Friday, December 29, 2006

Gods of Hebrews and of Cosmos


The question that you asked is an axis around which many of the most important issues in theology orbit. This is the careless, unstudied, almost universal assumption that the god of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament") is the same as the God of the Christian Scriptures.

It is quite easy to slide or fall into this assumption; most Christians do hold it as a matter of dogma. It is so commonly assumed, in fact, as to be invisible. Even most educators and religious teachers take it fully for granted.

But the assumption that Jehovah-Yahweh is God contradicts a few important historical issues. For it was the loyal, faithful people of Yahweh who conspired with the Romans to murder Jesus. It was also they who were among the most vicious enemies of Christianity during its first two centuries.

Wise and intelligent people can hold to no stupid or ignorant anti-Semitism because of this, however, for no one is ever responsible for the actions of her ancestors.

True, many Christians tried like mad to force Christianity into the mold of Judaism. These were called "Judaizers." They pretended that the Hebrew Scriptures were part of the "Bible" of Christianity, and they, too, made the serious mistake of identifying (and equating) the god of the Hebrews with the Lord of pure Love identified by the mystic Jesus.

In stark contrast, many of the earliest Christians, including the teacher Marcion (c. 140), taught clearly that the god of the old way was not the God of Love. Here is evidence: Although some form of the sacred name, written YHWH, was used nearly seven thousand times in the "Old Testament," no form of this sacred name was ever used a single time in all the oldest manuscripts of the Christian Scriptures.

But the very reason that Christianity split from Judaism is that it had an entirely different and incompatible set of Scriptures, the Christian Greek Scriptures ("New Testament"); Christianity recognized its own, and separate, prophets; and it had its own teachings. These teachings did not concur with those of the "holy days," "feasts," "sacrifices," and other patterns from Judaism. Christians abandoned all these ceremonial commemorations despite the fact that they had been "commanded by Jehovah."

Christians ignored all of this fanfare, even though these celebrations and rituals were demanded by the Hebrew Scriptures. Even though the Levitical and other laws of Jehovah were included in the Bible of the Hebrews, their practices were simply dropped and abandoned by the Christians. It could accurately be said that many if not most Christians simply dropped and abandoned the Hebrew Scriptures as the "Bible" of another religion-- Judaism.

Christianity did not evolve from, or originate within, Judaism as a "splinter" group. No, it originated from the teachings of an enlightened man reared in Egypt-- Jesus. To prove that the religion did not have power over free Christians, Jesus altered many of the "Laws of Jehovah," as in Matthew chapter 5. In other words, he did not feel bound to those ancient laws.

Christianity did not hate Judaism. But it insisted upon total freedom from the "written law codes," as Paul made clear in Galatians. These law-codes were the Bible of the Jews.

It is most logical that a religion that has a different Bible, different prophets, different teachers, and different teachings has also a different God. The God taught by Jesus was Love, as reflected by his disciple John, who wrote simply, "God is Love," and he wrote it twice. (1 Jn. 4:8, 16)

The ancient god periodically showed a quality called chesed in Hebrew, "loving-kindness." But he showed this to only those who carefully obeyed all of his laws, and very rarely. Jehovah was a god bound by law, and was very concerned about "righteousness" and "obedience." The Christianity of Jesus was more concerned with a deeper, more authentic,

The whole idea of a priesthood, a temple, and a thousand religious laws, binding on the Hebrews, was simply deleted by the Christians. Also, the exclusivity of being the "chosen people" disappeared, as Christianity began to be a universal faith, open to non-Jews ("gentiles").

When you separate the God of Love from the ancient god, it clears up so many mysteries. For Jehovah, says the record, slaughtered women, men, and children. He was a creation of mad and murderous generals and kings of the Middle East, and naturally, he thought precisely as they did. These horrid activities are unthinkable to the omnipotent Lord of Love. They are hideous. So is Armageddon, a God-slandering myth, and so is eternal hellfire, another myth of nightmarish humans, not a creation of the stainless God.

If you have any questions re the misidentification of God that is common to our society and culture, let me recommend my book Jehovah, Good-bye: The "New Theism" of Love.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jews, Christians, and Muslims


In a fine country such as the United States used to be, before greed became its false god and war its religion, the people of this nation held fast to some great vistas and horizons of stainless and highest ideals.

As people of the Way (of Love), we must not follow the greedy in stealing from the needy. We must, as good, decent people, resist the cheap and anti-intellectual activities of judging people by the color of their skins, or by their religion.

Our most elevated nobility arises from the respect that we pay to all religious groups in the country.

This does not, of course, imply that we buy into, or accept as truth, every teaching of every faith. That would literally be impossible, as they are often opposites, or conflicting. We do not show "respect" for a faith by joining it! Instead, we regard its members with a kindly eye, towards forgiveness and tolerance. We are kind to the kind; we are kind also to the unkind.

Many Christians embrace three horrifying, anti-agapic doctrines, for example. The mass-murder of Armageddon, the existence of an everlasting hellfire, and pervasive Jehovism are but three out of many examples that could rather easily be derived from history. Despite the nightmarish degeneration of the teachings of Jesus, we can still use our individual freedoms to choose and select what we choose to believe.

Early Judaism suffered from a very similar Jehovism, a very serious religious disease. The worship of an inflated soldier-god, or war-god, marked especially its very early centuries. (This was the violent adoration of a war-god, the "proto-Jehovah.")

And, although it is not "pc" to say so, the Muslim sacred book, the Koran, teaches, several times, that Christians and Jews are "less than" Muslims, who have received the "latest" and "greatest" revelation.

Despite these ghastly follies in all three faiths, we can still maintain an attitude of respect. For the truth is remarkably simple: A good human being can belong to a "bad" or "imperfect" religious org. We must, then, look beyond history, beyond logic and reason, in order to love other imperfect human beings.

It is our conceptually simple, but enormously complex, mission to cultivate Love for all human beings. With some, this is clearly easier than with others.

What is the "least" Love, that we are drawn by God (Love) to love even strangers? Here it is: We can truly "love" them by wishing them, sincerely, peace, Love, joy, friendship, compassion, happiness, with enough material things to assure their survival. For Love is the attitude felt in the heart. It is not necessarily the Lovexpressions of a puppy. We do not grab onto the pantleg, never letting go, and squeal with unabated delight

And it is possible-- indeed, inevitable-- that we will recognize, and reject, a false and harmful teaching when we hear it.

Not to be able to discern the difference between good and evil is not high spirituality. It is abysmal ignorance.
So, when it comes to ideas and actions, we must take actions, both to embrace the good, and to avoid the evil. We can use discernment or discrimination to know when a teaching, or a group, is anti-spiritual, even though it might have a great disguise. For the truth is that many of our worst religions contain zero spirituality. We are supposed to help to educate each other in these areas of "traps" and "snares." This is not "judgment." If you say, "She's going to hell forever," that is judgment, for it involves the evaluation of her total being. If you say, "He has not a particle of goodness within him," that is also judgment.

But if you say, "That is an evil teaching," this is not judgment. Because you choose not to join the neo-nazis or some other extremist group, that is not judgment; it is your wise use of discernment and discrimination.

As is true of all societies, religions also come in various degrees of fineness. Most, but not all, have mystical cores. But, at the low end of the spectrum, are those "faiths" that contain zero mysticism. These are very shallow, and are all about money and power; they are not even about Good (Love). These primitive and backwards faiths have acted as a plague upon humanity. And that is how the wise avoids them.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Subnormal or Supernormal?

Our society and culture have always had a very tough time discerning the supernormal from the subnormal. All that our culture knows is that an Adolph Hitler and a Jesus Christ are "abnormal."

But, since society terribly lacks discernment, a spiritual being dare not measure herself according to the standards of a spiritually arrested culture. So, the people of Love (Spirit) do not measure themselves by what the "neighbors" think. They must measure themselves by a higher standard.

That is the standard of a fully "grown" human being-- one who has abandoned her human identity for a higher self-identification. This wise spiritual being identifies herself as an incarnation of Spirit, or Love. She is not just an "animal." She is not just a "human being." Instead, she is a mind, or part of a huge, vast, immense Mind. She is a manifestation (incarnation) of the Mind of Love, or God(dess). She is part of the Buddha, or Christ. This new identity is revealed to her deeply within her own mind, during altered states produced by meditation, in stillmind, crystalmind, or interior silence.

