Jan 31, 2016

Free yoga class returns to uOttawa student centre

Andrew Foote, CBC News

January 24, 2016

After a controversial review raised questions about the suspension of a free yoga class, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) is bringing the class back with a new instructor.

In late November, yoga instructor Jen Scharf said she had been told by the SFUO in September her class that had been running for seven years at its Centre for Students with Disabilities had been cancelled because of "cultural issues" having to do with how yoga was being interpreted in the Western world versus its roots in Hinduism.

The SFUO said the class had been suspended as part of an accessibility review of all their programs and it would be back in January.

Earlier this week, the centre posted on Facebook that it would be resuming free weekly classes in the University Centre starting this Tuesday.

No conditions

Its new teacher said in an interview Sunday the SFUO reached out to her in early December. She hadn't heard about the review until she was contacted by CBC News.

"Nothing was brought to my attention to teach in a different way or do something differently than the other instructor because none of that was really mentioned to me," said Priya Shah, who became certified as an instructor in May.

"When I read [about it], I was kind of thinking 'Did they hire me because I'm Indian?… I was born in Calgary, I grew up in Canada but my background is Indian and I've been there once before. I was there for about five months.

"There are many people in my family who practise but I've never had the thought that since I'm Indian that I'm a better yoga teacher."

Shah said she wants to talk to someone at the centre to get more information about what happened, and to see if there's anything specific they'd like her to do differently.

"I haven't taught a class for students with disabilities before but my approach is going to be to just teach to the best of my ability. I want to make it about focusing on the student's ability and getting them to do the breathing exercises and postures to their best potential," she said.

"I'm just hoping to have a well-rounded class that's accessible to anyone."

Former teacher happy

In an interview Sunday, Scharf said she's glad to see the discussions around who can teach yoga that came from her speaking out.

She also said she's happy that a free, accessible class is back at the centre.

"I already have other classes that I teach. I'm writing a book. I've got a lot of outreach work I do in the community," she said.

"I wouldn't say I need this class. I would love to teach it again but if they're happier with someone else, what I care about is the class happening."

The SFUO and its executives did not respond to calls and emails from CBC News about their review and why they chose to restart the class with Shah as the instructor.


Counterculture icon Love Israel near death

Eric Wilkinson
KING 5 News
January 30, 2015

BOTHELL, Wash. -- Despite the sadness hanging over the Bothell home, there is a joy that fills it. It's a joy rooted in love.

Friends and family of Love Israel began celebrating his life Friday, as they prepared for his death. The 75-year-old is losing his battle with cancer, and doctors say his days are few.

"He taught us love is the answer. We're all one family. He tried to tell the whole Earth we're all one," said his wife Honesty.

It was 1968 when Paul Erdmann, a TV salesman, came to Seattle, spreading his message of God, love, peace and unity. Six people moved into the home on Queen Anne Hill, followed by many more.

At its height, the following grew to about 300 people and expanded to a commune in Arlington. There were only a small number of blood relatives. but they all considered each other part of one big family, taking on "virtue names" like Justice, Confidence and Patience. 

"People ask us, how do I join the family? You don't. You just wake up one day and realize you're in it," said his son Justice.

Justice recalled his childhood, some of which was spent in a Mongolian yurt with no electricity in the foothills of Cascades, and the transition to mainstream America.

"Every girlfriend you had, the parents were like, 'You're dating the son of a cult leader!'"

They laugh off cult comments now, saying they were simply misunderstood by most. After all, it's one thing to say we're all brothers and sisters on this planet. It's another to actually live your life that way.

"It was fear of the unknown when we were growing up," said Justice. "They didn't know what to make of it. Now people think it's cool."

Over the years family members have gone their separate ways, due in part to the loss of their Arlington property to financial issues. A core group have always stayed together, however.

Love's wife Honesty has stayed by his side for 47 years. She says it's hard to see her husband so sick, but her love is alive and well.

"Every morning I say, 'Tell me you love me!' And he still does."

The family's numbers have grown to about 100 between Bothell and their property in eastern Washington, which includes a winery. They hope to have a memorial placed at Queen Anne's Parsons Gardens Park, a focal point for them, the Israelites, in the 1960s and 1970s.

They say they're stronger than ever. And despite the loss of their patriarch, Justice says their love will never die.

"This gift, this truth that he gave to us, that's not going away."


Ohio Seminary student arrested, charged with trying to arrange sex with infants

Fox5 News
January 29, 2016

(WSYX/WTTE) -- A seminary student from Ohio is facing federal charges for reportedly traveling to San Diego trying to arrange to have sex with infants in Mexico, officials said.

Joel Wright, 23, from Columbus, was arrested at San Diego International Airport by agents from Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Wright was a student at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus.

Investigators said they got a tip in November about an ad Wright placed on Craiglist in search of adopting an infant in Tijuana, Mexico. According to the criminal complaint, the tipster said he'd responded to the ad and learned the person was studying to be a priest in Ohio. Federal investigators said Wright placed the ad.

Authorities said the tipster later revealed he'd first started communicating with Wright in 2014 about adopting a child. The tipster added Wright traveled to Tijuana in July of 2014 to meet with him, hoping to adopt the child. The person -- who investigators kept anonymous -- said Wright paid him money as an adoption fee. The tipster took the money and told Wright he would come with the child -- but never did.

