May 31, 2016

Wife of Bikram yoga guru ensures she's off the hook for his pending lawsuits - and gets to keep LA and Beverly Hills homes, Ferrari and Bentley

31 May 2016

The wife of the founder of Bikram yoga has ensured she will not be sued in any pending lawsuits and will keep their luxury homes and cars as part of their divorce settlement.

Rajashree Choudhury, 50, filed for legal separation, 31 years after she tied the knot with 69-year-old yoga master Bikram Choudhury.

It came after at least six women have accused the fitness guru of sexual assault with lawsuits pending against him.

Now it has emerged that after their divorce was finalised earlier this month, Mrs Choudhury will not pay for any of his alleged misdeeds.

According to TMZ, if she is sued over any of the allegations against him, as part of their settlement, he will have to pay any money she would owe.

The gossip site also added that Mrs Choudhury will keep the former couple's homes in Beverly Hill and Los Angeles as well as a Ferrari, Mercedes 550 and a Bentley.

The only property Choudhury got as part of the settlement was the home in Hawaii.

It was revealed last year that the couple were to split and in legal documents, she asked for spousal support and staked her claim in properties in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and Honolulu, among other assets.

The couple have two adult children together, a son and a daughter.

Meanwhile Choudhury strongly denied all accusations of sexually assaulting multiple students after the claims emerged.

He first spoke out about about the accusations in February, when he said women love him so much he wouldn't need to rape them to get sex.

'I never assaulted them,' he said as he spoke to CNN . 'The answer is I feel sorry for them... They're entranced by somebody - lawyers.'

As of April, Bikram Choudhury, who pioneered the practice of working out in a room heated to 105F, had his name attached to 720 yoga schools in 220 countries. Chelsea Clinton, Madonna and Demi Moore are among his followers.

Choudhury told CNN that his success means he would never need to assault anyone.

'Women likes me. Women loves me,' he said. 'So if I really wanted to involve the women, I don't have to assault the women.'

When asked how his wife of more than 30 years had responded to the accusations, Choudhury became emotional.

'My wife never look at me anymore,' he said.

'Twenty-four hours a day, I work harder than any human being in this Earth... and this is my reward? I'm a rapist? Shame [on] your Western culture.'

Since 2013, six women have stepped forward to accuse him of unwanted sexual advances, and studios have started to drop his name, signalling that his empire is crumbling.


Bikram yoga, named after and devised by Bikram Choudhury, is based on regular hatha yoga, but performed in 100F temperatures.

Fans claim that it not only leaves them stronger and more flexible than standard yoga, it also helps them shed weight fast.

Choudhury began practicing yoga in Calcutta at the age of three, spending up to six hours a day perfecting his poses.

At 13 he won the National India Yoga Championship and went on to devise the 26 'asanas' (poses) and two breathing methods that form the core of Bikram yoga.

He claims to have been invited to the United States in 1973 by now-former President Richard Nixon to help him improve his health through yoga.

He also claims to have taught yoga to Reagan and Clinton and has a legion of celebrity fans including Lady Gaga, Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and tennis champion Andy Murray.

Choudhury says Bikram works because the 100F heat loosens the muscles, helping them to go further than they would otherwise.

Yogis perform the series of poses, pushing their bodies to the limit, and are encouraged to drink vast quantities of water to replace that lost by sweat.

Teachers say that if it gets too much for students, they should lie on the floor or leave the room for lower temperatures.

Students, who carry a towel to mop up their sweat, are taught to watch out for danger signs including nausea, lightheadedness and dizziness.

Mormon Church hit with second lawsuit saying children abused

May 31, 2016

The Mormon Church has been hit with another lawsuit saying that it did nothing to protect children in a church-run foster program from sexual abuse.

Two Navajo siblings sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Navajo Nation court earlier this year. A second lawsuit made public Tuesday outlines similar allegations.

A Navajo woman identified as B.N. says she was sexually molested and raped multiple times while in foster care and by health care providers in Utah, from 1965 to 1972. She was among thousands of American Indians who participated in the church's Indian Student Placement Program.

Attorneys representing the three plaintiffs say church leaders did not report the abuse to law enforcement and failed to protect the children who, as adults, suffer from emotional and physical distress.

They have scheduled a news conference Wednesday in Gallup, New Mexico, to discuss the cases that seek changes to church policy, written apologies and unspecified damages.

"Religious organizations and programs should be places where children are safe from harm, not places that protect sexual predators," said one of the attorneys, Patrick Noaker.

A spokeswoman for the Mormon Church, Kristen Howey, did not immediately respond to messages left Tuesday evening. The church has said it doesn't tolerate abuse of any kind and now tracks church members who have harmed children to keep them away from other kids.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say the Navajo Nation is the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuits because decisions about where to place children were made on the reservation. Participation in the placement program that lasted from the late 1940s to around 2000 was voluntary.

The Mormon Church says the tribal court is not the proper venue because none of the alleged conduct took place on the reservation. Attorneys for the church asked a federal court judge Tuesday not to allow the tribal court to hear the siblings' case, saying it is an unfair burden to require the church to litigate in a venue that doesn't have criminal jurisdiction over non-tribal members.

"They can file their suit in Utah courts, the proper forum, and seek relief there," attorney David Williams wrote.

May 30, 2016

Scientology opens state-of-the-art communications HQ in middle of Hollywood

MAY 30, 2016

Matthew Dunn


SOARING 45 metres above Sunset Boulevard in the centre of Hollywood stands a communications tower adorned with two triangles and a stylised “S”.

The logo belongs to the controversial Church of Scientology and is being used as branding for the religion’s new hi-tech media complex known as Scientology Media Productions (SMP), which has been created to act as an “uncorrupted communication line to the billions”.

Speaking to more than 10,000 Scientologists at the unveiling of the complex, church leader David Miscavige said the global media centre would be used to combat biased media reports and allow for the delivery of “unadulterated and pure” teachings of the religion.

“As the saying goes, if you don’t write your own story, someone else will,” he said.

“We’re now going to be writing our story like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions.”

Originally built in 1912 and situated on a five-acre complex near the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood boulevards, the motion picture and television studio has been restored for Scientology to create and deliver content across print, broadcast and online media.

Fitted with state-of-the-art sound stages, visual effects production areas, editing suites and audio recording and mixing studios with foreign language translation and dubbing capabilities, the production house has been described as the most modern and sophisticated digital media facility of its kind on the planet.

Mr Miscavige said Scientology Media Productions would bean invaluable asset in helping spread the message of the new-age religion.

