Aug 31, 2020

Is Buddhism a Religion?


AUGUST 25, 2020 



The Buddha said:

“The practitioner will find great joy and attain the state of final rest by having confidence in the Buddha’s religion, discovering the happiness of ending mental conditioning” (Dhp 382).

Is Buddhism a Religion? It seems like a simple question until you realize that there is little agreement on what Buddhism is or what religion is. Let’s start with the word religion.

What is Religion?

The social scientist J. Milton Yinger states, “Many studies of religion stumble over the first hurdle: the problem of definition” (3). This is because “there is no universally accepted definition of religion” (Crawford 3). It seems there are as many definitions as there are academic disciplines. As John Hick writes:

“Religion is one thing to the anthropologists, another to the sociologist, another to the psychologist (and again another to the next psychologist!), another to the Marxist, another to the mystic, another to the Zen Buddhist and yet another to the Jew or Christian. As a result there is a great variety of religious theories of the nature of religion. There is, consequently, no universally accepted definition of religion, and quite possibly there never will be” (Crawford 3).

But religion is a useful word. It helps us distinguish a human activity that is different from what animals do. Only humans are religious. As Tim Crane writes, “We should try to understand religion because without such an understanding we lack an adequate sense of a fundamental part of human civilization and its history, and we therefore lack a proper understanding of ourselves” (xi).

In approaching the word religion, it is good to remember the words of Jonathan Z. Smith, “Religion is solely the creation of the scholar’s study. It is created for the scholar’s analytic purposes by his imaginative acts of comparison and generalization” (xi). Its purpose, therefore, is to help us understand a human phenomenon.

Worship of God

The Paperback Oxford Dictionary defines religion as, “the belief in and worship of a God or gods.” This is the only kind of religion Westerners knew for centuries. They knew of the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, and the Pagans. But to them, religion was mostly dealing with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So religion had to do with God and the worship of God. But such a definition is short-sighted.

But as the religions of the East began to be known, they didn’t fit this mold. Buddhism, Daoism, and Jainism have no personal creator God like the Western religions, and so their religion has little to do with worshiping God. So if religion is defined by belief and worship of God, Buddhism, Daoism, and Jainism are not religions.

But since when does the world revolve around the West. Just because a religion is not like our religion doesn’t make it not a religion. Religion isn’t what we say it is, it should be descriptive of activities that deal with the transcendent or sacred. There is no other word for these human concerns. But our definition of religion should be descriptive not prescriptive.

A Definition of Religion

Buddhism, Daoism, and Jainism are religions and any definition of religion must not exclude them. So we need a definition of religion that is not too broad, not too narrow, and not biased. Too broad would be defining religion as “Ultimate Concern.” Too narrow would be defining religion as “the belief in and worship of a God or gods.” Too biased would be defining religion as a “virus” or an “illusion.”

Two definitions are really good. The first is from Time Crane, he defines religion as “a systematic and practical attempt by human beings to find meaning in the world and their place in it, in terms of their relationship to something transcendent” (6). The second definition is by William E. Paden, he says “religion is generally used to mean a system of language and practice that organize the world in terms of what is deemed sacred” (10).

Others take a more functional approach to religion. As Michael Molloy states, “We may accept as a ‘religion’ whatever manifests a reasonable number of the following characteristics:” He then lists belief system, community, ethics, characteristic emotions (like devotion, liberation, inner peace, and bliss), ritual, and sacredness (7).

My definition of religion is that it is a worldview and way of life that is related to the Divine or sacred. That means that there are at least three elements in a religion, a worldview, a way of life, and something sacred. A worldview is the belief system or conceptual framework we use to see and interpret the world. A way of life deals with the personal, ethical, and social ways that we act in the world. And both these are related to the Divine or sacred. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all worldviews and ways of life related to God.