Investigators said after the tipster began responding to the newest Craigslist ad, the conversation eventually revealed Wright's "desire to engage in illicit sexual conduct with female infants." In one email, Wright reportedly said, "I have not gone all the way before but I have made it very close in the past so I do have experance." (sic)

An undercover agent took over the email account and began chatting with Wright about traveling to Tijuana, according to a news release. Again, Wright allegedly said he wanted to travel "to adopt or own a child under 3 years old and have intercourse with the child."

Wright was arrested after flying to San Diego Jan. 29. Investigators said he was told he would meet the tour guide who would travel with him to a Tijuana hotel to meet female infants. He was instead handcuffed by federal agents.

"This investigation opens a window into a secret world where sexual predators prey on young children around the globe," Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego, said.

Father John Allen, with the Pontifical College Josephinum says Wright became a former seminarian when he left Friday without authorization, and is no longer a student or a member of his diocese in Steubenville. He also said on behalf of the administration "We are shocked, saddened, and truly sickened by the intent of the alleged actions. We have zero tolerance for any type of misconduct, most especially that which would endanger children. The seminary is eager to help with the investigation."

In the release, ICE officials said Wright was charged with two felony counts: travelling with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor, and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country.

Wright is expected to be arraigned in federal court Monday.


Kenya: Legio Maria - By the River Nzoia, Members Celebrated Sect Founder

Allan Olingo
All Africa
January 31, 2016

The drumbeats grow louder as I make my way down a dirt road, running adjacent to River Nzoia, towards Jerusalem Amoyo shrine.

I squeeze myself through the faithful in multicoloured clothing who are arriving for the annual remembrance of St Mary or Mama Maria.

To the followers of Legio Maria, there is no saint like her, and no central figure is venerated so much.

Mama Maria holds the central point in this sect. She is loved and exalted above all saints.

The sect is moulded on its founding mother, who is buried at Nzoia--"land of Efeso"--in Siaya.

At the entrance of the compound, the faithful remove their shoes and those who want their future read out to them are handed their destinies on a piece of paper.

Welcome to Legio Maria, one of the region's most misunderstood sects.

Misunderstood, yes, but definitely not in the same league as Mikaili Jehovah Wanyonyi, he of "I am the true god" fame.

Wanyonyi's followers, who are found in Bungoma, Kakamega and Uasin Gishu Counties, believe he was God and immortal but the man died last year. His burial was shrouded in mystery.

While Jehovah Wanyonyi lived, he proclaimed himself a healer and thrice predicted the end of the world.

His followers donated land and property to his sect for they believed he could heal them.

I am in Nzoia to cover Legio Maria's annual prayers celebrating Mama Maria.

I am also here to satisfy my curiosity about the folklore about its revered leader Simeo Melkio Ondeto.

A tale is told that during one of the annual December meetings at River Nzoia, Ondeto and a group of Legio Maria followers jumped from a tree in a bid to fly to heaven.


They ended up in the river only to be arrested and detained at Ukwala Police Station in Siaya.

To the sect's followers, Ondeto is their messiah--the Black Jesus who undertook the second coming of Christ. Even after his death, there will be a third resurrection.

At the shrine, I meet the sect's leader, Pope Romanus Ong'ombe. A tall, soft-spoken man, surrounded by two of his six cardinals.

After exchanges of pleasantries, I am led to my special sitting place, from where I will follow the mass. At the altar are pictures of Jesus, Mary mother of Jesus, Ondeto, and Maria.

It strikes me that the photos represent the first and second coming of Christ, with the adherents expecting the third and final coming.

Legio Maria is an offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church.

From the way they conduct their services, the hymns, the traditional Latin mass, the reciting of the rosary and even having nuns, shows the close connection this church has with Catholics.

But the intertwining of Luo cultural beliefs sets it apart from the mother church.

Legio Maria is said to have started in the 1960s when Ondeto, his mother Maria and other members were thrown out of the main Catholic Church for practising exorcism and other practices not in line with Roman Catholic Church values.

Got Kweru in Migori County is commonly referred to as Calvary, as the messiah Ondeto is buried there.

Prior to being expelled from mainstream Catholic, Ondeto had been a catechist at Nyandago Catholic Church.

After their expulsion, he formed the Legion of Mary, which later became Legio Maria Church, an African church.


For millions of Legio Maria followers, Ondeto's death wasn't supposed to happen.

He was immortal. It is claimed that in the 1960s, Ondeto and 37 followers were arrested for unlawful assembly and detained at Ukwala Police Station, a place they say is their Golgotha, as written in the Bible.

To the followers, this fulfilled the crucifixion of Christ and cemented the belief that indeed Ondeto was the second messiah.

Till this day, they march to Ukwala Police Station on every December 26 to cast out the demons that crucified their messiah!

This event, however, has been told with a different twist, that they actually tried the infamous jump at River Nzoia, so that they could fly to heaven.

They were arrested, charged for holding an illegal meeting in Kisumu and incarcerated at Kodiaga Prison.

While sentencing them, the then senior magistrate at the Kisumu Law Courts, John Abraham, described Ondeto and his followers as "a collection of lapsed Catholics and pagans practising heresy that is a mockery to Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church".

Instead of seeing this as a setback, the faithful withdrew to the Bible and saw this as the fulfilment of the messiah's crucifixion. Their faith grew and they now believed he was the messiah.

After his release, the faithful say, Ondeto retreated to his Got Kwer headquarters, where he performed several miracles.

