Aug 23, 2019

NXIVM doctor who conducted brain studies loses license

Dr. Brandon Porter was served with two dozen misconduct charges in April 2018
Dr. Brandon Porter was served with two dozen misconduct charges in April 2018

Brendan J. Lyons
Albany Times Union
August 22, 2019

ALBANY — The state Health Department has revoked the medical license of a physician who conducted human brain-activity experiments and other unsanctioned research on people associated with the NXIVM corporation.

Brandon B. Porter, who has been involved with NXIVM for many years, was served with 25 misconduct charges by the state Health Department's Office of Professional Medical Conduct in April 2018, a month after NXIVM leader Keith Raniere was arrested and charged with multiple federal crimes, including sex trafficking. The board that reviewed his case sustained 24 of the charges.

In June, at the end of a two-month trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Raniere, 58, of all the charges he faced, including racketeering acts of identity theft, obstruction of justice, wire and visa fraud, forced labor, human trafficking, money laundering, child exploitation and possession of child pornography.

Porter, 45, who attended medical school at the University of Iowa, has been living in a Waterford residence owned by NXIVM associates and working in a private sector job. His license to practice medicine was suspended when he was served with the misconduct charges last year.

The Times Union reported Porter's license revocation Thursday afternoon. The health department later posted its decision on its website.

The newspaper reported in October 2017 that Porter had not published a scientific study in years and there was no indication his private research was being overseen by an independent review board. That same month, Porter abruptly resigned from his job at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany.

The state's scrutiny of Porter was revived after a federal criminal investigation of NXIVM's leaders began in late 2017. The state Health Department had initially brushed off a complaint filed in August 2017 by a Vancouver, British Columbia, woman who was associated with NXIVM and said she was traumatized from a bizarre experiment in which Porter showed her videos depicting graphic violence in August 2016.

NXIVM has acknowledged it conducted human research studies, including for treatment of Tourette's syndrome, although it's unclear that any of the studies sanctioned by the company were ever published or peer reviewed.

The state charges accused Porter of gross negligence for the studies that included a "fright study" in which he would show subjects the disturbing videos while they were hooked up to a brain-activity monitoring device. The charges alleged moral unfitness to practice medicine, gross negligence, incompetence and fraud in practicing medicine, and failure to keep records and file required reports.

Internal Revenue Service records indicate a nonprofit associated with NXIVM acquired more than $145,000 worth of computers, medical equipment and brain-activity monitors several years ago.

The IRS filings indicate the nonprofit, Ethical Science Foundation, was funded at least in part by donations from Clare W. Bronfman, an heiress of the Seagram Co. business empire and the operations director of the NXIVM corporation. Bronfman pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in April and, like Raniere, is awaiting sentencing.

Other NXIVM associates who pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges are NXIVM President and co-founder Nancy L. Salzman, her daughter, Lauren Salzman, television actress Allison Mack and NXIVM's longtime bookkeeper, Kathy L. Russell.

None of the convictions were related to the unsanctioned medical studies carried out by Porter.

A 2015 IRS form filed by the nonprofit listed its "charitable activities" as "Tourette's study — studying the effects of a specific and innovative method has on individuals with Tourette's syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder." The 2015 tax form said its expenses were $32,620.

The state attorney general's office filed a court petition in March 2018 asking a judge to order Bronfman and Porter to turn over their records related to the studies. The attorney general's office subsequently suspended its probe later that month when Raniere was taken into custody in Mexico and turned over to U.S. authorities.

Jennifer Kobelt, an aspiring actress who was part of NXIVM until June 2017, said in 2017 in a complaint to the health department — and in an interview with the Times Union — that Porter showed her disturbing videos during an August 2016 session in a commercial building in Halfmoon regularly used by NXIVM to host training seminars and other events.

Kobelt told the Times Union that Porter seated her in front of a television and attached electrodes to her scalp before putting what Kobelt said NXIVM associates called the "brain cap" on her head.

