Sep 30, 2020

NXIVM sex cult benefactor Clare Bronfman sentenced to more than 6 years behind bars

David K. Li
NBC News
September 30, 2020

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced an heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune to 81 months behind bars for providing financial support to the NXIVM sex cult.

The penalty handed down to Clare Bronfman, the 41-year-old daughter of late philanthropist and Seagram's CEO Edgar Bronfman, was more than the five years sought by prosecutors in the disturbing case.

Bronfman admitted in a guilty plea last year that she harbored someone who was living in the U.S. illegally for unpaid “labor and services” and that she committed credit card fraud on behalf of Keith Raniere, who was convicted last year of turning women in his group into sex slaves who were branded with his initials.

"Bronfman twisted our immigration system to serve a reprehensible agenda, and engaged in flagrant fraud to the detriment of her victims and in the service of a corrupt endeavor,” Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement.

“With today’s sentence, she has been held accountable for her crimes.”

Prosecutors had wanted U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis to sentence Bronfman to five years in prison, arguing that her financial support was the underpinning of the group NXIVM, pronounced "nexium."

She gave tens of millions of dollars to NXIVM, which operated a program of intense self-improvement classes.

But defense lawyers had asked for just probation, arguing that Bronfman had no direct involvement in NXIVM's most troubling activities. Furthermore, Bronfman's attorneys said she has pre-existing health conditions that make her particularly at risk for coronavirus if she's sent to prison.

Bronfman claimed in a letter to the court last month that she “never meant to hurt anyone, however I have and for this I am deeply sorry." She also maintained that “NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better.”

"She recently wrote to the judge telling him that NXIVM and Keith Raniere had changed her life for the better," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement.

"She will now have more than six years behind bars to contemplate that sentiment, and decide once and for all if it’s as easy to accept as she once believed it to be."

As part of a plea agreement, the beverage heir has already agreed to forfeit $6 million from a fortune prosecutors have said is worth $200 million.

Raniere and NXIVM are best known for the involvement of "Smallville" actress Allison Mack in the group's leadership structure.

Last year, Raniere was found guilty of multiple charges including racketeering, sex trafficking and possession of child pornography related to his group which operated near Albany.

Both Raniere and Mack are awaiting sentencing.

The Associated Press contributed.

Sep 29, 2020

The New Godless Religions: An Interview with Tara Isabella Burton

A SoulCycle popup is held at the American Express Platinum House in Palm Springs, California, in 2018. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images/American Express Platinum)
Religion & Politics
Kenneth E. Frantz
September 22, 2020

The United States has seen an increase in the so-called “nones”—people who don’t identify with any religious tradition. Some scholars have viewed this growing group as a sign that Americans are becoming more secular. Tara Isabella Burton argues in her new book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, that this notion is misguided. Burton takes a closer look at the lives of ostensibly non-religious people and finds that, even if they don’t identify with a religious tradition, there can still be a strong spiritual undercurrent to their lives. Her book takes readers through a number of spiritual subcultures, including among the followers of SoulCycle, Jordan Peterson, and witchcraft.

Burton writes a column for Religion News Service called “Religion Remixed.” She is a contributing editor at The American Interest and a former religion reporter at Vox. She is also the author of the novel, Social Creature. Kenneth E. Frantz spoke to Burton about her new book by phone. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Religion & Politics: In your book, you talk about the religiously remixed. Who are they and why did you consider them important to write about?

Tara Isabella Burton: I think that traditional conceptions of secularization in America have looked at the religiously unaffiliated as an indicator that America is getting less religious. That is actually not the case. About 72 percent of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in some sort of higher power. About 17 percent say they believe in the Judeo-Christian god. In addition, you have people who affiliate with religious tradition—i.e. self-identified Christians—whose belief systems, structures, practices, and rituals are a little bit more eclectic. Almost 30 percent of self-identified Christians, for example, say they believe in reincarnation, which traditionally would not be something you would associate with orthodox Christian doctrine.

In talking about remixing, what I wanted to capture was this phenomenon I see as much more salient than so-called secularization, which is the way in which spirituality, meaning, purpose, community, and ritual are all divorced both from traditional religious observance and from one another. You might get your sense of meaning from one place and purpose from one place and community from a different place and so on and so forth. This kind of mix-and-match mentality, this anti-institutionalism, and desire to remake one’s own religious life in a more individualized way—all of these things I call together the phenomenon of remixing.