The Sacred in Buddhism

Buddhism is not a worldview and way of life that is related to God. You could say that early Buddhism was polytheistic since it acknowledges many “angels, demons, and Gods” (AN 4.23). But these gods are of little relevance to Buddhism, because they are, just like humans, stuck in the same cycle of rebirth. This is called samsara, which I translate as the “prison of rebirth.”

The bottom line is that these Gods are of no help in attaining freedom from the unsatisfactoriness of conditioned existence. So Buddhism is not related to the Divine, but it is related to the sacred. By sacred I mean, that which is honored, respected, and even reverenced.

In Buddhism, it is the Three Jewels that are sacred. They are the Buddha, the Doctrine (Pali, dhamma), and the Community (Pali, sangha). These are honored, respected, and reverenced by all Buddhists. I would argue that life itself is also sacred in Buddhism, since abstaining from taking life is the first of the Five Precepts of Buddhism.

Buddhist Worldview

The Buddhist worldview sees life through the conceptual framework of the Four Noble Truths. The first truth is that suffering characterizes the unawakened life. Suffering, which is better translated as unsatisfactoriness, refers to the unsatisfactoriness nature of life, which is a prison of endless suffering in a cycle of births and deaths. Suffering is all around us. Everything around us changes, breaks, dies, and fails to give lasting happiness. You can’t count on anything.

The second truth is that the cause of this suffering is craving, which goes back to ignorance of the true nature of reality. From ignorance spring attachment and aversion, which causes suffering.

The third truth is that we can awaken and cease our attachments and aversions, and therefore we can end suffering.

And the fourth truth is that the Buddha taught the Eightfold Noble Path that leads to the end of ignorance, attachment, and aversion, and therefore it leads to the end of suffering.

Buddhist Way of Life

The Dhammapada, the most popular Buddhist scripture, sums up the Buddhist way of life this way, “Avoid doing harm, cultivate good conduct, and purify one’s mind: This is the instruction of the Buddhas” (Dhp 183). In this one line, we have the ethical and spiritual aspirations of Buddhism.

The ethical code for Buddhists, in general, is summarized in the Five Precepts, there are more for monks and nuns. The Five Precepts are (1) to abstain from taking life; (2) to abstain from taking what is not given; (3) to abstain from sexual misconduct; (4) to abstain from false speech; and (5) to abstain from intoxicants that cloud the mind.

In addition to the ethical way of life, there is also a religious way of life. This includes developing virtues such as generosity, compassion, lovingkindness, and equanimity. And it includes spiritual disciplines such as chanting and meditation.

The Buddhist Religion

So Buddhism is a religion. In Pali, it is called Buddha-sasana. Bhikkhu Sucitto defines Buddha-sasana as “the Buddhist religion” (Sucitto 52). Here are two translations of the Dhammapada:

“When a bhikkhu applies himself when still young to the religion of the Buddha, he illuminates the world, like the moon breaking breaking away from a cloud” (Richards Dhp 382).

Here is an older translation.

“The monk yet young, who unto Buddha’s religion devoteth himself, brighteneth this world, as the moon from cloud set free” (Edmunds Dhp 382).

Buddhism is a religion because it is a worldview and way of life that is related to the sacred. But it is a unique religion. Most religions talk about getting right with God through repentance, faith, and obedience. To them, the problem is human sin. But Buddhism goes further.

The problem is not your relationship to God, your problem is your relationship to reality. You are in a prison of your own making, “hindered by ignorance and chained by craving” (SN 15.1). God did not make the law of karma, it is part of the system. God is subject to karma.

Is murder wrong because God forbids it, or does God forbid it because it’s wrong? Buddhism says the moral law existed before God. God forbids it because it is the law of conditioned existence. God is obligated to obey the moral law. As Alfred North Whitehead pointed out, “The actual world must always mean the community of all actual entities, including the primordial actual entity called ‘God’ and the temporal actual entities” (65).

Works Cited

·         Crane, Tim. The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.

·         Crawford, Robert G. What is Religion?: An Introducing the Study of Religion New York: Routledge, 2002.