Kobelt said wearing the brain cap was not unusual: She and others had often allowed Porter to monitor their brain activity, usually when they were watching videos of lectures by Raniere.

Porter took notes on a laptop while he showed Kobelt a scene from the 1998 drama "American History X" in which a black man is stomped to death by a neo-Nazi, the brutal gang-rape scene from the Jodie Foster film "The Accused," a film clip in which a conscious man is forced to eat part of his own brain, and what appeared to be footage from an actual mass murder: women being decapitated and dismembered, seemingly by members of a drug cartel.

Kobelt, who said she was told up to 100 people had taken part in the same study, said no one told her what the study was for or what to expect, nor did she sign documents acknowledging she had been informed of the details of the study or its purpose, or that she was consenting to taking part.

In response to the complaint that Kobelt filed with the state Health Department, the agency initially sent her a letter saying that what she described was "not medical misconduct."

When asked in 2017 about its standards for human brain studies, an agency spokesman said: "In cases where a study of human brain activity involves the practice of medicine, the physician conducting the study must comply with all standards of professional medical conduct, including the laws regarding informed consent."

The Health Department's investigation of Porter's conduct was revived by the agency after the governor's office reviewed their handling of the complaint.

The disciplinary charges against Porter also cited him for similar violations for studies on obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome conducted between 2012 and 2017, and for brain-wave studies in 2015 and 2016 related to classes, coaching, training and so-called professional-advancement courses offered by NXIVM and its affiliated Executive Success Programs.

Porter was also accused of failing to report to authorities that, during a NXIVM conference at a Lake George facility in late summer 2016, many of the 300 to 400 attendees, including 50 to 60 children, became ill with an "undetermined infectious disease" with flu-like symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea. As a licensed medical doctor, Porter was obligated to report the outbreak.

The Times Union first reported in April that another physician who branded multiple women with the initials of Keith Raniere is the target of an investigation in which state officials have waged a court battle to compel eight people associated with NXIVM to testify in the case.

The Health Department's efforts were outlined in a state Supreme Court case filed last year against eight "Jane Does" who allegedly were involved in — or had knowledge of — the secret branding ceremonies.

The court case confirms that Dr. Danielle D. Roberts, 37, an osteopath and former Clifton Park resident who had been associated with NXIVM, is being investigated for "allegations of professional medical misconduct."

The state Health Department's Office of Professional Medical Conduct served subpoenas on the women in January 2018, setting off a 10-month legal battle. Attorneys for the NXIVM associates, including Lauren Salzman, who is the daughter of NXIVM President Nancy Salzman, tried unsuccessfully to convince a judge to revoke the subpoenas.

The status of Roberts' case could not immediately be confirmed on Thursday.

CultNEWS101 Articles: 8/23/2019

Transcendental Meditation, Podcast, #MeToo, Guru Hunter, Polygamy, Murder, Legal
"Recently, the Chicago Board of Education heard rather disturbing testimony from a substitute teacher and a student at one of the schools in which the so-called "Quiet Time" program was active during the past school year. "Quiet Time" is a euphemistic name that the David Lynch Foundation (DLF) uses to describe their Transcendental Meditation (TM) program that they have sought to establish in secondary schools in a number of countries, including public high schools in the United States. The DLF offers what it calls scientific evidence that such a program is beneficial to students, despite reviews and other research that indicate that, for many if not most people, such benefits are elusive to nonexistent, and that meditation may be detrimental for some individuals. 

In this instance, the program was implemented by TM teachers and others working for the DLF in several Chicago high schools, including the school that was the source of these objections, Bogan Computer Technical High School. According to a 2015 University press release and web page, the David Lynch Foundation was paid $300,000 by the University of Chicago's Urban Labs department to initiate this program in several Chicago public high schools, as part of what is claimed to be a scientific research study. The program is being supervised under the direction of several University of Chicago Urban Labs personnel. Students in the program are to meditate twice daily at the beginning and end of the school day, devoting at least part of two class periods that would otherwise be spent receiving instruction or doing other academic work, to meditation."