R&P: In your book you mentioned three categories of remixers. Could you get into those?

TIB: These categories aren’t mutually exclusive. They come from different forms of polling and data. You have your faithful “nones”—your people who say they are religiously unaffiliated but also say they believe in a higher power. You have your people who self-identify as spiritual but not religious. What’s interesting about that group is there are people who say that they’re spiritual but not religious but will also say “but I’m Christian” or “but I’m Jewish.” They might be affiliated with a religion, but they don’t call themselves religious, which itself opens up a field of questions. What does it mean to be religious? What does it mean to belong to a religion? What does it mean to identify as part of a religion and then also say you’re not religious? So that’s another can of worms.

The final can of worms is what I call the religious hybrids. These are people who do identify strongly with a religious tradition but who—as in the case of the Christians and reincarnation— have a personal theological outlook that is more eclectic than traditional orthodox theology. We don’t have good enough data to tell the overlap between these people because these are different polling systems. But, when we take it all together, what we can see is that a huge proportion of religious and not explicitly religious Americans fall into these categories. They are people whose approach to spirituality, whose approach to their religious life, is informed by this sense of individualization, by this sense of intuitionalism and anti-institutionalism. To put it very bluntly and reductionistically, they’re making their own religion in some sense.

R&P: How did the internet and our consumerist mentality bring about modern religious remixing?

TIB: There are three major elements that I would point to in looking at the way internet culture led to our modern religiously remixed culture. The first is the development of a kind of tribalization that transcended geographic limitations. The idea that you could seek out people who were like you, who thought like you, and share your desires and your goals, without those things being based in your geographic community. That fostered a different way of thinking about gathering and tribe based on affinity interest rather than on, perhaps one might say, a fixed point. Secondly, I think there’s the idea rooted in consumer capitalism that our choices define us. What we buy and what we consume can be indicative in how we build our personality. The internet has made this all the more possible, especially as various algorithms determine what news we see and what movies are suggested to us. The narrower an affinity base becomes, so too our approach to spirituality becomes something that should work for us and work for our choices, or so the prevailing cultural ethos goes. Thirdly and finally, I think the internet culture of user-generated content, where we are not just passive consumers but active creators—whether it’s making memes or posting on Twitter—has lent itself to a more participatory and polyphonic understanding of spiritual life. Again, there’s a hunger for ownership; we don’t want to passively consume a text but rather kind of write our own.

A phenomenon that I think is sort of an early canary in the coal mine for all of these tendencies is the rise of internet fandom. I’ll just give you the example of the Harry Potter fandom which is the one I focus on my book. Between 1997 and 2000, which is when the first through fourth books of the Harry Potter series came out, internet household usage went from 19 million Americans to a 100 million. A huge increase. Around that time, Harry Potter became the forefront not just of a phenomenon but a phenomenon that took on an internet form: the development of fan groups, of fanfiction. J.K. Rowling was among the first writers to publicly embrace fanfiction, which in turn kind of made Harry Potter fanfic its own thing. And again, fanfiction was not new; fan culture was not new. Among Star Trek fans, for example, it had been going on since the 70s. But online, the cost of entry was lower. It was easier to find it and get involved. The idea that if you didn’t like something that the author did, you could create your own story. You could make Harry Potter end up with Hermione Grainger if that’s what you wanted. This sense of creative ownership and freedom over ideas—rather than the idea that you were just receiving passively from on high the text and the story as it really was—was I think hugely formative.

R&P: In the book, you talk about how people are saying J.K. Rowling no longer owns the Harry Potter world.

TIB: More recently, as J.K. Rowling has alienated a lot of her fans through her transphobic views, the response has not been, “Let’s not read Harry Potter.” Some people have said that, but the predominant response has been, “She doesn’t own Hogwarts. These characters are ours. We can still write stories set in Hogwarts. Maybe don’t give this woman any more money. Don’t buy tickets to ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,’ but these characters, this world, belongs to us, and it’s J.K. Rowling whom we want to exile from Hogwarts rather than boycott.”

What’s to stop us from taking a similar approach of ownership of reimagining to sacred texts, to sacred stories? What does it mean to reimagine religious traditions in the same way? And that is the move that gets us from fan culture more broadly to its relevance for spirituality more specifically.

R&P: There’s this distrust of institutional religion and drawing guidance more from your gut. You call this “intuitional religion” in your book. Would you mind talking about the history of how that came about?