“It’s a history L Ron Hubbard himself laid into Scientology — to share what wisdom we possess, to help others to help themselves. And, what goes with the territory: to ignore the catcalls from those who claim that man cannot be understood, cannot be helped,” he said.

“But, we know different. We know man can be helped. And even more than that, we know how to do it.”

The leader added it had long been the church’s quest to create its own media centre.

“This facility represents the final component of an interlocking system for our global Scientology communications,” he said.

Using unattributed statistics in his speech, Mr Miscavige detailed how developing online content for Scientology would help attract new members.

“The average young adult spends 10 hours of every day on the internet, and someone searches for ‘the meaning of life’ every five seconds, while someone else searches for answers about ‘spirituality’ six times per second,” he said.

“SMP will harness the power of every social media outlet imaginable to provide those answers.”

This belief was furthered by claims that creating exclusive broadcast material would have a similar effect.

“Ninety-five per cent of the world’s population listens to the radio every day and the average viewer spends some 40 hours glued to a TV every week,” he said.

“[This means] the obvious answer was: our own radio station, our own TV channel, and our own broadcasting facilities.”


Enjoy a guided video tour of the new Scientology Media Productions broadcast facility!

— Scientology (@Scientology) May 29, 2016


Scientology was founded by American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1953 and is a religious system based on seeking self-knowledge and spiritual fulfilment through graded courses.

Converts are taught that humans are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature, with members believing they are reincarnated aliens who used to live on other planets.

At the centre of these teaching is the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” known as Xenu.

Since its emergence, Scientology has been described as a cult that traps members through brainwashing and exploitation techniques.

These claims were the focus of 2015 documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which revealed abuses and strange practices within the controversial organisation.

Scientology is notorious for getting on the front foot when it comes to dealing with its critics and the media — and the new production centre will allow it to counter critical messages more effectively.

The new studio will also act as the editorial headquarters of Freedom magazine — a Scientology propaganda publication.

The grand opening of Scientology Media Productions is the latest wave of expansion for the church, which started more than a decade ago.

Scientology’s first efforts to expand came with the 1993 establishment of Bridge Publication — the world’s largest all-digital and print-on-demand facilities created for the sole purpose of making the work of religion founder, L Ron Hubbard, available across the globe.

This was followed with the creation of Scientology’s cutting edge, 17,000sq m printing and distribution operation in Los Angeles, known as the International Dissemination and Distribution Centre.

Next came the church’s first-class film studio where all Scientology training films were produced and filmed.

However, the creation of the Scientology Media Productions is the biggest investment to date.

Mr Miscavige said he believed the production house was a major gift for the community.

“We also open our doors to humanitarian organisations, charities and religions of every denomination in Los Angeles,” he said.

“Our facilities will be open for all manner of community events, telethons, religious programming of all faiths, you name it.”

Los Angeles City Film and TV Office director Kevin James echoed the sentiments of the church while speaking at the event.

“From a city and public safety perspective, I admire your dedication to be such a great partner at the ground level. I have also grown to admire the professionalism and willingness with which you approach your relationship with us, the City of Los Angeles,” he said.

“You are prepared to be a city partner. And that means a lot. But, with this new studio that we’re celebrating today, I’d say we’re taking our partnership to a whole new level.”


May 29, 2016

Praise the Lord

The Money Cult is an eye-popping and prodigiously researched book on the history of religion and money in America

Brian Bethune
May 29, 2016

By Chris Lehmann

Scholars have written shelves of books trying to discern why religious faith remains so dominant in the United States, even while America is at the same time as consumerist, hedonistic and, above all, as capitalist as anywhere on Earth. The answer, in a socioeconomic if not spiritual sense, according to Lehmann’s eye-popping and prodigiously researched book, is simple. There never was a contradiction: from Pilgrim founders to the prophets of the gospel of prosperity, the genius—the presiding spirit—of American religion has been the same as the genius of American capitalism. It’s always been a money cult, with prosperity a sign of salvation and poverty something to self-help your way out of.

New England Puritans did set out to build a “shining city on a hill.” But that soon dissolved in a land where dissenters could simply keep moving west. There the folkloric beliefs that flourished beneath the gaze of Calvinist ministers focused on the alchemic properties of the gold and silver they were certain lay hidden under their feet. Water divining and treasure hunting were big business on the frontier, a historical episode that leads Lehmann directly to the quintessential American religion, Mormonism.

Founder Joseph Smith was himself a money-digger in upstate New York, where landowners kept him and others employed in the widely held belief the area was littered with hidden Spanish or pirate treasure. Perhaps not, but the revolutionary book of New World scripture Smith claimed to have unearthed in 1827 was inscribed on plates of gold. Lehmann, who delivers first-rate capsule descriptions of everything from the Great Awakenings to the Moral Majority, is brilliant in his treatment of the Latter-Day Saints. The most frequent expression in Mormon scripture is, “if ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land,” and 88 of Smith’s 112 divine revelations are concerned with economic, not spiritual, matters. The great question, how such an outwardly strange faith—plural marriages and all—could find a foothold in America, should be stood on its head, writes Lehmann. The disturbing outer trappings are the main reason such a congenial prosperity faith didn’t drive all others into extinction.

Wherever Lehmann turns his analysis, from the Second Great Awakening through Horatio Alger-type piety to Norman Vincent Peale’s self-help books to prosperity gospel preacher Joel Osteen, the wealthy, smiling pastor of a 45,000-strong Houston megachurch, he finds the same intertwining of salvation and riches. And the same indifference to a collective response to social ills. The money cult, Lehmann concludes, rules in good times and bad.

May 27, 2016

Isolated Indian Soldiers Invent New Saints to Maintain Their Sanity

On one base, troops revere a serviceman who died in 1968; ‘How can I not believe?’

May 27, 2016

NATHU LA, India—Indian army enlisted man Jitender Singh Sehrawat has had a few close calls.

When lightning tore through the roof of his bunker at a high-altitude post on the Chinese border one recent afternoon, it blasted a hole in a metal mess plate lying feet from where he was standing. Miraculously, Mr. Sehrawat says, he and his squad mates were unharmed.

He doesn’t think it was luck. Rather, he believes he was saved by Harbhajan Singh, a serviceman who died in 1968 and who is revered as a watchful spirit by soldiers.

It is lonely and hostile in this remote mountainous base, and the threat of armed conflict is never far away. To get through the days, and to explain the inexplicable, troops have added a series of beloved figures to the traditional Hindu pantheon.

