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News Archive for November, 1997

Maharishi goes on mind offensive in Middle East, Times Newspapers Limited, November 23, 1997
The locals are already dubbing it Club Med - Club Meditation, that is, writes Andy Goldberg. Maharishi Yogi, the diminutive Indian guru who gained fame in the 1960s for winning the Beatles over to transcendental meditation, is planning an ambitious new complex on the historic shores of the Sea of Galilee in an unusual attempt to bring peace to the Middle East. Backed by millionaire Jewish magnates who have raised $ 400 million, the ashram - or meditational village - will be home to 7,000 of the Maharishi's disciples. According to the Maharishi's teachings, the enormous wave of positive energy generated by the project will lead the embattled peoples of the Middle East to become calm and lose the urge to fight - leaving their warring governments with no choice but to make peace with one another. "You don't have to kill the enemy, you have to kill the enmity," explains the Maharishi. Officially called the Israeli capital of One Government for One World, the village of east-facing chalets will be set in 250 acres of spacious landscaped gardens, near the point where Jesus is said to have worked miracles 2,000 years ago.
Scientology posts $9 million bond to stop judgment creditor's seizing of assets, FACTNet, 11/18/97
Scientology, the controversial global "religion" notorious for attacking Internet free speech, committing human rights abuses, and persecuting its former members, has posted a $9 million bond to halt the seizure of its assets by a judgment creditor. Two weeks ago, a Los Angeles judge ruled that Scientology (the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center) had stripped out $340 million in corporate assets from the Church of Scientology of California to thwart a judgment creditor. The creditor, Lawrence Wollersheim, gave the following statement regarding the $9 million bond: "They have never put up a bond before because they were terrified if they paid off any one victim, then tens of thousands of other victims would come forward and sue them and possibly collect. This forced bond is a major victory for every Scientology victim all over the world thinking about suing Scientology for its ongoing human rights abuses and religious persecution activities. I belive that Scientology is in big trouble in almost every country it operates in. Maybe soon they will even be facing new criminal charges in the US for their asset-stripping and other felony corporate fraud." For more information and the court ruling which declared that Scientology's new corporations mere alter egos, that Scientology officers and trustees intermingle at will between various Scientology corporations, and that all Scientology corporations are under the single business control of David Miscavige, see:
Court-Approved Seizing of Scientology Assets, FACTNet, 11/14/97
A court ruled today that a Scientology creditor who is owed $6 million can immediately begin seizing assets of the head organizations of Scientology (Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center.) The controversial global "religion" notorious for attacking Internet free speech, committing human rights abuses, and persecuting its former members, has suffered another devastating legal defeat in less than 16 days. Two weeks ago a Los Angeles judge found Scientology had moved $340 million in corporate assets to thwart a judgment creditor. Today the judge denied Scientology's exparte order to stay the previous judgment, an order which would have prevented the creditor's legal right to immediately seize Scientology's assets in enforcement of the judgment. The creditor's legal team is now free to seize any asset of the Church of Scientology International and/or Religious Technology Center, the alter egos of the original Church of Scientology of California. The creditor, Lawrence Wollersheim, gave the following statement: "This is a great victory. It has come after 17 years of Scientology's asset stripping, felony corporate fraud, and perversion of the mercy delays of a slowed justice process. Our legal team will now do anything and everything within its legal power to seize whatever is necessary to immediately satisfy this $6 million judgment."
Reverend Moon holds mass wedding in Washington, Agence France-Presse via ClariNet, Sat, 29 Nov 1997 13:47:41 PST
WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (AFP) - Thousands of couples, some of whom were meeting for the first time, converged on a sports stadium here Saturday to be "married" by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Moon married the couples after reciting a long prayer in Korean during which he asked them to build "the ideal family" in the tradition of the Unification Church. Organizers said the couples had come from 185 countries and that the event was being broadcast in 54 countries, reaching 39.6 million couples of all faiths. Six leaders of other religions -- Hinduism, Islam, the Orthodox Church, Buddhism, Sikhs and Catholics also blessed the group. The leaders included Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. Unification Church officials noted that the marriages did not have legal status and that the couples would get legally married back home. Some of the couples had already been legally married but awaited Saturday's ceremony for the church's permission to live together. Outside the stadium a small group of protesters handed out pamphlets saying that "tens of thousands of families have suffered because of the deceptive mind-control practices of the Moon organization." The Unification Church, which Moon created in 1954, claims some 50,000 members in the United States, although some experts believe there only a few thousand active members.
Whitney Houston a no-show at Moon's mass wedding ceremony, November 29, 1997, 4:41 p.m. EST (2141 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some 2,500 traditionally dressed brides from all over the world stood next to their blue-suited grooms in a packed stadium Saturday morning, as the Rev. Sun Myung Moon blessed their marriages, many of which he arranged himself. But singer Whitney Houston, who was to be a headliner at Moon's "Blessing '97" event, was a no-show, despite a contract that reportedly paid her more than $1 million. Promoters of the event released a statement saying Houston was "unable to perform due to a sudden illness." (Editor's Note: Ms. Houston appeared hours later on "Saturday Night Live" with no evident signs of illness.) Another pop star, Jon Secada, performed as scheduled. During Saturday's mass wedding ceremony, anti-Moon protesters gathered outside the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. Satellite hookups allowed more than 3.6 million other couples in 55 countries to witness the ceremony and take part in the day's festivities. The controversial Moon, whose critics liken the Unification Church to a cult, served a federal prison term in the United States for tax evasion. Some former church members, such as John Stacey, saw Saturday's event as a publicity stunt. In 1995, Stacey was matched to a Japanese wife who spoke no English. Stacey said he was brainwashed into marrying her and working for church-related businesses. "We were forbidden from seeing our parents," he said. "In fact, after the marriage, we were separated from our spouses for years so they could get more work out of us."