TIB: I’d say it’s more of a pendulum than a linear progression. This is very distinctive to American religious life. There are a variety of reasons. You could cite the separation of church and state. You can cite the sort of inherent inwardness of the Protestant tradition. You could cite the kind of cultural sense of freedom in America geographically and its novelty. There are many reasons for this, but in American religious history, there have always been waves of a kind of calcification of tradition and the development of civic institutions around religion. Your church as a center of civic as well as religious life—and backlash movements against that.

The rhetoric throughout many centuries has been very similar. It’s been something along the lines of: Those people going to church on Sunday and sitting in their pews are just going along with the motions. They don’t really believe it. There’s no real inward intensity to it. What we need is to restore a kind of emotional connection to the divine. You find that rhetoric in both Christian and non-Christian or Christian-adjacent versions of this. You find this certainly in the Great Awakenings with your tent revivals and your Methodist circuit riders. You find it too in the philosophy of the transcendentalists like Emerson or Thoreau with their focus on the individual spiritual experience over and against that of society. You find it in pop culture crazes of the nineteenth century like New Thought and Spiritualism. And you find it in the rise of contemporary evangelical American culture as well as in our modern kind of internet-based great awakening. In each case, the pendulum swings from religion as a cohesive social force, one that is about community and structure to religion as a kind of inward source of personal connection with the divine. Those things have always existed in tension, I would argue, in American culture up to and including today—with the difference today being that late capitalism and the internet have kind of kicked this phenomenon into overdrive.

R&P: You write about many different groups, including Harry Potter fans, wellness gurus, witches, and Jordan Peterson fans. What do these groups have in common and why did you choose to write about these groups in particular?

TIB: I will say there are so many groups I left out and that the difficulty with a book like this is I didn’t even get to QAnon or other conspiracy theories or anti-vaxxers. There’s so much I could have written about and I just didn’t have the space to. That said, what I wanted to capture in selecting these groups was to look at […] the most prevalent examples of new religions that people may have heard of, or encountered, and not really thought of in a religious way. So, looking at the things that have most permeated American cultural fabric and then analyze their religious character rather than talk about perhaps more intense but smaller groups with less media presence.

What all of these groups have in common is they are groups that have been galvanized by the internet. They are groups that want to rewrite the scripts or rewrite the rules of being. There’s a focus on internal desire. What do you want? What do you hunger for? There’s a sense that the establishment of society at large is dangerous insofar as it stops you from achieving your truest self or being your most authentic self. All of these qualities, which I think are embedded in contemporary American culture, I felt I could explore in the most nuanced way possible through turning a more specific lens to these groups.

Kenneth E. Frantz is a freelance writer based in Oklahoma. His work has been published on Sojourners and Real Clear Religion.

How right-wing extremists, libertarians and evangelicals built Quebec's movement against COVID-19 restrictions

People wear masks during a demonstration opposing the mandatory wearing of face masks and coverings in Montreal earlier this month. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
They may appear to make strange bedfellows, but experts say they share some fundamental values

Jonathan Montpetit
CBC News
September 25, 2020

The main event at a demonstration protesting COVID-19 restrictions last weekend north of Montreal was a speech by Steeve L'Artiss Charland, one-time leader of a far-right group that has since faded from view.

In a parking lot in Mont-Tremblant, Que., Charland told a crowd of around 75 about his miraculous recovery from a childhood illness that had stumped doctors. He then told them they were part of a cosmic struggle of good against evil.

"It's us against them," Charland said to applause. "We're in a spiritual war. We're in a war of darkness against light."

The opposition to public health measures in Quebec has given many figures in the province's foundering far-right movement a chance to re-invent themselves, and to find new audiences.

Charland had been one of the leaders of the Islamophobic group La Meute before leaving last year amid an internal power struggle.

The infighting, according to researchers who monitor the group, contributed to La Meute's decline in popularity.

Charland, meanwhile, has become an active spokesperson for the movement against COVID-19 restrictions. He's been criss-crossing the province to take part in demonstrations.

Several other prominent organizers in what's colloquially known as the anti-mask movement also have close ties to Quebec's far right.

The group behind a large demonstration in Montreal earlier this month, for instance, is headed by Stéphane Blais, a fringe politician who has courted far-right supporters for years.

The march began outside Quebec Premier François Legault’s office near the McGill University campus, and wound through the streets. 1:00

His political party, Citoyens au Pouvoir, received less than one per cent of the vote in the last provincial election.