Meditation changes her in very practical ways, as she moves towards becoming "the Buddha," or "the Christ." A gnostic Gospel, the Gospel of Phillip, said that the goal was to become "not just a Christian, but a Christ." And the Buddhists are famous for their saying,"You are already the Buddha."

For, deep within your mind dwells the Mind of "Love plus nothing." This galactic Love is huge and gigantic; it is great enough to over-ride, an dto cancel, any errors ("sins") that you, or others, have made. It results in total forgiveness of all mistakes. This leaves a being free, for she has come to know the interior Reality of Love. This fulfills the famous saying of Jesus, "You will know Reality, and Reality will set you free." In mysticism, "Reality" is one of the names of God-- Love. It is Love for ourselves and others that "frees" us from the traps of illusion. In time, we come to know that only Mind is real, and the entire material world an illusion or dream.

After that realization, we are interested in "investing" in only Mind, and not so obsessed with the "material and external" world-- which is neither.

One tool which helps us to explore interior spaces is the mantra. A very famous mantra is from ancient Tibet. It is om mani padme hum. This is pronounced, "aum money pud-may (first syllable rhyming with "bud," "mud,"etc) hoom (rhyming with "room," or "boom.")

This and other mantras can serve as the wings to lift the personal mind into the great Mind (Lovemind, Godmind, Coremind). Using Love as our sole guide, let us continue to reach for the "supernormal" state of loving. For it is supremely normal for us, or "super-normal," and it is also above the everyday state, or "supernormal."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Take Their Troop Surge in Iraq - and Shove it!



It is astonishing to remember that, a mere six years ago, george bush campaigned on the accusation that the Clinton administration had let the readiness of our military deteriorate. Today, nearly all our military experts, even those speaking at peril to their careers, agree that our armed forces have been broken by the strategically idiotic occupation of Iraq. And yet the bush administration has now coined a new slogan for "stay the course," in utter and diffident defiance of the will of the American people. They are trying to sell us on yet one more "surge" in Iraq, perhaps the one that will finally break our own backs. What Germany could not do in World War II, what Japan could not do, george bush has nearly accomplished already-- the destruction of our armed forces.

There is only one possible outcome from more such bull headed obstinacy--a surge in casualties, a surge in red ink budget deficits, and, sadly, a surge in insurgency. At a time when many are worried about how to logistically extract the troops we have there already, what the bush administration is looking to do is to drive even faster, going the wrong way on the freeway. And IF there were to be a further increase now, it would push off prospects of any meaningful withdrawal for another couple of years, conveniently, until the currently scheduled end of the bush presidency. What is this silly talk about two to three months? It would take longer than that just to get more troops in. Are supporters of this idea nuts? They most certifiably are.

And worse yet, Harry Reid was just quoted as saying that he might go along with their surge lunacy. He really needs to hear from us. American deaths from roadside bombs in Iraq are even now at their highest rate ever. There is no honor whatsoever in sending our brave servicepeople into a rigged fight. There is no defense against such weapons, at least none which our troops are likely to ever be given. Our troops are in a shooting gallery where it is impossible to tell friend from foe. They are dying for absolutely no other reason but politicians who are too cowardly to admit that they were ever wrong, with the pathological liars in the White House at the top of the indictment.


They are talking about doing more of exactly what has not worked at all before. This is the "pouring gasoline on fire" school of foreign policy.There is nothing more that our military can do. Everyone knows this. More troops will not provide security. They will only exacerbate insecurity. Our military presence in Iraq is political poison, and the prescription is NOT to increase the dose. Their vain adventure was doomed from the start, and not because the American people lack the stomach for a just fight. What they don't have the stomach for are lies about war, and being played for suckers by their own presumptive leaders.

The good news is that moderate Muslim voices can make a comeback if we stop escalating the military provocation. In Iran, the cleric reformer Rafsanjani is regaining influence. And the ONLY reason that is happening is because we haven't yet assaulted their country also. But bush and cheney have been chaffing at the bit to do that too. It's long past time to get our troops out of there, to gain whatever diplomatic advantage we can from what little bargaining power bush has not already squandered. Otherwise, with 90% of the Iraqi people already wanting us just to leave, it is likely a matter of a short time before the rest of them DO in fact stand up, AGAINST us, all of them. And that would be the biggest surge of all, unless WE stand up first, speak out, and CONTINUE to press our demand that our troops come home NOW.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Sanity of Christianity

It has been fashionable, at certain times in history, to present various skeptical and cynical views of Jesus the Christ. And an openminded person must try to look at truth from every perspective, including the materialistic and even atheistic, which have presented Christ as having been off-balance, and even mad.

A person hearing voices and seeing visions is commonly regarded, in modern times, as suffering from schizophrenia. But this form of psychological dysfunction tends to destroy clarity pervasively, throughout the victim's life. A schizophrenic is marked by other, related, disturbances in thinking. If the case is serious, she might be even incapable of clear, lucid thinking.

If Jesus had suffered from a psychiatric disorder, in other words, it would very likely have been reflected in his teachings. It should have been perceivable in all, or almost all, of this body of knowledge. And it is true that religion has often made his teachings into something that looks suspiciously like insanity. But far from being "insane," his teachings, in themselves (without complex elaboration and "commentary") mark the highest sanity possible to human beings.The whole idea of exercising universal, unconditional Love is the very core and root of the highest sanity and clarity.

His teachings of forgiveness, kindness, non-exclusivity, learning, and wisdom mark his path as one that appeals strongly to the very best in the human psyche,and to the highest.

If, like some other mystics, he might have occasionally experienced a vision (as during the Transfiguration), he did not make "visions and voices" the center of his life, work, or teaching. Instead, the best Love was the Center of his fine teachings. He went so far, according to his disciple John, as to say that "God" was actually Love Itself. So, his God was no general, no killer, no psychotic, no king, no "person in the sky." No, he taught a far more psychologically sophisticated, elevated perspective of the Absolute, the Ultimate. For his God was Love; it follows that he worshipped Love.

Worshipping Love separated him from the"righteous, respectable" worshippers of Jehovah/Yahweh, the old anthropomorphic king of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament"). They murdered him for, among many charges, idolatry: He worshipped, and taught, a different God than Jehovah, and this was, for them, the "unforgivable sin."

Ironically, his teaching included the very healthy premise that human beings were capable of loving all-- even their enemies. For if God was Love, Christ was also Love, being one with God. And if his disciples followed his path, which was his clear call and invitation, they too would, in time, become "incarnations" of Love.

It was because it had a different God that Christianity was a different religion from Judaism. (This word, by the way, is pronounced "Judah-ism," not "judy-ism." It is not the worship of judy!:)

To see, and present, God as Love Itself was light years ahead of the idea of God as a white-haired and -bearded old man, a "big daddy in the sky." It is also quite psychologically sophisticated, for the idea of a watching "big daddy" appeals to the immature, undeveloped inner child in all of us. It does not attract the inner adult.

If followed, Jesus' teachings lead to a life of peace, respect,compassion, kindness, and goodness. These qualities are the opposite of those so often manifested by people who are out of touch with reality. In fact, the teachings of Jesus are all about "truth." [In the Christian Greek Scriptures ("New Testament"), the Greek word used for "truth" is the same word used by philosophers for "reality."] Since the goal of the Christ was reality, and insanity is all about losing touch with reality, a study of Jesus and his teachings creates the state of anti-insanity, or clear and lucid sanity.

Christianity cannot prove to have been a failure, said someone, because it has never seriously been tried.:) This is, of course, exaggeration. But it is meant to point out that the practice of Christianity, in its purest form-- the application of the excellent, superb teachings of Jesus-- is very rarely even attempted.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Impeach the criminals


First, the American people spoke in overwhelming numbers on November 7, soundly repudiating current policy, with ENDING the Iraq war/occupation at the top of their list. The bush administration heard nothing. Then the Iraq Study Group delivered its report, which, despite its timid recommendations on actual troop withdrawal, again sent the message that something had to change immediately. The bush administration did not get it. Instead we are told that bush is on a "listening" tour, apparently desperately trying to find some half-credible person somewhere who will tell him what he wants to hear, that no fundamental change of course is necessary.

...But at the same time, we hear that bush is "resolutely defiant," and in fact plans on sending even MORE troops to Iraq. So, what we are witnessing is yet another Karl Rove photo-op, a dog and pony show of "attentiveness," with absolutely no intention of taking any advice they would not have given themselves in the first place.

