The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'cults'
The Exclusive Brethren sect, an ultra-conservative Christian separatist group, praised as pillars of the community by the previous right-wing Australian government (with which they had some kinds of dealings), and which, incidentally, also gave the world Aleister Crowley, is facing allegations of high-level criminal activity, including kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and bribery, in Australia, New Zealand and India.
Three sisters, from India, who say they are on the run from the sect, allege they can link it to numerous crimes.
"We've got 3000 pages of evidence … and now we're going to expose this whole thing," one of the sisters told reporters in Canberra.Of course, at this stage, these are merely allegations, and may well be without substance, though it will be interesting to see what emerges in the Australian High Court.
It has emerged that L. Ron Hubbard may have lifted parts of Scientology (or at least its title) from a 1934 text. Scientologie: Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens ("Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge and Knowing"), written by a Dr. A Nordenholz in 1934. Alas, Dr. Nordenholz didn't have the vision to start a religion or establish celebrity centres, and thus vanished into obscurity.
(via Boing Boing)
The Age has obtained letters between the ultraconservative Exclusive Brethren sect and former Prime Minister John Howard, revealing more about the closeness of the Brethren's relationship to the reins of power, and the Howard government's collusion with them:
The letters show Mr Howard met two Brethren leaders in his Sydney office on the day New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark referred sect members to police because they hired private detectives to tail her and her husband, and spread rumours that her husband was gay.
"The attention of the public needs to be diverted from matters such as the Iraq war, the supposed ill-treatment of Iraq prisoners and other contentious issues," they wrote. They also suggested a massive project to transport water via aqueducts using funding from the sale of Telstra and the issue of bonds.
The Brethren runs a lucrative network of pump supply companies but spokesman Tony McCorkell said yesterday this was irrelevant to the water proposal. Brethren members were "concerned about good environmental policy", he said.
After Italy saw a spate of gruesome murders carried out by self-professed Satanists (who, apparently, indulge in "a lethal blend of black magic, hard drugs, sex and heavy metal"), the Italian police are planning to set up a "Satan squad". The special task force will include psychologists and a priest and will investigate "potentially dangerous religious movements". Some are concerned, though, that such a squad would become a hammer of Catholic majoritarianism and persecute harmless minority religions.
The BBC News has a piece on the Exclusive Brethren, who, aside from their love-in with te Tories in Australia, have been trying to get into bed with New Zealand's conservative National Party:
The group was then accused of seeking to influence post-election negotiations by aggressively lobbying minor political parties to form a coalition with Mr Brash's centre-right National party.
Most disturbingly, private detectives claimed they were hired by the group to dig up dirt on the private lives of senior politicians in the Labour party, including the Prime Minister Helen Clark and her husband.Apparently their political allegiances arise not just from the theocratic hard line they take (after all, if they isolate themselves from sinful worldly society, what's the point of electing governments to punish and straighten this sinfulness among the nonbelievers? It'd be like, say, an Orthodox Jewish group lobbying to ban pork or something.) as from their business interests:
Like all small business people, they need a world of de-regulation and lower taxes, he says, adding that their interests in the agricultural sector would naturally pit them against the Greens.Ominously enough, Australia's right-wing Prime Minister John Howard is on record as saying that he has no problems with the Exclusive Brethren's values, and that they're a lot more in line with mainstream Australia than a lot of other groups (by which, I'm guessing, he means those latte-sipping SBS-watching inner-city socialist cosmopolitanists).
As the Victorian state election approaches, shadowy extreme-right-wing religious group The Exclusive Brethren (whose religion prohibits them from voting, though apparently says nothing about exerting influence in favour of conservative parties) have beem taking out newspaper ads attacking the Greens.
A few interesting facts about the Exclusive Brethren: other than being staunch supporters of socially right-wing parties in various countries (though, seemingly, not in Britain, where they originated) and having a penchant for anonymous whispering campaigns against progressive politicians, the Exclusive Brethren are the sect into which the occultist Aleister Crowley was born.
An Australian branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a pagan/occult group founded in the early 20th century by (in)famous occultist Aleister "the Great Beast" Crowley, has been accused of participating in child abuse and human sacrifice:
According to OTO's statement of complaint, Dr Michaelson said it was not a religion but a child pornography and pedophile ring, that its members practised trauma-based mind control, sexual abuse and satanic rituals to discourage its victims from complaining to the authorities, and that it condoned kidnapping street children and babies and children from orphanages for sex and sacrifice in religious rituals.