“Without Baba’s blessings, it’s impossible to live up there,” the 24-year-old Mr. Sehrawat says. “How can I not believe?” Baba is an honorific bestowed on Hindu saints.

The Hindus are a devout people, believing in millions of gods and numerous saints. Many believe in rebirth, and some in the afterlife. Few revere a dead person as if he is god.

At Nathu La, a strategic pass to Tibet high in the Himalayas, the army has built a shrine to Mr. Singh, who was a sepoy, the equivalent of a private, when he drowned in a rushing alpine stream at age 22.

Believers say he patrols the frontier, wakes sleeping sentries and keeps soldiers from harm.

“Life is tough,” says Maj. Gen. Vinod Karnik, a retired officer who served in Nathu La. There is “a lot of snow and the Chinese are just about 50 yards in front of you, eyeball to eyeball.”

Though India’s urban youth are less inclined to believe in spirits than their elders, Indian army soldiers are an exception. For men stationed at the Siachen Glacier on India’s frontier with Pakistan, there is Om Prakash, or O.P. Baba. Legend says that in the 1980s, Mr. Prakash single-handedly fended off an enemy advance. His body was never found.

The glacier, at 20,000 feet above sea level, is the world’s highest military base. Soldiers pay their respects to Mr. Prakash at a shrine at the foot of the massive ice sheet. It contains a bust and a few personal effects.

Over in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, scene of intense fighting during India’s 1962 war with China, soldiers turn to rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat, who is said to have perished battling a Chinese advance.

In Nathu La, it is all about Mr. Singh. His shrine includes a bedroom and office along with a chapel. Each morning, an orderly prepares tea for Mr. Singh, now an honorary captain, and lays out his uniform for the day. Other meals arrive with military precision.

The shrine contains a room where visitors can leave bottles of water next to a picture of Mr. Singh to receive his blessings. Believers say drinking this water will relieve aches and pains above the waist. Wearing slippers kept in the room is said to cure ailments in the lower extremities.

Mr. Sehrawat, a sepoy, says acclimatizing to duty at the Nathu La post, which is 15,000 feet above sea level, was a challenge. The altitude can cause headaches and wreak havoc with soldiers’ digestion.

Soon after he arrived in Nathu La in 2013, Mr. Sehrawat found himself in a convoy of army trucks towing artillery along a winding mountain road. He watched horrified as a landslide swept down a hill toward him. The cascade narrowly missed the vehicles.

“Baba ji is our support,” Mr. Sehrawat says. “He is protecting us.”

On a recent morning, files of sepoys jumped out of passing army trucks, headed up to the shrine and bowed their heads. Some snapped pictures of Mr. Singh’s rooms, each of which contains a picture of him wearing a uniform and an olive-drab turban.

Shambhu Jha, 49-year-old soldier based in Kolkata who goes to Nathu La periodically for training believes Mr. Singh is guarding the long Chinese boundary between India and Tibet and helps keep the area secure.

“Those who are on duty on the border are able to live in peace thanks to Baba ji,” says Mr. Jha.

Pamphlets available at Mr. Singh’s shrine propagate the mystery. “Even Chinese troops have been reported saying that they had seen a man in white clothes on a white horse patrolling the watershed,” says the pamphlet.

Like other soldiers and officers in the Nathu La area, Mr. Sehrawat says he doesn’t eat meat or drink alcohol on Sundays, as a mark of respect for the saint. In the bunker where he sleeps, a picture of Mr. Singh is placed in a shrine with images of Hindu gods.

Soldiers offer him daily prayers. Many set a place for the soldier-saint when they eat meals.

Capt. Ashwani Chandel, 25, says last year he saw a troop truck skid off a road during a heavy snowfall, plunge into a ravine and crumple. No one was hurt, he says.

“How can someone escape without a scratch from such an accident?” the captain says. “This was because of Baba ji.”

Parthiban Chandrasekharan, who has been in the army for nearly 30 years, says he saw a jeep pass a shrine to another soldier-saint, rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat in Arunachal Pradesh, without stopping. The jeep then lost control. One officer who failed to salute the Baba died, Mr. Chandrasekharan was told by the driver of the vehicle—who saluted and survived.

“For those who don’t pay their respects, the punishment is immediate,” says Mr. Chandrasekharan.

Is Bikram Choudhury Gone For Good? Reports Say He’s Packing Up And Going Back To India

YD News

Could this be? A news report out of India says hot yogapreneur Bikram Choudhury is closing up shop in the U.S. and is heading back to India. A series of lawsuits and allegations of sexual assault, rape, and abuse of power along with the subsequent major public fallout could be to blame. Or maybe it’s just Bikram himself who could be to blame. In any case, apparently he wants out, even if he still does deny any wrongdoing.

According to the report from India-based news outlet Mid-Day:

Bikram Choudhury has closed his international HQ and flagship LA studio to move his teacher training programme to Aamby Valley and is looking to open centres in Mumbai.

Amresh Sahay, from the sales department at Aamby Valley City, confirmed the news to Mid-Day:

“We have created a 15,000 sq-ft closed space, which can accommodate 500 people, where he conducts his sessions at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius. The first one started on May 1 and will end on July 3.”

Former Bikram legal adviser, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden (who won her case against Choudhury in January with a mind-swelling $7 million awarded in damages) told Mid-Day:

“Bikram closed his international headquarters and flagship studio in Los Angeles following the verdict in the case, and has moved his teacher training to a resort in India at Aamby Valley. In the US, we understand his teacher training numbers are significantly down, with less than 50 paid attendees.”

If this is the case, this is truly some crazy news. Maybe the petition worked?

Yoga studios across the country have already begun stripping the Bikram namefrom their businesses, and with him getting out of dodge, we can only assume there will be a whole lot more. Or maybe he’s hoping it will all blow over and people will forget about it if he leaves the country.

We won’t be forgetting about anything too soon. Bikram still faces multiple lawsuitshere in the states.

Tidbit from the end of the Mid-Day article:

On May 5, a Superior Court Judge Ruth A Kwan, ordered the yoga guru to show up for a deposition over claims he raped a former teacher trainee. The judge was visibly agitated after Choudhury’s lawyer Linda Hurvitz said the yoga guru was presently “consumed” with a nine-week yoga teacher training in India. The judge said Choudhury can’t testify by video just because he’s conducting trainings in India.

As for India…we know you’re his homeland, but are you ready for this guy? Is he going to try and compete with the insanely popular Baba Ramdev? Will he join forces with Prime Minister Modi? And what about his wife Rajashree who filed for divorce but still defended her husband’s antics in court? It will be interesting to watch how this all unfolds.