#5 | IndoctriNation —

"Hear about the far-ranging effects of cults from licensed marriage and family therapist, Rachel Bernstein, who has nearly three decades of experience working with former members. On her podcast, Bernstein interviews past cult members and experts with the goal of informing listeners about the risks posed by "predators, toxic personalities, and destructive organizations." She covers a range of cults and groups, including Christian Science and splinter groups of the Church of Latter Day Saints."

Fair Observer: Meet the Guru Hunter
"Emboldened in part by the #MeToo movement, former and current cult members and spiritual seekers have begun to come forward about sexual abuse."

" ... Scofield says she feels a responsibility to those left in the wreckage of cults she has exposed. Agama is such a case — a popular yoga tantra school on Koh Phangan, in Thailand, that has had thousands of students from around the world in the last 15 years. It was also a breeding ground of sexual transgression and misogyny, all in the name of wellbeing and spiritual growth. The allegations by 31 women against tantric guru Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, originally Narcis Tarcau from Romania, and some of his male teachers go as far as rape.

Long-term students were groomed to sleep with the yoga master, claiming he could heal them. Scofield's exposé sent Swami temporarily on the run, threw the island community into turmoil, alerted international media to the scene and led to two women from Australia filing rape complaints. The local police raided the school, and a yoga hall burned down. Agama was kicked out of the international Yoga Alliance. A six-part documentary about the "rape cult" is currently being shot on Koh Phangan.

Scofield has set up a websitethat supports the victims. 'It's not just about the people who step down. There's a whole community that gets destroyed with them. Even if some of them have turned awful, they're still brainwashed and controlled victims.'"

"Lafferty was sentenced to death for killing Brenda Lafferty, 24, and her 1-year-old daughter, Erica, in American Fork in 1984.

He and his brother Dan claimed they were following a revelation from God when they slashed the throats of the wife and daughter of their brother Allen. While Dan Lafferty was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders, Ron Lafferty received a heavier sentence due to a judge's belief that Ron Lafferty was the mastermind of killings, according to an Associated Press report.

The men established a small cult with other brothers, with a central belief in practicing polygamy, and cited divine revelation for the murders. But prosecutors claimed Ron Lafferty was mad at the woman for helping his wife divorce him."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

The Satanic Sex Cult Leader Who Loved Animal Sacrifices, Orgies, and Murder

Pazuzu Algarad (real name: John Lawson) was a self-proclaimed Satanist who reveled in extremeness.
Nick Schager
Daily Beast
August 22, 2019

Pazuzu Algarad (real name: John Lawson) was a self-proclaimed Satanist who reveled in extremeness. With a moniker borrowed from The Exorcist, a face covered in tattoos and his teeth sharpened to fine points, Pazuzu spent his days and nights in his Clemmons, North Carolina, home cutting himself and his buddies, drinking the blood of birds, doing copious drugs, performing ritual sacrifices of rabbits, staging nude orgies, and letting people do whatever they pleased to his abode—including popping a squat in the corner of a room, and then leaving the mess to be eaten by one of his many dogs.

“You know, all around having a good time,” as one former friend puts it.

Pazuzu was, it’s safe to say, an unhinged lunatic. But when he began boasting that he had committed murders, and had stored a body in his basement, covered in cat litter and bleach to hide the stench—a tactic that didn’t work, as most attest to the house reeking of filth and death—no one initially took him seriously. Including the cops.

That turned out to be a terrible mistake, as recounted by The Devil You Know, a five-part true-crime series premiering on Viceland Aug. 27. Its story is an inherently sensationalistic one filled with gory tales about Pazuzu’s heavy metal-scored psychosis, which drove him to recruit willing acolytes (including female lovers he donned “fiancées”) into his “fake Charles Manson” cult, and compelled him, post-9/11, to wear Islamic garb and claim Iraqi descent. “He wanted to be the bad guy,” says a former high school classmate, and in that regard, he succeeded, transforming himself from a miserable kid into a nightmarish adult who constructed a mini kingdom of anything-goes mayhem at 2749 Knob Hill Drive, with him as its charismatic king.