When our founders drafted our Constitution, the thing they feared most was that a despot would arise to arrogate dictatorial power, which is why they made repeated references to the procedure of impeachment as the ultimate check and balance. Most of all, they sought to guard against the kind of abusive, absolutist power that they had fought a revolutionary war to escape. And what bush and cheney have given us is a textbook example of what they strove so mightily to ensure against.

All the particular violations of law of the bush Administration-- which have become public knowledge already-- the illegal wiretaps, the authorization at the highest level of torture, preemptive attacks on other countries on flimsy and mendacious justification, these are just the inevitable symptoms of the root cause. The highest constitutional crime of all is to act as a king. And the confession to that crime was the exclamation, "I'm the decider." The instant charade of intense "listening" is nothing more than an attempt to lull, to stall, to buy time, and ultimately to defy the other two branches of government and the people of the United States. Every day, ten or more of our troops diefor nothing in an illegal war of hubris.


We no longer have any choice whether or not to press for impeachment. There is no other democratic way left for us to stop the runaway train of seized power. To NOT act as mandated by the Constitution is to toss that revered document into the same trash basket as bush and cheney have, smirking all the way. No matter what the disastrous consequences of their actions, they will never give up an iota of the power they have stolen without being directly confronted with impeachment. They would not hear any other message. THAT is the message we must send most urgently now.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Diet and Health

It is challenging to impossible to reconstruct the diet of Jesus from the current records. Although the Gospels do record him as having eaten fish, he very likely did not eat cow or pig. So, his diet was largely vegetarian, indicated by the fact that many of the very earliest Christian gnostics (mystics) were vegetarian.

Diet is only one factor that contributes to health. A moderate, reasonable perspective, based upon observation (empiricism), proves that good diet is a powerful healing factor in any condition. But diet alone cannot heal every condition. Diet and nutrition are a very important aspect of health, but cannot create a "perfect" body.

Out of selflove, we owe it to our bodies to feed them in as healthy a way as possible. But some people go too far with diet, and become unbalanced. They teach that diet can cure or heal all conditions. Science, in thousands of years of observations and record-keeping, has demonstrated that this is not so.

This is yet another aspect of the unhealthy "need" to control. Many health-factors can be controlled through altering nutritional intake, but not all. Some health-factors are "karmogenetic," or are created by the soul through genetics in order to create a test/exam for the bodymind or soul. If this kind of biochemical imbalance is part of your chemistry, you might not be able completely to "cure" it, no matter what diet you use, or how much prayer. This kind of condition can be healed only when it reaches its time, known by only the Spirit and soul. Ultimately, of course, God (Love) will heal every condition, but She/He does not promise to do so in any given lifetime. As in all other parts of our lives, we should follow moderation (avoid extremes) and pray, "Thy will be done," even if it is God's will that we manifest imperfections and/or weaknesses.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Buck Parker on our court victory for clean water

An important victory for clean water

Dear Friends, We just received exciting news about one of our most important cases -- a decision that can mean stronger clean water protections throughout the nation. For years, the South Florida Water Management District has pumped billions of gallons of polluted water directly into Lake Okeechobee --the states largest surface drinking water supply. The district had no permits to do this, and the results were massive toxic algae blooms, dramatic declines in fish and wildlife populations, and poisoned drinking water for communities that rely on the lake.

Earthjustice started fighting this problem in 1997, and on Monday, a federal judge in Miami ruled that pumping such as this, without the required Clean Water Act permits, is illegal. The decision has national implications. The court was clear: You need a permit to transfer polluted water. And that permit, of course, is going to have to impose pollution limits that meet Clean Water Act standards.

This is an important victory -- one that I wanted to share, since your support makes it possible. Sincerely,
Buck Parker
Executive Director

P.S. Click this link for more information on Lake Okeechobee.
© 2006 Earthjustice | 426 17th St., 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612 |510-550-6700 |

Friday, December 08, 2006

Radical Islam plans War: Payback for the Crusades!

The Drudge Report on December 1st 2006 reported that thee Al-Fajr Information Center released the first issue of the Technical Mujahid Magazine on November 28, 2006. The magazine's self-proclaimed purpose is "to help prevent acts of aggression against Muslims [in cyberspace], and to assist the mujahideen in their efforts." The introduction explains that "the Internet provides a golden opportunity... for the mujahideen to break the siege placed upon them by the media of the Crusaders and their followers in the Muslim countries, and to use [the Internet] for [the sake of] jihad and the victory of the faith." Since the Internet also renders the mujahideen vulnerable, however, the magazine deals with issues of computer and electronic data security.

Inaccurate historical rhetoric from the era of the crusades provides the foundation for guilty conscience in westerners today. Therefore, in a twisted sense of reconciliation, somehow these injustices and outlandish crimes committed in the Islamic world and beyond, are justified in the Westerner's reasoning. And, in essence, they cleanse the "sins of our forefathers" from ages past. Westerners take an apologetic approach and communicate wearing kid gloves. Unfortunately,we do not understand the mindset of the Saudi Arab, and speak to him in Western terms. According to Sidik Aucbur, may 11,2003 in "the true meaning of Islam", Lying is permissible in battle if it is for the honor of the Prophet and his religion.

In the Western world, we are complacent when we hear threats made toward the West, but we need to take note. Hatred lies deep within the Arab heart. And many verses in the Quran call a Moslem to action against the infidel. "The basis of the Islamic attitude towards unbelievers is the law. They must be converted, subjugated, or killed."-- An introduction to Islamic Law, by Joseph Schacht, 1982.

Islamic law calls forth a mandatory Jihad: "When non-Muslims invade a Muslim country or near to one," Jihad is personally obligatory upon the inhabitants of that country, who must repel the non-Muslims with whatever they can.?-- Umdat al-Salik, 09.1.

Mary Doreen states, "One has to understand the mindset of these people in order to communicate. Deprived of creative thought as youngsters, forbidden to play and growing up in a society where there is no entertainment other than the hatred spewed from the mosques on a daily basis, one has to learn how to speak in exact terms, or become experts in deciphering parabolic symbolism. From molestation by Arab men to escaping kidnapping, Mary Doreen reveals her real-life adventures in Saudi Arabia, the attitudes, expectations and audacities of the Arab mindset in her novel, Surreal in Saudi. Written as a fiction, the intention is to alert the average person to the thinking, determination and the belief of a god-given right to force others into the Islamic Faith. If we don't take heed, our freedom and very lives might be at stake.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Recent religious right failures and more

Over the last six months, the religious right waged a massive campaign in hopes of influencing the mid-term elections. They aggressively sought to destroy the hope provided by embryonic stem cell research, deny equal rights to gay and lesbian Americans, and tell women what they can and can't do with their own bodies. But they failed.

This failure included:
Winning only one of the eight Senate races targeted by the religious right;
Losing the draconian, religious-right crafted, South Dakota abortion ban; and,
Failing to stop passage of Missouri's constitutional amendment protecting embryonic stem cell research.

Religious right leaders will continue to claim things turned out in their favor, but they knew this fall when James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Gary Bauer were met with empty arenas during their national get out the vote stadium tour that their agenda was in trouble. Keep up the amazing work everyone! If you'd like to make a gift to fight for more victories against the religious right, click here.

PERA Senate Alert
Earlier this month, James Dobson emailed his supporters, urging them to contact their senators and demand they bring the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA) to a vote before the new Congress takes office in January. PERA, which passed the House of Representatives this September and is an integral piece of the religious right's agenda, aims to dramatically weaken our nation's commitment to the separation of church and state. If passed, it would undermine the ability of Americans to legally challenge infringements of the establishment clause - like prayer in public schools or the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. Just a month ago, this bill didn't have a prayer for passage in the Senate. Now, the religious right is hoping to capitalize on the lame duck session, forcing one more victory for the religious right out of this Senate before the new Senate takes office in January.
Thankfully, PERA has not been scheduled to be debated in the Senate's few remaining days. We will let you know immediately if that changes. Learn more about PERA and Dobson's effort at the DefCon Blog.

Bush Hands Religious Right Major Victory
One thing is clear: The religious right still has enormous influence over President Bush. On November 16th, the President handed the religious right a major victory, appointing Eric Keroack - an anti-choice, anti-contraception religious extremist - to head the family-planning programs of the Department of Health and Human Services. DefCon advisory board member and religious right expert Michelle Goldberg had this to say about the President's announcement: "As we all know, Bush has made some spectacularly bad personnel decisions, but even by the degraded standards of this administration, the appointment of Eric Keroack to oversee Title X is striking." Click here to read Michelle Goldberg's blog post on this dangerous appointment on the DefCon Blog.