·         Edmunds, Albert Joseph, trans. Hymns of the Faith (Dhammapada): Being an Ancient Anthology Preserved in the Short Collection of the Sacred Scriptures of the Buddhists Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing Company (1902).

·         Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1999.

·         Paden, William E. Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.

·         Richards, John, trans. The Dhammapada. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1980. PDF file.

·         Smith, Jonathan Z. Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

·         Sucitto, Bhikkhu. Sangha Words: a Manual for Forest Sangha Publications. Revised Edition Version 1.2. Hemel Hempstead, England: Amaravati Publications, 2016. PDF file.

·         Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality: Corrected Edition. Ed. David Ray Giffin and Donald W. Sherburne. New York: The Free Press, 1985.

·         Yinger, J. Milton. The Scientific Study of Religion. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co,, 1970.


Passenger sues easyJet after crew told her to move seats to satisfy ultra-Orthodox Jews

Melanie Wolfson was asked to move twice because men refused to sit next to a female

The Guardian
Harriet Sherwood

Thu 27 Aug 2020


A British-Israeli woman is suing easyJet after the low-cost airline asked her to move seats on a flight from Tel Aviv to London following objections from ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who refused to sit next to a female passenger.

Melanie Wolfson, 38, is claiming 66,438 shekels (almost £15,000) compensation in a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), which won a similar case in 2017 brought against El Al, the Israeli national carrier.

Wolfson, a professional fundraiser who moved to Israel 13 years ago and lives in Tel Aviv, is also asking that easyJet bans its cabin crew from asking women to switch seats because of their gender.

According to the lawsuit, Wolfson paid extra for an aisle seat on her flight last October. An ultra-Orthodox man and his son, who were sitting in the row when she arrived, asked Wolfson to switch seats with a man a few rows ahead.

Wolfson says she was “insulted and humiliated” by the request. “It was the first time in my adult life that I was discriminated against for being a woman,” she told Haaretz.

“I would not have had any problem whatsoever switching seats if it were to allow members of a family or friends to sit together, but the fact that I was being asked to do this because I was a woman was why I refused.”

A flight attendant intervened and offered Wolfson a free hot drink as an incentive to move. Concerned that the flight might be delayed on her account and feeling that she had little choice in the matter, she agreed to switch seats. “There were passengers watching this happen who said nothing,” she said.

According to the suit, several flight attendants told Wolfson during the flight that women were often asked to switch seats in order to accommodate ultra-Orthodox men.

Two months later, on another easyJet flight to London, Wolfson was again asked to move seats by two ultra-Orthodox men. She refused their request but two female passengers agreed to change seats with the two men sitting next to her.

Members of the cabin crew did not intervene or try to defend her right to stay seated where she was although again she was offered a free hot drink, according to the suit.

Wolfson complained to the airline on both occasions but when it failed to respond, she decided to sue for violation of Israeli law, which prohibits discrimination against customers on the basis of race, religion, nationality, land of origin, gender, sexual orientation, political views or personal status.

Although easyJet is not based in Israel, lawyers will argue that the airline was subject to Israeli law while its plane was on the ground at Ben-Gurion airport, where the incident took place.

In a statement, easyJet said: “We take claims of this nature very seriously. Whilst it would be inappropriate to comment, as this matter is currently the subject of legal proceedings, we do not discriminate on any grounds.”

Three years ago, Renee Rabinowitz, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, won a landmark ruling against El Al. The Israeli judge hearing the case said that “under absolutely no circumstances can a crew member ask a passenger to move from their designated seat because the adjacent passenger doesn’t want to sit next to them due to their gender”.


At the time, IRAC said almost 7,500 emails had been sent to El Al by members of the public objecting to requests made to female passengers to change seats.

• This article was amended on 28 August 2020 to restore the wording “ultra-Orthodox”, which had been mistakenly changed during the editing process.