Unification Church leaders bless 28,000 marriages in mass ceremony, November 29, 1997
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In all, 28,000 couples -- most long married and 2,500 newly matched -- paid $70 each to take part in Saturday's marriage affirmation ceremony sponsored by the Unification Church, which believes cross-cultural matchmaking will help unite the world. The real weddings come later in separate legal ceremonies. Ranks of new brides and grooms in long white dresses and dark suits took up two-thirds of the football field once used by the Washington Redskins. They were sprinkled with holy water, took vows to be married and raise families in the church, and exchanged rings under a grey November sky. After the morning ceremony presided over by the Moons, the couples shared box lunches of chicken, rice, carrots, apples and small slices of wedding cake. Whitney Houston, who had top-billing in a concert for a reported $1 million salary following Saturday's blessing ceremony, cancelled at the last minute, citing sudden illness. About a dozen picketers protested the event by the Unification Church, which has a multi-billion dollar international business empire abroad and in the United States that includes ownership of the conservative Washington Times newspaper in the nation's capital and Bridgeport University in Connecticut.
Korean Moon Blesses 3.6 Million Marriages, November 29, 1997
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon blessed the arranged marriages of 3.6 million couples on Saturday in a ceremony centered on a Washington stadium, but linked by satellite with 84 countries around the world. Organizers from Moon's Korean-based Unification Church said some 36 million other couples were simultaneously rededicating their marriages, promising to stay together for life and raise their children according to church rules. These couples, not necessarily members of the Unification Church, were recruited for the $40-a-seat event through advertisements and house-to-house canvassing. Organizers stressed that Saturday's ceremonies were to bless the partnerships and not to marry the couples, who they said came from 185 countries. The formal wedding ceremonies will take place in these countries at a later date. Church leaders invited representatives from six major religions to address the crowd before Moon, wearing a white crown with seven gold stars and trailing floor-length white and gold robes, blessed the couples from the podium.
Officials oust pair from trailer, clear cultists' camp site, San Diego Union-Tribune,19-Nov-1997 Wednesday
DULZURA -- Two followers of a bail jumper who says he created the universe were roused from their illegal trailer encampment here yesterday by county officials with a warrant to get rid of a public nuisance. Members of the group have been known to dry their excrement in "solar toilets," to burn used toilet paper as a way of "cleansing" and to sleep in the trailer alongside newspaper soiled with human feces, authorities said. They call themselves "God's Taemplae Saentoraeom," "Aes God WAE LivAE" and followers of PrAEsAenthAEum. The "AE" combination stands for "all-encompassing." Standing before an El Cajon judge, PrAEsAenthAEum, in a flowing blue robe, contended that he created the universe and could see without opening his eyes. The judge ordered him to be held in custody for evaluation over the weekend, but his followers freed him on $10,000 bail.
Unification Church ordered to pay follower it coerced, The Japan Times - 10/24/97
The Tokyo District Court on Oct. 24 ordered the Unification Church to pay 25 million yen in damages to a former follower who claimed the religious group cheated her out of property by forcing her to make donations. Presiding Judge Hiromu Emi told the day's session, "It is socially unacceptable (for the Unification Church) to gain a huge amount of money by warning (the follower) that serious damage will be inflicted on her relatives unless she makes donations." The judge ordered the sect to pay back all of the donations made by the plaintiff -- a 38-year-old housewife -- plus the legal cost for the lawsuit. The woman, who was not named, was introduced to a "self-enlightenment center" in Yokohama by a friend without knowing it was in fact a branch of the Unification Church, according to the court. The sect's followers then persuaded her to join the group, saying that her son would become unhappy because of a curse from her deceased parents if she refused to, the judge said. The followers then urged the plaintiff to make donations "to purify her property," and she eventually gave in to their demands, the court said.
Rev. Moon's Church Set Up for Hate Crimes, Unification Church, Tuesday November 25, 8:35 pm Eastern Time
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Civil rights leaders joined with members of Reverend Moon's Unification Church to denounce The Washington Post's publishing of photos and addresses of the homes of Unification Church families. In this week's series of three articles by Post writers Marc Fisher and Jeff Leen, the Unification Church and its membership are being dangerously set up as targets for hate crimes, church leaders maintain. ``The Washington Post may choose to criticize our church, but publishing the home addresses of our families crosses the line from civil discourse to hate mongering. It is outrageous and unethical,'' said Dr. Tyler Hendricks, president of the Unification Church of America. Andrew Bacus, a lawyer for the Unification Church, said, ``The Unification Church is being victimized by The Post. Would The Post scrutinize the entire financial activities of the Catholic Church and its members? This is irresponsible, 'paparazzi' style journalism.'' Lawyers for the Unification Church are exploring the possibility of legal action against The Washington Post and its writers for malicious persecution of a minority religion with intent to incite bodily injury.
Christian Protest of Moon's "Blessing '97" planned, Trancenet, 11/26/97
A Chrisitian-oriented protest of Rev. Moon's Wedding spectacle on Nov. 29 , 1997, is set to begin at 9:00 AM at R.F.K. Stadium in Washington D.C. Media from all over the world will be there , and we must show up in force ! Let's share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with those who so desperately need it ! Moon is scheduled to marry 36,000 people in the stadium and more than 3.6 million more by satellite worldwide. Submitted by
Sadat's Daughter Withdraws from Moonies Event, 11/24/97, Steven Hassan
(Boston, MA) Camilia Anwar Sadat, the daughter of late Egyptian President and Nobel Peace Laureate Anwar Sadat will hold a press conference, Tuesday 25 November, 1997, 10:30 am, at the Four Seasons Hotel, to denounce the Moon organization. She is withdrawing from the November 27-29 Washington D.C. conference, sponsored by Sun Myung Moon. She will talk about why she turned down an offer of $100,000 to appear at the conference. Ms. Sadat will be joined at the press conference by former Moon leader, Steven Hassan, author of Combatting Cult Mind Control> Ms. Sadat is President and Founder of the Sadat Peace Institute and actively works on behalf of peace, justice and human rights issues. Mr. Hassan is a licensed therapist, lecturer and specializes in counseling victims of mind control group and their families.
Deepak Thrown Out of Court, TranceNet, 11/26/97 has learned that San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell has not only dismissed a lawsuit brought by Deepak Chopra, claiming a local law firm and two attorneys conspired to extort money from the self-help guru -- she ruled it "frivilous" and dismissed it with prejuidice. In most cases, such rulings are rare -- and mark the end of case, shutting down hope of appeal. The La Jolla-based Chopra, who heads a self-help empire, claimed a conspiracy by lawyers Dennis Schoville and Cindy Cipriani, the law firm of Gray, Cary, Ware and Freidenrich and a private investigatorto extort money from him.