Religious Right's Hypocrisy Hall of Fame - In the wake of the stunning scandal surrounding former National Association of Evangelicals president Ted Haggard, DefCon launched the Religious Right's Hypocrisy Hall of Fame, asking members if they thought the revelations regarding Pastor Ted were the most hypocritical moment in the religious right's history. Well, the votes are in and you responded with a resounding YES!

Ted Haggard won with 54.4% of the vote. To recap, Haggard abruptly resigned from presidency of the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals after a male escort alleged that Haggard had paid him for sex nearly once a month for the last three years. Haggard had long been a key leader of the religious right and a fervent opponent of same sex unions.

Ralph Reed is the runner-up with 22.3% of the vote. Reed duped anti-gambling Christians - with buddy and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff - into supporting his ploy to help casino interests. For his efforts Reed received millions from Abramoff and his Casino clients.

Jimmy Swaggart got 5.2% of your votes. Admitted during televised Sunday morning sermon to having extramarital sex with a prostitute only a year after chastising Jim Bakker - another Hall of Hypocrisy finalist - for his own adulterous behavior

Jim Bakker got 4.5% of ballots cast. Paid hush money to his secretary with whom he was having an affair. Served five years in prison for fraud, tax evasion, and racketeering. Now paroled, televanglist Bakker hosts the "Jim Bakker Show."

Thank you again for all your hard work. Be sure to stay tuned to the DefCon blog for breaking news.

Mass Murderer finds "religion"

The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe now a Jehovah's Witness:

YORKSHIRE Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has callously dismissed his 13 horrific
murders as "spilt milk" in a letter to a porn star girlfriend, the Sunday People can reveal today.

Evil Sutcliffe - who says he is now a Jehovah's Witness - claims he would never have committed the killings if he had found religion earlier in life.

But then he cynically rubs salt into grieving relatives' wounds by adding: "Ah well, it's no use crying over spilt milk as the saying goes!!"

The heartless remark, which shows the Ripper still has no sympathy for his victims, is one of a series of astonishing revelations about Britain's most notorious mass killer which the Sunday People has uncovered.


(Thanks to Ty Scharrer.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

JW Video Project

Dearest Friends of the Heart,

Steven McDaniel is a poet/sufi/mystic friend who wants to aid people towards greater growth in the Light. The way that he accomplishes this fine goal is through the production of documentaries about religion, spirituality, and related beautiful subjects.

He has informally and formally requested that our efamily support his latest project. This is about a subject so close to the personal heart that he has asked me to be the coproducer of the piece. The video is about cults and cult-psychology, from the perspective of finding spiritual freedom as a Jehovah's Witness. As you know, many years ago, I was reared within this cult, and found spiritual freedom and great joy only after exiting from its control.

Thousands of others are now wrestling with questions of sanity, family, truth, God, spirituality, etc., and they are in a real and tragic mess of confusion. These poor souls really need all the help that they can get!

Now is your personal chance to make a real difference in our world, by expressing your Love in a real and solid way. Steven has listed all the costs involved in this production, even though we are giving our time free of cost. (His inventory appeared in an earlier issue of the uld.)

So, if you can afford to send along only five or ten dollars, we can, collectively, support this beautiful project.

Unlike other countercult activities, we have no hidden agenda to "force you to 'accept Jesus' in your heart." Our video will be unique precisely because we are going to emphasize psychological, social, and true spiritual factors. We are not trying to turn people to other varieties of fundamentalism. (Almost all other countercult products have this as their hidden agenda.)

Steven assures us that it is his primary goal to refund any funds sent to this project; that repayment to all who have loaned is a first priority. So, he is really asking, not for donations, but for loans, so that he can have the minimal working funds to make this great project a reality.

Steven is a seasoned and experienced film-maker, and wants to produce a professional piece, which he can do, with our help.

So, please take this matter before your highr Self in meditation; contemplate it, and let it incubate in the Unconscious; then, let Love move you to support us to achieve this very elevated and noble goal.

Peace, Joy, and Love,


Cult Expose

Dear spiritual and beloved Friends of the Heart,

Some of you have very kindly offered your material support, should Love Ministries ever find a project that needs or requires it. Happily, we have now discovered precisely such a fine project. Its intention is to relieve and alleviate suffering, and restore people to peace and sanity. In a very real way, it is a "rescue mission," attempting to "save" people all the nightmarish and ghastly experiences that arise from getting trapped in a cult.

This is one of the finest and most needed efforts on our poor, tiny planet. In harmony with the overall calling of Love Ministries, it is an educational enterprise. Its producer, Steven McDaniel, is a mystic poet, oriented along the admirable lines of the Sufi masterpiece-poets of the past. In this, we feel a very powerful resonance. Steven has also attended the "Pneumarium" discussion-group and gathering.

Nothing, and certainly not quality film-work, can be done without any expense. Steven, and the co-producer, nevertheless, have volunteered their time and energy to support the project. Steven has asked whether we, the uld efamily, as a community of caring people, could support him in this very important project. It, and he, are very deserving of a hearing. And that is why we are going to share some of the technical details of the project here in the uld. Please carefully, prayerfully, and in meditation, consider giving financial assistance to this project. As Jesus showed, it is a necessary part of teaching truth to reveal falsehood, and that is one of our shared goals. NOTE: In the following document, the producer, Steven, makes it abundantly clear that his first priority will be to reimburse anyone who has invested in the film. So, donations can be seen more as loans than simple donations. Here are some selections from the information sent this week by Steven:



A video (approx. 55 minutes.) Documentary style, featuring interviews with ex-cult-members from the Jehovah's Witnesses, combined with experts in the fascinating field of cult-psychology. This is designed to provide resources to inspire those in psychological transition to reach out to others.





# Offer exit counseling sources; and provide information on counseling and rehabilitation of former members

# Some focus on sociological, psychological, or theological research on new religious movements or cultic groups via deprogramming sources.





People who have left the JW or other cults.
People who are thinking of leaving the JW or other cults.
People who have been forced to leave the JW or other cults.
People who are thinking of joining the JW or other cults.
Interested people of various backgrounds, parents, siblings, religious and spiritual.
General audiences.


General sales, web, cult watch groups, mental health organizations, libraries, PBS, local community television, university-courses, religious institutional courses, private ex-members and their groups. After post production, press releases and talks about subject set up in various venues which could include linking with other experts in the field and workshops, etc.


Lighting for sets: 525.00
Monitor: 240.00
Tape stock: 200.00
Travel expense: 400.00
Base Expenses 1600.00 (based on 100. Per week).

Total cost to launch project: $2,965.00





Steven McDaniel is an award-winning video producer. His last award was a prestigious Telly winner award in 2002 on teen depression in Appalachia, Ohio produced for the Ohio Department of Mental Health. He was project coordinator and producer who directed 75 teens and 5 VISTA volunteers in a year long in-depth look at the stigma of depression.

McDaniel worked many years in video production houses in Cincinnati and he is an award-winning writer, published photographer and video editor. He is also poetry editor of an online magazine, graphic designer and published poet who believes in social justice causes.


From Jehovah's witnesses are very strongly cultic in both doctrine and behavior, thus fitting both categories of doctrine and mindcontrol. What they will tell you:

Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians (although this varies - some JWs will not say this).

What they won't tell you:

They believe that all "other" Christian churches are of the devil.
They believe Jesus is not God, but is the Archangel Michael-- the first being created by God.
They deny that God is a Trinity.
They believe Jesus died on a stake, rather than a cross.
They deny that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.
They believe that only 144,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will ever go to heaven. The rest will live forever in a paradise on Earth.
They believe that salvation is impossible outside of their doctrines and dogma.
They are not allowed to question the Watchtower leadership or teaching.
They claim that you need to read the cult's magazines and other material in order to understand the Bible correctly. If you don't read the Watchtower's books, you will "fall into darkness" - what they call reverting to Christianity.
They have falsely predicted the end of the world five times.
They have just changed a major Watchtower prediction that the end of the world would come before the generation of Witnesses born before 1914 died.
This cartoon is from the Watchtower publication Golden Age of March 30, 1932, page 409, and is typical of similar pictures or Watchtower cartoons of the era.
They used to forbid any vaccinations or organ transplants, even to save lives.
They are not allowed to have blood transfusions, even to save a child's life. Note that at the meeting of the European Commission of Human Rights, the Jehovah's Witnesses agreed to radically alter this position.
In practice, the Jehovah's Witnesses do not acknowledge that they need to change their control methods.