It’s all been a little too real with this narcissistic, power-hungry creep. Peace out.

May 25, 2016

Why Do Jewish Leaders Keep Ignoring Ultra-Orthodox Education Crisis?

Seth Kaplan and Naftuli Moster
May 25, 2016

The New York State Legislature is currently considering two bills, one introduced by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee in early May , the other by Sen. David Carlucci and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski in January , to strengthen existing legislation requiring nonpublic schools to meet the state’s minimum education standards. But Jewish leaders and groups who are usually very vocal on issues that directly affect the community’s wellbeing are staying silent, possibly because they fear a backlash from the Haredi groups that oppose the legislation. This inaction threatens the bills’ future, and could, in time, have severe consequences for the community as a whole.

Although the American Jewish community is well known for its educational achievements, philanthropy and investments in communal organizations and services, it has mysteriously allowed a significant portion of its own community to grow up undereducated, without the skills to earn a basic living. Why?

Jewish elites and organizations in the United States have long worried about demographics. Intermarriage, assimilation and low birthrates may do what centuries of anti-Semitism and persecution have not: threaten the community’s survival. As such, leaders repeatedly express concern over how to reverse the tide — how to reach out to those unaffiliated with Jewish institutions and how to inspire strong Jewish identity in a country so full of equality, acceptance and material comfort. And yet, in the meantime, another challenge has gone unnoticed or ignored: the education of what will become the majority of the community in a couple of generations.

The growing assimilation and shrinking numbers of secular American Jewry have been accompanied by the immense growth of the Orthodox population , especially the Hasidim, who have higher birth rates, lower intermarriage rates and little assimilation. Data from the Pew Research Center show that as of 2013, 10% of American Jews identify as Orthodox, including 6% who belong to ultra-Orthodox groups. This population is on a rapidly rising trajectory. The Pew data also show that over a quarter of American Jews under the age of 18 live in Orthodox households . According to a 2011 UJA-Federation of New York study, almost two-fifths of all Jewish children in New York City are Hasidic .

Many youth in this community, especially the Hasidim, are ill prepared for employment and likely to struggle with poverty. The problem is most acute among boys, because they receive less secular education than girls. On average, Hasidic boys receive only 90 minutes of instruction in English and math four days a week, until the age of 13. After 13 they receive no secular education at all, because they focus on Judaic studies for as many as 14 hours a day. As a result, these students can be well educated in religious studies but unprepared to find jobs in the workforce. They often do not even speak proper English because of their lack of exposure to it (Yiddish predominates within the community). While students finish the equivalent of high school, few have gained enough secular knowledge to pass state exams, which they don’t usually take.

Hasidic leaders have long resisted any change to this regime, because they fear greater exposure to the world. Yet, Jewish teaching is clear on the need for every adult to work. As the medieval sage Maimonides warns: “All Torah that is not accompanied by work will eventually be negated and lead to sin. Ultimately, such a person will steal from others.” The marked growth of a Haredi community in which students lack basic work skills will mean that within about two generations, a significant portion of the Jewish population — maybe even a third or more — will be unable to earn a decent living, unable to contribute financially or practically to Jewish institutions, and unable to partake in American life as ordinary citizens. The poverty rate will be higher than anytime since the middle of the 20th century; studies commissioned by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and the UJA-Federation of New York already show a rising proportion dating back to at least the 1970s. A significant and growing factor in this upward movement is the fact that a remarkable three-fifths of Hasidic households in the New York City area are poor or near poor.

Major Jewish leaders and organizations should prioritize opportunities for Haredim — especially the Hasidic — to learn English and gain work skills. This means investing in the community’s primary and secondary schools and lobbying for change. Practical steps could include subsidizing secular teachers, upgrading facilities and setting aside more time for math, science and language. Leaders should press politicians to enforce state laws on the minimum standards required of primary and secondary schools. New programs could help students apply to college after studying in yeshivas, or provide trade skills in a dedicated facility that allows them to maintain their current lifestyles.

The Haredi lifestyle and religious observance must be respected. These Jews are carrying on a long tradition, living lives with much to admire, and staying firm in their beliefs. The growth of the community is a real blessing; it will help ensure that the American Jewish Diaspora continues to be relevant in the face of demographic changes elsewhere. But their continued vitality requires the skills to earn their keep, so that these children do not grow up to depend on the state or on the rest of the community for handouts.

Seth Kaplan, a professorial lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, sits on the board of Yaffed, an organization dedicated to improving the education opportunities for Haredim. Naftuli Moster is the executive director of Yaffed.

For UFO enthusiasts at Oregon festival, 'it's all extraterrestrial'

May 25, 2016
Religion News Service
By Emily McFarlan Miller

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (RNS) Jan Woods believes.

She’s sure she saw a UFO back in 1978 when she was living in Nevada, something she spotted in the sky that was so amazing, she said, she had to pull her car over by the side of the road.

That’s one reason Woods, who now lives in Adin, Calif., attended the country’s second-largest UFO festival earlier this month. Another? She wanted to enter her dachshund — a “good sport” named Skeeter wrapped in silver duct tape and green cellophane — in the alien pet costume contest at the 17th annual McMenamins Hotel Oregon UFO Festival.

There was something for everyone — true believers, fun seekers and those in between– at the festival May 12-15 outside Portland — just as there’s something for everyone who’s ever looked up into the skies and wondered about something bigger than humankind.

Angels, demons, aliens — it’s all the same to Clyde Lewis, speaking in an episode of his Portland-based paranormal podcast “Ground Zero” that was broadcast from the McMenamins UFO Festival.

“We come from spirituality to the idea of the space age, and now coming together, we come to the realization that all people on this planet have an idea that something is out there watching us, whether it’s a god, an angel, a demon or even an alien,” Lewis said.

“It’s all extraterrestrial.”

Christopher D. Bader, associate professor of sociology at Baylor University, agrees the difference between belief in the paranormal, such as UFOs, ghosts or Bigfoot, and belief in a religion is not that great. Both require faith, he said.

“People view the paranormal differently from religion, but to me it’s the same type of phenomena,” he added. “It’s belief in things that cannot be proven. That’s the currency of religion.”

The professor researched people who believe in the paranormal for the book he co-authored, “Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture.” He also is one of the principal investigators for the Baylor Religion Survey.

Those who are marginally religious tend to be the most interested in the paranormal, Bader said. Many very religious people don’t doubt the paranormal, but ascribe a different meaning to it, believing what appears to be an alien actually is a demon, for example.