Aug 30, 2020

From Surviving to Thriving After Leaving - Steps to Take on the Road to Recovery

From Surviving to Thriving After Leaving - Steps to Take on the Road to Recovery
Uniting the Continents, Support for the Pacific Rim and Western USA
An ONLINE EVENT for Families, Former Members and Friends Affected by CULTIC Groups and Relationships.

Rachel Bernstein, MSed, LMFT
From Surviving to Thriving After Leaving - Steps to Take on the Road to Recovery
Abstract: People who have left highly toxic environments deal with a lot of confusion, anger, sadness, fear, loss, isolation, and at times post trauma reactions. These factors make it difficult to know where to start and what to address first when you need to rebuild your life while also needing to get support for your emotions. Taking all that on while you need to tend to the practical issues of re-entering the world and working to regain the confidence you need to make decisions and move forward can cause  people to give up because it is all too much. 
It becomes easier when it is broken down into steps that you can take (and steps that you can guide loved ones to take who are in these situations too). We will go over a step-by-step plan for your healing and managing the practical issues of everyday life, but it's important to not stop there. Once you feel your feet more firmly planted, it's important to try to move towards feeling good, feeling joy, having a real sense of accomplishment and a strengthened self-concept that comes from knowing you have survived something that could have destroyed you but you were just too determined not to let it!
Biography: Rachel Bernstein, MSed, LMFT, has been working with former cult members for nearly 30 years. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Educator, who lives in Los Angeles, CA. She has been a member of ICSA for many years and has presented talks and moderated panels at ICSA conferences. She was the Clinician at both the former Cult Clinic in Los Angeles and the Cult Hotline and Clinic in Manhattan. She now treats former cult members and their families and friends  in her private practice. Rachel facilitates support groups for former cult members and the former partners of narcissists. Rachel has published articles, made media appearances, consulted on shows and movies about cults, and has been interviewed for podcasts and YouTube videos. Rachel is the host of her weekly Podcast, "IndoctriNation," about breaking free from systems of control. 
Email: Phone (818) 907-0036

Unique Ways to Help your Loved One in a Cult or Manipulative Relationship

Rachel Bernstein, MSed, LMFT
Uniting the Continents, Support for the Pacific Rim and Western USA
An ONLINE EVENT for Families, Former Members and Friends Affected by CULTIC Groups and Relationships.


Rachel Bernstein, MSed, LMFT
Unique Ways to Help your Loved One in a Cult or Manipulative Relationship
Unique situations sometimes require unique approaches. When faced with a loved one in a cult or a controlling relationship, there are many ways people intervene that feel instinctively right but cause the person to move farther away from you,  more deeply connected to those who are harming them, and less trusting of you and others who are trying to help. It often requires a different approach to make the impact you want to make here. 
After many years of working with families and friends of those in cults and highly controlling relationships, I have learned what techniques work better than others, and I want to share them with you. 
Sometimes when people consult with me, they feel  they have already "blown it", so to speak, by saying or doing the wrong thing and they are either losing touch or have lost touched with their loved one as a result and become the enemy. I will also cover how to mend those fractures and rebuild trust so there is greater communication with them and then a higher chance of being able to truly intervene.

That's not me”: An Exploration of Multi-Generation Adult leavers

Jill Aebi-Mytton, BSc, MSc, CPsychol, AFBPsS DPsych
Uniting the Continents, Support for the Pacific Rim and Western USA
An ONLINE EVENT for Families, Former Members and Friends Affected by CULTIC Groups and Relationships.