"The applicant [Christian Association Jehovah's Witnesses in Bulgaria] undertook with regard to its stance on blood transfusions to draft a statement for inclusion in its statute-- providing that members should have free choice in the matter for themselves and their children, without any control or sanction on the part of the association."

They visit homes for at least 10 hours per month distributing Watchtower materials (books, magazines, pamphlets).
They use their own special translation of the Bible, which mistranslates the original Hebrew and Greek texts.
They are well known to disown, shun, and ignore any friends and family leaving the cult. They teach that ex-members are to be regarded literally as dead people.
They discourage tertiary education.
They are not allowed to be in the army or wear crosses.
They are not allowed to celebrate birthdays.
They are not allowed to celebrate Christmas, Easter, or even Thanksgiving.

All this they will not tell you, and yet they still claim that "Before a person becomes one of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Bible standards are clearly explained."

The anti-cult movement: a taxonomy by Jeffrey Hadden

Jeffrey K. Hadden sees four distinct classes in the organizational
opposition to cults

1. Religiously grounded opposition
* Opposition usually defined in theological terms
* Cults viewed as engaging in heresy
* Mission is to expose the heresy and correct beliefs of those who have strayed from truth
* Deception rather than possession is the likely metaphor
* Opposition serves two important functions:
Protects members (especially youth) from heresy
Increases solidarity among the faithful
2. Secular opposition
* Individual autonomy is professed to be the manifest goal. This is achieved by getting people out of religious groups.
* The struggle is about control, not about theology.
* Organized around families who have or have had children involved in a "cult."
* Disabling or destruction of NRMs (New Religious Movements) organizationally is latent goal.
3. Apostates
* apostasy = the renunciation of a religious faith
* apostate = one who engages in active opposition to her former faith
* anti-cult movement -- has actively encouraged former members to interpret their experiences in a "cult" as one of being egregiously wronged and encourages participation in organized anti-cult activities.
4. Entrepreneurial opposition
* Individuals who take up a cause for personal gain.
* Alliance or coalition to promote their agenda is ad hoc.
* Broadcasters and journalists leading examples.
* A few 'entrepreneurs' have made careers by creating organized opposition.

Note: Hadden's attitude towards NRMs (New Religious Movements) and cult critics has been questioned as a too one-sided view in the scholarly field (Robbins and Zablocki 2001, Beit-Hallahmi 2001, Kent and Krebs 1998].

Cult watching groups and individuals, and other opposition to cults

Most opponents to cults differentiate between "cults" and "legitimate religious groups". The distinction is not by belief but by actions of a group. Cults are defined as groups, which exploit and abuse their members; are often centered around an unreliable charismatic leader; and may use deceitful ways of recruiting and retaining members.

Most opponents of cults share the belief that the public should be warned about the actions of such groups and that current members should be as well fully informed on the negative sides of their group. This is so that they can make an informed choice about staying or leaving.

Family members of adherents

The beginning of the opposition to cults and new religious movements started with family members of adherents who had problems with the sudden changes in character, lifestyle and future plans of their young adult children who had joined NRMs. Most of them are found in cult-awareness group. Also the former Cult Awareness Network (CAN) grew out of a grassroots movement by parents of cult member.

Psychologists and psychiatrists

Already in the nineteen-seventies there were some psychiatrists and psychologists who accused cults of harming some of their members. Sometimes, [this was] based on observations on therapy. Sometimes, [it was] related [to] research regarding brainwashing or mind control….

Former members

Some former members have taken an active stance in opposition to their former religion. Some of those opponents… have founded cult watching groups often with an active presence on the internet. [They have] made their experiences public in books and on the internet; and [some] work as expert witnesses or as exit counselors. Most of them are found in cult-awareness groups,… but some of them also [work] in the counter-cult movement….

Cult-watching groups often use testimonies of former members. The validity and reliability of these testimonies is the source of intense controversy amongst scholars:

Lonnie Kliever asserts that former members present a distorted view of the new religions and cannot be regarded as reliable informants by responsible journalists, scholars, or jurists. Massimo Introvigne argues that the majority of "apostates" holds no strong feelings concerning their past experiences. But "apostates" who dramatically reverse their loyalties, and become "professional enemies" of their former group, are a vociferous minority.

Phillip Lucas came to the conclusion that former members are as reliable as those who remain in the fold. Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi is a professor of psychology at the University of Haifa. [He] argues that, in the cases of cult catastrophes such as People's Temple, or Heaven's Gate, allegations by hostile outsiders and detractors have been closer to reality than other accounts. In that context, statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those offered by apologists and NRM

Benjamin Zablocki conducted an empirical study to assess whether "leavers" are as reliable as "stayers," and confirmed the conclusions of Lucas.

Established religion

Main article: Christian countercult movement

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Christian countercult movement. (Discuss)

Within established religion, two basic reasons for opposition to cults and new religious movements can be discerned: one is mainly based on theological differences; the other is based on defending human self-determinism. [It] targets mainly groups (religious and non-religious) with alleged cultic behavior-- according to the definition of secular opposition.

The group focusing on theological differences has a very long tradition in Christian apologetics. [It] is generally not considered part of the ACM [anti-cult movement]. Since the 1970s, "countercult apologetics" has been in use. [It was] out of [this that] the term Christian countercult movement" developed. [This] actually does not designate a movement but a conglomerate of individuals and groups of very different backgrounds and scholarly levels. Other designations are countercult ministries, discernment ministries, or "heresy hunters" (mainly used by their opponents).

Countercult ministries are mainly conservative Christians, the majority of them Protestant, but it includes also Catholics and Orthodox. Their concerns are religious groups which they feel hold dangerous, non-traditional beliefs, especially regarding the central Christian doctrines. [These are] defined according to conservative views in their respective denomination. These ministries are motivated by a concern for the spiritual welfare of people in the groups that they attack. They believe that any group which rejects one or more of the historical Christian beliefs is a danger to the welfare of its members….

Their activities and orientation vary: Some are missionary and apologetically oriented, directed at current members of divergent groups; some are therapeutically oriented, directed mainly at former members of divergent groups; and others [are] educationally oriented, directed at members of their own denomination or at the general public.

Countercult ministries concern themselves mainly with religious groups which regard themselves as "Christian," but hold one or more unorthodox beliefs. [These] include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Unification church, Christian Science, and Jehovah's Witnesses….

Countries and international entities

The secular anti-cult movement is not a United States singularity, although a number of sizable and expanding cults originated there. Some European countries, such as France, have introduced legislation or taken other measures against cult abuses.

Cult watchers


Polarized views among scholars

The field of cults and new religious movements has been studied by social scientists, sociologists, religious scholars, psychologists and psychiatrists since the early 1980s. The debates about a certain purported cult and cults in general are often polarized with widely divergent opinions, not only among current followers and disaffected former members, but sometimes even among scholars as well.

All academics agree that some groups have been problematic, and sometimes very problematic, but they disagree to what extent new religious movements in general are harmful.

There are many controversial subjects among scholars regarding new religious movements.

Areas of disagreement include:

*The validity of the testimonies of former members (see Former members)
* the validity of the testimonies of current members
* the validity of various theories such as brainwashing and mind control
* the validity and differences between exit counseling and coercive deprogramming
* the validity of evidence of harm caused by cults, e.g. the post-cult trauma
* ethical concerns regarding new religious movements, e.g. free will, freedom of speech
* opposition to cults vs. freedom of religion and religious intolerance
* the objectivity of scholars studying new religious movements (see cult apologists)

Brainwashing and mind control

A very controversial subject between sympathizers and critics of new religious movements is the subject of brainwashing or mind control which is treated in detail in these articles.

The controversy between sympathizers and critics of new religious movements starts with discrepancies regarding definition and concept, extends to the possibility or probability of its application by cultic groups and to the state of acceptance by various scholarly communities.

Deprogramming and exit counseling

Some members of secular cult-opposition have argued that if a person has been deprived of her free will by brainwashing, treatment to restore her free will should be initiated even if it is initially against her will.

Although there is precedent for this in the treatment of certain mental illnesses that are medically and legally recognized as depriving sufferers of their ability to make appropriate decisions for themselves, the practice of forcing treatment on a presumed victim of brainwashing (a practice known as "deprogramming") has always been controversial and has frequently been adjudged illegal. Deprogramming has also been criticized by human rights organizations including the ACLU and Human Rights Watch.
While only a small fraction of the anti-cult movement has been involved in deprogramming, several deprogrammers have served prison terms for the practice, while others have been acquitted in court.