But the non-profit organization he founded in the spring to challenge public health rules claims to have raised $400,000. In Montreal, he spoke to a crowd of several thousand people.

"The far-right movement had kind of died down last year before some of them recycled the anti-mask issue," said Roxane Martel-Perron, a specialist in right-wing extremist groups at the Center for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence in Montreal.

The movement in Quebec has drawn a wide range of other figures into its orbit as well, including evangelical pastors, libertarian radio hosts and conspiracy theorists.

Their interests sometimes intersect only tangentially, but for the moment these unusual alliances have managed to organize recurring demonstrations across the province, with more slated this weekend. Together, they are seeking to undermine the government's efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Blurred lines

Along with members of the far right, the organizational core of the movement in Quebec is composed of conspiracy theorists, though the distinction between the two is not always clear.

The career arc of Quebec's best-known conspiracy theorist, Alexis Cossette-Trudel, illustrates the fuzziness.

Before starting his own YouTube channel, Radio-Québec, Cossette-Trudel was a frequent contributor to several far-right media outlets in the province.

With Radio-Québec, he was among the first to translate into French material from QAnon, a conspiracy movement that began in the U.S. and believes the world is run by a cabal of satanic pedophiles. QAnon theories are often overtly racist or anti-Semitic.

Since the pandemic began, Cossette-Trudel has focused almost exclusively on criticizing the public health rules put in place by Quebec and Ottawa. Subscriptions to his YouTube channel have increased nearly fourfold.

His criticisms are often variations of QAnon theories, such as his recent baseless claim that Premier François Legault is exaggerating the threat of COVID-19 as part of an international plot to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump from being re-elected.

Cossette-Trudel uses his social media reach — his personal Facebook page has 36,000 followers — to promote demonstrations where people rally against COVID-19 restrictions. His speeches at these events are often shared widely by participants.

Last week, Cossette-Trudel was a guest on the top-rated lunch-hour radio show in the Quebec City area.

The radio station, CHOI 98.1 FM (Radio X), is known for airing populist conservative opinions, often with a libertarian bent.

Its hosts and on-air personalities have repeatedly criticized Quebec's public health restrictions, saying they are not justified by current infection rates (experts say the province is already being hit by a second wave).

One Radio X columnist, Éric Duhaime, even organized his own demonstration in August. It attracted more than 1,000 people in Quebec City.

"To force me to wear a mask, to threaten me with $600 tickets — I'm sorry, we're not in communist China here. We live in a democracy," he said in a video ahead of his rally.

Though these on-air figures try to distance themselves from conspiracy theorists, the distinction, again, is not always clear.

When Cossette-Trudel appeared on the lunch-hour radio show, host Jeff Fillion said he was interviewing a "star" whose work was "very detailed and well researched."
Evangelicals step into the public

Next month, Cossette-Trudel and Charland are scheduled to speak at a protest in Montreal that is billed as a "demonstration-gospel concert."

A poster for the event features the names of several evangelical preachers who have become active supporters of the movement.

An evangelical media outlet, ThéoVox, has even taken to broadcasting live from some demonstrations, and produces polished video interviews with organizers and prominent speakers.

André Gagné, a Concordia University professor who studies the Christian right, said it is unusual for evangelical groups in Quebec to engage in politics, but a small number appear to be influenced by pastors in the U.S. who have publicly opposed public health rules.

This particular strain of evangelicalism, Gagné said, associates government control with godless communism or socialism.

It is rooted in an apocalyptic world view that shares many similarities with QAnon-style conspiracy thinking, with its paranoia of secret programs out to control us through vaccines or internet towers.

"This very much parallels the eschatological fictions that have developed in some evangelical circles about the eventual rise of a one-world government headed by an anti-Christ," Gagné said.

This mode of thinking might appear to clash with other spiritual groups that have also joined the protests, such as advocates of new-age therapies.

But Martin Geoffroy, an academic who has studied both new-age and right-wing movements, suggested focusing instead on the fundamental values they do share.

"The common thing is that they are all anti-authority movements," said Geoffroy, who heads CEFIR, the anti-radicalization research centre at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, a public francophone college in Longueuil.

"Conspiracy theories help them to create a parallel reality where they are the authorities."