It is claimed that at one time, he moulded a cow using clay, breathed into it, and it came to life. Despite no proof, the adherents believe "Baba Mesiah" performed miracles.

Ondeto's death in September, 1991 was a big blow as he was the African version of the reincarnated son of God.

After his death, the faithful even refused to bury him, choosing instead to hold vigils and prayers as they believed he was just asleep and would be resurrected.


When it dawned on them that he would not come back to life, and the decomposing body became a nightmare, the faithful had little choice but to bury their messiah.

Two and a half decades later, Legio Maria believe Christ has already come, as Messiah Ondeto, and they are only awaiting his third coming to collect his followers and take them to heaven. This they borrow from the book of Daniel 7:13-14, which prophesises the second coming of Christ.

"We the followers of Messiah Melkio believe he is Christ and resurrected to heaven with God. We only await his third coming," Deacon Protus Omollo says as he takes me on a tour of the shrine, squeezing through thousands of faithful who have pitched camp in the annual celebratory pilgrimage of Mama Maria.

According to Omollo, when Ondeto was alive, Legio Maria faithful worshipped him.

"We are bound by the books to show respect to the messiah. We still do it even now. We are supposed to kneel down while greeting our church leaders but when it came to Ondeto, the faithful were expected to lie prostrate in worship and reverence at his glorious presence. To us, he was God. When you prayed using his name, your prayers were answered. The same went for exorcising spirits," Omollo says.

The sect, though mostly concentrated in western Kenya, attracts crowds from around the region.


Among its cadres, the "red warriors" are the most revered.

Jerusalem Amoyo shrine, there are small dimly-lit huts where prayers are being said in shrill tones.

There are also fortune tellers who are busy reading people's palms and sharing their future with them.

Those engaged in exorcism ask adherents to remove their clothes above the waist before proceeding with the ritual.

Legio Maria has strict moral strictures against drinking, smoking and wearing shoes in holy places.

They live as congregations in community homes. Key symbols for these faithful are wooden guns, wooden swords and wooden crosses often carried by both male and female adherents.

Above all, this is a spirit-reliant sect in which one is guided by the spirit in most aspects of their day-to-day life.

As Legio Maria await the messiah's third coming, they know where he is meant to emerge from: his tomb in Got Kwer, Migori.

The story was first published in this week's issue of The EastAfrican


Christian mega-church pastor Gu Yuese under investigation after criticising China's cross removal program

January 31, 2016

One of China's leading Christian pastors, 'Joseph' Gu Yuese, is officially under investigation for suspicion of embezzling funds, state-backed church authorities in Zhejiang province say, following his voiced opposition to a campaign to remove crosses from atop churches.

Pastor Gu's Chongyi church, which has a congregation of 10,000 followers, is known internationally as the largest Protestant church in the Chinese-speaking world.

"We feel deeply shocked and filled with regret," the government-backed Hangzhou Christian Council said in a statement on its website regarding Pastor Gu's investigation, adding that the investigation was due to his individual conduct.

The council gave no further details of the charges or evidence against Pastor Gu in its post late on Friday night.

It said it had been notified by a "relevant department", but did not say who was conducting the investigation. Police in Hangzhou did not immediately respond to calls for comment. Pastor Gu could not be reached for comment.

Zhejiang, on China's eastern coast, is known for its large Christian population. Previous campaigns by authorities there to dismantle crosses on top of churches have incensed the local religious population.

Pastor Gu, who had frequently met with visiting foreign guests and appeared at government-organised ceremonies, previously spoke out against the campaign to tear down crosses, according to a few of his followers.

Two Gu supporters in Zhejiang told Reuters by phone that he had recently sent a message to followers that was critical of the cross removal campaign. They declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

It was unclear whether Pastor Gu's investigation was linked to the note.

"Ironically, he was kind of elevated as almost a poster boy in the government-established system for showcasing religious freedom in China," said Bob Fu, director of the ChinaAid Association, a Texas-based Christian non-profit organisation that advocates for freedom of religion in China.

Authorities in the region have said crosses are being removed because they violate regulations against illegal structures. Rights groups say demolishing crosses restricts Christianity and religious freedoms.

The ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but keeps a tight rein on religious activities and allows only officially recognised religious institutions to operate.

Protests broke out in 2014 in the heavily Christian city of Wenzhou, also in Zhejiang, over the government's cross demolition campaign.


Jehovah's Witnesses paedophile and sex abuse & cover-up; could see records and documents destroyed

January 30, 2016

Louise Palmer was rejected by the church and her own parents for telling the truth about abuse
Louise Palmer was rejected by the church
 and her own parents for telling the truth about abuse

Child abuse records could be destroyed by church elders accused of a sex crimes cover-up.

The Jehovah’s Witness church is believed to have sent a memo telling them to get rid of notes taken during “judicial meetings” with alleged sex offenders.

It comes after Judge Lowell Goddard – the head of Britain’s independent child sex abuse inquiry – warned ­institutions that NO paperwork relating to abuse claims should be shredded.

The Sunday People revealed 15 months ago that the church was accused of covering for paedophiles in congregations.

It is accused of brainwashing abused women and girls into not going to police so it can keep its image, preferring to deal with attackers at “judicial” meetings.

A former church elder said: “This latest move is disgusting.

"It gives elders an ­excuse to stand in court and say they have no paperwork relating to judicial meetings and can’t remember details.”

