Oct 13, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/7/2019

Thailand, Animal Abuse, Transcendental Meditation, Marianne Williamson, Documentary, Pastafarians, NXIVM

"More than half the tigers rescued three years ago from a Buddhist temple in Thailand where they served as a popular tourist attraction have died of disease, wildlife officials said Monday.

The tigers were vulnerable to illness because of inbreeding, leading to laryngeal paralysis causing respiratory failure, said national parks official Patarapol Maneeorn. Eighty-six of 147 rescued tigers kept at government-run wildlife sanctuaries have died."

" ... Police found tiger skins and teeth and at least 1,500 amulets made from tiger bones when they raided the temple, as well as 60 cub carcasses stuffed in freezers and in formaldehyde in jars.
Tiger parts, such as ground bones, are popular as traditional medicine in Asia. Tiger hides can sell for tens of thousands of dollars in China."
" ... Something about Williamson's unconventional candidacy, though, has certainly sparked voters' curiosity. After all, a candidate who flits between the worlds of traditional, institutional religion and New Age spirituality is a rarity in presidential politics. And she was the most-searched candidate after the first night of the July debate, when she accused President Trump of harnessing the "dark psychic force of collectivized hatred" and declared that she wants "a politics that speaks to the heart."

But the more voters learned more about her, the less they seemed to like her."

" ... According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of Democrats identify as "spiritual but not religious" — an amorphous identity that has a lot in common with Williamson's nondenominational spiritual practice. She identifies as Jewish and still attends High Holiday services, but she also practices transcendental meditation. She rose to prominence as a commentator and teacher of "A Course In Miracles," a mystical book published in 1976 whose author claimed to be dictating revelations from Jesus.

'She's really the definition of spiritual but not religious," said Laura Olson, a political science professor at Clemson University, about Williamson. "In that sense, she represents — and you'd think might be able to reach — a very sizeable group of Americans.'"

"Some time next year, the European court of human rights will decide on the case of a Dutch woman who feels unfairly treated because her country's highest court has told her she cannot wear a plastic colander on her head for her ID photo.

It may combine Mienke de Wilde's plea with that of an Austrian former MP, Niko Alm, who proudly wears the offending kitchen utensil on his official documents but now insists his country recognise Pastafarianism – the faith both follow – as a religion.

Watching the pair closely is Mike Arthur, an independent American film-maker whose smart, funny but above all thought-provoking documentary, I, Pastafari, about the world's fastest-growing faith premieres in the US in October."

" ... In an interview with Refinery29, Edmondson role-played her way through a typical pitch for the cult's seminars. She showed the ways that she focused on insecurities that a recruit might have and used them as an opening to bring them on-board. 

"Well, first things first: You don't attempt any kind of a pitch until you have established a rapport. That's something that has always come naturally to me, just chit chatting and engaging with people. Part of pitching is that you kind of want to tailor the approach to the specific person and what they're looking for," she said. 

She said that similar approach went all the way up the line, with senior officials convincing others that the sex and rituals were also part of a path to betterment. Edmonson has the founder's initials branded on her and said it was sold as self-improvement. 

'If you look at the branding ritual as an example, they convince you that you are triumphing over your own weakness," she said. "One of the things that can be helpful in terms of an explanation is to look at the ways in which cults are similar to abusive relationships. Nobody seeks out an abusive partner, but so many people stay in these relationships longer than they should — they make excuses, they ignore red flags, and they allow themselves to be emotionally manipulated.'"

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