The article, still accessible on a website run from NSW, suggests senior politicians and television celebrities are part of a top-level pedophile ring and have been protected by some police. It says some members of the ring pretended to support Dr Michaelson's campaign and became board members of her group to subvert it from within.The OTO is suing the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program under Victoria's religious-vilification laws.
In January 1998, two teenage death-metal fans in Milan disappeared after drinking at a pub popular with the local metalheads. The father of one of them started making inquiries at concerts and festivals, and uncovers a Satanist death cult in the metal scene, one which has been linked to a number of murders (mostly of other teenage headbangers, by the sound of it):
One of Fabio's school friends, Mario Maccione, confessed to having beaten Fabio to death with a hammer. He also revealed that the boys had been part of a wider satanic sect called the Beasts of Satan. It was revealed Andrea Bontade, a drummer, had been terrorised into committing suicide. Soon, other mysterious deaths were being linked to the Beasts.
A magazine named Radar has the start of a potentially interesting series on Kabbalah (not the Mediæval branch of esoteric Judaism, but the red-string-and-sacred-bottled-water one that's the hottest new celebrity cult in Hollywood):
In December the Guardian of London published a 10-month investigation that revealed the dubious nature of the Rav's qualifications as a religious leader, as well as the Centre's avaricious ways. Then, in January 2005, a BBC documentary caught high-ranking Kabbalah Centre officer Rabbi Eliyahu Yardeni on undercover camera saying that the Jews who died in the Holocaust perished because they weren't studying Kabbalah. The same documentary showed an employee at the Centre's London office selling a man with cancer more than $1,500 worth of merchandise, including Aramaic books he could not read and bottled water with no proven health benefits.
The article promises more details on findings, including:
The false claims the Centre has made about its distinguished origins.
The Centre's use of cultlike techniques to control members, including sleep deprivation, alienation from friends and family, and Kabbalah-dictated matchmaking.
The bizarre scientific claims made by the Centre's leaders on behalf of Kabbalah Water, ranging from its ability to cleanse the lakes of Chernobyl of radiation to its power to cure cancer, AIDS, and SARS.
The Centre's sponsorship of the Oroz Research Centre, a "23rd century" scientific institution that markets a "liquid compound for the treatment of nuclear waste" that also cures gynecological problems in cows, sheep, and other farm animals.
The Bergs' explicit strategy of steering Kabbalah away from its Jewish roots in order to appeal to a wider global market, and their plans to brand both the Centre and family members for maximum popular appeal.
As for steering Kabbalah away from its Jewish roots, isn't that old news, though? There have been non-Jewish self-professed Cabbalists since the time of Aleister Crowley if not John Dee. Though, granted, they weren't peddling overpriced bottled water to celebrities.
(via bOING bOING)
According to a report by the American Institute of Religions, the Church of Scientology is steadily losing members to Fictionology, a new religion created in 2003 by Bud Don Ellroy, author of Imaginetics: The New Pipe-Dream Of Modern Mental Make-Believe.:
"Unlike Scientology, which is based on empirically verifiable scientific tenets, Fictionology's central principles are essentially fairy tales with no connection to reality," the AIR report read. "In short, Fictionology offers its followers a mythical belief system free from the cumbersome scientific method to which Scientology is hidebound."
Fictionology's central belief, that any imaginary construct can be incorporated into the church's ever-growing set of official doctrines, continues to gain popularity. Believers in Santa Claus, his elves, or the Tooth Fairy are permittedeven encouragedto view them as deities. Even corporate mascots like the Kool-Aid Man are valid objects of Fictionological worship.
Ah, so Fictionology is like the entire set of Discordian/SubGenius-inspired "churches" formed on the net over the past decade then? (I'm not sure whether there was a Church of the Kool-Aid Man, but there could well have been.)
Paul Schaefer was a Nazi officer during World War 2; after the war, he fled to Chile, where he established a religious cult named "Colonia Dignidad". Surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers with searchlights, inside it resembled one of those German pastoral scenes the Nazis were so fond of, where the men wore lederhosen and the women wore their hair in pigtails, except for the bit about young boys receiving electric shocks to their genitals to condition them against sexual desires, and secret tunnels under the compound where Schaefer's friend, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, had dissidents tortured to the strains of Wagner. Schaefer, who fled to Argentina in 1997, is now facing trial for sexually abusing young boys. (thanks to Conrad for bringing this to my attention)
More details have emerged about the recent coronation of Sun Myung Moon in the US Senate. It appears that the politicians involved were duped into taking part, believing the bizarre ritual to be a banquet where Moon would give out awards to people from their constituencies, without any mention of him being crowned as the King of Peace with the posthumous blessings of numerous US Presidents, not to mention the reformed spirits of Marx, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin.