CultNEWS101 Articles: 9/26/2020

QAnon, Bleach Miracle, Troubled Teen Industry, Sergei Torop, Vissarion, Neo-Nazi, Finland

"It began in the US with lurid claims and a hatred of the 'deep state'. Now it's growing in the UK, spilling over into anti-vaccine and 5G protests, fuelled by online misinformation. Jamie Doward examines the rise of a rightwing cult movement.

He was desperate and scared and pleading for advice. "It's integrating itself into soft rightwing timelines and I believe it's starting to radicalise many. Seeing my mum and nan fall for it unaware is so troubling. I've seen it all over Facebook and these people genuinely believe they're revealing the truth."

It is QAnon, the unfounded conspiracy theory that has gone through countless, bewildering versions since it emerged in the US in 2017 and is now spreading like California's wildfires across the internet.

At its core are lurid claims that an elite cabal of child-trafficking paedophiles, comprising, among others, Hollywood A-listers, leading philanthropists, Jewish financiers and Democrat politicians, covertly rule the world. Only President Trump can bring them to justice with his secret plan that will deliver what QAnon's disciples refer to as 'The Storm' or 'The Great Awakening'."

Consumers buying chlorine dioxide solution on Amazon platform say they have been drinking fluid despite FDA warnings

" ... Proponents of MMS falsely claim that it is a cure-all for almost all diseases, including malaria, HIV/Aids, cancer and now Covid-19. They also market it untruthfully as a cure for the condition autism.

Since the start of the pandemic, the FDA has been trying to clamp down on fraudulent dealers of quack remedies claiming to protect against the virus. Last August the agency issued a strong health warning that MMS bleach products could be life-threatening.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has recorded more than 16,000 cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning, including 2,500 cases of children under 12. Many of those individuals suffered serious side effects, the group noted, including a six-year-old autistic girl who three years ago required hospital treatment for liver failure."
"My mom just didn't know what to do with me — I was doing drugs, I was out of control," Drew Barrymore recalled on her talk show

When Drew Barrymore watched Paris Hilton's recent YouTube Originals documentary, she felt seen.

In This Is Paris, a nearly two-hour film helmed by Emmy-winning director Alexandra Dean, Hilton goes into detail about alleged abuse she suffered at boarding school in Utah — and how her trauma has carried over into adulthood. During an appearance on Monday's episode of Barrymore's new talk show, the stars reflected on their shared experience of being placed at institutions for minors with behavioral issues.

"We've known each other throughout our kid life, adult life — I've known you for many years," Barrymore, 45, told Hilton, 39. 'I feel like when it comes to an interviewer, maybe they haven't had the same experiences as you. So they're coming at it from more of a journalistic, interested but slightly removed, place. Well, not this time. I've been where you've been. And watching your documentary — I mean, I don't know how many interviews and conversations I'm going to have on this show where I'm watching a mirror image of everything I've been through, as well.'"
Former traffic officer Sergei Torop, AKA Vissarion, arrested in special operation in Siberia

"Russian authorities mounted a special operation to arrest a former traffic police officer who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus and has run a cult based in the depths of Siberia for the past three decades.

Helicopters and armed officers stormed communities run by Sergei Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion, and arrested him and two of his aides. Russia's investigative committee said it would charge him with organising an illegal religious organisation, alleging that the cult extorted money from followers and subjected them to emotional abuse."

"Finland's Supreme Court has banned a neo-Nazi group on the grounds that its activities are "significantly contrary to law." Police had sought to dissolve the right-wing Nordic Resistance Movement, known for being violent and openly racist, and two lower courts of law confirmed the ruling. Finland's highest court ruled that the group's activities "did not enjoy freedom of expression or freedom of association, as the association's activities by their nature entailed an abuse of these rights." In 2016, a fatal assault by a Finnish Neo-Nazi drew public attention and led to calls to ban racist and other extremist organizations in Finland."

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.




Instagram 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.

Please forward articles that you think we should add to

Get Ready to Hear A Lot about People of Praise

National Review
September 25, 2020

As Ramesh Ponnuru noted on the Corner earlier this week, some media coverage of Judge Amy Coney Barrett — the leading candidate to replace late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — has zeroed in on Barrett’s purported membership in a mostly Catholic group called People of Praise.

Ramesh’s post chronicles how one such story, from Reuters, has undergone several iterations (mostly achieved via stealth-editing), after starting out as an under-reported and overwrought attempt to portray People of Praise as an ultraconservative and abusive cult.

