A controversial conservative Catholic organization called the Legionaries of Christ founded by a Mexican priest accused of sexual misconduct, appears to have some influence over the family of the President of Mexico , reports Newsweek.

The second wife of President Vicente Fox has historic ties to the group and two of his children have attended its schools.

Former members allege the group is excessively authoritarian and abusively controlling.

The Legionaries of Christ control 10 universities and 154 private schools.

Critics claim the group often seizes control of such institutions in what can be seen as a somewhat hostile take over process, purging those who don’t hold to their strict view of Catholicism and harsh style of governance.

There have been repeated and serious complaints within the United States by lay Catholics, priests and educators regarding the organization.

Recent defectors from a controversial Chilean group, which has been called a “cult,” offered shocking accounts of their existence within the tightly controlled community, reports Knight Ridder Tribune.

Life within the collective commune known as Colonia Dignidad is harsh. Leaders expect hard labor and exercise total control, confided “cult” escapees. They fled to freedom with nothing, but the clothes on their backs.

However, Colonia Dignidad itself is rich.

The commune consists of 70 square miles, which includes forest and 37,000 acres under cultivation. Its assets have been valued at $5 billion.

A Nazi and former Baptist preacher created this veritable “cult” empire. Founder Paul Schaefer, fled Germany for Chile in 1961 amidst charges of sexually abusing orphan boys.

Schaefer apparently continued his predatory ways inside the Chilean “cult” kingdom he established. The leader supposedly disappeared in 1996, while under investigation for 27 child abuse charges. Schaeffer would now be in his eighties.

More than 70 criminal investigations remain pending against Colonia Dignidad.

However, it seems authorities are afraid to seriously pursue and/or confront the “cult.”

The community has its own laws and security forces. It was rumored to have sinister connections to the regime of former Chilean dictator Pinochet.

A recent refugee from the group said, “There are more people who still want to get out.” But it is doubtful anything will be done to rescue them.

An American tourist disappeared, while hiking near Colonia Dignidad in 1985. He is believed dead, reportedly “executed” as a “Jewish spy,” by members of the group.

Colonia Dignidad appears to be a stark example of what can happen when a “cult” becomes so powerful it can seemingly make its own law, with little if any meaningful accountability to the government.

When it comes to cash, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi perhaps the worlds richest guru, has so much he’s apparently out looking for investment opportunities.

One such opportunity popped up through a piece of prime property located within one of Chicago’s historic districts, reports the Sun-Times.

Maharishi’s business arm, called “Maharishi Global Development,” is now engaged in the expensive renovation of a 22-story Blackstone building, which it is refurbishing into 39 luxury condos.

The estimated cost is $135 million.

How does this project promote the guru’s vaunted goal of world peace?

Developing luxury condominiums for the rich in a historic downtown neighborhood is certainly a savvy business move. But how does that achieve progress for humanity along the spiritual path outlined by Maharishi for planetary salvation?

Well, maybe “global development” actually means real estate development?

The guru seems to be meditating on a business plan to enhance his burgeoning investment portfolio, rather than the often-stated goal of global harmony.

His status as probably the world’s richest guru apparently wasn’t enough for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He created his own country and currency, which generated some attention.

Maharishi seems to like attention.

But maybe the attention this time is unwelcome. The Dutch Central Bank is investigating the old guru’s funny money called the raam, reports Yahoo.

In the sixties Maharishi hung out and/or hung onto the Beatles. They eventually ditched him.

Maybe the Dutch will make him ditch the raam?

A 35-year-old white supremacist allegedly recruited teenage boys as young as 13 in Wisconsin and offered them weapons training, reports WISN News in Milwaukee.

Michael Faust was arrested after authorities found illegal weapons stashed at his grandmother’s farm.

The racist was reportedly teaching teenagers to fire weapons at a nearby field.

Faust previously served prison time for attempted murder.

As if parents didn’t have enough to worry about with drugs, drinking and sexually transmitted diseases, they may now need to add racist recruiters to their list.

