Sep 20, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 9/20/2019

NXIVMMagical Thinking, Legal Child Sexual Abuse, Australia, Witchcraft  
"A former member of the notorious sex cult, NXIVM, has recalled the excruciating pain she suffered while being branded with the group leader's initials just under her bikini line.

Smallville actress Allison Mack plead guilty to charges that she manipulated women into becoming sex slaves for the group's leader, Keith Raniere.

In her new memoir, Scarred, former cult member Sarah Edmondson has shed light on the painful initiation ceremony that many of the women went through.

According to Sarah, she was asked to join a separate sisterhood group within the cult – DOS – in January 2017.

In order to become an official member of the group, Sarah was asked to send nude photos of herself with videotaped confessions of her 'darkest secrets'.

The 42-year-old wrote in an excerpt obtained by People: 'Seven weeks later I flew to Albany [New York] for the ceremony with four other members.'

Sharing harrowing details, Sarah revealed: 'We were told that we'd all be receiving an identical tattoo the size of a dime.

'Instead, we took turns holding each of the other members down on a table as NXIVM's resident female doctor dragged a red-hot cauterising pen across the sensitive area just below their bikini line. The women screamed in pain as the smell of burnt flesh filled the air.'

Recalling her own horrific experience, Sarah admitted: 'Nothing could have ever prepared me for the feel of this fire on my skin. Lying there, I could feel each millimeter of my flesh singed open.'

It wasn't until two months later that Sarah realised the initials KR, for Keith Raniere, were burned into her skin."

"Scientific thinking is hard is because our brains are not wired for it. Instead, our minds are wired for magical thinking. Magical thinking is a part of all aspects of our lives, and exists at the core of neural functioning.

What is scientific thinking? Scientific thinking is a process of testing ideas with evidence. It is a process of having a theory about how things work in the world, and then going out and doing an experiment or making an observation to see whether that theory actually pans out. Scientific thinking is involved when you examine your ideas to figure out what very specific and concrete things that those ideas tell you that you should expect to see… and then go out to find out whether you see them."

"Religious and spiritual leaders in Victoria must report child abuse to the authorities, even if it was heard in the confessional, under historic new laws passed by the Andrews Labor Government.

The Labor Government's Children Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 passed through the Victorian Parliament today, delivering on a key election commitment. The legislation means people in religious ministries are now mandated reporters to child protection and the confessional seal must be lifted for suspected sexual abuse of children.

Mandatory reporting refers to the legal requirement for nominated professional groups to report a reasonable belief of physical or sexual child abuse to authorities.

Priests and spiritual leaders in religious ministries will now join teachers, police, medical practitioners, nurses, school counsellors, early childhood and youth justice workers as mandated reporters.

In addition, the new laws ensure disclosures of abuse during religious confession are not exempt under the Failure to Disclose offence contained in the Crimes Act – meaning those who don't report abuse face up to three years in prison."

"The scariest witchcraft stories are the ones that are true, like the tale of a mother and her adult son who thought a spell-casting neighbour was making them ill. For months they retaliated with curses and evil prayers, chanting "death by fire" through the walls during the small hours and calling on God to kill the "witch". They even told the poor woman's seven-year-old daughter that her mother was evil.

The worst thing about that case of "witch" harassment is that it didn't occur in the remote annals of British history. It happened last year, in London.

Vilest of all is the idea that children can be witches or be possessed by devils

Just the deranged behaviour of a couple of paranoid Christian fundamentalists, you might retort. Well, yes. But also no. Today, beliefs about witchcraft, curses and black magic regularly cause real harm. Reporting is patchy but it appears that, in recent decades, harmful magic has become more common in the UK.

"He is a very dangerous man, taking money and telling families they must cut ties with each other." The words of a Leicester woman, who in 2018 wrote to her local paper to denounce an unscrupulous faith healer. He specialised in diagnosing and curing black magic. Evil spells, he claimed, caused his client's misfortunes, from business failures to marital breakdowns, cancer and depression.

Breaking spells is lucrative. It paid well enough for the faith healer, who was from India, to regularly fly to the UK to work for British families living in Leicester, Birmingham and elsewhere. As well as being expensive, his therapies were destructive. The man sometimes broke up families by accusing one member of being the source of an evil that was apparently poisoning their lives.

In case you're wondering, believing in curses and black magic isn't just a problem for deeply religious people or folks from minority backgrounds. Anyone can get suckered in, if things are going badly and they're feeling desperate. This was how, in 2005, a woman from Leicester ended up getting conned out of £56,000 by a psychic calling herself Sister Grace. It started with what seemed like an innocent tarot reading but ended with Sister Grace insisting that a curse would kill her client's son and husband if she refused to pay.

Beliefs about curses and witchcraft are responsible for huge numbers of smaller scams. In 2006, for example, an estimated 170,000 Britons were taken in by junk mail from fake clairvoyants, urging them to buy powerful items that would attract good luck and repel evil. Most of the victims were elderly or vulnerable, losing on average £240 each. If you don't hear much about these cons, it's probably because the victims are too embarrassed to come forward. Witchcraft is also an eerie, secretive subject that people don't like to discuss."

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

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

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