Other media outlets have, like Reuters, claimed that the group was the inspiration for the fictional, misogynistic nation Gilead in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, one of progressives’ favorite pop-culture weapons for demeaning religious conservatives. In reality, Atwood has suggested that the main inspiration for the repressive, quasi-religious state in her novel was “the heavy-handed theocracy of 17th-century Puritan New England.”

For a more even-handed account of People of Praise, this 2018 article from the National Catholic Register is a good place to start:

Bishop Peter Smith, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Portland, Oregon, is a member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, an association of priests connected to the group, founded with the support of the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. Bishop Smith was ordained a bishop on April 29, 2014.

People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of the “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Smith told CNA.

The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant” — an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give 5% of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects. . . .

While most People of Praise members are Catholic, the group is officially ecumenical; people from a variety of Christian denominations can join. Members of the group are free to attend the church of their choosing, including different Catholic parishes, Bishop Smith explained.

“We’re a lay movement in the Church,” Bishop Smith said. “There are plenty of these. We continue to try and live out life and our calling as Catholics, as baptized Christians, in this particular way, as other people do in other callings or ways that God may lead them into the Church.”

Nothing terribly sinister there. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan offers similar clarity in her latest, which is worth reading in full. Here’s part of what she points out:

Judge Barrett is a Roman Catholic, like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. Judge Barrett is also a member of a faith community called People of Praise, which is part of the Charismatic Renewal movement within the church that started in the 1970s, after Vatican II. The movement emphasizes personal conversion and bringing forward Christ’s teachings in the world. There are tens of millions of members throughout the world, and about 1,700 members of People of Praise in more than 20 cities in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. . . .

People of Praise has been accused of being a right-wing sect. It answers that it has politically liberal and conservative members. They don’t appear to be obsessed with traditionalism or orthodoxy and are ecumenical: Members include Protestants as well as Catholics. They have joined together intentionally, in community, to pray together, perform service, and run schools. They’re Christians living in the world.

If they are right-wing religious extremists someone had better tell Pope Francis, who appointed a member of People of Praise’s South Bend community as auxilliary bishop of Portland, Ore. . . .

Joannah Clark, a local leader of People of Praise in Portland and the head of Trinity Academy, a People of Praise school, also appears to be failing at submissiveness. “I consider myself a strong, well-educated, happy, intelligent, free, independent woman,” she laughs. She has a doctorate from Georgetown. Trinity’s culture is “distinctly Christian” but “purposely ecumenical.” The emphasis is on reading, writing and Socratic inquiry. “Our three pillars are the humanities, modern math and science, and the arts—music, drama.”

Do they teach evolution? They do.

“We are normal people—there’s women who are nurses, doctors, teachers, scientists, stay-at-home moms” in the community. “We are in Christian community because we take our faith seriously. We are not weird and mysterious,” she laughs. “And we are not controlled by men.”

To no one’s surprise, interviews of this sort have yet to appear in the publications that were quick to assert that People of Praise describes itself as “ultraconservative,” when, in fact, the group does no such thing. If this is the best line of attack progressives are prepared to launch against Judge Barrett, they can expect it not only to fail but to backfire.

ALEXANDRA DESANCTIS is a staff writer for National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. @xan_desanctis

CultNEWS101 Articles: 9/29/2020

NXIVM, Legal, Australian Right-Wing Extremist, White Utopias, Burning Man, The World Wide Association of Specialty Programs, Heaven on Earth Inn's, Transcendental Meditation

"For more than a decade, Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, devoted her life to supporting a self-help group called Nxivm. She quit her equestrian career, moved to Nxivm's headquarters in upstate New York and poured millions of dollars into the group.

The organization has since unraveled over accusations that it was a pyramid scheme and a sex-trafficking cult, estranging Ms. Bronfman from her father and turning her into a felon.

And yet, as she awaits sentencing by a federal judge, Ms. Bronfman, 41, has not wavered in her loyalty to Nxivm's leader, Keith Raniere.

"Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and Nxivm, and that I have not is hard for them to understand and accept," Ms. Bronfman wrote in a letter last month to the judge. "However, for me, Nxivm and Keith greatly changed my life for the better."

On Wednesday, Ms. Bronfman will be the first defendant to be sentenced in the Nxivm case, which led to criminal charges against six of the organization's leaders and prominent members. After Ms. Bronfman and four others pleaded guilty, Mr. Raniere was the only defendant who went to trial, resulting in his conviction in June 2019 for racketeering, sex trafficking and other crimes.