Jill Aebi-Mytton, BSc, MSc, CPsychol, AFBPsS DPsych
In the language in the cultic studies arena we hear the categories ‘First Generation Adult’ (SGA) and ‘Second Generation Adult’ (SGA). These categories do not always fit our experiences. Where do I belong if actually I am third or fourth generation. This can be a confusing situation and can leave a former member feeling left out, as I experienced when I first began to explore this area. 
This talk will focus on the development of the concept of ‘Multi Generation Adults’ (MGA) and why it is important to consider this group as different from yet similar to SGAs. The talk will explore this idea and will be illustrated by case studies.
Jill Mytton, M.Sc., C.Psychol., DPsych is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist.  In 2017 she completed a Professional Doctorate in Psychotherapy through Middlesex University. Her research interest is the mental health of Multi-Generational (a new category coined by Jill) and Second Generation Adults, i.e., those born or raised in cultic groups. She is listed on the British Psychological Society media list for Cults and Thought Reform and has been involved in several TV and Radio broadcasts. She has presented at several conferences, including: INFORM London, April 2008; Division of Counselling Psychology Annual conferences; ICSA Annual Conferences in Geneva 2009, Montreal 2012, Stockholm 2015, Bordeaux 2017 and Manchester 2019. She was born and raised in the Exclusive Brethren, leaving at the age of 16. Apart from a small private practice, she also runs an email support group for former Exclusive Brethren and has become a point of contact for leavers of several groups.

Netherlands wants to punish silence on sex abuse in closed communities

Karolin Schaps,
Thomson Reuters Foundation
National Post
August 28, 2020

AMSTERDAM, Aug 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The Dutch government wants to prosecute members of private groups and communities who fail to report sexual abuse in their organizations, a move that comes after Jehovah’s Witnesses rejected demands to tackle the under-reporting of abuse.

A 2019 report commissioned by the government to investigate sexual abuse involving Jehovah’s Witnesses found few cases were being reported to police, but group leaders dismissed calls for change and said they were being discriminated against.

Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker said that had spurred him to analyze how a law that punished organizations for failing to report sexual abuse could be structured.

“This makes it clear to me that the leadership (of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community) does not see or does not want to see the gravity of the situation. The leadership is leaving vulnerable victims out in the cold,” he said in a letter to parliament published late on Thursday.

“Victims of sexual abuse in the Netherlands have the same right to access help, care and justice, regardless of which community they belong to,” he added, promising a progress update on the potential legislation later this year.

The 2019 report, carried out by the University of Utrecht, found that about 80% of the 751 members who came forward to speak with researchers had reported abuse to leaders within the community. Three quarters said the response was inadequate.

Only 28% of them made an official report to the police, the research found. Almost half of the cases involved incest.

In order to provide more urgent support to victims, Dekker said he had allocated government funding to the Reclaimed Voices foundation, a charity supporting sexually abused children within the Jehovah’s Witness community.

The government has also requested that support network Slachtofferhulp Nederland (Victim Support Netherlands) broadens its services to specifically help victims of sexual abuse from closed communities.

Iva Bicanic, director of the Dutch-based Centre for Sexual Violence, said establishing a reporting point within communities for victims to come forward was a good initiative, but was unlikely to have an immediate and far-reaching impact.

“It’s too simplistic to think that abuse within closed communities will immediately be reported,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Much more is needed from within the community itself, it needs to agree to a whole new code of conduct.” (Reporting by Karolin Schaps, Editing by Helen Popper; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

CultNEWS101 Articles: 8/29-30/2020

Online Event, Satanic Temple, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Brazil, Sexual Abuse, Meditation Research, Panama Religious Sect
An ONLINE EVENT for Families, Former Members and Friends Affected by CULTIC Groups and Relationships.


Dr Gillie Jenkinson will be doing a 50 minute talk at our 'up and coming' online event.

Many former cult members struggle to recover, and some take years before they are able to move on from their experiences. In this session she will share some key insights for former members and their therapists, and practical issues for facing the recovery process.

Early Registration Discount ends soon.