Under the church’s “audit”, basic ­details of what the abuser was accused of, when the assault was alleged to have happened and outcomes of such judicial ­meetings will be kept on file.

But more detailed notes, usually handwritten by elders during the meetings, could be destroyed.

The Jehovah’s Witness church failed to answer criticism over the memo.

But it said: “We abhor child abuse and view it as a heinous crime. Any suggestion that Jehovah Witnesses cover up child abuse is absolutely false.”

Last year we told how Louise Palmer, 38 , was ignored by her parents and church elders when she revealed her brother raped her as a child.

He was jailed for 14 years at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

In Newcastle upon Tyne, elders refused to talk to police about ministerial servant Gordon Leighton , 53, who was jailed for 13 years in 2013 for attacks on children.

In Barry, South Wales, they did not help police probing elder Mark Sewell , 53, jailed for 14 years in 2014 for sex attacks.


Why are some Indian Embassies aggressively promoting a yogic science degree course abroad?

Sarayu Srinivasan
The News Minute
January 30, 2016

Indian Embassies and consulates in at least four countries are promoting a rather unusual product: a naturopathy and yogic science course. The surprising thing is, these Embassies that hardly have any updates for visitors to the website, have diligently put up fliers promoting the course in a bid to attract “International students”. And almost all of them have no advertisements or promotions for any other course in any other college in the country.

The websites of Indian Embassies in Greece, Iceland and Cambodia have fliers promoting the Gujarat Ayurved University’s course in Naturopathy and Yogic Science. (We cannot confirm if more embassies have the same).

In the Indian Embassy Greece website the link to the flyer appears among other news items like Gurunanak Jayanti celebrations in November 2015.​

Gujarat Aryurved University's flyer was posted on January 13, 2016 over two months after the previous post. The Indian Embassy in Cambodia had tweeted about the course on January 8.

The course is conducted by the Maharishi Patanjali Institute for Yoga Naturopathy Education and Research (MPIYNER) which is a constituent college of the Gujarat Aryurved University. and was introduced only this year.

So why are Indian embassies promoting this course unlike any others? "Well, we are promoting the course in every way we can. Maybe the ICCR is helping us get promoted. We do get foreign students for some of our courses," says Dr Vyas, Vice-Principal of the institute.

It is normal for countries to promote their educational and cultural centres without favour and bias. What is raising eyebrows is that no other Ayurveda or Yoga Center has found its way to Indian embassy portals.

A flier pasted on the premises of the Permanent of Mission of India to the UN (Consulate) in Geneva says the college is offering spot admissions for a Bachelor’s degree in Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences (BNYS) for the first time this year. The same flier has been uploaded onto the websites of all four Embassies.

Picture of the flier at Permanent of Mission of India to the UN (Consulate) in Geneva

The five-year course requires a minimum qualification of having completed the Class 12 and admissions would be “on merit”.

A circular dated January 5, 2015 signed by the Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations says that the Ayurved University had sent a proposal to the council, which functions under the Ministry of External Affairs.

The circular says: “As requested by the university information on the same is shared with Missions to further disseminate the same among International students. A flyer of the institute is attached for further details.”


Fugitive rabbi accused of sex crimes issues death threat against South Africa's chief rabbi

Jeremy Gordin
January 30, 2016

Warren Goldstein
A fugitive rabbi on the run from Interpol has issued a death threat against the chief rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein.

The threat, made by followers of the Jewish sect’s leader in his name and on his website, has rattled the South African Jewish community.

Indonesia evacuates hundreds of members of sect after clashes

Reuters Staff
January 30, 2016

GafatarIndonesian security forces on Wednesday evacuated hundreds of members of a group authorities have called a deviant religious organization to the capital, Jakarta, after sectarian violence drove them from their homes in West Kalimantan province.

Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims, the majority of whom adhere to moderate Sunni beliefs, and it recognizes six religions including Hinduism, Catholicism and Buddhism, but minorities, even within Islam, have faced rising intolerance in recent years.

Men, women and children associated with a group called Gafatar, which the country’s highest Islamic council considers a deviant sect, were attacked last week by other West Kalimantan residents who oppose their beliefs.

The attackers burned and cars, media reported, but there were no reports of any deaths.

More than 700 people arrived on a navy vessel at Jakarta’s main port. They will be housed in government shelters before being relocated, officials said.

One of the evacuees, Ateng, 42, who arrived in the with his wife and six children, denounced the violence against them.

“This is a violation of democracy,” he told Reuters.

“The law guarantees the right to assemble and organize.”

Authorities consider Gafatar’s teachings “dangerous” and the group was outlawed last year. People associated with the group say it is social organization and not a religious one.

Kalimantan, the resource-rich Indonesian part of Borneo island, has seen outbreaks of similar violence in the past.

Several hundred migrants from Java and Madura islands were killed in attacks by indigenous Dayak people there in 2001.

About 2,000 more people affiliated with Gafatar remained in West Kalimantan and would be relocated soon for their safety, officials said.


Billy Eichner isn't afraid of Scientology

January 30, 2016

Billy Eichner
Billy Eichner
Billy Eichner attends the "Everything Is Copy" premiere during the 53rd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater.

Scientology ain't so scary.

Although the church has a reputation for targeting its critics, Billy Eichner - who has mocked it mercilessly - says he's not afraid of reprisal.