People who aren’t interested in religion tend not to be interested in the paranormal either.

The difference between the two beliefs: cultural acceptance, he said.

“The majority of people in this country profess to be Christian of some sort,” he said. “So Christian groups — you might call them the accepted version of the paranormal or the accepted version of the supernatural.”

McMenamins Hotel Oregon began hosting the UFO festival after historian Tim Hills stumbled across a famous 1950 UFO photos taken by Paul and Evelyn Trent on their farm outside McMinnville.

Hills thought that first event might attract 25 people; the crowd overflowed the room into the hotel’s restaurant and hallway and onto the sidewalk, he said. And 17 years later, the event brings 7,000 to 10,000 people to downtown McMinnville, a city of 33,000, from as far as Florida.

This year, for the first time, the festival’s speakers focused on a single sighting: the Phoenix Lights, a mass sighting of five orbs in a “V” shape that were reported moving over Phoenix on March 13, 1997.

Longtime director of the National UFO Reporting Center Peter Davenport called the sighting “probably the most dramatic event in the history of modern ufology” because of the number of witnesses, the size of the craft they reported and the interest the military apparently took in it.

For festival speaker Lynne Kitei, witnessing those lights outside her home near Phoenix set her on a journey that made her more aware of serendipity, of the connectedness of the universe and of what she described as the “potential we have as human beings.”

Kitei had no previous interest in UFOs and hadn’t grown up in organized religion. As a physician, she always looked for logical explanations. But she was also open to whatever might walk in her door, she said, and so what she experienced was profoundly transformative.

She set aside her career as chief clinical consultant of the Imaging-Prevention-Wellness Center at the Arizona Heart Institute to research what had happened, producing a book and documentary on the subject.

“Nobody said they had a revelation or anything religious at all, but the spiritual awakening is just amazing — in real time and long term — that these phenomena impart to the experiencer,” Kitei said.

The effect a perceived paranormal experience has on a person “really has a lot to do with how conventional they were before they had that experience,” said Bader. It’s a lot more life-altering for someone who has never considered spotting a UFO or Bigfoot than for someone who has investigated the paranormal, he said.

For instance, “Most Native American tribes are deeply spiritual,” said Jonathan Dover, a former law enforcement officer with the Navajo Federal Rangers. Dover, who has investigated many paranormal cases, had seen circling lights similar to those described in the Phoenix Lights in Leupp, Ariz., the night before the mass sighting.

“What we find interesting with Native American groups and UFOs is they just take it for granted that they’ve always been there. … This is just how it is; whereas over here it’s something that’s fearful or it’s something that’s shocking, I guess,” he said.

It was their beliefs that brought three missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the UFO parade through downtown McMinnville, too.

The trio, wearing bright yellow “UFO volunteer” T-shirts, are serving the McMinnville area through the church’s Oregon Salem Mission. They’re always looking for ways to serve the community, they said, and someone in their congregation had mentioned the parade was looking for volunteers.

They couldn’t wait to tell their families back home about it, they said. But the idea of life on other planets wasn’t particularly earth-shattering to them.

“We believe that God’s created his children in his image,” said one missionary, who asked to be identified as Elder Carlisle. “The possibilities of God are endless.”

Planet Aid's Yellow Clothing Donation Bins Are Part of a Global Cultlike Scam

Andy Cush

May 25, 2016

Planet Aid's Yellow Clothing Donation Bins
Those yellow clothing-collection bins behind your local gas station or convenience store aren’t actually particularly charitable, according to a Reveal investigation. Not only will your donations likely not be helping hungry kids in Africa, they may be directly supporting a Danish international fugitive named Mogens Amdi Petersen.

Most bins of this type, which have cropped up just about everywhere in recent years, asking you to drop in your used clothes and shoes, don’t do much good for the world’s poor or the environment. Multiple operators of similar bins have come under fire for selling the collected items for profit, rather than donating the clothes or the proceeds. What separates Planet Aid from the pack is the scale of its operation and the bizarre nature of the organization that seems to be behind it.

Reveal and NBC Washington dug up IRS records showing that Planet Aid makes up to $42 million per year. That money is supposed to be donated to needy communities in places like Malawi and Mozambique. But in an FBI file on Planet Aid’s parent organization also obtained by NBC, investigators wrote that “Little to no money goes to the charities.”

Planet Aid seems to be controlled by a Danish organization known alternately as Tvind or The Teachers Group, which was founded in the 1970s by a man named Mogens Amdi Petersen. According to Danish court documents, Tvind is a kind of secular, ostensibly humanitarian cult, in which members are instructed to live collectively, “transfer all their available income to joint savings,” and “forgo their personal rights, such as the right to start a family to their own wish.” Petersen himself is an internationally wanted man, having allegedly committed fraud and tax evasion and his home country, and the NBC report speculates that he may be hiding out in a $25 million, 494-acre compound in Baja, Mexico.

Former Planet Aid employees said Tvind’s cultishness extended to their organization as well. A Maryland woman who responded to a Planet Aid job posting on Craigslist told NBC that she was asked to panhandle for money, work around the clock, and give 20 percent of her $28,000 salary back to the organization to finance a training program at an ominous-sounding facility called One World Center in Michigan.

Next time you’re looking to donate, avoid the bins and go with one of the many more legitimately humanitarian organizations out there.

May 24, 2016

Polygamy advocates claim religious freedom

FOX 10 News Phoenix
Kari Lake
MAY 24 2016

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The word polygamy brings many things to mind. For some, they think religious cults, like the FLDS church in northern Arizona. It's leader Warren Jeffs is now behind bars for child sexual assault. But others believe polygamy is much more; it's not about religion but instead a personal choice.

"Government has no authority to be licensing, defining, and controlling a contractual arrangement of consenting adults," said Mark Henkel.

Henkel is a national polygamy advocate, his website is full of speeches and media appearances record for anyone to see. And he's not Mormon.s claim religious freedom

"I am an evangelical Christian," said Henkel.

Henkel advocates changes making it possible for unrelated consenting adults to marry, and marry, and marry again. He doesn't support so-called cults who arrange marriages for 13-year-old girls.

"I was out in the media screaming we are not for that, that is not what polygamy is about, it's what one cult is doing. You can't compare all the world to what a cult chooses to do," said Henkel.

Henkel is an attorney and is aware of the risks polygamists take when going public. Most laws allow authorities to arrest polygamists for even talking about it.

"If I am going to be putting myself out there, then I have to protect my family. Simply because the law is quite tyrannical just the free speech criminality," he said.