The United States attorney's office in Brooklyn, which investigated Nxivm (pronounced NEX-ee-um), has asked the judge to sentence Ms. Bronfman to five years in prison, saying Mr. Raniere could not have committed his crimes without powerful allies like her."

"Australia's domestic spy agency has revealed a dramatic rise in the number of violent right-wing extremists under surveillance, while warning some groups are now employing Islamic State-style radicalisation tactics.

Key points:
• Up to 40 per cent of ASIO's counterterrorism case load is linked to right-wing extremism
• Some groups have been compared to Islamic State due to their propaganda outreach online
• ASIO says the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for extremists to radicalise more people

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has told Parliament's Joint Intelligence and Security Committee that far-right movements are also taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to bolster recruitment.

ASIO deputy director-general Heather Cook said up to 40 per cent of the agency's counterterrorism efforts are now focussed on thwarting violent plots by right-wing groups or individuals.

"Extreme right-wing violent extremism occupies approximately between 30 and 40 percent of ASIO's current caseload in our counterterrorism work — and that is an increase from approximately 10 and 15 percent prior to 2016," she said.

Ms Cook has also revealed that ASIO is concerned that right-wing extremists are now using the same strategies as Islamic extremists to bolster their ranks."
In 'White Utopias,' cultural appropriation at festivals like Burning Man goes under the microscope.

"In a geodesic dome in Joshua Tree, California, hundreds of festival-goers assemble for a workshop on prānāyāma, an ancient Hindu breathing practice. Amid an acoustic blend of drumming, chanting and birdsong, a workshop leader, flanked by "guardians" dressed in white, instructs participants to drop into their heart centers and prepare to be "introduced to the place inside (themselves) that is pure love." Many of the participants take these Hinduism-derived activities seriously. But most, if not all, identify as "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR) — a phrase-turned-demographic category that describes the growing number of Americans who are critical of organized religion but believe in something greater than themselves. And these festival-goers have something else in common: Nearly everyone at Bhakti Fest, a multi-day annual celebration of spiritual transformation through Indian cultural practices, is white.

To research her insightful new book White Utopias: The Religious Exoticism of Transformational Festivals, Amanda Lucia, a California-based scholar of religion who specializes in global Hinduism, immersed herself in SBNR communities in California, Hawaii, Australia, Nevada and elsewhere, attending 23 different "transformational festivals" — large-scale gatherings of people attempting to create enlightened selves within imagined utopian worlds. The festivals emphasize certain qualities — kindness, inclusion, mindfulness and the rejection of conventional understandings of the self — though they vary in the details of their utopic visions (and in their acceptance of corporate sponsorships). But Lucia, who attends without hiding her role as a researcher, is struck by their overwhelming whiteness. What makes them, as Lucia writes, such "safe spaces of white ethnic homogeneity"? The festivals are intended to facilitate spiritual transformation. But do the participants ever confront their own investment in whiteness? If not, how profound could their transformations be?"

"WWASP(S) – The World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (and Schools), or as it was known later, Youth Foundation Inc, was an umbrella corporation of associated teen behavior modification programs, boot camps and therapeutic boarding schools. Created by Robert Lichfield in the early 1990s, WWASP quickly became one of the largest troubled teen industry corporations, with dozens of facilities located in both the US and abroad in countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Samoa. Following investigations into a number of allegations of child abuse and unhealthy conditions at WWASP's various facilities since 2002, over 20 WWASP affiliated programs were eventually shuttered, and the organization itself was eventually dissolved. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the company alleging abuse and fraud, the most notable being a joint action lawsuit on behalf of over 350 plaintiffs alleging physical and sexual child abuse as well as various acts of fraud and racketeering."

" ... What once was the continental United States' largest Holiday Innnow sits derelict and abandoned, towering over the southern edge of downtown. The formerly space-themed Days Inn got passed around between owners like a hot potato before finally settling into the hands of followers of the Beatles-aligned spiritual guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. They rechristened the building as "Heaven on Earth Inn," planning to generate income and house members. Unfortunately for them, cults aren't known for having great bookkeepers and they were promptly evicted."

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.




Instagram 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.

Please forward articles that you think we should add to

Explainer: Amy Coney Barrett is a charismatic Catholic. What does that mean?