Deprogramming has apparently been abandoned by the anti-cult movement in the USA, in favor of the voluntary practice of exit counseling. However, this is still a subject of controversy between sympathizers and critics of new religious movements, regarding its basic assumptions and its relation to freedom of religion.

The anti-cult movement and cult apologists

Some sociologists and scholars of religion use the term "anti-cult movement" as an expression that includes the whole secular opposition against cults. Or [they use] "anti-cult activist" to classify anyone opposing cults for secular reasons. The term… has since mainly been used by people criticizing the opposition against cults. Often the expression "anti-cultist" is used as well, which makes it sound like a cult itself.

The indiscriminate use of this expression for any and all opposition to cults makes a very varied collective of independent individuals and groups look like an organized group.

On the other hand, the people criticizing the opposition against cults or eympathizing with cults are called "cult-apologists" in a similarly indiscriminate manner.

Scholarly cooperation between the two groups seems to be virtually non-existent.

The allegations that the two groups fling against each other have many parallels. Sometimes they are disputed by the other side and in other cases they are defended as the only right way to address the matter.

* Anti-cultists do not trust information stemming from the leadership of these groups and believe that the only reliable information comes from disaffected former members.
* Cult apologists buy only information from the leadership of those groups and deny that any valid information comes from disaffected former members.

* The anti-cult movement generalized inappropriately, lumping together relatively harmless groups with dangerous groups, such as the Peoples Temple.
* Anti-cultist create a moral panic and witch hunt through exaggeration of the harm and dangers of new religious movements.
* Cult apologists play down any real harm and dangers of new religious movements

* The anti-cult movement endorses pseudoscientific theories regarding brainwashing and mind control.
* Cult apologists deny evidence regarding mind control.

* The anti-cult movement infringed religious freedom through deprogramming.
* Cult apologists deny freedom of expression to former members and critics

* The anti-cult movement polarize the debate over new religious movements due to its focus on the negative aspects of these groups. In the book "Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America" James Tabor and Eugene Gallagher assert that the anti-cult movement exacerbated the fanatical reaction of destructive cults by encouraging a cult phobia among the public and authorities, that helped to precipitate mass tragedies like Jonestown, Waco, and Heaven's Gate.
* Cult apologists turn a blind eye to real abuses by cults, and make tragedies such as Jonestown, Waco, or Heaven's gate possible.

* The anti-cult movement is the main force behind purported discriminative measures promulgated against minority groups in France, Germany, and China.
* Cult apologists work together with cults to attack countries who take measures to prevent abuses and exploitation by groups using the cover of religion.

* The anti-cult movement has a vested interest in maintaining the conflict because they earn money only because of it.
* Cult apologists have a vested interest in defending cults because they are, at least in part, funded by them.

Responses of targeted groups and scholars

Supporters of Scientology have waged a campaign of their own to label former anti-cult activists as "anti-religious" even to the point where they publish literature and Web sites dedicated to attacking these disaffected persons. An example is a page of 60 "Anti-Religious Extremists" [7]

The Foundation against Intolerance of Religious Minorities, associated with the Adidam NRM, sees the use of terms "cult" and "cult leader" to suggest that these are to be detested, avoided at all costs, and see this as the exercise of prejudice and discrimination against them in the same manner as "nigger" and "commie" were used in the past to denigrate blacks and Communists.[8]

CESNUR’s president Massimo Introvigne, writes in his article "So many evil things: Anti-cult terrorism via the Internet"[8], that fringe and extreme anti-cult activism resort to tactics that may create a background favorable to extreme manifestations of discrimination and hate against individuals that belong to new religious movements. Critics of CESNUR, however, call Introvigne a cult apologist who defends harmful religious groups and cults. Professor Eileen Barker asserts in an interview that the controversy surrounding certain new religious movements can turn violent by a process called deviancy amplification spiral.[9]

In a paper by Anson Shupe and Susan Darnell presented at the 2000 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, they affirm that although the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA, formerly known as AFF or American Family Foundation) has presented "slanted, stereotypical images and language that has inflamed persons to perform extreme actions." The extent to which the ICSA and other anti-cultist organizations are hate groups as defined by law or racial/ethnic criteria in sociology, is open for debate.

Further information

See also

* Cult apologist
* Cults and governments
* Parliamentary Commission about Cults in France (1995)
* Cult Awareness Network
* Ronald Enroth the Justice for Jeremiah campaign



The term "cult" is a pejorative label used to describe certain religious groups outside of the mainstream of Western religion. Exactly which groups should be considered cults is a matter of disagreement amongt researchers in the cult phenomena, and considerable confusion exists. However, three definitions dominate the writings of social scientists, Christian counter-cult ministries, and secular anticultists.

Social scientists tend to be the least pejorative in their use of the term. They divide religious groups into three categories: churches, sects, and cults. "Churches" are the large denominations characterized by their inclusive approach to life and their indentification with the prevailing culture. In the United States, the churchly denominations would include such groups as the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Church, the United Church of Christ and the Protestant Episcopal Church. Groups that have broken away from the churchly denominations are termed "sects." They tend to follow the denominations in most patterns but are more strict in doctrine and behavioral demands placed upon members and emphasize their separation and distinctiveness from the larger culture (frequently spoken of as a "rejection of worldliness"). Typical sects have disavowed war (Quakers and Mennonites), championed controversial religious experiences (pentecostals), and demanded conformity to detailed codes of dress, personal piety, and moral conduct (the holiness churches). Sects such as the fundamentalist Christian groups have argued for a stringent orthodoxy in the face of the doctrinal latitude allowed in most larger church bodies. More extreme sect bodies have developed patterns and practices which have largely isolated them from even their closest religious neighbors--snake-handling, drinking poison, alternative sexual relationships, unusual forms of dress.

While most sects follow familiar cultural patterns to a large extent "cults" follow an altogether different religious structure, one foreign and alien to the prevalent religious communities. Cults represent a force of religious innovation within a culture. In most cases that innovation comes about by the transplantation of a religion from a different culture by the immigration of some of its members and leaders. Thus during the twentieth century, Hinduism and Buddhism have been transplanted to America. In sociological terms, Hindu and Buddhist groups are, in America, cults. Cults may also come about through religious innovation from within the culture. The Church of Scientology ad the Synanon Church are new religious structures which emerged in American society without any direct foreign antecedents.

When social scientists began their discussion of cults in the 1920s, they were aware of only a few cult groups, well-known groups which they could not fit into their more crucial debates about churches versus sects--theosophy, Christian Science, spiritualism, and the two large Hindu groups: the Vedanta Society and the Self-Realization Fellowship.

Elmer Clark's pioneering survey of The Small Sects in America (1949) listed fourteen New Thought bodies and thirteen Esoteric bodies, showing an awareness of some twenty-seven cults (plus a few others such as the black Jews considered in the body of his text).

A second definition of cult arose among Christian polemicists. In the early twentieth century several conservative Evangelical Protestant writers, concerned about the growth of different religions in America, attacked these religions for their deviation from Christian orthodox faith. Among the first of the prominent Christian writers on the subject of cults, Jan Karel Van Baalen described cults as non-Christian religions but included those groups which had their roots in Christianity while denying what he considered its essential teaching. According to
VanBaalen, all religions could be divided into two groups, those which ascribe to humans the ability to acomplish their own salvation and those which ascribe that ability to God. The latter group is called Christianity. All other religion fits into the first group. In The Chaos of Cults, which went through numerous editions from its first appearance in 1938, Van Baalen analyzed various non-Christian religions in the light of Christian teachings.

With little change, contemporary Christian counter-cult spokespersons have followed Van Baalen's lead. Cults follow another gospel (Gal.I:I6). They are heretical. They set up their own beliefs in opposition to orthodox faith. As Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, two popular Evangelical writers assert, "A cult is a perversion, a distortion of Biblical Christianity, and, as such, rejects the historical teachings of the Christian Church."

The Christian approach to cults would include every group which has departed from orthodox Christianity (such as the Church of Christ, Scientist, the Latter Day Saints, and the Jehovah's Witnesses) as well as those groups which have never made any claim to be Christian. Individual writers disagree over the cultic nature of such groups as the Roman Catholic Church (included and then dropped by Van Baalen), or the
Unitarian-Universalist Church. Little consideration has been given to
non-Trinitarian Pentecostal groups.

