of the United States, Bishop mocking people who live in the US, his perverse online behavior and the fact that the group was kicked out of six Latin American countries. Eligio Bishop and his followers apparently are able to return to the United States unscathed and operate unfettered by authorities.

Beware. Eligio Bishop and his followers within Carbonation remain online and they are recruiting new members.

CultNews recently received some interesting questions from a reader concerned about President Donald Trump.

The reader said, “I often wonder if my cousins are members of a cult. They worship Donald Trump. He has become a god-like figure in their lives and no matter what Trump does, their feelings do not change.”

The reader then asks, “If this is the case, will they ever change? I cannot talk with them because they see me as some type of liberal demon. It’s uncomfortable to be around them so I just stopped trying to have a relationship. What do cult leaders really want? What do their followers want?” 

Analysis by Rick Alan Ross

CultNews response

Donald Trump is not an absolute authoritarian “cult” leader like a Jim Jones, Charles Manson or David Koresh. He was democratically elected and is subject to congressional oversight, judicial review by the courts and must run to be reelected. The President of the United States is also constitutionally limited by law to no more than two terms (eight years) as president. None of this matches the history or narrative of cult leaders like Jones, Manson and Koresh.

Trump supporters do seem to be narrowly focused on frequently partisan news sources, which can affect their critical thinking, but these sources of information fit within the boundaries of propaganda and are not part of the framework of an intentionally planned thought reform program (“brainwashing”) run by Donald Trump.

Donald J. Trump

Trump supporters are not cult victims

Moreover, most Trump supporters already shared and appreciated Donald Trump’s ideas, feelings and attitudes before they voted for him. He didn’t change them deceptively through coercive persuasion without their knowledge and consent. Instead, like a savvy salesman, Donald Trump effectively shaped and marketed himself and his brand in response to the Republican base. He implicitly understood what that political base wanted in a candidate, which is why he won its primary. And his persistently precise perception of the attitude of the majority of Republican voters has repeatedly proven to be correct according to his polling numbers.

Trump supporters are not cult victims. Specifically, people that support Donald Trump are typically not happy about recent changes in the United States. This includes concerns about the shifting demographics of the country, immigration, increasing frustration regarding “globalization” through entities like the UN and various international treaties and agreements, growing discomfort about interdependent world trading markets, rejection of LGBT rights such as gay marriage, fears about the centralization of government and unhappiness about certain women’s rights such as reproductive choice. Many Trump supporters are also upset about questions being raised about gun rights. There is also substantial resentment and suspicion amongst Trump supporters about the influence and power of the “intellectual elite.” And religious leaders that support Donald Trump seem to be deeply troubled by decreasing church attendance and the corresponding decline of religious influence in the United States.

Trump did not need to implant these preexisting attitudes and concerns through “mind control,” which was already there and quite evident within the Republican base. Again, like a good salesman Donald Trump simply effectively marketed himself by tailoring his presidential campaign to concisely capitalize on existing concerns abundantly evident in the Republican base.

In his soon to be released book “It Was All a Lie” author Stuart Stevens interestingly concludes that Donald Trump ultimately represents today’s “Republican party in a purified form.” Stevens, a purported “veteran Republican strategist,” writes, “There is nothing strange or unexpected about Donald Trump. He is the logical conclusion of what the Republican party became over the last 50 or so years.”

Cultural divide

Summarizing the situation, Trump supporters appear to be generally uncomfortable and/or unhappy with recent cultural change in America. And to a large extent there are cultural lines of separation, or a cultural divide, which has become increasingly apparent between urban and rural Americans, as well as between coastal Americans and those that live within the middle of the country.

Apparently, Americans that support Donald Trump feel that he represents meaningful resistance to unwanted change. And Trump supporters think he can reverse certain cultural trends. Trump’s most popular slogans and mantras like “Build the Wall” and “Make America Great Again” seem to reflect this sentiment.

Some cult-like aspects, but not a “destructive cult”

There are aspects of Donald Trump and his supporters that may appear at times to be cult-like, such as Trump’s rather narcissistic seemingly messianic claim made in 2016 that “only [he] can fix this,” or his supporters apparent penchant for cognitive dissonance. CultNews commented about this in 2016. But it’s just too simplistic to dismiss an entire political movement and a democratically elected president as a “destructive cult” without noting the distinct differences that separate Donald Trump from historical cult leaders and his supporters from the victims of destructive cults.