Polygamy is getting more attention these days. The Daily Beast recently reported that moral acceptance of polygamy has doubled in America since 2001. But it's still low at 16% according to the latest Gallup poll.

"Unfortunately all too many people think polygamy is only based on Mormonism. So if they reject the Mormon paradigm, they by default end up rejecting polygamy as a concept. But that is not rational because that is not what polygamy is," said Henkel.

Estimates put the polygamous population in the U.S. somewhere between 60,000 to 100,000 people. Cable TV shows like Big Love has helped take it to the main stream in the living room and the courtroom. The Browns featured in the TLC show "Sister Wives" took Utah to court to fight over polygamy laws, winning a 2013 District Court decision that the laws violated their right to privacy and religious freedom. The decision was later overturned, so now the Browns are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It was not reversed on the merits or any arguments whatsoever, they refused to hear any arguments at all," said Henkel.

It's one reason polygamists still live in the shadows. Even Henkel doesn't discuss his family situation.

"My families have to be very careful and very quiet... because it is against the law, especially with the free speech aspect, we have to live very quietly, and not putting our families lives up in the public as it were," he said.

As for legalizing polygamy, Henkel seems to have a simple solution everyone can get behind.

"If you really want to believe in individual liberty. Want to believe in limited government. Want to believe in equality for all, the only sane solution is to abolish all big government marriage control for unrelated consenting adults," said Henkel.



Holy items – such as the fragment of Becket’s bone returned to England – attract thousands. But ‘secular relics’ carry as much weight for the devotees of science and the arts

The Guardian
Lindsey Fitzharris
24 May 2016

This week, a fragment of bone believed to come from the body of Thomas Becket returns to England for the first time in more than 800 years. The relic, which survived the Reformation, will go on a tour through London and Kent before returning to the Basilica of Esztergom in Hungary, where it has resided since the Middle Ages.

Becket was the archbishop of Canterbury before he was murdered in 1170 by King Henry II’s henchman. He was later canonised by Pope Alexander III and a shrine was set up at Canterbury Cathedral to honour the saint. Dr Bill MacLehose, a medieval historian at University College London, tells me that the Becket shrine was particularly powerful in its day, even by the standards of the medieval period, since it was a time when miracles were reported on a regular basis. Canterbury’s shrine allegedly stopped dogs from barking, helped to ferment beer, and even “cured” a man who had been suffering from diarrhoea for more than nine years.

Relics weren’t just lucky charms, however. “Saints and their relics could wreak vengeance on their enemies too, especially in the early middle ages,” says MacLehose. “Enemies of a saint might suddenly come down with an illness or even die. Saints could be nasty and hold grudges, especially if people made fun of the miracles or didn’t complete a vow after being cured by the saint.”

Today, holy relics such as the Becket bone continue to attract thousands of the faithful, some of whom travel across the world to be close to them. Even non-believers flock to these sites, sometimes because of the historical significance of these objects, sometimes merely out of morbid curiosity. Relics that contain human remains – skulls, bones, blood – tend to draw the biggest crowds, due in part to their role as memento mori, reminders of death.

When most of us think of relics, we tend to picture holy objects such as Becket’s bone or the shroud of Turin. For those of us who aren’t religious, this association makes it easy to look askance at ceremonies such as the one taking place in England this week. Yet there are many “secular relics” around the world that carry as much, if not more significance for their devotees. Objects related to science, medicine and art which are now kept in temperature-controlled display cases in museums, locked away in high-security vaults, or auctioned off for vast amounts of money to private collectors.

When Galileo’s body was exhumed in 1737, three of his fingers were cut off. One of them is now encased in a glass egg in the Galileo Museum in Florence. The mummified finger points to the heavens its owner had spent a lifetime pondering through the lens of his telescope more than 350 years ago. It is science triumphant, and yet I can’t help but think it ironic that a man who was condemned as a heretic by the Catholic church would ultimately be venerated in the manner of one of its saints.

There are countless similar objects around the world. Thomas Edison’s last breath, captured in a test tube, can now be viewed at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. A lock of Sir Isaac Newton’s hair greets visitors at the entrance of the Royal Society in London, a reminder to those who enter that this is a temple of genius. And then there is Albert Einstein’s blackboard, with his famous E=MC2formula chalked carefully on to it, which draws large crowds to the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.

Relics come from many contexts, and have many associations; some holy, some secular. Their appeal seems limitless. “We’ve shifted our belief systems away from religion and toward things like science, sports, and even popstars,” MacLehose says, pulling out an image of Elvis painted as a Byzantine icon. “Medievalists love to look at Graceland as a parallel to the cult of saints and relics.” I can’t help thinking: who’s next?

May 21, 2016

Now three more families say this 'healer' cast a spell on their girls as she is seen for the first time since The Mail on Sunday's revelations

  • A new picture of self-styled 'healer' Anne Craig has emerged
  • It is the first photo since her accusal in Mail on Sunday investigation
  • She has allegedly torn apart some of the country's best-connected families
  • Craig faces mounting allegations she helped isolate string of young women

21 May 2016

Dressed in a theatrical felt hat and quilted jacket, this is the first picture of self-styled 'healer' Anne Craig to emerge since a Mail on Sunday investigation accused her of helping to tear apart some of the country's best-connected families.

For four weeks Craig has refused to comment despite mounting allegations that she helped isolate a string of impressionable young women from their friends and families. They include highly educated society girls Laura Hue-Williams and Victoria Cayzer.

Craig is seen here on the streets near her home in South London with her dogs – possibly the same animals that one former client revealed would bark during Craig's unconventional therapy sessions if they detected 'bad energy'.

Through her lawyers, Craig – who is understood not to have any recognised qualifications and is not a member of a professional body – has denied any wrongdoing. But David Cameron and two senior Ministers are supporting calls to introduce new laws against psychological predators, including therapists who control vulnerable clients.

Now close relatives and the godmother of three former clients of Craig have come forward to offer further disturbing insights into her unconventional methods.

Through her lawyers, Craig – who is understood not to have any recognised qualifications and is not a member of a professional body – has denied any wrongdoing. But David Cameron and two senior Ministers are supporting calls to introduce new laws against psychological predators, including therapists who control vulnerable clients.

Now close relatives and the godmother of three former clients of Craig have come forward to offer further disturbing insights into her unconventional methods.

All three wish to remain anonymous, but the father of one of Craig's former clients gave a moving account of how his family was driven to the brink of destruction.