Learning and earning the Maharishi way, The Independent (London), November 16, 1997
Last Sunday, two Indian government ministers helped to inaugurate their nation's newest Institute of Technology. Two details made the event notable: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi blessed the project via a satellite link from his headquarters in Holland and the building is alleged to have been built illegally, on land which is the subject of a dispute with the local authority. The Maharishi's new institute is in Maharishi Nagar -Maharishi Town - on the edge of a new town called Noida, some 20 kilometers from Delhi. Put up in a hurry some 15 years ago, the new Maharishi Institute of Technology will open its doors to students before the end of the year. Alongside the Maharishi Institute of Management, a music university, a university for the study of the Vedas (the Indian wisdom at the root of the Maharishi's teaching) and a primary and secondary school. In all, there are believed to be some 7,000 students on the integrated campus. However, allegations of unethical methods persist - that the 500 acres on which Maharishi Town stands were acquired by the Maharishi in defiance of the Noida civil authorities, who had earmarked the land for municipal development, and that the campus buildings were erected without planning permission.
Know Who in Congress Votes with Scientology, House of Representatives, November 9, 1997
Even though House Concurrent Resolution 22, "Expressing Sense Of Congress With Respect To German Government's Discrimination Against Members Of Minority Religious Groups," was defeated soundly by 217 votes, many in the psychological freedoms movement are now concerned about the 101 Representatives who voted for, the 4 who abstained, and the 10 who did not vote at all on the resolution. A complete listing. will be arranging for a letter-writing campaign to these members. (Also included in this resolution was "a sense of Congress" on Tibetan repression by China.)
Venezuelan pilgrims celebrate mystic cult, The Miami Herald, Friday, November 21, 1997
CHIVACOA, Venezuela -- The "King of Africa" is holding court on a Venezuelan mountainside. After piercing his nose and eyebrows with needles while in a trance, he hands out advice through a "translator" who also supplies a steady stream of rum to feed the spirit. The king later slashes his own tongue and chest with a knife he waves ominously, throwing it at the feet of believers. For at least a century, Venezuelans have worshiped the mythical beauty-queen figure of Maria Lionza, believing that spirits, acting through mediums, can bring health, prosperity, fertility, and love. Anthropologist Angelina Pollak has studied the cult for more than 30 years and estimates that half Venezuela's 22 million people follow it in some way. It combines indigenous rituals with Christianity and the African-based religion known as Santeria. Surrounded by candles and mystical drawings, followers writhe, tremble and hiss, emitting wrenching groans. After midnight, a small group dances over hot coals. Followers, who wear beaded necklaces as protection, are convinced of the spirits' powers, and consult them on a variety of issues. They pay up to $50 for some rituals.
`Blessing '97': Moon's Church Adapts, Endures, By Caryle Murphey, Wednesday, November 19, 1997, © The Washington Post
The Washington Post, in a comprehensive article on the upcoming "Blessing '97" marriage rededication at RFK Memorial Stadium this month, reports that Moon's Unification Church recently dispatched members to buttonhole couples and pass out leaflets at 45 shopping malls, parking lots, and Metro stations. Church officials said yesterday they have sold 46,000 event tickets. But a city official said the church's unusual ticketing procedures -- selling vouchers to be exchanged later for tickets -- make it difficult to predict how many of 52,000 stadium seats will be filled. The church is so determined to have a full house that it has dropped ticket prices from the $70 a couple initially advertised to $40 -- and will take less. The festival, estimated to cost $9 million, is Moon's latest effort to keep his controversial church before the public eye. It is also an indication of the durability of the organization, which was founded by Moon, 77, more than 40 years ago on the doctrine that he has a key role in the world's eternal salvation. Among those scheduled to participate, according to church officials, are Maureen Reagan, daughter of former president Ronald Reagan; Camilia Anwar Sadat, daughter of slain Egyptian president Anwar Sadat; Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani prime minister; Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition; Kenneth Kaunda, former president of Zambia; and former prime ministers from Egypt, Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. Whitney Houston apparently was hired to ensure a big crowd, and festival organizers also have added a laser show and fireworks. Five hundred to 1,000 couples will reportedly be dressed in wedding attire and plan to formally commit themselves to marry a church-selected partner.
Judge says suit by self-help guru not sufficient to sustain a case, 2:34 a.m. PST Thursday, November 20, 1997
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A San Diego judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Deepak Chopra, claiming a local law firm and two attorneys conspired to extort money from the self-help guru. The judge said the causes of action listed in the suit were either legally deficient, contradictory or not certain enough to be upheld. The La Jolla-based Chopra, who heads a self-help empire, claimed a conspiracy by the lawyers to extort money from him. Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell ruled Friday that Chopra's claims were not legally sufficient to sustain a case. Chopra sued the attorneys, Dennis Schoville and Cindy Cipriani, the law firm of Gray, Cary, Ware and Freidenrich and a private investigator. The suit alleged that Schoville and Cipriani tried to get Chopra to agree to a $1 million settlement by threatening a sexual harassment lawsuit against the guru and Deepak Chopra Center for Well Being by a client, named Joyce Weaver. In her ruling, McConnell granted a motion brought by Gray, Cary to dismiss the conspiracy suit. Nancy Stagg, the attorney who represented Gray, Cary and Schoville and Cipriani, said she was pleased with the ruling, though she expected Chopra to appeal it. Schoville said that Chopra now owes him an apology and wants one in "a very public way." Chopra and his lawyer Michael Flynn could not immediately be reached for comment.
CNN's Dobbs cancels speech before Moon organization, 7:51 a.m. PST Wednesday, November 19, 1997
NEW YORK (AP) -- Lou Dobbs, CNN's chief business correspondent and president of the CNNfn financial network, has canceled a speaking engagement before an organization affiliated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. He was billed as the keynote speaker for a conference of journalists sponsored by Moon's World Media Association in Washington, D.C., on Thanksgiving weekend. The Moon connection had nothing to do with the change, a CNN spokesman said, but Dobbs did not know it was a Moon organization until after the speech was booked. Lisa Zanin, of 21st Century Speakers in New York, told The Washington Post that she did not tell invited speakers of the group's connection to Moon. Whitney Houston also didn't know about the connection until she had already agreed to sing at a mass wedding and entertainment festival sponsored by the church in Washington the same weekend.