" ... In a series of three cases, the Court ruled that religion has a particularly special place in American law. So special, in fact, that religious entities can be exempt from generally applicable anti-discrimination laws, can refuse to follow Obamacare mandates about coverage of preventive medical care, and can force the state to send them public funds for students at their religious schools. This has been a trend for the John Roberts Supreme Court — religious entities have won claims of religious liberty in 12 of the 13 cases to come before the Court since 2012.
Not surprisingly, in each of the cases decided this year, it was the dominant Christian religion that won in its claims of religious liberty. So it's reasonable to ask whether the Supreme Court (or any court) would feel the same way about religious liberty claims brought on behalf of minority religions.
Enter The Satanic Temple. The Satanic Temple is a religion that believes in benevolence and empathy among all people, rejects tyrannical authority, and advocates for common sense and justice. For years now, The Satanic Temple has fought to expand religious liberty notions that the conservative Supreme Court has applied to Christians to apply to its members as well.
Particularly, The Satanic Temple has fought this battle over abortion. The third tenet of the religion is "One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone." Thus, The Satanic Temple claims that the obstacle course of abortion restrictions that states impose on the procedure should not apply to its members because doing so violates their sincerely-held religious beliefs. As the church's reproductive rights spokeswoman puts it, "No Christian would tolerate a law that insists state counseling is necessary before someone can be baptized. Our members are justly entitled to religious liberty in order to practice our rituals as well."
The Satanic Temple has made these claims in multiple state and federal court cases on behalf of members who were pregnant and sought an abortion at the time the lawsuits were filed. So far, it has been unsuccessful. It lost in 2019 before the Missouri Supreme Court, which ruled that the challenged Missouri abortion law does not require any patient to actually have an ultrasound (though one must be offered) or read the state pamphlet (though it must be provided). In June this year, the federal appeals court that covers Missouri ruled that the Satanists cannot be exempt from generally applicable and neutral state laws just because their religious beliefs disagree with the law.
The Satanic Temple, who may wind up appealing this to the Supreme Court, isn't backing down, and it issued a press release earlier this month again claiming that it is exempt from state abortion restrictions. The church is clearly reading the tea leaves about how the Supreme Court is treating religious liberty. It's also counting on the Court ultimately being evenhanded with its religious liberty jurisprudence — if it benefits the country's dominant religion, it should benefit all religions. There's reason to doubt whether the Court will apply these principles neutrally, but if it does, The Satanic Temple may eventually win.
At issue is a 1990 Supreme Court precedent that says that a "neutral" and "generally applicable" law does not infringe on religious liberty when applied to someone who has a contrary religious belief. In that case, a state law against peyote smoking could be applied to a Native American who said that doing so was important to his religion. The Court said that because the law was not written particularly to harm Native Americans (neutral) and applied to everyone (generally applicable), the claim of religious freedom lost.
This case has been the subject of attack from the day it was decided. The left claimed that it allowed the state to persecute religious minorities. The right claimed that it allowed the state to persecute Christians. As a result, there has been a concerted effort to overturn this precedent at the Supreme Court. There has also been a movement to pass state laws that would protect religious liberty claims. In 2014, the Supreme Court applied the federal version of this religious liberty law (which only applies to other federal laws) to allow Hobby Lobby to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees, even though the federal Affordable Care Act mandated doing so.
The Satanic Temple is trying to use these laws and this movement to exempt its members from abortion laws. The argument is the same as Hobby Lobby's, though it's about state abortion laws rather than federal insurance laws. The church also hopes that the Supreme Court's precedent about "neutral" and "generally applicable" will be overturned. That precedent has been chipped away and called into question, but so far it remains good law. A case the Supreme Court will hear this coming term could change that. In that case, a Catholic foster care agency wants the freedom to discriminate against gay parents, contrary to Philadelphia's anti-discrimination laws.
In other words, The Satanic Temple is taking the Christian right's crusade for religious liberty seriously and saying that if it's good for Christianity, it has to be good for everyone. It's only a matter of time before the Supreme Court answers the question whether they actually believe in religious liberty for all."

"Prosecutors in Angola have ordered the closure of places of worship belonging to one of Brazil's biggest churches, accusing it of corruption.