The "Billy on the Street" star says the once-fearsome religion has been weakened by high-profile defectors and Internet exposure.

Back in December Eichner released a video in which "Saturday Night Live" alum Rachel Dratch tackled an elaborate obstacle course named "Escape From Scientology."

The clip mocked Xenu, the god-like alien that is part of the religion and included a fake game show called "Find Shelley Miscavige," a reference to the wife of the religion's leader, David Miscavige, who has not been seen in public since 2006.

However, Eichner told Confidenti@l, "I wasn't nervous about doing it."

"I think maybe a few years ago there may have been (repercussions) but I think Scientology had a terrible year," he told us, "By the time my segment came around it was the least of their worries."

In 2015, longtime Scientologist Leah Remini quit the church and released a tell-all book about her time as a member, and HBO released "Going Clear," a documentary that exposed embarrassing details about it.

"By the time my thing came round I think it just seemed silly," he said.

"I was never scared. I think people like Leah Remini sort of talking more openly about it opened up the door to doing things like this and social media," he said, "the internet in general paved the way, it's hard to keep your cult going when the internet is around - when there are YouTubers and bloggers around. The internet has been bad for cults.”

Eichner’s talk with us coincided with a project for Butterfinger that he’s involved with in which the candy company has promised to pay the fines that the NFL players impose on its players for "excessive celebration" in the end zone.

On January 21 the company said it is willing to cough up as much as $50,000 for each player who gets penalized until the end of the season.

The comic made a video with famously exhuberant end-zone celebrator Terrell Owens.

"Terrell was great and very enthusiastic and fun," he told us.

15 cults from across the world that have mind-blowing agendas

DNA India
January 31, 2016

It takes all kinds to make the world — even if that means a group that believes in living on only fresh air or committing suicide to save the planet. Marisha Karwa looks at some odd-ball groups that make our world (and heads) go around

1 Flying Spaghetti Monster
Let's start at the very beginning of the universe. In 2005, pretty well known Bobby Henderson wrote, in jest, a letter to protest a state decision in Kansas, US, allowing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in science classes. Henderson contended that whenever a scientist carbon-dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there "changing the results with His Noodly Appendage." This gave rise to the cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — considered to be the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism. The social movement, whose central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe, promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools.
"I don't have a problem with religion. What I have a problem with is religion posing as science. If there is a god and he's intelligent, then I would guess he has a sense of humour," he has said.

2 Raelism (UFO religion)
Before you start praying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, spare a thought for the Raelians. Guided by a former French auto racing journalist, Claude Vorilhon, members of the Raelian movement believe that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim. Members says that Elohim earlier intentionally misinformed us that they were angels, cherubim or gods. Raelism strives for world peace and cloning. Getting membership requires an official apostasy from other religions.

3 Cargo cult
If it's hard for you to imagine UFOs and extraterrestrials, think of the tribals inhabiting remote islands in vast oceans. For these primitive groups, even 'cargo' is a manifestation of the God's will. The movement encompasses a range of practices, such as making replicas of desired goods, after coming in contact with colonising societies. According to Wikipedia, the earliest recorded cargo cult was the Tuka Movement that began in Fiji in 1885 after the British colonials made their presence there. Cargo cults exemplify the third law of Arthur C. Clarke: that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

4 Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
Also in the realm of magic and clairvoyance existed the now non-existent sect Ho No Hana Sanpogyo, founded by Hogen Fukunaga. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and the Buddha and could tell people's fortunes by reading the soles of their feet. Eventually though, Fukunaga was charged with fraud and came under debt for millions of yen.

5 Happy Science
Considering fortune telling is always riddled with risk, perhaps it's better to always be happy. And guess what, there's a religion for that too. 'Master' Ryuho Okawa founded the Happy Science religion and movement in Japan on 6 October, 1986. Happy Science claims that El Cantare is the true hidden name of the Heavenly Father in the Old Testament and that Jesus is the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Cantare.

6 Poro
Poro is a male-only society in Liberia, Sierra Leone and a few other African nations that believe in the intervention of mysterious forces in human affairs. So, whatever happens in the physical world is a manifestation of what's happening in the spirit world. Boys are initiated into this society on reaching puberty, by being taken behind the bushes and undergoing some rituals that are kept secret.

7 Black Jesus
Stephen Tari gave up his studies to be a Lutheran minister, and travelled in the mountains of New Guinea. He started his own cult and called himself "Black Jesus." The cult had all kinds of rituals, made sacrificial offerings and even used 'Flower Girls'— especially chosen young girls who served as concubines for Tari and other cult leaders. At some point the Black Jesus cult grew so popular that it has 6,000 members. Although Tari was charged for rape and managed to escape from a prison, he was eventually hacked to death and buried in a pit by the villagers of Gal.

8 Bikerni
No doubt beliefs and religion are very important matters, but what about the pursuit of interests for the sake of pure, unadulterated joy? Bikerni is a group of all women bikers that started in Pune to "encourage women to go on adventures they would've never thought to go on before." Talk about women empowerment, ah!

9 Gadget Hackwrench
Forget Jedi, this character from Chip 'n Dale has a cult following in Russia. Her fans pray to large cut-out posters of her, pen and sing songs in her praise and think of this female mouse as a divine being. "She is strict, cute, optimistic and her level of technical knowledge is unachievable for a mortal being," is what her followers are known to have said.