The third definition, the one which became the dominant force in the public debates on cults in the 1970s, developed within the secular anti-cult movement. The definition has shifted and changed over the last decade. It did not develop out of any objective research on alternative religions, rather it emerged in the intense polemics of parents who had been disturbed by changes observed in their sons and daughters who had joined particular religious groups. These "cults"--predominantly theChildren of God, the Church of Armageddon, the Unification Church, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and the Church of Scientology--had, they charged, radically altered the personality traits of their children.

Anti-cultists began to speak of "destructive cults," groups which hypnotized or brainwashed recruits, destroyed their ability to make rational judgments and turned them into slaves of the group's leader. While drawing upon Christian counter-cult literature in the beginning, the secular anti-cultists gradually discarded any overtly religious language as a means of designating cults in order to appeal to government authorities and avoid any seeming attack upon religious liberties. Thus, "cults" have come to be seen as groups that share a variety of generally destructive characteristics. While no one group may embody all of them, any "cult" will possess a majority. Marcia Rudin, a popular anti-cult writer, listed fourteen commonly accepted characteristics of a cult:

1. Members swear total allegiance to an all-powerful leader who they believe to be the Messiah.
2. Rational thought is discouraged or forbidden.
3. The cult's recruitment techniques are often deceptive.
4. The cult weakens the follower psychologically by making him or her depend upon the group to solve his or her problems.
5. The cults manipulate guilt to their advantage.
6. The cult leader makes all the career and life decision of the members.
7. Cults exist only for their own material survival and make false promises to work to improve society.
8. Cult members often work fulltime for the group for little or no pay.
9. Cult members are isolated from the outside world and any reality testing it could provide.
10. Cults are antiwoman, antichild, and antifamily.
11. Cults are apocalyptic and believe themselves to be the remnant who will survive the soon-approaching end of the world.
12. Many cults follow an "ends justify the means" philosophy.
13. Cults, particularly in regard to their finances, are shrouded in secrecy.
14. There is frequently an aura of or potential for violence around cults.

Anti-cultists suggest that, as of early 1980, 3,000 to 5,000 destructive cults operate in the United States. However, no evidence of the existence of such a large number of religious groups, either cultic or otherwise, has been produced. Anti-cult literature reflects a great concern with approximately 15 groups, though as many as 75 to 100 have received passing mention. Only five groups--the Unification Church, the Children of God, the Church of Scientology, the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness, and The Way International--have received consistent coverage over the years of the anti-cult movement's existence.

The discussion of cults by social scientists, Christian counter-cult ministries, and secular anti-cultists has singled out a number of groups for attention as prominent or typical examples of cults. Among these groups, some became controversial because of their divergent behavorial norms (polygamy, a leader's claim to divinity, exotic rituals, communalism). Others came into open conflict with the authorities because of violence (the black Muslims). Many groups recruited single young adults and moved them into intense religious communities against the wishes of their parents. Such groups have received the most attention in the last decade.

Included is the most prominent "cults" for analysis and discussion. It is designed to provide a concise overview of each group and a summary of the controversy surrounding it. Along with the "cult," the secular anti-cult and Christian counter-cult movements are also given treatment, as they are a very active element in the contemporary milieu. This will cover most groups which one is likely to encounter; however, for a more complete listing of all the individual religious groups currently functioning in the United States, including a brief descriptive statement of each, the reader is referred to the Encyclopedia of American Religion, which can be found in the reference section of most libraries.

Aftermath of Cult Life

The great majority of people who join groups which deviate strongly from societal norms or have a high disapproval level in society leave after only a short period of time, typically within two years. For these people the time in the cult was what Robert Ellwood has termed an excursus, a spiritual journey away from the mundane structures of established religion. For most the excursion is brief, though it might assume a fact importance in shaping the more mature long-term religious existence.
Having made the journey, former cult members return to a more conventional religion or, increasingly, to no formal religious affiliation at all. They may return to a life so integrated into dominant societal patterns that little evidence of the excursion is visible to the persons' acquaintances.

A minority of persons who join a cult leave under a situation of great stress. Some leave because of a bad experience within the group. Ex-members tell of psychological and even occasional physical abuse, the bitter disappointment of discovering corruption in the leader or leaders of a group, and the inability of a cult to deliver what it had promised in spiritual values. Members who have had a bad experience leave angry and hurt and often turn with vengeance upon their former faith.

Among those who leave cults under stressful conditions are those who have been deprogrammed. Under the pain of physical confinement and strong psychological pressure, cult members have been forced to renounce their allegiance to the group and join the chorus of cult critics.

Those who leave a cult under the stress of either a bad experience or deprogramming frequently have difficulty adapting to the world again. Psychiatrists such as Margaret Singer, who has worked with many excultists who left various groups under stress, have blamed the cults for a delayed stress syndrome in their clients. More recent comparative studies have shown, however, that the delayed stress syndrome is almost exclusively limited to those ex-cult members who have left under stress (i.e., deprogramming). The great majority of people who leave simply because the group no longer meets their needs show no pattern of psychological disturbance.

A small percentage of those who join a cult will remain in it for many years, even a lifetime. For these few, the cult provides a satisfactory structure within which to discover a meaningful existence. It may motivate individuals to make significant contributions to life and culture. While cults and cult members may appear to be withdrawing from society, especially during the first generation of the group and its
newest formative period have generally integrated themselves into American culture and added greatly to its richness.

Eating out-- a wasteful, expensive luxury


Thanks for the suggested shared meal.:) We would, in fact, love to share a meal with you. Perhaps you could visit us here at the Golden Buttercupbungalow of Love.:) But nothing substantial has changed since I made the interior vow to avoid the expensive "luxury" of eating out.

This action is only symbolic, as eating out is something that the human nature simplly loves to do (libra rising). But eating out utilizes many resources of nature. It is not the best investment in ecology. But there are also important social reasons for avoiding its luxury and wastefulness.

Of course, we can always "rationalize" these factors away; and, in fact, the human mind is notorious for precisely this type of "justification." It can "justify" virtually any behavior.

This interior vow has been made due to the fact that it has been learned that over one thousand million of our sisters and brothers earn only one dollar a day, and a full two thousand million-- one out of three on the planet-- earn only two dollars a day. Until these figures change, in the right direction, the soul has said that it is best to avoid conspicuous consumption.

While refusing to eat out changes nothing in the larger picture, it is, as noted, only a symbol. It represents human solidarity with those who can never ever eat out.

With you, in loving the Planet, and All,


Long-term Love and Commitment


Life is, unfortunately, never easy. It is most difficult of all when a friendship, or a Love-relationship, is involved. In this area, we are in the way-adult, university exams of this life, for these are the most difficult challenges of all.

For another even to try to answer these complex questions for us would be to enable our weakness, and to impede or retard our personal spiritual growth. So, we are not allowed to "cheat" on this exam. Neither I, nor any other adult, is allowed to share the answers, even if we knew them. I have found the answers for my own exams, but not for yours. Only a fool, or hypocrite, or very selfrighteous person, would even claim to have your answers.

But this much can be said with no doubt: One reason that you have been put on earth is to learn to love Sue [pseudonym]. This does not necessarily mean that she is to be your exclusive Love-partner, although she might be. (This part must be discovered by you, through personal exploration of your life with Sue. You must discuss the issue openly and candidly, and at great depth, with her. You must clearly determine, through repeated and deep conversation, whether she is right for you, or you for her.)

We have already discovered a few astropsychological reasons why this path might be naturally difficult, challenging, or stressful for you. For she is not your "natural" lover; and this might be a signal from the soulworld.

You implied, by recent activities, that this is the conclusion to which life itself has taken you.

Nothing is more natural in Love than taking a path and later regretting it.

To find certainty, you must use that fine capricorn-mind to list, and then to consider reasonably, all the factors:

Do you want to spend the rest of this life "locked" int a monogamous (sexually exclusive and faithful) relationship with Sue? Can she really fulfill all your long-term needs, and you hers? Does she fulfill most of your intellectual and emotional needs? Do you fulfill hers?

It has often been said that, if you must ask whether you are "in Love," then the answer is no. For your heartmind knows you better than any other; you are, and always will be, the world's foremost "expert" on Jack Jones [pseudonym]. So, the heart has a deep wisdom of its own.