'It's nearly four years since my daughter started breaking away from Craig and she still does not want to talk about it,' he said. 'She knew Craig's daughter, who was encouraging people to see her mother. There seemed to be nothing wrong at first. Although we knew she was seeing a therapist, we had no idea of what was going on, except for the fact that she became more remote as time went by.

'She was not keen to accept help and became pretty unpleasant to us. It seemed that she was gradually being taken away from us.'

It was only a family tragedy, he said, that persuaded his daughter to return home. 'When my daughter came back to us she revealed what she had been discussing with Craig – cutting us off,' the father said. 'We were being chiselled apart and everything was 'our fault'.

'Having spoken to experts, my understanding is a standard therapy session lasts 60 minutes but our daughter was seeing Craig for two to three hours and came out exhausted and confused. It has taken four years for her to become a normal, happy person again.'

The godmother of another former Craig client recalled her horror when the woman, now a qualified solicitor, revealed to her what had been going on. 'When she said she was seeing a therapist, I asked her what methodology the woman was using. It became clear that my goddaughter was being manipulated. The method is to isolate you from friends and family.

'I told my goddaughter that this was toxic and she agreed that she would stop seeing Craig.'

Meanwhile, a businesswoman believes that her daughter was saved because she was older and more sceptical about the 'healer'. Her daughter was a friend of Victoria Cayzer, who recommended Craig.

She said: 'My daughter did not see Craig for long because she thought it was ridiculous. When she tried to raise this with Victoria, Victoria said they could not be friends unless she was on 'the journey' with Craig.'

Last night, former Home Office Minister Tom Sackville, an anti-cult campaigner, joined The Mail on Sunday's call for a law to extend the existing protection of children to vulnerable adults too. Mr Sackville, chairman of The Family Survival Trust, said: 'In France, Belgium and Luxembourg, governments take a view on this. You can go to the courts to enforce the law. It's something we would like to have here.'

Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall, a director with the International Cultic Studies Association, also called for new protection. He said: 'Anyone is susceptible to psychological manipulation and mind-control. The guru usually has some kind of psychological disorder, such as a narcissistic personality disorder. They yearn to have people worship them.'

May 20, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: 'Your white skin arouses me': Inside the sinister Hitler-loving Korean sex cult luring young Australian girls into being 'spiritual brides' for a serial rapist

Jung Myung-seok
Jung Myung-seok

  • Jesus Morning Star is a South Korean cult founded by Jung Myung-seok
  • The group is believed to have spread to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra
  • They lure new members through front groups such as modelling classes
  • Members say they were recruited in universities and shopping centres
  • They say group enforces sleep deprivation and severing of ties with family
  • Female members are told they will be purified by having sex with Jung
  • One member flew to Seoul to visit Jung where he is imprisoned for rape
  • Hundreds of women claim to have been sexually assaulted by the leader

20 May 2016

A notorious cult which allegedly brainwashes young women into having sex with a serial rapist is luring potential members in major cities across Australia.

South Korean group Jesus Morning Star (JMS) - who praise Hitler and preach members will be purified by having sex with their leader - are believed to be recruiting in shopping centres and universities in Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne.

The quasi-Christian sect was founded in 1980 by Jung Myung-seok (JMS), who is serving a 10-year-prison sentence in Seoul for raping and molesting his followers. He is due to walk free in 2017.

The highly secretive group, also known as Providence, is believed to have spread to Australia through a number of front organisations, including fashion modelling classes and bible studies.

Members say they are groomed into following a 'doctrine' which enforces sleep deprivation and encourages severing ties with family in order to be 'spiritual brides' for Jung.

Former followers have told Daily Mail Australia of the devastating impact the cult had on their lives and said they were left psychologically and emotionally scarred after leaving.

Elizabeth, who chose not to give her full name for fear of reprisal, was a member of the JMS's Canberra fraction for 18 months.

'I was shopping inside the Canberra Centre in April 2011. A Korean woman came over and said she was holding a Christian art show. It looked good so I thought I would check it out.'

After meeting the group's local leader she moved in with them later that year and was subjected to the indoctrination process, which includes sleep deprivation and a restricted diet.

'We had to wake up at 3am everyday to pray because they said this brought us closer to god. It's a mind control technique: when you're deprived of sleep you can't critically think.'

Teachings centered on the 'Messianic' leader Jung, who was depicted as a living Deity who had been falsely accused and persecuted like Jesus Christ.

'They encouraged us to write letters to him like he was our lover. He wrote sexually explicit replies saying things like 'your white skin arouses me,' or 'your vagina would look pretty.'

The group then asked her to fly to Seoul to visit him in Daejon prison, where he was locked up in 2009 on charges of rape and molestation after several years as a fugitive.

'I spent 15 minutes with him and three other members. He blew kisses at us and knew all our names and how we looked from photos in his cell. It was very surreal.'

Elizabeth said she was told to recruit members by telling them 'you look pretty, have you thought of being a model?,' before inviting them to front fashion classes.

After months of sleep deprivation and regulated eating, she was hospitalised with an eating disorder in 2012.

'It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because when I got out I moved back in with my parents, who organised an exit counselor to speak with me.'

'It was a devastating realisation to learn the truth. I was left mentally and physically broken.'

Members of the Canberra faction are understood to have moved to Melbourne following scrutiny into their controversial practices.

Another woman, who wished not be named, said she was recruited in early 2014 inside University of Melbourne, where the group is believed to still be actively recruiting.

'They asked me to fill out a survey about the class we were in. It seemed friendly enough, so I agreed to meet for one of their classes.'

After attending one of bible studies she was initially struck by some of their bizarre teachings - such as a holy reading of Adolf Hitler.

'Part of the teachings explored the idea of God's punishment. They said the holocaust was his mark of atonement because Jewish people killed Jesus. They told us Hitler was a vessel from god.'

She said girls were pressured to dress up for Jung and refrain from talking to the opposite sex so as to be 'spiritual brides' for him.

'I started recruiting for more members. I was told to look for virgins, and encouraged new members to wear white as much as possible to show Jung their purity.'

Eventually her parents staged an intervention, and she was deprogrammed by a cult expert. But for some families, the warning signs come too late.

One father said his daughter was recruited in Sydney Uni, and after being brainwashed by the group she was ordered to move to Western Australia.

'I only learned she had moved there when I saw her on one of their sites. It took a long time to pieces together the reality she had been told to move by the group.

Since his daughter was over 18 he could not seek the help of police to help track her down.

'I'm powerless to find her. I get a generic email from her every couple of months but aside from that we have no contact.'