10 4chan
And then the force turns to the worldwide web. While 4chan isn't quite a grouping or even an association of like-minded individuals, we felt it qualifies to be a cult of all-things-Internet. This seemingly-simple, image-based bulletin board has single-handedly spawned some of the best creations in the digital world. Think Lolcats, memes and (hold your breath) hacktivist group, Anonymous.

11 Heaven's Gate cult
Led by Marshall Applewhite, the followers thought that Earth was about to be "recycled" into a clean slate, and that they could escape doom by hitching a ride on comet Hale-Bopp in March 1997. Applewhite and 39 members, wearing armbands and Nike sneakers, poisoned themselves in shifts in a California mansion.

12 Church of Euthanasia
And while on the subject of death, here's a cult that actively promotes dying. Wikipedia says that the Church of Euthanasia was inspired by a dream, in which Rev. Chris Korda confronted an alien known as The Being who speaks for the inhabitants of Earth in other dimensions. The Being warned that our planet's ecosystem is failing, and that our leaders deny this. The Being asked why our leaders lie to us, and why so many of us believe these lies. Rev. Korda awoke from the dream moaning the Church's infamous slogan, 'Save the Planet — Kill Yourself'.' The Church's sole commandment: Thou shalt not procreate. And understandably, its four pillars are suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy!

13 Breatharian
Is that too much information? Perhaps you want to stop and breathe. And live on that — on fresh air that is (if you are lucky enough to be in Switzerland). Breatharianism is the belief that we humans don't need to eat for our nutrition, that is possible to live on fresh air alone. Before you roll your eyes, do note that quite a few people are already living the Breatharian life: People like Prahlad Jani and Hira Ratan Manek in India, the Nepalese monk Ram Bahadur Bomjon and Wiley Brooks, the founder of the Breatharian Institute of America, whose website is a must-read (http://breatharian.com/breatharians.html).

14 Santa Muerte
On the other hand, if you are sure that living on fresh air is going to lead to certain death, then just bow to Santa Muerte, whose following, many claim, is growing by the millions (ever since she appeared in a cameo in Breaking Bad). A personification of death, the skeletal, female folk saint is venerated primarily in Mexico (and as far as in Australia too), and is associated with healing, protection and safe delivery to the afterlife. Some of her most devoted followers are drug dealers and pick-pocketers!

15 Missionary Church of Kopimi
And the best for the last! Sweden has officially recognised this congregation of file-sharers as a religious community. But only after their application was rejected in three earlier attempts! The followers, Kopimists, are intellectual persons who believe that all information should be freely distributed. This philosophy opposes the monopolisation of knowledge in all forms of copyright, and encourages file sharing of media including music, movies, TV shows, and software.
Incidentally, the Missionary Church of Kopimism held its first wedding on April 28, 2012, in Belgrade, Serbia, between a Romanian woman and an Italian man. It was conducted by a Kopimistic Op, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, while a computer read vows and some of Kopimism's central beliefs aloud.
The church said, "Hopefully, they will copy and remix some DNA cells and create a new human being. That's the spirit of Kopimism. Feel the love and share that information. Copy all of its holiness."


Jan 30, 2016

3 people found guilty in Chantal Lavigne's sweating death to do prison time

CBC News
January 29, 2016

Ginette Duclos, Gabrielle Fréchette and Gérald Fontaine have been found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Ginette Duclos, Gabrielle Fréchette and Gérald Fontaine
 have been found guilty of criminal negligence causing death
and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. 
The three people found responsible for the so-called sweating death of Chantal Lavigne in 2011 have been sentenced to prison.

Gabrielle Fréchette was handed a three-year sentence, while Gérald Fontaine and Ginette Duclos each received two years.

Lavigne died after undergoing a detoxification process that involved intense sweating at a farmhouse in Durham, a small town near Drummondville, Que.

The detox therapy session was part of a seminar called "Dying in Consciousness," led by a self-styled Quebec therapist.

The three were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death last December. They were also found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm for a second woman, Julie Théberge, who recovered

Wrapped in plastic, encased in cardboard

Lavigne and Théberge were rendered unconscious by the excess sweating and were transported to hospital.

"The treatments consisted of a process of sweating by being all wrapped in plastic with mud, and also with blankets," Sgt. Éloise Cossette of Quebec provincial police said back in 2011.

Both women were also encased in cardboard boxes.

Lavigne, a 35-year-old mother of two, died hours later of hyperthermia — a medical emergency caused by failed thermoregulation, when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate.

Her body temperature at the time paramedics found her was at 40.5 C. Normal human body temperature is 37 C.