U.S. lawmakers see no German religious intolerance, 5:36 a.m. PST Wednesday, November 19, 1997
COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - A group of U.S. congressmen said Wednesday they had no doubts about religious freedom in Germany. The House of Representatives voted 318-101 last week against a resolution that would have urged President Bill Clinton to express concern about Germany's treatment of religious minorities, in particular Scientology. Germany called the charges of religious intolerance absurd, but said it was concerned that more than 100 Representatives backed the measure. "The overwhelming size of the vote should show how House members feel," said Bob Livingston, a Louisiana Republican. Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel has said he is alarmed the Los Angeles-based Scientology organization has distorted Germany's image in the United States. Scientology compares German attempts to exclude Scientologists from public jobs and contracts with efforts by Nazi Germany to discriminate against Jews. Germany says the group is a purely economic organization exploiting the members' weaknesses for profit. It has placed Scientology under nationwide surveillance for possible anti-constitutional activities.
Houston, We Have Another PR Problem, Tuesday, November 18, 1997, Contra Costa Newspapers
Whitney Houston will perform in Washington, D.C., for Sun Myung Moon followers Nov. 29, but claims she'll do it while figuratively holding her nose. But her fee is said to be in the "low seven figures" for the 45-minute performance. Houston says she had no idea she was signing a deal with the Unification Church (Bill Cosby and Gerald Ford have made similar claims about Moon gigs), noting the concert was presented to her as the "World Culture and Sports Festival." Organizers are clearly aware of Houston's participation -- her name appears bigger than Moon's on posters. The event, "True Love Day," will feature a mass wedding of couples paying $70 for the privilege.
Small Mississippi town displays media savvy after killings, By J.R. Moehringer, Los Angeles Times
PEARL, Miss. -- Even in the high-minded heartland, the moral dilemma descends within minutes of every disaster: To trade or not to trade on human tragedy? After Susan Smith and Timothy McVeigh and JonBenet Ramsey and O.J. Simpson, the average American has come to understand what the average Hollywoodian always knew, that tales of pain and cruelty have intrinsic market value, no less than cotton and pork bellies. Even in this remote city of 22,000, folks are doing a masterly job of fencing, or flirting, with the droves of reporters and producers trolling for stories. Some Pearl residents want money up front. Some want an agent, in case a TV movie is ever made or a book is ever written. Some want unusual control over any interview they do choose to grant. Some want to be left alone. But no matter what they want, nearly everyone shows an uncommon level of sophistication, an unprecedented poise, and the reason seems to be that they've learned a little something from watching TV.
They promised her the moon, The Miami Herald, November 14, 1997
Whitney Houston says she had no idea she was inking a deal to sing at a mass wedding for members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. But the pop diva will go ahead with her Nov. 29 appearance in Washington, D.C., anyway. Houston's gig has angered anti-cult folks who say the Unification Church uses devious recruitment tactics, brainwashes members and dupes them out of money. Still, Houston will show up as contracted. She'll "get on stage, sing, go home," the spokeswoman said. In other words: take the money and run. Her opening act is Jon Secada. His rep, Tonni Kairey, told USA Today: "We honestly thought it was a Whitney Houston concert. We had no idea it was for a [Unification] wedding." The event, billed as "True Love Day," will feature a mass wedding of couples who paid $70 for the privilege. Houston's spokeswoman confirmed that the singer is getting in the "low seven figures" for a 45-minute performance.
Mother of `vampire cult' leader pleads guilty, 8:31 p.m. PST Saturday, November 15, 1997
MURRAY, Ky. (AP) -- The mother of a teen-ager who police say led a blood-drinking "vampire cult" linked to two deaths pleaded guilty on Friday to trying to entice a teen-age boy into sex as an initiation rite. Sondra Gibson, 35, was originally charged with solicitation to commit rape. She instead pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful transaction with a minor. Ms. Gibson is the mother of Rod Ferrell, awaiting trial in Tavares, Fla., on two counts of murder in the Nov. 25 beating deaths of Richard and Ruth Wendorf of Eustis. Authorities said Ms. Gibson wrote to a 14-year-old boy, inviting sex. "I longed to be near you ... to become a Vampire, a part of the family immortal and truly yours forever," the letter read. "You will then come for me and cross me over and I will be your bride for eternity and you my Gibson could have faced five years in prison, but Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Ward agreed to five years probation. Judge Dennis Foust will formally sentence Gibson on Jan. 9.
Moon Media Alert, by Steven Hassan, 11/13/97
On Saturday, November 29, 1997 controversial religious figurehead, alleged cult leader, and self-proclaimed Messiah Sun Myung Moon, will officiate over a mass wedding of 30,000 couples at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C -- coordinated with a worldwide wedding of 3.6 million couples via video link. Moon, a 77-year old Korean billionaire and convicted felon who served 13 months in federal prison for tax evasion and conspiracy in the 80s, owns the Washington Times newspaper, Insight magazine, The University of Bridgeport (CT), and The New Yorker Hotel. His empire was investigated in 1977-78 by Congress as part of Korean CIA activities in the U.S. Moon's stated ambitions include establishing a one-world government run by Moon and his leaders. His vision of Heaven on Earth includes absorbing all world religions into Unificationism as well as abolishing all languages except Korean. Members ritually pledge every Sunday morning, before an altar of Moon, to fight for the Fatherland (Korea). Unlike past mass Moonie weddings, the requirements for participation in the RFK event have been reduced from full committed devotion (in which Moon picks the spouses, who often wait years to consummate their wedding) to allowing anyone who wants to renew their marriage vows. The Rev. Al Sharpton recently had his vows renewed and was given the power to renew others' marriage vows. Whitney Houston is reportedly receiving over 1 million dollars to sing at the RFK event. In Japan, Moon's organization has been the subject of the largest consumer fraud investigation in its history. Recent court decisions upheld a 37.6 million YEN decision to pay two women coerced into donating their assets to the Unification Church. Thousands of additional cases are expected to follow. While Moon professes Family Values as a philosophical theme, his own eldest son (by this wife) Hyo Jin is being divorced by Nansook Moon because of his alleged use of cocaine, physical and emotional abuse, repeated DWI (driving while intoxicated) arrests and similar activities. Steven Hassan is a former Moon leader (1974-76) and has spent 21 years warning the public about this dangerous cult leader. He is a licensed therapist, author of the book Combatting Cult Mind Control, and is a specialist helping people involved in hundreds of destructive cult groups.