The h2g2 entry on cargo cults is fascinating, detailing this phenomenon's history, from its roots in the "big man" gift economies of Polynesia through to encounters with Christianity, WW2, the US military and disapproving Australian authorities in Papua New Guinea. (via MeFi)
In the native view, the Christians worshipped the god Anus. He created Adam and Eve and gave them cargo of canned meat, steel tools, rice in bags and matches. He took it all away when they discovered sex and he sent a flood to destroy them, but he gave Noah a big wooden steamboat and made him the captain so he would survive. When Ham disobeyed his father his cargo was taken away and he was sent to New Guinea. Now his descendants were being given a chance to reform and regain their cargo. All through the twenties the natives patiently worked hard, sang hymns and prayed to Anus. But by the thirties it became clear that the missionaries were lying; they had been good Christians and worked hard, but it was the foreign bosses who did no work that got all the cargo.
While in Brisbane, Yali made another startling discovery: the Australians kept hundreds of animals in the Brisbane Zoo, which they carefully fed and tended. He also noticed the large number of dogs and cats kept as pets in homes. It wasn't until a conference in Port Moresby5 that he was able to solve this puzzling behaviour. The solution came when he witnessed a book which showed a succession from monkeys into humans. It became clear the depth to which the missionaries had lied: they had claimed Adam and Eve were men's ancestors when they clearly believed that their ancestors were animals who needed to be treated with respect. It was obvious the missionaries had made up such lies in order to hide this truth from the New Guineans, who had held such beliefs before their arrival. Upon returning home, Yali was convinced by the prophet Gurek that the Queensland Museum was actually Rome, that the gods had been taken captive there, and that in order to lure them back the natives had to stop their foolish acceptance of the lies of Christianity.
When radically different cultures and belief systems intersect, the interference patterns can be quite strange.
Two villages in the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu are the scene for a war between a Christian sect and a cargo cult.
The John Frum movement first emerged in Vanuatu in the 1930s when the islands were jointly ruled by Britain and France as the New Hebrides. Rebelling against the aggressive proselytising of Presbyterian missionaries, dozens of villages on the island of Tanna put their faith in a mysterious outsider called John Frum. They believed he would drive out their colonial masters and re-establish their traditional ways.
On Tanna, islanders became convinced that John Frum was an American. They have spent the past 60 years dressing up in home-made US army uniforms, drilling with bamboo rifles and parading beneath the Stars and Stripes in the hope of enticing a delivery of "cargo" again.
"In the past we believed in John Frum, but now we believe in Jesus," said Alfred Wako, 49. "The John Frum people don't go to church and they don't send their children to school. They believe in the old rituals. They are heathens."
Right-wing religious crackpot/media magnate Rev. Sun Myung Moon crowned as king/messiah in US Congress. At the ceremony were Moon's tame representatives of various religions (Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims); a rabbi blew a shofar, and a congressman presented Moon with his golden crown; Moon then allegedly announced that it was time for him to be recognised as the Messiah. Apparently Moon has a thing about all religions coming together under him. (via substitute)
Chances are the coronation was a boon extracted by Moon from conservatives he has helped put in power, and a publicity stunt for his Korean constituency, and probably doesn't make the US a monarchy. Still, it's quite a leap from renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors.
Queensland is a sort of Australian equivalent of Texas or Arkansas or Mississippi or some such place; a state renowned for its rednecks, corrupt police and religious sects too far gone for any other state. And this story brings together the last two elements.
A "devious and perverted" police officer has been gaoled for conning members of a Christian sect into bizarre sexual acts. After telling the group that they would become undercover operatives, he instructed them to cut off their pubic hair and take photographs of themselves naked, saying that such actions were mandatory before becoming police informants. (He also attempted to extort $5000 from a young couple with a false confession of underaged sex, though that may well be standard Queensland police operating procedure). (via Anthony)
Intriguing rumour of the day: The Church of Scientology's alleged mini-Echelon facility hooked into US ISP Earthlink, for keeping an eye out for Clams gone bad. Or so a Slashdot poster alleges.
Did Tom and Nicole split over which evil cult (Scientology or the Catholic Church) to raise their kids in? (via Plastic)
The Moonies apparently have bought United Press International. (The Register)