Instead of characterizing devotion to Donald Trump as a “cult” without qualification, it’s preferable, more objective, accurate and concise to recognize the nuances and complexity of the cultural currents and rifts that are polarizing Americans. Donald Trump may have a kind of fan base or “cult following” like many celebrities, but he does not match the criteria that defines cult leaders who have historically exercised virtually limitless unchecked dictatorial power over their followers. Trump is also not empowered by a deliberate “brainwashing” process deceptively done through a premeditated intentionally planned thought reform program with the goal of “mind control.” It serves no useful purpose to reduce the word “cult” to a “buzz word,” rather than recognize its precise range of meaning and boundaries.

Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist well known for his writings about thought reform and cult formation reportedly made the distinction that, “Trump is not totalistic like [Shoko Asahara] the leader of [the Japanese cult] Aum Shinrikyo.”

Deprogramming Trump supporters?

It’s also important to note that true believers cannot be “deprogrammed” regarding their personally held individual beliefs. Simply put, they were not programmed in the first place and therefore cannot be deprogrammed. Such true believers may eventually become disillusioned and move on, but this will be a personal choice, not the result of an intervention.

Historically, cult deprogramming is essentially an educational process, which centers upon the examination and unwinding of a thought reform program deceptively used without informed consent and knowingly maintained by a group or leader that uses coercive persuasion. This does not fit the profile or the circumstances of typical Trump supporters who already agreed with and endorsed Donald Trump’s core beliefs and the proscribed path he promised to implement for the United States.

Politicizing the word “cult” and using it to label Trump supporters serves no useful or constructive purpose. It dismissively demonizes a majority of the Republican party and other voters that support Donald Trump without recognizing their preexisting personal sentiments. This inaccurate labeling also denigrates the suffering of real cult victims.

Michael Langone, a counseling psychologist and the director of the International Cultic Studies Association told a journalist in an interview, “I can understand why people don’t like Trump,” However, Langone concluded “But to jump from not liking Trump to Trump as cult leader, I think, is a bit of a leap.”

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving rather than being confrontational with relatives that disagree with your politics, it’s preferable to avoid conflict and instead focus on the family values, which you share in common. Talk about happy memories that confirm those values and earnestly express your appreciation for the opportunity of gathering for another Thanksgiving dinner together.

Thankfully we live in a free country, not a cult compound, where each election cycle provides an opportunity for American citizens to cast their vote privately and decide what changes will ultimately prevail and/or who will be the President of the United States.

Rick Alan Ross is a judicially qualified and accepted court expert witness who has testified in ten states including United States Federal Court concerning controversial authoritarian groups, some that have been called “cults” and the coercive persuasion techniques they frequently employ.

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Steven Hassan, author of the “The Cult of Trump,” a book that is very critical of those who mislead people, seems to have a problem with the facts himself. Hypocritically, Hassan lambasts President Trump for distorting the truth, while he deliberately conflates his own CV with false claims of professional status and even a fictional medal of honor.

Hassan says that he is a teacher and/or instructor at both Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School. However, Harvard University does not list Steven Hassan as occupying any official teaching position through its faculty locator. In fact, Steven Hassan is not even so much as mentioned anywhere on the Harvard University website.

Hassan apparently deliberately misled multiple media outlets about his professional status. WMNF Radio host Rob Lorei states at the broadcast’s official website that “Hassan now teaches at Harvard Medical School.” The Daily Beast also reported that Steven Hassan “teaches at Harvard Medical School.” And The Daily Mail in the UK describes him as “Harvard Medical School teacher Steven Hassan.”

Hassan’s CV specifically states that he is “Member of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law at Massachusetts Mental Health Center- A teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.” Hassan also states that he was a “participant” at a Harvard Law School “workshop.” But participating in a program or a workshop does not confer any official teaching status upon Hassan at Harvard.