Reuters historical calendar - Nov. 18, 7:21 p.m. PST Tuesday, November 11, 1997
LONDON (Reuters) - Following are some of the major events to have occurred on Nov. 18 in history: 1978 - Jim Jones, a U.S. pastor, led 914 of his followers to their deaths at Jonestown, Guyana, by drinking a cyanide-laced fruit drink. Cult members who refused to swallow the liquid were shot.
Whitney Houston Claims Ignorance of Moon Deal, San Jose Mercury News, 11/14/97
Whitney Houston claims she didn't know she was inking a deal to sing at a mass wedding for members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. But the pop diva will go ahead with her Nov. 29 appearance, even though she learned only recently of Moon's involvement, her spokeswoman Lois Smith said. "The engagement was made by her agent some time ago," Smith said Wednesday in New York. The event was presented to Houston as a world culture and sports festival at Washington's RFK Stadium. But advertisements bill it as True Love Day, at which couples from the South Korea-based church will tie the knot or reaffirm their vows. Houston will be paid "a lot," Smith said. The Unification Church is accused by critics of devious recruitment tactics, brainwashing members, and duping them out of money.
Spiritual Fringes, a Five-Part Series, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 9-13, 1997
This series includes interviews with Michael Langone, Ronald Enroth, Janja Lalich, John Knapp, Rick Ross, and discusion of Elizabeth Clare Prophet and other groups.
Belarus: Religious Intolerance Criticized, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 November 1997
Warsaw, (RFE/RL) -- David Little, a U.S. delegate to an international human rights conference sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw, criticized several European countries today for what he said was religious intolerance. Little expressed concern about a newly adopted Russian law on "Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations." He said the law denies rights of property, publication, and education to religious groups that have existed for less than 15 years in Russia. But Little also criticized such Western European countries as Germany and Austria for what he called their bad treatment of Scientology followers.
Scientology Stand to Be Explained From Times Wire Reports, Thursday, November 13, 1997
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel unveiled plans for an "information campaign" in the U.S. to explain Germany's refusal to accept Scientology as a religion. Bonn argues that the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology is--in Germany, at least--more of a business concern than a religion, and accuses it of exploiting the insecurities of its members for economic gain. Kinkel said that although the U.S. Congress this week defeated a resolution accusing Bonn of religious discrimination, there is still "a huge lack of awareness" among U.S. politicians about the German position.
Court decision in Wollersheim case on Scientology's corporate structure, FACTNet, 11/13/97
The controversial global "religion" notorious for attacking Internet free speech, committing human rights abuses, and persecuting former members has suffered a devastating legal defeat. A Los Angeles judge has found that Scientology stripped $340 million from what was its mother church to thwart a creditor. In this ruling, Scientology's new head organizations -- the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center -- were declared alter egos of the former mother church, the Church of Scientology of California. The judge also ruled that the new Scientology corporations are merely shells, that Scientology officers and trustees intermingle at will between various Scientology corporations, and that all Scientology corporations are under the direct business control of David Miscavige, the organizations' current head. Scientology experts believe this ruling may undo Scientology's U.S. nonprofit tax-exempt status, because Scientology corporations are not separate as Scientology claimed in its tax exemption application to the IRS.
Travolta begs Channel 4 not to attack Scientology By Chris Blackhurst
JOHN Travolta, the actor, has written to Michael Jackson, Britain's Channel 4 controller, imploring him not to allow the showing of a documentary on the life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. A committed Scientologist, Mr Travolta accuses Mr Jackson and Alan Hayling, the programme's commissioning editor, of being prepared to slander him and all the members of the church. He claims they seem intent on inciting hatred of the sect, as had been happening in Germany, where the authorities are suppressing its activities. The actor mysteriously asks whether the persecution of Scientologists will stop only when someone like himself becomes a victim. The sect has reacted with fury to the programme and has fought hard to have it cancelled. Channel 4 has been bombarded with letters and phone calls from members around the world. Senior sect officials have twice had to be asked to leave the channel's London headquarters after turning up and demanding to meet Mr Jackson. The crew from the independent company making the programme were followed across America and have been visited by private detectives acting for the church at their homes in England. They even visited the stables where the director, Jill Robinson, keeps her horse. She found the visit threatening. "I was not there at the time and I cannot see what they were trying to do except make it clear to me that they knew where I kept my horse," she said. "I regard it as intimidating." In the past few days, the campaign against the programme has taken on a surreal aspect, with a camera crew from "Freedom Films", thought to be a Scientology production unit, arriving unannounced and filming the programme makers at their homes. Mr Hayling said there was no question of the programme being changed or stopped. It was based on factual material and interviews with people who had known Mr Hubbard well. When first asked to co-operate, the church had not responded. Only later did it offer access, but on condition that it had editorial control. Mr Hayling described as "deplorable" the visiting of members of the film crew at their homes. The Church of Scientology said it was "absolutely untrue" that it had initially refused to co-operate. The private detectives were justified, a spokesman said, because the organisation was making its own inquiry into whether those involved in the making of the programme were linked to people in America who had been trying to extort cash from it.
Cult members rejected by high court in bid to bar Texas judge, 7:52 a.m. PST Monday, November 10, 1997
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Branch Davidian cult members today lost a Supreme Court appeal aimed at removing a Texas federal judge from presiding over a lawsuit against the government stemming from the fiery end to their 1993 standoff. The court, without comment, turned down cult members' argument that U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. is biased against them. More than 200 surviving Davidians, plus relatives of the 79 who died when fire engulfed their compound near Waco, Texas, are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from the government. The Davidians' lawsuit challenges the government's conclusion that the Davidians themselves started the fire and that they shot first during the initial raid on their compound.