Writer/director/producer Patricia E. Gillespie’s miniseries doesn’t skimp on gruesome details—not that doing so would be possible, given how far Pazuzu chose to go in every facet of his life. The Devil You Know, however, wants to be about more than just a shocking case of degradation and murder. Its aim is to cast Pazuzu’s saga as emblematic of larger cultural forces at play in America: the tension between the haves and have-nots; the way mainstream society ignores those falling through the cracks due to economic hardship; and the failings of law enforcement to treat everyone in an equal manner. It’s a noble endeavor, except for the fact that Pazuzu’s case can’t shoulder such weighty significance—not to mention that it’s carried out in a manner that’s more aggravating than enlightening.

Before it begins trying to derive Meaningful Lessons from its material, The Devil You Know proves a riveting case study of a unique madman. Residing with his mother in Clemmons (a suburb of Winston-Salem), Pazuzu lived and breathed his depraved ethos, which was influenced by a combination of horror movies, ‘80s black metal, and Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan. In copious old photographs, Pazuzu appears to be just as scary as his reputation suggested—minus the split tongue that rumors said he gave himself. He routinely bragged about killing people, and in 2010, he and cohort Nicholas Rizzi were charged in connection with the shooting death of an African-American man, Joseph Emmrick Chandler, near the Yadkin River.

Amazingly, Pazuzu didn’t serve any time for Chandler’s death—this despite it appearing like an obvious assassination. More stunning still, by that point, cops had already begun receiving reports about bodies buried in Pazuzu’s backyard. After a first search of the home turned up nothing—a next-to-inconceivable development, given the hoarder-style insanity of the place—Pazuzu’s friend, Iraq war vet Matt Flowers, reported his own suspicions to the cops. A second, more thorough examination of the property followed, and led to the discovery of two bodies: Tommy Dean Welch and Josh Wetzler, the latter of whom had been missing, much to the concern of former girlfriend Stacey Carter (with whom he’d had a young son), for five years.

Pazuzu had killed and buried these men with the help of two fiancées, Amber Burch and Krystal Matlock, and he had dispatched them in the presence of his mother Cynthia, with whom he lived. Those facts, coupled with Pazuzu’s devil worship, attracted national media attention, and The Devil You Know benefits from the participation of many key figures, as well as considerable archival news reports and police footage of the inside of Pazuzu’s house, which lives up to stomach-churning expectations. While there’s an overreliance on soundbite-y comments from talking heads, and its timeline of events isn’t always totally lucid, The Devil You Know conveys the monstrousness of its central figure, and the way he used his maniacal charm to prey upon outcasts looking for both acceptance and permission to lash out at a world that had abandoned them.

In later installments, Gillespie’s show digs into Pazuzu’s backstory, explaining how his crazed behavior was a byproduct of trauma from childhood divorce, severe mental-health problems, and a milieu that—boasting few employment opportunities—left many “bored” and at loose ends. Furthermore, it suggests that local police took far too long to step in and stop Pazuzu, even after receiving multiple tip-offs about his conduct, thanks to good old-fashioned negligence.

Where The Devil You Know stumbles, though, is in trying to go beyond that, via portraits of local blogger Chad Nance and his quest to investigate the Pazuzu case, and Pazuzu compatriots and heroin addicts Nate Anderson and Jenna Woodring. The former spends an inordinate amount of time trying to make Pazuzu an emblematic victim of systemic American failures, which comes across as overreach. Nance also says that he’s being denied “the truth” about what happened to Pazuzu—an assertion that doesn’t jibe with the reasonably comprehensive evidence presented here. His sleuthing-narrator participation contributes to a conspiracy-theory vibe that feels unjustified, especially in light of the fact that justice was, in most respects, eventually served.

