The old adage “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” may be useful to Tsunami survivors receiving attention from some specious sects and groups called “cults.”
Just like in the movie Troy something sinister and/or self-serving can be concealed in a “gift horse,” and it’s probably not Brad Pitt.
In recent days a growing array of controversial religious organizations, gurus and self-styled healers have launched efforts for Tsunami relief, but who are they really focused upon helping?
Do their programs reflect a genuine desire to assist the victims of the most horrific catastrophe of the 21st Century, or are they just there to play the disaster for publicity and possibly some new recruits?
And Scientologists flying in from all over.
Scientology has sent volunteers from Australia to identify bodies reported the AAP.
Scientology volunteers are known for their bright yellow jackets emblazoned with “Scientology Volunteer Ministers” worn when doing their charitable chores.
Scientology says that over 200 “volunteer ministers” are helping in tsunami-hit countries.
In a strange twist Scientology has trained Tibetan monks to help tsunami survivors through so-called “touch assists,” which seems to be Scientology’s version of the popular Pentecostal practice known as “laying on of hands” for healing. Scientology volunteers and the Buddhist monks using their method will touch survivors to help heal their trauma reports the AFP.
Another controversial group concerned about the trauma of tsunami survivors is the “Gentle Wind Project.” This organization is sending its so-called “trauma cards” to Sumatra, which supposedly have “the ability to forgive and [help users] move forward in life” according to one testimonial featured on the group’s Web site. But critics have dismissed the cards as “quackery” and a doctor warned that groups pushing such products often find “people who are desperate…and then take advantage of them.”
Wouldn’t regular bottled tap water be just as effective and much cheaper? But then that couldn’t afford a photo op with glitzy “Kabbalah Centre” labeling would it?
And then there is the so-called “Art of Living” organization led by a former associate of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.” He has dispatched his disciples to teach tsunami victims “yoga” and “meditation.”
Hey Sri Sri how about funding some conventional classrooms for children rather than pushing your “yoga”?
Another pitch comes from Guru Sri Chinmoy of New York. His followers are collecting for something called “The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles” organization and say they are now “engaged in an urgent global effort to bring desperately needed relief to the survivors.”
But Chinmoy, who has been embroiled in sex scandals and called a “sleazy swami,” doesn’t seem to fit the “world harmony leader” title claimed at the group’s fund-raising Web site.
“Mata” the hugging mama guru has reportedly laid down some hard cash reported one news service.
Meanwhile hate preacher Fred Phelps from Kansas wants everyone to know that he is “thankful” God killed Swedish citizens through this particular disaster, something about their collective sexual sins reported Raw Print.
Is that Fred smiling over there for the cameras with his “God Hates Fags” sign?
Who will land next with the next wave of volunteers?
Nothing new about such activities by specious groups after a disaster except the size and depth of this terrible tragedy.
Scientology volunteers were seen at Ground Zero not long after the Twin Towers collapsed. And John Travolta seemed anxious for his photo-op when he visited the site.
Then Tom Cruise launched the Scientology-linked “Downtown Medical,” located in lower Manhattan, which provided the so-called “purification rundown” for the detoxification of FDNY firemen and others that worked at Ground Zero.
People are the most vulnerable to undue influence and recruitment efforts by groups called “cults” when experiencing a personal crisis, loss and/or going through a difficult transition. When people are isolated from family, friends, their community and familiar support systems they are likely to be weakened and more susceptible.
Sound like Tsunami victims?
Meanwhile mainstream religious and relief organizations and government agencies are focused upon providing practical help to the massive numbers of survivors such as potable not magical water, medical care and the restoration of basic services through the rebuilding of infrastructure.
CNN reports that this is the largest humanitarian effort in recorded history.
Let’s hope that that these practical efforts reach the tsunami victims before any so-called “cults” exploit their vulnerabilities or use them as backdrops for some photo-op.