Cult Awareness Network settles lawsuit, Monday November 10 6:04 PM EST
CHICAGO, Nov. 10 (UPI) _ The Cult Awareness Network [Important Note: We do not recommend contacting the Cult Awareness Network, or CAN. An extraordinarily courageous and useful organization in the past, CAN was recently forced into bankruptcy with the help of the Church of Scientology, who now owns their records and mans their phones.] has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it three years ago by Landmark Education Corp. The anti-cult group, formerly based in Chicago, filed for Chapter 7 bankrupcy in June 1996 after it was fined $1.8 million for an involuntary deprogramming attempt on Pentacostal student Jason Scott. In a settlement announced today in Chicago and San Francisco, CAN agreed that it never had any evidence showing Landmark Education Corp. or its programs, including the Landmark Forum, were a cult. The name Cult Awareness Network and its hotline were bought by the Church of Scientology and it has operated as a foundation for religious freedom since January 1997. Cult Awareness Network spokeswoman Nancy O'Meara in Los Angeles says, "We are a religious tolerance organization that gives people reliable information and reconciles families though mediation. The vile and hateful attitude is gone." Former network Executive Director Cynthia Kisser disagreed. She told UPI, "It's a shame that this settlement was made. It will be used for public relations purposes for Landmark and it will deceive and confuse the public. I don't believe it reflects what the Cult Awareness Network stood for in the two decades it existed." Landmark filed suit against the Cult Awareness Network in 1994 after the old group characterized Landmark as being a cult or cult-like and called the settlement "a positive step in setting the record straight." Landmark Chairman Art Schreiber says, "It has always been our intention to demonstrate to the Board of Directors of CAN through the independent research and opinions of numerous experts that any notion that Landmark or its programs are cult or cult-like is absurd." Based in San Francisco, Landmark offers educational and human development programs through 57 offices in 14 countries. Editor's Note: We feel it important to repeat that this settlement was arrived at with the "new" CAN, controlled by Scientology.
Germany praises U.S. House vote on Scientology,9:58 a.m. PST Monday, November 10, 1997
BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Germany Monday hailed the U.S. Congress for voting down a resolution accusing Germany of discriminating against minority religious groups, particularly the Church of Scientology. Government officials also dismissed claims that Germans were being persecuted because of their religious beliefs and said they were astonished by reports that a German member of the church had received asylum in the United States. Scientology has been waging a highly public international campaign against what it calls discrimination by the German government. It compares the government's attempts to ostracize Scientology members from state jobs and contracts with efforts by Nazi Germany to discriminate against Jews in the early 1930s. Germany, which unlike the United States does not recognize Scientology as a religion, says the group is a purely economic organization exploiting the weaknesses of its members for profit. It has placed Scientology under natio nwide surveillance for possible anti-constitutional activities.
House rejects measure critical of Germany on religion, 6:47 p.m. PST Sunday, November 9, 1997
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House on Sunday defeated a resolution expressing U.S. concern about violations of rights of minority religious groups in Germany, a measure strongly opposed by the Bonn government. The measure was rejected 318-101 after a brief debate. The resolution urged President Clinton to express U.S. concern to Bonn about Germany's treatment of minority religions, particularly "discrimination against members of the Church of Scientology." It also mentioned Jehovah's Witnesses.
Scientologist PI Digging Dirt to Stop Free Speech?, TranceNet, November 10, 1997
Usually reliable sources report that private investigator Martin Eugene Ingram, long-known for his employement by Scientology, has been knocking on doors in the UK. He is believed to be investigating Gil Robinson to get a television on program Scientology stopped.
From TM to Technology, Iowa City Becomes Communications Center, By Jon Van, Chicago Tribune, 9:49 a.m. PST Sunday, November 9, 1997
FAIRFIELD, Iowa--Nov. 10-- Fairfield, a town of 10,000, 60 miles from the nearest interstate, has become a center for technology built mostly by people about as untechie as can be imagined. Typical is Fred Gratzon, chairman and founder of Telegroup Inc., a worldwide phone company with sales this year that will approach $300 million. Before starting Telegroup eight years ago, Gratzon sold ice cream. Before that, he instructed people in Transcendental Meditation. Gratzon is one of a few thousand meditators who moved to Fairfield in the 1980s to heed the call of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the TM guru from India who promised that if enough people meditated together, it would bring world peace and prosperity. Gratzon bought large blocks of long-distance capacity from AT&T Corp. at a deep discount and resold to businesses while still earning a profit. Through TM connections with people in other countries, he started reselling service abroad. His success even encouraged other Fairfield people to found a competing company, USA Global Link. Together the two firms have about half the world's business in call-back technology, through which foreign callers dial a U.S. number, hang up and get an automatic call back from a low-rate U.S. phone switch, bypassing the local phone system's exorbitant long-distance rates. Call-back service enrages government-owned phone monopolies around the world, which have long set long-distance rates at astronomical levels to subsidize local phone service. They have passed laws against call-back service and installed software to prevent their citizens from dialing lines owned by the Fairfield companies. Fairfield has become a mecca for job seekers who commute from as far away as Missouri. "It used to be that you could hire a pretty intelligent person for the minimum wage to work as a clerk or answer the phone," said Jeff Wilson, publisher of Fairfield's daily newspaper and president of the Chamber of Commerce. "Now you have to offer $7 to $10 an hour just to get someone's attention. It's hard to fill clerical positions. This has been a real boon to the second incomes generated around here by farm wives."
German Scientologist given asylum in U.S., Saturday, November 8, 1997, New York Times
TAMPA, Fla. -- A federal immigration court judge has granted asylum to a German member of Scientology, the woman's lawyer and a Scientology official said Friday. The woman claimed she would be subjected to religious persecution had she been required to return to her homeland, Tampa lawyer John Lund said. It is believed to be the first time the U.S. has given asylum to a Scientologist. Scientology has been waging a highly public international campaign to counter what it considers discrimination by Germany. Officials at the German Embassy in Washington said they would have no reaction until the ruling was confirmed. Officials at the State To protect relatives still in Germany, Lund and Scientology officials refused to disclose the woman's name or where she lived. German officials consider Scientology an extremist organization dedicated to bilking its followers of money, barring Scientologists from major political parties and placing the organization under surveillance.