Steve Hassan with his book

Hassan’s Facebook page shows a photo of him apparently volunteering at a Harvard program. But again, volunteering is not the same as having a faculty appointment as an instructor or as a teacher at Harvard University.

Hassan’s CV lists Harvard several times, notably Harvard Law School. Hassan states that he was a “participant in Trial Advocacy Expert Witness Workshop.” On his Facebook page Hassan says he has been an “instructor” at Harvard Law School five times rather than simply a “participant.” Interestingly, Hassan doesn’t list any expert witness work or any court jurisdiction where he has been qualified, accepted and testified as an expert witness on his CV.

There is a Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard with an expert witness component, but Steven Hassan isn’t mentioned anywhere in the workshop description, which denotes the inclusion of “experienced trial lawyers and judges who teach as volunteers during the workshop.”

CultNews contacted Harvard University directly for comment. The Office of Faculty Affairs at Harvard Medical School responded unequivocally that there is “no record of Steven Hassan currently holding or having held in the past a faculty appointment at the medical school.” That is, despite the fact that there are thousands of full- and part-time faculty members consisting of assistant, associate, full professors and part-time instructors, Steven Hassan is not and has never been one of them. Melody Jackson, spokesperson for Harvard Law School, told CultNews that Hassan has never held any faculty appointed teaching position as an “instructor” at Harvard Law School.

Update: Steven Hassan has been busy apparently doing “damage control.” The day after this CultNews report appeared Hassan apparently sought and received a one-page letter from the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (75 Fenwood Road in Boston), which was subsequently posted on Facebook (the link is now restricted though CultNews has a copy). The letter is signed by Angie Mines, Residency Program Coordinator. The letter consists of one short paragraph. Ms. Mines writes that Hassan has been “teaching an elective course” for psychiatric residents. Addressed “To Whom This May Concern” Mines states, “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.” CultNews contacted Ms Mines who seemed surprised that her letter was posted online. When asked specific questions such as is Steven Hassan paid to teach? And is teaching at the Harvard affiliated Longwood Hospital the same as “teaching at Harvard Medical School”? Ms. Mines replied, “I will have to talk to the program director.” Ms. Mines later concluded in an email, “As advised by my supervisors, I’m not going to be providing any further information.” Mines has since requested that her name and contact information be removed from her letter, which is now linked from Hassan’s website. Hassan later posted a letter signed by a doctor that says he has been “a valued invited presenter” at a Harvard affiliated hospital where the doctor co-teaches a course. Steven Hassan has also added a link to a video of one of those presentations. Apparently, Hassan has been a volunteer at the hospital as a guest speaker for a classes there. Steven Hassan has also recently recruited people to email CultNews in an apparent effort to pressure CultNews to remove this article. Hassan now insists that he is “teaching at programs that are part of Harvard Medical School” [see “The Truth About Steven Hassan”]. However, no one from Harvard Medical School confirms his claim. None of the letters posted confirm this claim and more specifically, certainly not Harvard Medical School. Hassan continues to perpetuate this misleading mythology about his supposed Harvard teaching status in an article he wrote for Medium (April 12, 2020) criticizing Donald Trump for “misinformation” and “falsehoods.” Medium states in a disclaimer, “per our Policies, but we don’t fact-check every story.”

But Hassan does have at least one proven personal and professional link to Harvard Medical School.

Steven Hassan’s wife Misia Landau who received a PhD in anthropology from Yale University and a Diploma in human biology from Oxford University, taught at Harvard prior to becoming a senior science writer at Harvard Medical School. Landau left her position at Harvard in 2009.

Hassan received his Masters degree from Cambridge College, which features online education. The college has a branch near Harvard. Hassan says he is currently working on a PhD from Fielding Graduate University, which is also known for its distance online educational programs.

Hassan also lists Boston University School of Medicine, but not specifically as an employer. It appears that he may have done volunteer talks at some hospital programs, again without any official status.

Steven Hassan is licensed as a Mental Health Counselor by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But it must be noted that a serious complaint was filed against Hassan by a former client. The Massachusetts licensing board charged Hassan with an ethical violation for breaching client confidentiality. Hassan was prosecuted, but ultimately the matter was dismissed without prejudice in November 2012. The board warned Hassan that any further failure to adhere to its ethical standards might “result in disciplinary action against [his] license.”