Table 5: Topmost foreign religious related donor agencies in India: 1997-8

Name and county of originDonation in Crore Rupees
Christian Children Fund from the US65
Evangelische Zentralstelle (EZE )from Germany59
Foster Parents Plan International, US55
International Catholic Missionary Work, Germany,49
Kinder Not Hilfe (KNH), Germany46
World Vision International, US38
Age of Enlightenment Trust, Britain27
Inter Church Coordination Committee, Netherlands23
International Planned Parenthood Federation, Britain21
Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), Germany20
Opere Don Bosco, Italy20
Christian Aid, Britain19
Zentralstelle Fur ntwickshilfe (ZEF), Germany19
Bread for the World, Germany16
Mission Prokure, Germany15
Only one Hindu, Maharishi Ayurvedic Trust, Britain and one Buddhist, Sokagakkai Bhinjukku, Japan made this list.
Source: “The Receipt of Foreign Contribution by Voluntary Association 1999. The annual Home Ministry Report 1999"

3. That this is charitable institution, the income whereof is exempt under Section 11 of the Act is not an issue in dispute. But during the assessment year under appeal, the assessee received donations from the Age of Enlightenment Trust, Channel Islands, as per details given below:
(i) 25-1-1980 20,000
(ii) 26-6-1979 25,000 pstl. (iii) 25-6-1979 3,30,000 (iv) 13-12-1979 1,00,000
The assessee claimed exemption from tax on these donations on the ground that they did not partake the character of income under the provisions of Section 2(24)(iia) and also under Section 12 of the Act. The ITO allowed exemption only in respect of the donation of 20,000 received on 25-1-1980 and levied tax on the equivalent of the balance. The reasons given by the ITO for the rejection of the assessee's claim may better be quoted in his own words:
The assessee-trust has credited its capital fund with Rs. 52,45,214. The said donations are received from the Age of Enlightenment Trust, Jersey. The assessee-Pratishthanam was asked to file the confirmation letters and Form No. 3. The scrutiny of the same reveals that U.K. Pound Sterling 20,000 are towards the corpus of the society and the balance amount equal to Rs. 48,83,550 is for general and running expenses on Veda Yoga and Udyog Vibhag. These activities cannot be treated as corpus. Moreover, the scrutiny of Form No. 3 which was filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, reveals that the purpose of donations is for spreading T.M. & T.N. In view of these facts, the balance amount of Rs. 48,83,550 is treated as income of the assessee-Pratishthanam as the conditions set forth in Section 2(24)(iia) are not fulfilled.


Company #:NL16785032
Registered Address:Portman Ho, Hue St, St Helier Jersey Channel Islands

An Evening with Margaret Thaler Singer and Louis Jolyon West

An Evening with Margaret Thaler Singer and Louis Jolyon West: Reflections Across 50 Years of Studying Mind Control and Psychological Abuse.

"Children and Cults" Conference, May 29 - 31, 1998 Philadelphia, PA

Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D., Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley

Louis J. West, M.D. Director Emeritus, Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California at Los Angeles

The Christmas the Aliens Didn’t Come

Julie Beck
The Atlantic
December 28, 2015

At 6 o’clock on Christmas Eve, 1954, a small group of people gathered on the street outside Dorothy Martin’s home in Oak Park, Illinois, singing Christmas carols and waiting. But this was no symbolic vigil; they weren’t waiting for the birth of baby Jesus. They were waiting to depart the Earth, and 200 more people had come to watch them wait.

A day earlier, Martin had received a message telling her the group was to wait at that place, at that time, for a flying saucer to land. They waited for 20 minutes for the “spacemen” to pick them up, as the message had promised. When none arrived, they went back inside.

This wasn’t the first time they were disappointed. It was the fourth.

It all started with a prophecy that a massive flood was coming on December 21, 1954. The message was just one of many that Martin, who was involved in Scientology and interested in flying saucers, claimed to receive from beings she called the Guardians.

“I felt a kind of tingling or numbness in my arm, and my whole arm felt warm right up to the shoulder,” she said, describing the way she would receive the messages. “Without knowing why, I picked up a pencil and a pad that were lying on the table near my bed. My hand began to write in another handwriting. I looked at the handwriting and it was strangely familiar, but I knew it was not my own. I realized that somebody else was using my hand.” The flood warning, like all the others, had flowed through her as she wrote it out, her arm possessed by these otherworldly beings.

With warnings of the coming tide came the promise that she and the other believers would be rescued by the Guardians before the flood came, on December 17. One of her most ardent supporters was Charles Laughead, a staff doctor at Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan, who was asked to resign his position for teaching his beliefs and upsetting students. (In a Chicago Tribune article from the time, he maintained that he was fired.)

But a few of the other believers who would end up singing carols with Martin on Christmas Eve weren’t actually believers at all. They were scientists.

A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota studying social movements had learned of Martin earlier that year, and considered her and her followers a perfect field study. They began spending time with Martin in October, eventually earning her confidence, and watched how she and her followers dealt with disappointment over the next several months as their predictions repeatedly failed to pan out.

Three of the Minnesota researchers, Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, recounted the believers’ story in detail in their book When Prophecy Fails, published nearly 50 years ago on January 1, 1956. The experiences of Martin and the other believers were influential on Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance.

According to the book, the spacemen’s arrival was originally scheduled for 4 o’clock on December 17. The believers removed all the metal from their bodies, “an act considered essential before one might safely board a saucer,” the authors write, and went out into Martin’s backyard, scanning the skies. Ten minutes went by, and then Martin, who is given the pseudonym Marian Keech in the book, “abruptly … returned to the living room.” Others trickled away, and the last believers went back inside by 5:30.

In the house, they discussed what went wrong, eventually landing on the explanation that it must have just been a practice session. “The saucers would indeed land when the time was ripe, but everyone had to be well trained, ‘well-drilled actors,’ so that when the real time arrived, things would go smoothly,” the book reads. “The spacemen were not testing their faithfulness, but were simply unwilling to leave any possibility that their human allies would make a mistake.”

Sometimes in the face of evidence against their beliefs, people will lean in to those beliefs even more. Martin got caught in this cycle.