Church of Satan Founder Dies at 67
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Anton Szandor LaVey, who founded the Church of Satan and played the devil in the movie ``Rosemary's Baby,'' has died at 67 of pulmonary edema Oct. 29 after years of heart problems. ``We will continue in his footsteps to do as he directed to keep the Church of Satan going and keep it strong,'' daughter Karla LaVey said. He founded the Church of Satan in 1966 and made national headlines the next year for performing a satanic wedding, then baptizing his first daughter in the Church of Satan. But LaVey's brand of satanism was not about evil or animal and child sacrifice, family members said. It was more about rational freethinking and a disdain for the hypocrisy he believed corrupted Christianity. Still, LaVey played the image to the hilt. He was often seen walking around the neighborhood, bald head gleaming, black cape flapping. He wrote five books, including ``The Satanic Bible,'' ``The Satanic Witch'' and ``The Satanic Rituals,'' of which there are more than one million copies in print combined. Each has been translated into nearly every major language. His final book, ``Satan Speaks,'' is scheduled for release next spring.
Travolta Phones Lawmaker's Daughter, Thursday, November 6, 1997; 3:01 p.m. EST
MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- A busy congressman couldn't make it to his daughter's school play, so he called on John Travolta to give him a boost in his approval rating. Travolta phoned Lara Salmon, daughter of Rep. Matt Salmon, to wish her luck in ``Hello, Dolly!'' Salmon, an Arizona Republican, and Travolta met when the actor lobbied Congress to push Germany to ease restrictions on Scientology. Travolta, a follower, made the call to Lara after a House committee that her father sits on took a voice vote in support of Scientology and other religious groups. Mike Paranzino, Salmon's spokesman in Washington, said there was nothing improper about the congressman seeking a favor from Travolta. ``This is a non-story,'' he said Thursday.
German court shies away from Scientology ruling, 6:26 a.m. PST Thursday, November 6, 1997
BERLIN (AP) -- Federal judges refused today to rule whether Scientology is a religion, ordering a lower court to focus instead on whether the group is non-profit. The case already has bounced from court to court -- reflecting Scientology's explosive position. Politicians claim the group is a money-making business with totalitarian aims to overthrow democracy; the Scientologists say they are a non-profit religioun discriminated against in Germany. Judges today said that Scientology's religious status is irrelevant. The case focuses on whether a branch group in Baden-Wuerttemberg should be afforded non-profit status. They provided a guideline for the decision, saying Scientology would be a business only if it made profits selling educational materials to non-members. Chancellor Kohl's government placed Scientology under surveillance as a threat to German democracy in June, a step toward a ban of the organization. Scientologists claim discrimination throughout German society, from being denied membership in political parties to having their children barred from schools. It often compares its treatment to Nazi isolation of the Jews. Right now, Scientology has non-profit status in all of Germany's 16 states. A ruling against them would likely encourage similar action against the group in other states.
A Special Call To the Wealthy by the Maharishi, Trancenet, 11/7/97, 10:49 a.m. ET
The Transcendental Meditation movement's Maharishi Vedic Health Center has announced a "striking demonstration by [a] Great Healer" to begin November 10 in Berlin, Paris, and the U.S. Only "the wealthy are invited to find relief in live demonstrations of healing" -- after they have made a "contribution" of $25,000. The Center claims demonstrations will prove useful for people with migraine, spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, asthma, frozen shoulder, heart palpitations, sleep disorders, psoriasis, disc disease, liver enlargement, hepatitis A, gynecological problems, some cases of paralysis, and cancer patients on research trial ("pain has been found relieved in some cases"). It should be noted that most of these diseases are known to have a strong psychosomatic component and medical critics of such faith healing question whether any physical cures actually take place. [Editor's note: Although we believe we reported this story in good fairth, some readers have disagreed strongly claiming that the "contributions" were not required until after the healing took place. We can't resolve this discrepancy because the Web page has changed in the meantime.]
Former senior AUM member now 'pities' guru, 4:38 a.m. PST Friday, November 7, 1997
TOKYO, Nov. 7 (Kyodo) -- A former senior member of the religious cult AUM Shinrikyo said Friday he pities group founder Shoko Asahara. "Asahara was once an existence superior to god, but now I think he is a pitiful person," Kazuaki Okazaki, 37, told the Tokyo District Court during Asahara's 46th hearing. Okazaki himself has been tried on charges of killing lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, critical of the cult, as well as his wife and son in 1989. Okazaki said he confessed to police in May 1995 because he was astonished by the shooting of then National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu in March that year. A former policeman who formerly belonged to AUM has confessed to shooting Kunimatsu, but police have not found sufficient evidence to arrest him. Asahara has been tried on 17 criminal cases including the killings of the Sakamoto family and the March 1995 lethal gas attack on Tokyo subways that killed 12 and injured thousands.
Appraiser tries to put attractive spin on tainted properties, 12:48 p.m. PST Thursday, November 6, 1997
RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. (AP) -- Randall Bell was talking and smiling as he gave yet another tour of the Heaven's Gate suicide mansion, trying to spin a place of tragedy into a hot property. The infamous Mediterranean-style villa, where 39 cultists overdosed on vodka and barbiturates last March 29 and owned by San Diego psychologist Sam Koutchesfahani, is up for sale in a sealed-bid auction that began last week. Bell is looking for the "ballpark" pre-suicide value -- $1.6 million. Bell is no real estate agent, though salesmanship is, without a doubt, part of what he does. During a tour of the house, he pointed to a strip of Spanish tiles ("This is the spot where the farewell video was shot.") and walked over the freshly cleaned pink carpet ("There used to be big blood stains, and they are simply not here anymore, which is nice.")