He says he believes JMS still recruits at Sydney Uni and Broadway Shopping centre through a different front organisations.

Peter Daley, a Canberra born University lecturer who now lives in South Korea, has spent over a decade researching JMS and writing about them online in the hope of raising awareness.

'JMS is dangerous beyond assaults from the leader. The sleep deprivation and the stress caused when members cut ties with their family is incredibly damaging to members health.'

'And he is due out next year with no signs of rehabilitation. The numbers of girls that have visited him in jail suggest he is not going to change his ways any time soon.'

He said universities should be doing more to educate about the dangers of the group given they are known to target campuses.

'I think they have a duty of care to educate students about the dangers of the group. Many former members were recruited on their university campus'.'

A University of Melbourne spokesperson said they were not aware of the group but advised students who are involved to contact their Safer Community Program.

'We have an industry-leading Safer Community Program, and we have been very active in raising awareness of the program, and the support the University can offer students who experience situations like this.'

A spokesperson for Sydney University also denied being aware of the group but urged students to report groups misrepresenting their activities.

'Any behaviour by individuals or groups on campus misrepresenting themselves or their activities to students should be reported to Campus Security so that appropriate action can be taken.'

Daily Mail Australia has also contacted a spokesperson for Jesus Morning Star for comment.

  •  Founded in 1980 by Jung Myung-seok
  • Started in South Korea and spread across Asia
  • Followers identify Jung as the Second Coming of Christ
  • Female members told they will be purified by having sex with Seok
  • Hundreds of women have claimed they were raped or sexually abused by Jung
  • Group is highly secretive in nature
  • Has a history of violence against critics 
  • Recruits members through front groups like modelling classes
  • Reports of 240 branches in South Korea alone
  • Active in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra
  • Have several front groups to lure members
  • Recruit in major universities including Sydney Uni and Melbourne Uni
  • Praise Adolf Hitler in their teachings 
  • Enforce sleep deprivation and restricted diets on members
  • Encourage them to sever ties with family
  • Tell them to dress up for Jung and refrain from talking to the opposite sex
  • Encouraged to recruit virgins into the group
  • Arrange for members to fly to South Korea to visit Jungin jail

Former Brethren allege high rate of abuse in New Zealand


April 24 2016


Four out of ten former Exclusive Brethrens who responded to a study looking at traumatic experiences growing up in the sect say they were sexually abused as children in New Zealand.

The study, carried out by a former Brethren, found 18 of 44 participants claimed they had been sexually abused as children.

The figure was significantly higher than the worldwide average, which found around 27 per cent claimed they had suffered child sex abuse.

It's the first piece of academic research into allegations of abuse suffered by members of the church.

Researcher Jill Mytton, from the United Kingdom, believes levels of child sexual abuse in the former member population are much higher than in the general population.

"That appears to be particularly high in New Zealand though, and this warrants further investigation."

Mytton said she could not be sure who the abusers were in every case, but those who had spoken to her said that their abusers were members of the Brethren.

Mytton said said she came under attack by the Brethren and her study was suddenly cancelled by her UK-based university after the Brethren made legal threats.

"I was in the process of finding out about that when legal action by the Brethren halted the research. The university who were hosting the research pulled the plug I assume because they feared a lawsuit."

The Brethren commissioned three academics, professors from the University College London and Warwick University, who severely criticised Mytton's research.

In a statement, church spokesman Doug Watt said: "Jill Mytton's research has been widely discredited and she has a personal vendetta against the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.

"The church, like all other decent individuals and organisations, is appalled with sexual assault of any sort. Where we discover such incidents we have and will continue to take  appropriate action."

Fairfax has spoken to three former Exclusive Brethrens members who say they experienced child sexual abuse. None had taken their cases to the police, and each said they had felt powerless to confront their abusers, who they claim were family members or elders within the church.

One woman, who now helps other Brethren who are trying to leave the church, said she was "dreadfully abused" as a child.

"I ran away from home and I tried to kill myself and I still see people coming out who have suffered years and years of abuse. Every other church has safeguarding. I have had young girls in my home who have been dreadfully abused and have been alcoholics in their early 20s."

After high profile sex abuse cases against senior Brethren members in 2009, the church promised to introduce a new code of care for complainants.

Requests this month for a copy of the code of care or any information about how the Brethren treats alleged victims of sexual abuse were refused.

Jill Mytton said her research had found Brethren who left the sect showed higher levels of psychological distress that the general population including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress symptoms, and interpersonal problems.



A former Exclusive Brethren member has described feeling 'violated' by two sect leaders who were investigating allegations of sexual impropriety by an older Brethren member.

The woman said as a 16-year-old girl she was taken to a room and questioned by two sect leaders, or 'priestlies' as they were known.

She says the treatment by church elders was worse than the experience itself.

"I look back and I go that is an incredible violation. If you're vulnerable, it's an incredibly vulnerable position to be put into."

The woman said she had already begun to question Brethren teachings, for which she was subjected to extreme psychological abuse by church elders.

She says she was told: "you're mental, you're evil, you're possessed." 

"It's spiritual abuse. It's appealing to the highest power that people can believe in. Twisting of scripture to force submission of women."

The woman said she met the Exclusive Brethren world leader Bruce Hales as a teenager, at a time when she was already doubting it's teachings.

She was particularly nervous, as she'd been taught in Brethren folklore that Hales could read minds.

"I was looking at him thinking he's a lying, conniving emperor with no clothes on. He just looked at me with the same greasy smile that he looked at everyone. Clearly he didn't have a clue what was going on in my mind."

She was excommunicated at age 21.

"It was a bit like jumping out of a plane into a big black hole."

Still in her 20s, she's now managed to establish a career and found a partner, and says she has says has been able to fulfil many of her life wishes since leaving the sect.

"It's wonderful to be free of that control and to be able to grow as a person the way that I believe I was meant to be."

But she is torn by never being able to see her family again.

"I'd love to see them free, there are amazing men and women in there -full of talent and potential. One of the most horrible things they're doing is to restrict people from being all that they can be. In all seriousness there are so many amazing men and women.

"They're not enjoying it and yet they can't conceive of another way of life. They don't know how to break down the fear."



* Clive Allen Petrie, 74, of Nelson, was found guilty in 2009 of nine charges of indecent assault, as well as inducing a girl under 12 to perform an indecent act.

* William David McLean, 44, of Levin, was jailed for three years in 2012 for raping a woman over an 11-year period.

* Fairfax is aware of three other recent or pending criminal sex abuse cases against former or current Brethren members.