But Faust could pull 60 years for his latest offense. That sounds about right, to help families keep their children safe by taking the racist off the streets, at least until he’s too infirm to walk them.

New York Times reporter Kate Bates wrote a telling piece about the Manhattan yoga scene titled “Yoga, Unlike Fashion, Is Deep. Right?

Bates discusses in part controversial yoga guru Eddie Stern.

Stern has a studio in lower Manhattan and has taught Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Christy Turlington. He has his critics though. Classes at the Broom St. studio are tough, structured and what Bates calls “boot camp yoga.”

The NY Times writer offered some interesting observations. She refers to yoga as “a spiritual discipline…not known for logical rigor.” And says this “secretive, exclusive ritual” has a “whole change-your-life fervor…where you feel that a new identity can be precipitated.”

Wait a minute, this sounds like religion. Whatever happened to just being focused on shedding pounds and making muscle, instead of some “spiritual” “ritual” to “change your life”?

But Bates says, “the doctrines of yoga might be aimed at the conquest of the self.”


And “the practice of getting there” is suffused with a “feeling of belonging, of believing for a moment that you are fresh and new and recreated.”


This exercise practice seems to have another agenda. Is it about getting in shape, or reshaping your mind?

Warning. If you are not interested in consciousness raising regarding some new “spiritual” awareness, but instead just want to raise a good sweat, maybe the local gym is a better choice than some yoga classes.

It appears that many yoga enthusiasts are gathering around gurus and learning more than healthy exercise.

A “nun” was brutally murdered in Oregon. However, the Seattle Times reveals that she was not really a Roman Catholic nun at all, but instead the follower of the self-proclaimed “bishop” and reclusive cult leader, Francis Konrad Schuckardt.

Schuckardt was a well-known cult leader during the 1980s. And though he claimed to be a “bishop,” he was never even ordained as a priest and only briefly attended “pre-seminary” before dropping out.

The man known as “Bishop Shuckardt” was once a high school teacher and popular public speaker. He cast himself as an opponent to Vatican II and modern Catholicism. This provided Schuckardt an excuse to invent his own church and gather followers from around Seattle.

But Schuckardt’s church became a destructive cult. And like other cult leaders he ruled over his kingdom like an absolute monarch. However, eventually the “bishop” was publicly exposed as little more than a sexual predator and drug addict.

And though Shuckardt demanded harsh punishment and penance from his followers, when confronted with his own sins he fled. He left the Seattle in 1984 with a group of core followers and $250,000.

Shuckardt sinful life caught up with him three years later when police raided a group refuge in California. Authorities seized a stash of prescription drugs, guns and $75,000 in cash.

It seems that Shuckardt wasn’t really willing to wait and receive his rewards in heaven either. Police found gold coins, silver ingots, German marks, Swiss francs, Canadian dollars, and bank records that reflected accounts the would-be “pope” kept around the world.

The “bishop” managed to squirm out of that situation and apparently continued to lead his cult without much notice for almost twenty years. That is, until the two “nuns” in Oregon who were fund raising for him, were brutally assaulted while praying the rosary. One was ultimately strangled to death.

This tragedy offers sad proof that despite repeated exposures and even arrests, some cult leaders can still manage to go on. And it seems that some cult followers are apparently willing to forgive almost anything, despite denouncing and condemning others.

One of Shuckardt’s devotees offered this apology, “We’ve had popes who have been real scoundrels, and people still recognized them as pope.”


However, rather than some historical pope from the past Shuckardt’s survival simply proves that many cults my never die out. And that there is almost always a faithful remnant of “true believers” that will soldier on no matter what. Just ask the bad “bishop.”

In August I mentioned the Goth cult-craze in England, but it’s still popular in America too.

The Midwest is often cited for its moderation and common sense, but believe it or not, it’s also home to some Goths, reports QuadCity.com.

Living in Iowa can be boring. What’s a kid to do? Watch the corn grow?