SANTA FE: Quirky film on cults lacking a leader, Friday, November 7, 1997, in the The Miami Herald
There's a moment near the beginning, when a chiropractor introduces himself as "Dan -- if you're comfortable with that," when it looks like Santa Fe could be a subtle but scathing satire of the New Age movement. But the promising start vanishes into the cosmos, and not even a scene of blindfolded people running into trees at a "trust encounter group" exercise can rescue this mishmash of a movie from banality. The story stars Paul Thomas (Gary Cole) as a self-proclaimed recovering guru addict. He recently escaped a Koresh-type cult compound with his wife and daughter, just a few steps ahead of ATF annihilation. Now he falls in love with a luminous Lolita Davidovich playing Eleanor, a Marianne Williamson-type miracle worker. Director Andrew Shea can't seem to decide whether he's filming a social satire, a frightening dramatic look at the blurring boundaries between faith and cults, an examination of how the rich and privileged in Santa Fe would rather gaze at their navels than at the poverty and injustice around them, an intense romance (in which, disgustingly, once again a woman is depicted as charmed by the ardor of a violent man who screams at her and tries to break into her home) or, well, whatever.
Kinkel says Scientology must not affect U.S. ties,8:46 p.m. PST Wednesday, November 5, 1997
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said Wednesday that differences between Washington and Bonn over Scientology must not cloud their states' relationship. Kinkel, in Washington for wide-ranging talks with President Clinton, senior government officials and lawmakers, refuted allegations that Germany discriminated against the U.S. group. Last week the House of International Relations Committee approved a resolution urging Germany to stop discriminating against religious groups, Scientology especially. Kinkel said the accusation was "completely unfounded", and stresssed that religious freedom was enshrined in Germany's constitution. Kinkel said he encountered pro-Scientology demonstrators at all his stops in Washington Wednesday and in Canada Tuesday. The Church of Scientology has accused Germany, which has placed it under surveillance for possible anti-constitutional activities, of persecuting it as Jews were treated under the Nazi. The group issued a statement late Wednesday accusing Kinkel of "totalitarian-style suppression of a free press" because he allowed only German reporters to attend his Wednesday afternoon briefing. They said Kinkel also asked two German Scientologists to leave the briefing. Germany believes Scientology to be a purely economic organization exploiting the weaknesses of its members for profit.
Police distribute video of most-wanted AUM members
TOKYO, Nov. 5 (Kyodo) -- The Metropolitan Police Department has distributed a video featuring the three most-wanted AUM Shinrikyo cult fugitives, police officials said Wednesday. The six-minute video includes pictures of Makoto Hirata, 32, wanted in connection with confinement resulting in death of a notary office clerk, as well as Naoko Kikuchi, 25, and Katsuya Takahashi, 39, to whom arrest warrants have been issued on suspicion of murder in connection with the 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, they said. In the gas attack 12 people were killed and thousands wounded.
Another bone of contention has been Germany's attitude to the Church of Scientology, CNN World News, 3 November 1997, 8:06 CET, Paris time
The issue leapt back onto the agenda last weekend after German media reported that the House of Representatives presented a resolution accusing Germany of discrimination against religious minorities, in particular Scientology. Germany believes Scientology to be a purely economic organization exploiting the weaknesses of its members for profit. The country's 16 regional states have placed the church under
Germany to allay American fears over NATO costs, 9:49 a.m. PST Monday, November 3, 1997
BONN, Germany (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel embarks on a trip to the U.S. and Canada Tuesday, aiming to allay American fears that the NATO costs could spiral out of control. German officials sought to play down the importance of continuing disagreements between German and U.S. politicians over how to deal with the controversial Church of Scientology, but sources said the issue would probably be discussed. The issue leapt back onto the agenda last weekend after German media reported that the House of Representatives presented a resolution accusing Germany of discrimination against religious minorities, in particular Scientology. Germany believes Scientology to be a purely economic organization exploiting the weaknesses of its members for profit. The country's 16 regional states have placed the church under intelligence surveillance. But German sources noted the latest criticism had not come from the U.S. government but from the House of Representatives. "This isn't a conflict between German and U.S governments. If it's a conflict at all, it's between a certain committee and the government, or the regional states," the source said.
Kinkel to raise Scientology issue during U.S. trip, 7:34 a.m. PST Sunday, November 2, 1997
BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said Sunday he would reassert Germany's reasons for refusing the U.S.-based Church of Scientology the status of a religion when he visits Washington this week. The reports said the resolution calls on President Clinton to make clear such concerns to Germany. "Scientology is not a religious or philosophical grouping. Its aims, at least in Germany, are focused on commercial activities," he said. The U.S. group has accused Germany, which has placed it under surveillance for possible anti-constitutional activities, of persecuting it in the same way Jews were treated during the Nazi period. The German foreign minister is due to meet U.S. government and congressional representatives in a previously scheduled trip to Washington Wednesday.
Tapping into the Eck, November 1, 1997, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Eckankar, based in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, blends Eastern concepts such as karma, reincarnation, dream interpretation, and reliance on a living master who guides followers on their spiritual paths. In the '60s, "It looked far less important compared to other movements which were getting a lot of headlines in those days, like TM (transcendental meditation), the Hare Krishnas, the Moonies," said Robert Ellwood, a religion professor at University of Southern California. "Although those other groups are still around today, they certainly don't have as many followers as Eckankar." Although Eckankar will not reveal figures, observers place membership somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000. Critics of Eckankar say the movement's origins are a fraud. One of the most vocal detractors is David Lane, a professor of philosophy at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. "I wrote a 120-page term paper on Eckankar, sent it to them and they threatened to sue me for $2.5 million if I published it," Lane said in a recent phone interview. The lawsuit never materialized, and Lane went on to publish his book, "The Making of a Spiritual Movement" (Del Mar Press, 1983), which claims Twitchell created Eckankar out of a blend of Scientology, Theosophy and the Radhasoami movement. Today, Lane's views are represented on his Web site called The Neural Surfer. Ellwood said he has no reason to think that Lane's research is inaccurate. "But that raises a real complicated question," Ellwood says. "Does the fact there is some plagiarism or fabrication in the founding mean that people's experience in Eckankar is not authentic? No, I don't think so." The majority of Eckankar followers have not heard of Lane's critique. Many who have simply disregard it.

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