Nate and Jenna’s plight, on the other hand, does indicate that parental enabling and neglect is a prime factor in kids’ drugs-and-anarchy behavior. Yet in the end, the couple’s attempts to find smack by any means necessary (including prostitution), along with Matt’s drinking-and-destitution circumstances, receive an undue amount of Intervention-esque attention. Like Chad, they prove increasingly irksome distractions for a series that’s most gripping—and terrifying—when it’s not trying so hard to inflate its story’s importance.

Facebook bans ads from the Epoch Times

Zachary Halaschak
Washington Examiner
August 22, 2019

Facebook has banned conservative news outlet Epoch Times from advertising on its platform.

The news organization spent more money on ads supporting President Trump than any group, except the Trump campaign itself. The organization reportedly shifted its spending on Facebook in the past month in order to obscure its connection to $2 million in ads advocating for fringe conspiracy theories and promoting the president, NBC News reports.

“Over the past year we removed accounts associated with the Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems,” a spokesperson for Facebook said. “We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”

The spokesperson said the move came after a review and noted that ads on the platform must include disclaimers that accurately portray who is sponsoring them.

A recent investigation found that the Epoch Times had promoted conspiracy theories. Many of those who run the news organization are followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, who believe that Judgment Day is nigh, and that Trump is helping to accelerate its approach.

Since 2016, the Epoch Times’revenue has more than doubled and has attracted millions of more viewers to its content. The Facebook ban will only affect the Epoch Times’ ability to run ads, but other shell pages associated with the group are still live.

Aug 18, 2019

FDA warns that Miracle Mineral Solution may have deadly side effects

Miracle Mineral Supplement, Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral Solution, MMS, or chlorine dioxide protocol, are not approved by the FDA.
16 News Now
August 13, 2019
(NBC) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging people not to drink a solution often promoted online as a remedy for autism, HIV, cancer and other conditions.

The products, known as Miracle Mineral Supplement, Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral Solution, MMS, or chlorine dioxide protocol, are not approved by the FDA.

The agency says ingesting the solution, when mixed, is the same as drinking bleach, and it can have potentially life-threatening side effects.

The products were first promoted 20 years ago as a remedy for just about every ailment by a former scientologist.

This is not the first time that the FDA has issued such warnings about these products.

CultNEWS101 Articles: 8/17-18/2019

Polygamy, Ambash, Israel, You Church, Switzerland, Chris Oyakhilome, Christ Embassy, Nigeria, Kingdom Embassy InternationalNarcissismReparative Thearpy, NXIVM, Rainbow Cultural Garden

"Four wives of a polygamous cult leader who was convicted of sadistic abuse of his family members six years ago officially registered on Thursday [August 1st] as a political party to run in September's election.

In 2013, Daniel Ambash was sentenced to 26 years in prison in what has been described as one of the most shocking abuse cases in the country's history. His six wives and many children were kept by Ambash and his assistants in slavery conditions, forcibly confined and routinely punished with rape, electric shocks and beatings.

But most of the wives have never renounced Ambash, a Bratslav ultra-Orthodox Jew. They still live together, view themselves as his wives and revere him. The four have claimed the entire case was fabricated."
"Swiss evangelical group YOU Church says it is being unfairly labelled as a sect that manipulates people. Claims of healing, money grabbing, and the estrangement of followers from their families have been cited as the main problems. What – and who – is behind the organisation?"

" ... One of the main founders of the church and current Senior Pastor is Jella JR Wojacek – known as Pastor J. Wojacek was inspired by Nigerian pastor Chris Oyakhilome, who runs the megachurch Christ Embassy with millions of followers worldwide.  

YOU Church began as a splinter group of the Zurich-based International Christian Fellowship (ICF) and was called Kingdom Embassy International. After internal splits and mergers – it went by the name of Word&Spirit International for a while – it began operating as YOU Church in 2015."

Besides Sunday services, the church hosts prayer nights and small Bible study classes. Worshippers are offered dance and karate classes and a playroom for their children. The church also funds Bible sessions abroad, for example in the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.  

However, the group has come in for some criticism and was responsible for the second-highest number of calls (35) made to the Infosekta helpline last year. Waniek attributes the increase in helpline calls to what she calls fear-mongering by Infosekta.