Faced with evidence that directly contradicted their beliefs, the group experienced cognitive dissonance—two thoughts that are inconsistent. This is uncomfortable, and the natural instinct is to try to make it go away. People can do that in a few different ways: by trying to forget about the dissonant things, by changing their minds, or by looking for new information that gets rid of the contradiction.

Sometimes this can mean, as the alien-less Christmas demonstrated, people can react to evidence against their beliefs by leaning in to those beliefs even more. At midnight, when the 17th became the 18th, Martin claimed to receive a message that the flying saucer was coming right then and everybody had to get on board or be left behind. For her followers, this new message served as confirmation that they had been were right to believe. They scrambled outside, being sure to remove any remaining metal from their persons.

“We got back outside again and Edna took me aside and said, ‘How about your brassiere? It has metal clasps, doesn’t it?’” one of the observers reported. “I went back in the house and took my brassiere off. The only metal on me was the fillings in my teeth and I was afraid someone would mention those.”

They waited until 2 a.m. this time. Still no spacemen.

But the next day, the Guardians reassured Martin with a long message that repeatedly stated: “I have never been tardy; I have never kept you waiting; I have never disappointed you in anything.”

At midnight on the 21st, the scene played out again. This time, nobody but the five observers wanted to talk afterwards about what had happened. And then came the Christmas Eve disappointment, which had so many witnesses because the believers had sent out a press release about it. By this point, the cognitive dissonance was strong, as evidenced by this (condensed) conversation between Laughead (given the pseudonym Thomas Armstrong in the book) and a news reporter after the Christmas Eve debacle:

Newsman: Dr. Armstrong, I wanted to talk to you with reference to this business about—you know—you’re calling the paper to say you were going to be picked up at 6 o’clock this evening. Ahh, I just wanted to find out exactly what happened. ... Didn’t you say they sent a message that you should be packed and waiting at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve?

Armstrong: No.

Newsman: No? No, I’m sorry, sir. Weren’t the spacemen supposed to pick you up at 6 p.m.?

Armstrong: Well, there was a spaceman in the crowd with a helmet on and a white gown and what not.

Newsman: There was a spaceman in the crowd?

Armstrong: Well, it was a little hard to tell, but of course at the last when we broke up, why there was very evidently a spaceman there because he had his space helmet on and he had a big white gown on.

Newsman: And what did he say? Did you talk to him?

Armstrong: No, I didn’t talk to him.

Newsman: Didn’t you say you were going to be picked up by the spacemen?

Armstrong: No.

Newsman: Well, what were you waiting out in the street for singing carols?

Armstrong: Well, we went out to sing Christmas carols.

Newsman: Oh, you just went out to sing Christmas carols?

Armstrong: Well, and if anything happened, well, that’s all right, you know. We live from one minute to another. Some very strange things have happened to us and—

Newsman: But didn’t you hope to be picked up by the spacemen? As I understand it—

Armstrong: We were willing.

Newsman: Uhuh. Well, how do you account for the fact that they didn’t pick you up?

Armstrong: Well, as I told one of the other news boys, I didn’t think a spaceman would feel very welcome there in that crowd.

Newsman: Oh, a spaceman wouldn’t have felt welcome there.

Armstrong: No, I don’t think so. Of course, there may have been some spacemen there in disguise, you know. We couldn’t see. I think—I think that’s quite possible.

Perhaps the most powerful example of trying to reaffirm beliefs after these disappointments was on Christmas Day, when a new observer affiliated with the researchers showed up on Martin’s doorstep, attempting to gain entry into the group. Suspecting that this new visitor may be a spaceman, Martin and Laughead questioned him intensely, asking him to tell stories and seating him at a place of honor at the dinner table. But the next day, Martin got fed up, asking him, “Are you sure that you have no message for me? Now that we are alone, we can talk.”

“The experiences of this observer well characterize the state of affairs following the Christmas caroling episode—a persistent, frustrating search for orders,” Festinger and his co-authors write. After this, the believers began to disperse, leaving Martin’s home for their own, though not all of them lost their faith. Martin did not—in fact, she went on to found the Order of Sananda and Sanat Kumara (the names of two of the Guardians), calling herself “Sister Thedra.”

The lesson the researchers learned from all this, as they wrote in the introduction to When Prophecy Fails: “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change.” And when that conviction is as important as the promise salvation coming from the sky, “it may even be less painful to tolerate the dissonance than to discard the belief and admit one had been wrong.”

Julie Beck is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where she covers health.


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Airplanes

On the way from London Stansted via Bahrain to India makes of the "Age of Enlightenment" acquired Boeing 707-320 this once a short stopover in Basel-Mulhouse.
c / n: 18084
s / n: 212
Eduard Marmet 27/07/1985

For Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the previous DC-3 has become too small. He replaced it with this Boeing 727 held by Singapore Airlines.
c / n: 21946
s / n: 1504

Peter F. Peyer 1983-07

From January 1983 to March 1984 is this Boeing 727-200 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru of the "Age of Enlightenment" and founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, based on the Seelisberg.
c / n: 21946
s / n: 1504
Eduard Marmet 1983-07

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru residing Seelisberg has taken over this DC-3 private machine and lets them operate Seagull Aviation.

On the eve of the DC-3 has arrived Seagull Aviation of Zurich. You should be in Basel-Mulhouse completely overhauled and maintained by the technical service Balair.