Some young people prefer to dress in black, paint themselves up and walk around town looking a bit spooky—and not just for Halloween. An Iowa Goth says, “These few outlets are all we have.”

Many see Goth as just a “passing phase” of adolescence. And this is usually right; most devotees of this trend drop it after about five years. They seem to burn out and move on to other interests and/or fashion.

But some diehards do cling to at least a vestige of their former Goth selves. For example, they continue to dress in black, which seems to be a trend some New Yorkers in Soho may never give up.

This all seems to boil down to joining a group, which makes people feel accepted. And those who once were the odd folks out, become the odd folks in.

One Goth puts it this way; “The Gothic culture welcomes everyone freely.” Another notes, “Until I found others like me, I did feel like the outsider.”

So rather than being weird alone and lonely, some find others to be weird with and keep each other company. What’s so weird about that?

The Attorney General of Arizona is involved in a deliberate effort to stall and/or cover up information about “criminal activity including rape, incest, assault, kidnapping, forced marriages of underage girls, weapons violations and welfare fraud,” according to the Phoenix New Times.

The New Times is a prominent Southwest newspaper known for its investigative journalism. It claims to have received through a confidential source a “three page memo” that outlines the criminal activities of the Arizona polygamist group known as the “Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (FLDS). This memo also explains how the Attorney General of Arizona intends to suppress that information to avoid possible political problems.

However, the largest newspaper in Arizona says that the memo received by the New Times and other media, is a fraud and did not originate from the Attorney General’s office. Instead The Arizona Republic reports it came from the “the basement of the Arizona Department of Corrections headquarters” in downtown Phoenix.

An official spokesperson for the Attorney General said, “The document is completely bogus.” That spokesperson then declined to comment about a claimed “criminal probe” now supposedly underway regarding the FLDS.

It remains unclear what law enforcement officials intend to do about the FLDS. What is clear is that the group has historically been engaged for some time in a pattern of abuse and very rarely has been the focus of a “criminal probe.”

It appears that the FLDS has received a dispensation for its conduct or a kind of blanket immunity from criminal prosecution. This seems to be due to concerns about the political fallout that might occur if any meaningful action took place to enforce the law in Colorado, City Arizona, which is where the FLDS is largely situated.

It should be noted that this is an election year and the Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano is running for governor.

Ms. Napolitano claims to have met with Utah officials to form a “joint task force.” The FLDS does span both sides of an area on the Arizona-Utah border.

It will be interesting to see if the claimed “task force” ultimately takes any meaningful action. It just may turn out that the review of the facts and the political situation within the fraudulent memo were not “bogus.”

A follow up: As it turns out Noelle Bush could have gone to “SAFE” in Orlando, a drug rehab facility endorsed and personally supported by her father. But she was sent to another Orlando drug treatment facility instead.

Jeb Bush and his wife Columba both serve on the advisory board for the “Drug Free America Foundation,” the latest incarnation of “Straight,” a controversial drug treatment program founded by Mel and Betty Sembler.

Mrs. Sembler was once the Florida governor’s campaign co-chair and he subsequently declared a “Betty Sembler Day” in honor of her anti-drug work.

Despite that singular honor Sembler’s Straight was embroiled in scandal and lawsuits. Eventually its facility in Orlando was shut down. But the same day Straight closed its former executive director opened “SAFE.”

Governor Bush has since endorsed SAFE and visited it personally.

Two years ago SAFE, like its predecessor Straight, faced allegations of abuse. Those allegations became the focus of a Miami WAMI TV expose. But Jeb Bush still endorsed SAFE.

However, when it came time for the governor to confront drug problems within his family, his daughter didn’t go to SAFE in Orlando for her treatment. Instead, Noelle Bush was sent to Orlando’s “Center for Drug Free Living,” where she was later caught with crack cocaine.

What happened?

Did the court specifically order Ms. Bush to enter that facility, or did Governor Bush decide that despite his personal visit and previous endorsements, SAFE just wasn’t safe enough for his own daughter?