Three issues keep cropping up among hotline callers asking about YOU Church, according to Infosekta: healing, money, and the estrangement of followers from their family."

"Infosekta's view on YOU Church

But she insists that so called "free churches" exhibit sect-like tendencies.  

"At first glance they appear like any Bible group. This is one side of the coin and behind it lies a black-and-white approach of either you are with us and God, or you are under the influence of Satan," she says.  
She also says that some members give more than they can afford because the leader says that they will get back what they give, tenfold or hundredfold.

On the subject of healing, Schaaf is aware that YOU Church has officially made it clear that they do not require worshippers to stop taking medication. However, she feels they should do more to prevent people from interpreting messages as they see fit.
"When people end up with problems, the groups try to blame the outcome on external factors or the members themselves. These controversial groups should be responsible for how their messages are received," says Schaaf."

"The internet is full of sites by non-mental health professionals that say that narcissistic personality disorder cannot be treated.  They also say that narcissists are master manipulators who can fool even experienced psychotherapists and what appears to be progress is just a temporary behavior change. Or, else they claim that narcissists twist the truth and somehow manage to convince experienced psychotherapists that they are blameless and the real problem is someone else.

I would like to set the record straight.  None of the above is true.  There are effective treatments for narcissistic personality disorder. Change is difficult, but possible.  Everyone has the capacity to grow and evolve and this includes people with NPD."

" ... In an executive order signed Friday [August 2nd], Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper barred the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services from using state and federal funds for "conversion therapy" for North Carolinians under the age of 18.

"Conversion therapy has been shown to pose serious health risks, and we should be protecting all of our children, including those who identify as LGBTQ, instead of subjecting them to a dangerous practice," Cooper tweeted shortly after signing the order.

Equality groups across the state applauded the move, which aligned North Carolina's policies with the consensus among leading medical and mental health professional organizations.

"As we continue our campaign to end conversion therapy once and for all, we're looking forward to working across North Carolina to share a message of love and affirmation," said Allison Scott, director of policy and programs at the Campaign for Southern Equality, in a statement.

So-called "conversion therapies," also known as reparative treatments, rely on the assumption that sexual orientation can be changed or "cured" -- an idea debunked and discredited by major medical associations in the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere.

Studies have found that efforts to change a young person's sexuality can put them at a greater risk of depression or suicide. Despite being condemned by medical bodies, the practice is legal throughout most of Europe, where campaigns and petitions to halt it exist in several countries.

About 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the US have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives, according to a 2018 studyby the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law."

"The convicted leader of the notorious NXIVM sex cult concocted an experimental child development program that's still operating internationally, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found.

NXIVM is the Albany, New York-based "self-help" group that in 2017 was exposed of coercing numerous of its female members into becoming sex slaves branded with the initials of its leader, Keith Raniere. A federal jury in New York convicted Raniere in June on numerous charges, including sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of a child. Former "Smallville" actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty in April for the role she played in the sex slave ring.

In 2006, Raniere founded Rainbow Cultural Garden (RCG), which he called a "revolutionary child development program promoting children's cultural, linguistic, emotional, physical and problem-solving potential." The program claimed it could teach children as young as 2 years old up to seven languages simultaneously."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

Aug 16, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 8/16/2019

Pentecostalism, Grace Road, Legal, Religious Research, Podcast

"Johanna Bard Richlin, an assistant professor at the University of Oregon, did her research among Brazilians who had moved to the environs of Washington, DC. Many had been middle-class in Brazil but emigrated after some personal or macro-economic disaster. They found manual or domestic work but were homesick and had a feeling of being trapped. The United States seemed cold and atomised compared with home.

For such people, evangelical churches, including charismatic ones, offered a sense that they mattered as individuals, which was absent elsewhere in their lives. They formed a personal bond with pastors, who were usually compatriots, and were urged to feel a personal relationship with God. The dignity which they had lost by emigrating was restored to them as they dressed up for Sunday worship and were given tasks in the religious community. Many described the church as a "hospital" and God as a "consoler", as Ms Richlin writes in the journal Current Anthropology.