"At least seven buildings belonging to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) have been seized in the capital, Luanda.

Prosecutors said the evangelical church had been involved in tax fraud and other fiscal crimes.

UCKG officials have previously strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Last year about 300 Angolan UCKG bishops broke away from the Brazilian leadership, accusing it of mismanagement and not being African enough. UCKG officials described the accusations as "defamatory".

The UCKG claims to have about eight million members in Brazil and branches in several African countries. It promotes "prosperity theology", whereby believers are told their faith and donations to the Church will lead to material wealth.

The row started last year when Angolan bishops broke away from the Brazilian Church, accusing it of "fiscal evasion" and of practices contrary to the "African and Angolan reality"."

"A recent literature review by a University of Alberta cult expert and his former graduate student paints a startling and consistent picture of institutional secrecy and widespread protection of those who abuse children in religious institutions "in ways that often differ from forms of manipulation in secular settings."

It's the first comprehensive study exposing patterns of sexual abuse in religious settings.

"A predator may spend weeks, months, even years grooming a child in order to violate them sexually," said Susan Raine, a MacEwan University sociologist and co-author of the study with University of Alberta sociologist Stephen Kent.

Perpetrators are also difficult to identify, the researchers said, because they rarely conform to a single set of personality or other traits.

The findings demonstrate the need to "spend less time focusing on 'stranger danger,' and more time thinking about our immediate community involvement, or extended environment, and the potential there for grooming," said Raine.

Raine and Kent examined the research on abuse in a number of religious denominations around the world to show "how some religious institutions and leadership figures in them can slowly cultivate children and their caregivers into harmful and illegal sexual activity."

Those institutions include various branches of Christianity as well as cults and sectarian movements including the Children of God, the Branch Davidians, the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints as well as a Hindu ashram and the Devadasis.

"Because of religion's institutional standing, religious grooming frequently takes place in a context of unquestioned faith placed in sex offenders by children, parents and staff," they found.

The two researchers began their study after Kent was asked to provide expert testimony for a lawsuit in Vancouver accusing Bollywood choreographer and sect leader Shiamak Davar of sexually abusing two of his dance students in 2015.

Kent realized that although some scholars had written about sexual abuse in religion, "They had not identified the grooming process and the distinctive features of it." After the lawsuit was settled out of court, he approached Raine to take on the project.

"The two of us had worked on projects before (including the successful book Scientology in Popular Culture) and I knew that she wrote fluently and quickly," said Kent. "I provided her with initial ideas and suggestions, and she did most of the writing."

The result is "the first of its kind to provide a theoretical framework for analyzing and discussing religiously based child and teen sexual grooming," he said.

One of the best-known cases of such grooming in the Catholic Church was uncovered by the Boston Globe in 2002 and dramatized in the 2015 film Spotlight. The Globe revealed that John J. Geoghan, a former priest, had fondled or raped at least 130 children over three decades in some half-dozen Greater Boston parishes.

Eventually a widespread pattern of abuse in the church was exposed in Europe, Australia, Chile, Canada and the United States.

More shocking than the abuses themselves, said Raine, was the systemic cover-up that reached all the way up to the Vatican.

"And the relocation of priests to other churches, I think that was devastating for Catholics—a major breach of trust," she said."
Dr. Britton answers frequently asked questions about meditation-related difficulties.

"The authorities of Panama they rescued to three children held by an alleged religious sect in a community in the indigenous Ngäbe Buglé region, in the province of Veraguas, the only one in the country with coasts on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, according to official sources and local media.
In the rescue of the minors participated agents of the National Aeronaval Service of Panama (Senan), as a result of the fact that his situation was reported by a journalist to the authorities, reported the Minister of Public Security, Juan Pino.

Pino pointed out that the children, who had been held together with three teenagers, are in good health, and that one person has fled.

He added that one of the people who was detained managed to escape to ask for help, and explained that according to the reports received, an alleged religious sect would be involved in the events."

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