In addition to Hassan’s ethical lapses and conflated teaching status at Harvard he also claims to have received a nonexistent medal of honor. At his CV under the heading “Honors” Hassan lists the so-called “Jerusalem Medal,” which he implies was awarded to him by the Director General of the Israel Ministry of Social Affairs.

In fact, there is no such honor known as the “Jerusalem Medal” awarded to anyone by the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs.

In 2010 the Israeli agency’s Director General Nahum Itzkovitz visited the United States and while in New York he gave out a few token gifts of appreciation to some people that were helpful to his research. CultNews has what Hassan calls a “Jerusalem Medal” sitting on an office shelf, but it’s merely a souvenir memento with the word “Jerusalem” engraved on a small metal medallion displayed on a little wooden stand. It has a sticker on the back, which says that it’s a “gift” from Director General Itzkovitz.

Steven Hassan seems to have penchant for conflating his CV and also behaving badly with clients. CultNews has received many complaints over the years.

Cult leaders often conflate their biographies in an effort to impress people and are known for their ethical lapses. Hassan’s attempt to mislead the media and public, while simultaneously criticizing others for deception, is really rather rich isn’t it?

More information about Steven Hassan

Serious complaints about cult specialist Steven Hassan

Cult Watcher Steve Hassan’s links to fugitive sex offender

Steve Hassan fans want “information control”

Third installment of Steven Hassan’s trilogy adds little understanding

Disclaimer regarding Steve Hassan

Postscript: Steven Hassan has changed his CV since this report was published online (CultNews has screenshots and a printed copy of the original). He has somewhat softened his claims concerning any official teaching status at Harvard. Hassan has also changed his “Honors” heading to “Honors and Awards” and added that his so-called “Jerusalem Medal” was “given with gratitude.” However, Hassan still won’t admit that he never received a “medal,” only a souvenir gift, which has no special status or meaningful significance to credibly list on his CV. Hassan has also apparently encouraged a number of his devoted supporters to post as his seeming surrogates on Facebook in an attempt to discredit this report. However, CultNews firmly stands by its reporting and fact checking.

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“Sex cult” leader Keith Raniere and his accomplice Nancy Salzman are both now awaiting sentencing after multiple felony convictions. But in 2009 and 2010 the pair were riding high on Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman’s money and suing everyone and anyone. Now previously sealed depositions from one of their frivolous harassment lawsuits have been made public.

That lawsuit was NXIVM v. Ross, which dragged on for 13 years before it was dismissed by a federal court without ever going to trial. Raniere and Salzman spent millions of dollars (other people’s money) suing Rick Alan Ross, the Cult Education Institute (CEI) and other defendants.

The objective of such litigation was to silence criticism and purge embarrassingly revealing reports that analyzed NXIVM training seminars (aka Executive Success Programs) in a very unflattering light.

However, the reports first published by CEI written by doctors John Hochman and Paul Martin were never taken down and remained online throughout the litigation.

As part of this protracted litigation, that dragged on for more than a decade, Raniere and his sidekick Salzman, were deposed for hours under oath.

Raniere wanted this testimony forever suppressed and sealed so that no one would ever know what he and Salzman had admitted or lied about under oath.

However, now that Raniere is sitting in jail waiting to go to prison, probably for a very long time, and his cohorts in crime Seagram’s liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, “Smallville” TV star Allison Mack, nurse Nancy Salzman and her daughter Lauren Salzman, are all also awaiting sentencing, there is no one to oppose releasing this very revealing testimony.

CultNews now announces the online release of the Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman deposition transcripts. You can now read them within the CEI archives.

Many may say after reading this sworn testimony that Keith Raniere does not appear to be a “genius,” but rather seems like more of an “idiot” and a “con man.” 

Just point, click and read the transcripts that Raniere wanted sealed forever as follows:

The deposition of Keith Raniere March 11, 2009

The deposition of Keith Raniere March 12, 2009

The deposition of Keith Raniere May 13, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman June 8, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman June 9, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman June 10, 2009

The deposition of Nancy Salzman October 14, 2010