Sep 7, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 9/7-8/2019

Word of Life, Anti-Vaccination, conspiracy theories, Cult-characteristics, flat-earth, Neo-Nazi, neo-pagans, Satanism, Theosophy, Radicalization, Vaccinations, Hasidic Jewish 
Utica Observer Dispatch: Word of Life's Ferguson appeals 2016 ruling
"Oral arguments in the appeal of "People v. Sarah Ferguson" — a case that began with the 2015 fatal beating at a Chadwicks church — were held Wednesday [September 4th] morning in state appellate court in Rochester.

Ferguson seeks to appeal her sentence issued in 2016 by Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer after a bench trial that led to her conviction for first-degree manslaughter, two counts of first-degree assault, and two counts of first-degree gang assault.

Ferguson was sentenced to 25 years in state prison for her role in the 14-hour round of beatings that killed her 19-year-old half brother Lucas Leonard and severely injured his brother Christopher Leonard, then 17, in October 2015 at Word of Life Church in Chadwicks."

" ... The beatings took place during what was called a "counseling session" that included whipping of their genitals and other body parts using a power cord.

The Leonard brothers had been accused by their attackers — a group of nine people including Ferguson — of allegedly watching pornography, practicing witchcraft and plotting to murder their parents. Other accusations by the attackers included sexual abuse of nieces and nephews."  

American Institute for Economic Research: The Cultic Milieu and the Rise of Violent Fringe
"For economists and individualists there are several valuable insights to be gained from the sister discipline of sociology. (In a previous column I discussed one of these, the notion of a 'moral panic'). One such idea, which is both powerful and very useful in understanding many contemporary phenomena, is that of the "cultic milieu." This sociological concept is also strengthened when combined with certain economic insights. The result is a better understanding of a phenomenon that has always existed but has become much more extensive and significant recently.

The concept of the cultic milieu (hereafter CM) was formulated by a British sociologist called Colin Campbell, in an article published in 1972 entitled "The Cult, the Cultic Milieu, and Secularisation". His interest was in the sociology of religion and he was particularly interested in the phenomenon of radical and heterodox religious cults. In his studies he noticed that cultic groups that were very different in other ways tended to share certain beliefs that put them radically at odds with conventional society in general but which were not overtly religious (e.g. opposition to conventional medical science). In addition some csgroups that were not at first sight religious (radical political groups for example or lifestyle movements) would often subscribe to ideas about some kind of transcendent truth that was at first sight religious. One example was the way extreme right political groups would also espouse things such as neo-paganism or occultism.

The explanation for this was the idea of the cultic milieu. This is a kind of subterranean world or counterculture with a whole range of ideas that are strongly opposed to conventional beliefs and knowledge. These included highly heterodox and unusual religious systems (such as neo-paganism or Theosophy or Satanism), marginalised political ideologies such as neo-Nazism, conspiracy theories, and theories that rejected central elements of orthodox science, such as rejection of vaccination and modern medicine or flat and hollow earth theories.

Campbell's insight was that these fringe beliefs did not exist in isolation from each other. They rather all mingled in a social space in which accepted and dominant ways of thinking about the world were rejected. Frequently people who started holding just one of these countercultural beliefs would come into contact with and pick up other ones with no apparent connection to the original belief – so for example a believer in the Moon landings being a hoax might also come to be a sceptic about vaccination. People who dipped into the CM through following one idea would then find themselves exposed to and becoming interested in other heterodox notions. They would also make many personal contacts and this was one way that organised groups combining several of these ideas would come into being as the cults Campbell was interested in."
"The City of Montreal announced Wednesday [September 4th] morning that it will be providing an additional $975,000 in funding to the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence.

"The City of Montreal is reiterating its confidence toward the Centre," said Rosannie Filato, the city's executive committee member responsible for public safety.

The centre has a province-wide mandate of preventing radicalization leading to violence and reducing hate crimes and other hate-related incidents.

Filato said she hopes the centre will work in a way complementary to other services, like health-care providers and the police, to prevent radicalization."

"Jacquelynn Vance-Pauls, a real-estate lawyer in upstate New York, has a 14-year-old son with autism who was recently kicked out of his private special needs school. Her 9-year-old twins and her high-school senior are also on the verge of being expelled from their public schools.

The children did not do anything wrong, nor are they sick. Instead, Ms. Vance-Pauls has resisted complying with a new state law, enacted amid a measles outbreak, that ended religious exemptions to vaccinations for children in all schools and child care centers.

Ms. Vance-Pauls said she believed vaccines contributed to her son's autism, despite more than a dozen peer-reviewed studiesshowing no such link. The Bible, she said, barred her as a Christian from "desecrating the body," which is what she says vaccines do.

"If you have a child who you gave peanut butter to and he almost died, why would you give it to your next child?" she said during an interview in August, trying to explain her fears. "How do we turn our backs against what we have believed all these years because we have a gun to our heads?"

With the start of school this week, Ms. Vance-Pauls, along with the parents of about 26,000 other New York children who previously had obtained religious exemptions to vaccinations, are facing a moment of reckoning.

Under the new law, all children must begin getting their vaccines within the first two weeks of classes and complete them by the end of the school year. Otherwise, their parents must home school them or move out of the state.

The measles outbreak that prompted the new law is actually easing. On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared an end to the measles outbreak in New York City, its epicenter. Since the start of the outbreak in October 2018, there have been 654 measles cases in the city and 414 in other parts of the state, where transmission has also slowed.

The large majority of cases have involved unvaccinated children in Hasidic Jewish communities, where immunization rates were sometimes far lower than the state average of 96 percent. Wide-scale vaccination campaigns have helped lift those rates."

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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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