KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–When James Walker hears of another person converted to faith in Christ after years of deception in a cult, he rejoices at the news. But if that new believer is eager to discard newsletters and books filled with the false teaching that once entrapped him, Walker is likely to respond, “Not so fast!”
What is reasonably regarded as harmful literature can serve to enlighten those who study Christian apologetics. Former practitioners are just one source of materials that Walker and the staff of Watchman Fellowship acquire to build an extensive library of primary source material.
Over the past 30 years, materials from countless cultic groups that range from the New Age Movement to the Unification Church have been collected by scouring yard sales, used bookstores and family files.
December 7, 2008
November 4, 2008
The Dr. Phil show is taking a look at cults soon. From the website:
It’s hard to believe, but in America alone, there may be as many as 5,000 religious groups preying upon the weak and vulnerable, and all in the name of God. Dr. Phil’s guests have warnings for you and your children. Seeta says when her 18-year-old daughter joined a religious group called 1 Mind Ministries, she left home with her 7-month-old son and never returned. Soon afterward, Seeta received the horrifying news that her grandson was found dead and her daughter was being charged with murder. Learn the disturbing details of this case and why Seeta says her daughter is innocent. Then, meet Norman, a college-educated husband and father who moved his family hundreds of miles to join a religious group that came with a price he says he never expected. Norman says he was enticed to join the House of Yahweh because of his strong desire to be part of a group. The House of Yahweh is a mysterious organization out of Abilene, Texas, led by Yisrayl Hawkins, a man who some say has more than 30 wives. As Norman and his family prepared for the end of the world, as Yisrayl Hawkins preached, Norman says he eventually realized why they were selected to join the group. You won’t believe the reason he gives! Then, meet a former wife of Yisrayl Hawkins, and learn the warning signs of mind control.
For information on the cults mentioned in this show, and others, please consult Steve Hassan’s excellent Freedom of Mind website.
October 17, 2008
A forum in Berlin will focus on the Lyndon LaRouche movement in Germany.
The unexplained death of a Jewish student more than five years ago prompted Thursday’s event looking at the allegedly anti-democratic and anti-Semitic aspects of several political organizations established by LaRouche, an 86-year-old American political activist and economist, according to Erika Duggan.
Jewish and pro-democracy groups are hosting the forum.
Duggan’s son, Jeremiah, died after attending an anti-war conference sponsored by a LaRouche-linked group in Wiesbaden. Witnesses told Duggan that her son, shocked by statements during a meeting of the Schiller Institute that blamed Jews for the Iraq war, stood up and announced he was Jewish.
German courts have ruled Jeremiah’s death a suicide — investigators said he was hit by at least one car when he ran onto a highway. But British investigators have disputed the finding and suggest Jeremiah was beaten and thrown onto the highway.
Duggan and her husband, Hugo, have filed an appeal to Germany’s constitutional court asking for the investigation to be reopened.
October 3, 2008
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Former members of the Fellowship of Friends want state officials to investigate the Yuba County-based religious group, contending the nonprofit organization uses donations to fund “the extravagant lifestyle” of its leader Robert Burton and that unpaid labor of foreign nationals developed its Yuba County property.
Workers with religious visas have made possible the vineyard and commercial winery at the Fellowship’s 1,171-acre headquarters in the Sierra foothills community of Oregon House, the petition states.
“This fact has been intentionally hidden from authorities,” according to the petition. “Workers are required to donate back to the church the largest portion of their salary, leaving an average monthly wage of about $460.”
The assertions are part of the petition reviewed by anti-cult attorney Ford Greene, who represented a former Yuba College student in a 1996 lawsuit against the Fellowship.
The suit in Yuba County Superior Court, which asserted that Burton had seduced the former college student, was settled before going to trial and its terms remain confidential.
The petition asserts that most lawsuits against the Fellowship are settled financially and “largely concealed from current followers.”
For further information on the Fellowship of Friends please consult Freedom of Mind. Their official website can be found at beingpresent.org
August 28, 2008
The program, first of its kind in the U.S., is designed specifically for people who have left cults or other tightly controlled groups, often burdened by their previous acculturation to beliefs and behaviors foreign to mainstream society:
“It was a huge shock to me leaving, like stepping onto another planet.
“I grew up in a Bible based cult. I felt so claustrophobic in my group I felt that I had to leave. I thought that the group was right in their beliefs but I wasn’t good enough for the group. I also thought that I would die quite shortly after leaving the group because I had sinned against God by leaving. But still I left. I was one of 9 children and while not the oldest child I was the first in my family to leave and as with others who had also left the group, my whole family and everybody else in the cult stopped speaking to me when I left.
“I had real trouble shopping after I left. I remember finding it so hard to work out how to dress, how to decide which clothes to buy. I felt very alone and knew that no one understood where I had come from. I was frightened, young, very naive and faced with a culture which I had no experience of and which was completely alien to me.”
People who have left cults may be confused, frightened, and reluctant or unable to articulate the extent of their disorientation from and, sometimes, fear of mainstream culture. The new service, an innovation developed in cooperation with the International Cultic Studies Association and supervised by Dr. Doni Whitsett of the University of Southern California School of Social Work, postulates that people like Joan can benefit from specialized assistance based on an understanding of cultic characteristics and cult dynamics. While providing aid and referrals for clients’ practical needs like medical and mental health care, housing, education, and job training, the service will also help them recognize and cope with issues arising from their cultic experience.
August 23, 2008
A council chief executive is attending a £5,000 self-awareness training course in Germany and Florida to learn to become “more likeable and able to like herself”.
Dr Allison Fraser, who is in charge of Sandwell Council, signed up to attend the Avatar Professional Course.
The Avatar website claims the course teaches people how to become “more real, authentic”, to “protect themselves against the abrasions of the world” and “gain a connection with the undefined self”. It also teaches its students how to “obtain the keys to successfully operate in the world”.
Avatar was established by Harry Palmer, a former missionary in the Church of Scientology. It is thought he devised the Avatar theory during a prolonged session in a flotation tank.
Dr Fraser has already taken a £2,400 course in Germany and is due to fly out to Florida in October for the remaining £2,500 worth of training.
She will be staying at the International Drive resort in Orlando, described in the brochure as one of the most “dynamic vacation destinations” in the world.
For further information on Avatar – including its Scientology origins and cultish behaviour – please consult the following:
August 20, 2008
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With help from honking passers-by, young people loosely tied to the Memphis music scene countered a picket Monday by a radical Kansas church at the Isaac Hayes tribute.
Members of Westboro Baptist Church planned to picket from 10:15 a.m. until 11 a.m., according to the Topeka church’s Web site, but the handful of protesters showed up early, then piled into a minivan and left for Little Rock by 10 a.m.
“That’s what we were aiming for,” said Bruce White, 20, one of the young people who marched across the street, just west of Hope Presbyterian on Walnut Grove.
The Memphis group toted a sheet that read, “Honk if you love Isaac Hayes,” and the response helped cancel out sect members, who “sang really loudly and really badly,” said Aubrey DePew, 19.
A couple of the Westboro group’s signs read “Hayes in Hell” and “Chef in Hell.” A press release on the church Web site attacked Hayes for his association with the entertainment industry, which they contend caters to homosexuals.