Rafael Cazarin, a scholar at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, looked at African Pentecostal communities both in his home town in Spain, and in Johannesburg. The scenes in the two cities were quite similar: pastors from Nigeria or Congo ministered to economic migrants from their native countries, offering a connection with home in a familiar style. The fact that the pastors themselves had made difficult journeys across several countries made them credible as purveyors of "spiritual power".

The pastors "played successfully with ambivalence" as they delivered messages that were designed to restore self-understanding and self-respect, Mr Cazarin says. They encouraged a sense of pride in being African, and in African notions of gender and family; but they also stressed the advent of a "new Africa", which renounced witchcraft and superstition. Especially in Spain, the faithful were also warned against the decadent secularism of the modern West. Congregations were separated, for part of the time, by generation, sex and marital status, and each group got instructions as to how to behave at their age and stage. Structures were imposed on an otherwise chaotic social reality, as Mr Cazarin describes in the journal Religions.

Pentecostalism's appeal to the transient and insecure is also portrayed in a study of a little-known micro-community: Brazilians of Japanese descent who move to Japan (ie, the land their forebears left a few generations back) to work in the car industry. Speaking Portuguese better than Japanese, and feeling economically and socially insecure, such people found comfort in the warmth, dignity and inclusiveness of Latino-style Pentecostalism, says Suma Ikeuchi of the Art Institute of Chicago, writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She has set out her conclusions in a book called "Jesus Loves Japan"."

"The jailing of a South Korean cult leader for imprisoning hundreds of followers in Fiji is unlikely to end their plight.

The leader of Grace Road Church, Shin Ok-ju, was jailed for six years last week.

To her followers, Fiji was the promised land, and hundreds moved to endure ritual beatings and forced labour at Grace Road's network of businesses in Fiji.

An expert in Korean cults, Ji-il Tark from Busan University, said those businesses had extensive links with the Fiji government.

He said with the group ostracised in South Korea, the remaining followers will likely be keen to stay in Fiji."

Pew Research Center: Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe
"Roughly a quarter of a century after the fall of the Iron Curtain and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that religion has reasserted itself as an important part of individual and national identity in many of the Central and Eastern European countries where communist regimes once repressed religious worship and promoted atheism.

Today, solid majorities of adults across much of the region say they believe in God, and most identify with a religion. Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are the most prevalent religious affiliations, much as they were more than 100 years ago in the twilight years of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires.

In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined. This is true in former communist states, such as the Russian Federation and Poland, where majorities say that being Orthodox or Catholic is important to being "truly Russian" or "truly Polish." It is also the case in Greece, where the church played a central role in Greece's successful struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire and where today three-quarters of the public (76%) says that being Orthodox is important to being "truly Greek."

Many people in the region embrace religion as an element of national belonging even though they are not highly observant. Relatively few Orthodox or Catholic adults in Central and Eastern Europe say they regularly attend worship services, pray often or consider religion central to their lives. For example, a median of just 10% of Orthodox Christians across the region say they go to church on a weekly basis.

Indeed, compared with many populations Pew Research Center previously has surveyed – from the United States to Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa to Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa – Central and Eastern Europeans display relatively low levels of religious observance."

What is a cult, and what makes people join them? Are there any unifying traits amongst people who join cults? What about in cult leaders?

This week, we have Cult Interventionist & Exit Counselor Joseph Szimhart to answer all of those questions and more, even shedding light on the fact that there are a LOT more cults in this world than you'd realize. After the interview, Justin tells his firsthand account of accidentally joining a Los Angeles rape cult for actors.

1:33 - Intro & Welcome.

3:53 - Interview with Cult Interventionist Joseph Szimhart.

41:52 - Justin Xavier explains his cult experience using the terms & themes Joseph Szimhart explained in his interview.

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

Please forward articles that you think we should add to


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