Even so, you cannot afford simply to "leap before you look." So, this issue of Love must be analyzed reasonably, although reason cannot be your only guide. You must also pay attention to what your capricorn emotions are telling you: What do you feel is the correct and best course?

Do you want, more than anything else, to spend the rest of your life giving your heart to Sue? Before it can work, you must passionately, scorpionically, want to do this. And you must want it more than anything. For if you do not have a passionate desire to do this, chances are good that yor soulmind is reluctant, or reticent; and if it is, this might not be your true "calling." In order for it to be real, a Love must move, indeed drive, you with irresistible passion.

Take an interior inventory, by asking yourself whether this passion is present, and then, whether it is real: Is it a long-term feeling, or a momentary scorpionic sexual desire? If the latter, it will not, and cannot, last a lifetime.

Bonding is so much more than sexual passion, although that must also be a part of it.

Now, back to loving Sue: Even if she is not your soul-partner, and more surely if she is, you must treat her with compassion, friendliness, courtesy, and kindness-- that is, with Love. Even if it turns out that she is not, you do not have the right voluntarily or deliberately to harm her, or to brutalize her. (It is known that you would never do this, for you are a civilized man of Love.)

So, visualize yourself committed to a long-term (decades long) relationship with Sue, and see how you think and feel about this condition; that will give you your answer: How does the mind think, and the heart feel? Be as honest with yourself as possible, and your answer will come. And please remember that, even after you have found it, there is no reason to assume that even this clear answer is set in stone. You are a verb, capable of, and deserving the right to, change.



The claim that Christianity is evil betrays an absence of good, reliable historical knowledge. For one important matter, "Christianity" involves several very distinct and different historical teachings and groups, some of which are not even related to each other.

This short piece cannot say everything, of course, about such a complex and involved subject; still, it would be very valuable to distinguish between the pristine teachings of Jesus and the nightmarish "Christianity" of the organized religion that followed historically. There is little to no similarity between the two systems.

While, then, it sounds more dramatic to say that Christianity is evil, it is historically imprecise and incorrect. I am nevertheless in full agreement that almost all organized and traditional, orthodox Christianity has been evil almost all the time, but this was a distinction not made clear in your short piece.

Original "Christianity" as the simple message of love taught by Jesus is unrelated to this later organization. If you are to be an accurate and reliable writer, this matter is indispensable, not a triviality. So, please think about amending the article to create outstanding dependability.

Evangelicals and Israel

For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel Is 'God's Foreign Policy'

Many conservative Christians say that they believe that the president's support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East.

Administration officials say that the meeting with Mr. Hagee was a courtesy for a political ally; and that evangelical theology has no effect on policy making. But the alliance of Israel, its evangelical Christian supporters, and president bush have never been closer or more potent. In the wake of the summer war in southern Lebanon, reports that Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran, may be pushing for nuclear weapons have galvanized conservative Christian support for Israel into a political force that will be hard to ignore.

For one thing, white evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate. Whatever strains may be creeping into the Israeli-American alliance over Iraq, the Palestinians, and Iran, a large part of the Republican Party's base remains committed to a fiercely pro-Israel agenda that seems likely to have an effect on policy choices.

Read the rest

(Thanks to Mick Gallagher.)

Rumsfeld Exposed

Donald Rumsfeld: The War Crimes Case

JURIST Contributing Editor Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, president of the National Lawyers Guild, says that although Donald Rumsfeld is resigning as US Secretary of Defense, steps should be and will be taken to hold him accountable for breaches of international law and even war crimes sanctioned in Iraq and Guantanamo during his tenure.

(Thanks to Bernadene Zennie.)

George's Folly

Is George W. Bush Clinically Insane?
By Bill Gallagher

Gushing over Rummy and Dick Cheney, the two principal thugs who lied to get us into Iraq and designed the disaster, Bush claimed they "are doing a fantastic job and I strongly support them."

The remark prompted conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan to raise the question of Bush's mental fitness. Sullivan told CNN Bush is so delusional, "this is not an election anymore, it's an intervention."

Sullivan, long a cheerleader for the war in Iraq, said Bush is "so in denial" he simply can't come to grips with his failure: "It's unhinged. It suggests this man has lost his mind. No one objectively could look at the way this war has been conducted, whether you were for it, as I was, or against it, and say that it has been done well.
It's a disaster."

Sullivan added, "For him to say it's a fantastic job suggests the president has lost it. I'm sorry, there is no other way to say it."

The president's nanny corps -- his mother, his wife, State Department hands Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes -- know he's unhinged, but are too loyal to share that disturbing truth with the world.

Read the rest of the article

(Thanks to Ty Scharrer.)

The Invaluable Place of Courtesy


One of the most important aspects of Love, as a practical human social function, is held by simple politeness or courtesy. Courtesy is the "lubricant" that cuts down friction to the point where interpersonal relationships are made possible. Human interactions are incredibly more difficult if courtesy is deleted.

People, if unevolved, are often rude by nature. This is, of course, the lower nature of the lower (animal) mind. In utter egocentrism, we lose the ability to think of the feelings of others, and become hard, thoughtless, and insensitive. The spiritual person is empathically the opposite. For people of a spiritual mindset are much more aware of the nature and dynamics of Love. They are more sensitive to the presence or absence of courtesy, in both themselves and others.

Often, people who are very bright in other ways can be crude and rude, for they might have a low awareness of the real need for courtesy. For those suffering from this dim awareness, it must be pointed out that negative comments about a person are rude, and violate not only "common" courtesy, but the highest principle of spirituality (Love).

For those who must have it made very plain, here are some comments that are impolite, even offensive:

"You are stupid."
"You look older."
"You are bald."
"You are fat."

These, and a plethora of similar comments, would never be made to strangers. They are simply too invasive and intrusive. They are antiagapic (counter to Love) because they are anticourteous.

But, when we are closer to people, we often let down our guard. We often behave stupidly, and speak carelessly. Ideally, however, courtesy should be even more evident, not less so, with the people with whom we are close, with the people whom we claim to love. For Love should increase, not decrease courtesy.

Let us vow, then, not to be stupidly careless, especially with those whom we love. For if courtesy is not present, neither is Love. And if Love is not present, we are in deep darkness indeed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence


Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence
Published: November 3, 2006

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories — from “Cobra II” to “Fiasco” to “State of Denial” — all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they’re fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we’re addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing — demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation — to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.

Thanks to Karleen Sell.

Oppose Internet Child Abuse

The innocent victims of Internet child abuse cannot speak for themselves.

But you can.

With your help, we can eradicate this evil trade.

We do not need your money.

We need you to light a candle of support

We're aiming to light at least One Million Candles by December 31, 2006.

This petition will be used to encourage governments, politicians, financial institutions, payment organisations, Internet service providers, technology companies and law enforcement agencies to eradicate the commercial viability of online child abuse.

They have the power to work together. You have the power to get them to take action.

Please light your candle at
or send an email of support to

Together, we can destroy the commercial viability of Internet child abuse sites that are destroying the lives of innocent children.

Kindly forward this email to your friends, relatives and work colleagues so that they can light a candle too.

Smoke Free Ohio

Dear Friends,

With only 5 days to go until Election Day, we are all looking forward to celebrating a SmokeFreeOhio! And while victory will be sweet, we must stay vigilant. Big Tobacco is out in full force, trying to mislead voters. We can still keep that from happening in our state.

We know how hard you've worked to make a Smoke Free Ohio a reality. And the poll numbers are beginning to show it. Ohioans have never been more certain that they want the right to breathe clean air in ALL public places, restaurants, and workplaces.

But now is a critical time. Will you help us by doing "5 things for Issue 5?"

Between now and November 7th, will you:

1. Place 5 more Issue 5 yard signs.
2. Spread the word to 5 more neighbors to vote NO on 4 and YES on 5.
3. Forward this email to 5 co-workers or family members.
4. Sign up 5 friends to help you drop off campaign literature in your neighborhood.
5. By 5pm on Election Day, remind 5 people to get out and vote NO on 4 and YES on 5!

Make sure every Ohioan understands the BIG differences between 4 and 5!

- Issue 4, written and backed by Big Tobacco, would keep smoke in restaurants and lots of other public places, and overturn 21 local smoke-free laws already in place!

- Issue 5, supported by the American Cancer Society, protects ALL workers, families, children, and seniors from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Thank you for helping us with this final push. With your continued support, we'll get Ohioans to the polls on November 7 to vote No on 4!

Yes on 5!

All the best,
Tracy Sabetta