Pope Francis arrives for an audience with members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service in Paul VI hall at the Vatican June 8, 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media handout via Reuters)
Mathew Schmalz
America Magazine
September 28, 2020

President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Questions have been raised about her association with the “People of Praise,” a nondenominational Christian charismatic community. The People of Praise leave it to individual members to disclose their affiliation, and Barrett has not spoken about her membership. And so, the question remains: What is charismatic Catholicism?

Pentecostalism in the U.S.
Catholic charismatics practice forms of Pentecostalism that embrace the belief that individuals can receive gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Modern Pentecostalism in the United States began on Azuza Street in Los Angeles.

Starting in 1909, African American pastor William J. Seymour led a congregation in the city that claimed to have received miraculous gifts from God, such as prophecy and the power to heal. The movement came to be known as Azuza Street revival.

Members of the Azuza Street congregation believed that they had been given the same blessings as those received by the disciples of Jesus. According to the Bible’s Acts of the Apostles, on the Pentecost – the Jewish Shavuot harvest festival 50 days after Passover – the Holy Spirit came down in the form of flames over the disciples’ heads. Afterward, it is believed, the disciples were able to speak in languages they did not know in order to proclaim “the wonders of God.”

In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is associated with God’s action in the world.

Pentecostal teachings went on to influence the Catholic charismatic movement that initially took hold in the U.S. in the 1960s.

The Catholic charismatic movement
These Pentecostal teachings went on to influence the Catholic charismatic movement that initially took hold in the U.S. in the 1960s.

During a 1967 prayer meeting at Dusquesne University in Pittsburgh, a group of students and professors spoke about special “charisms,” or gifts, received through the Holy Spirit.

According to firsthand accounts, faculty were deeply influenced by two books from the Pentecostal tradition, “The Cross and the Switchblade” and “They Speak with Other Tongues.”

Similar experiences of the Holy Spirit were later reported at prayer meetings at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan.

From these beginnings, the Catholic charismatic movement has spread throughout the world.

For Catholic charismatics, the central experience is “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit differs from the traditional Catholic infant baptism with water. Adults baptized in the Holy Spirit have their faith reborn and strengthened by members of the congregation laying their hands on them.

Often a sign of baptism of the Holy Spirit is “glossolalia,” or “speaking in tongues.” Speaking in tongues refers to using an unintelligible language, which is often interpreted by someone else in the congregation. Usually glossolalia is considered a form of prayer. But other times, glossolalia is believed to contain prophecies about present or future events.

Participants in the Catholic charismatic movement also claim spiritual and physical healing associated with the power of the Holy Spirit working through believers.

Catholic charismatic prayer services are enthusiastic and involve energetic singing, hand clapping and praying with arms outstretched.

Controversy and support
There are also forms of charismatic Catholicism that believe in driving out evil spirits.

A Catholic charismatic community in India that I researched practiced exorcism as well as faith healing. The group also had a list of evil spirits that they claimed to have dealt with.

Not all Catholic charismatic groups perform exorcisms, especially since the Vatican tightened exorcism procedures by allowing them to be formally performed only by priests. But Catholic charismatic practices remain controversial for some because they differ from mainstream Catholic worship.

Recently, Catholic charismatics have found a strong ally in Pope Francis. In fact, at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, the pope once kneltand was blessed by a gathering of thousands of Catholic charismatics, all speaking in tongues.

Commentators disagree about whether Barrett’s membership in a charismatic religious community should be an issue in any potential nomination hearings. But charismatic or Pentecostal groups and churches represent the fastest-growing segment of Christianity throughout the world. For this reason, Amy Coney Barrett’s beliefs may be shared by many contemporary Christians.

Sep 28, 2020

Cults in Occulture: Channeling

Joseph Szimhart
Cults in Occulture

"Channeling or spirit possession has ancient roots in human religious behavior going back beyond oracles in Greece to the first shamans. Channeling takes many forms like infusing life forces into crystals using mental power to performing on a stage before thousands of devotees as if your body is possessed by an angel. Agency and influence formation are features of most channeling cults. Examples mentioned are Book of Mormon, OAHSPE, Seth Speaks, Ramtha, Lazaris, and Silva Mind Control Method."

Religious sect Twelve Tribes under police investigation after dig for remains

Sheds where members of religious sect Twelve Tribes live on a property in Bigga. Photo: Hannah Sparks.
Religious sect Twelve Tribes under police investigation after dig for remains

About regional
September 26, 2020

A lengthy NSW Police investigation into religious sect Twelve Tribes is expected to continue for several more months.

Strike Force Nanegai was established in September 2019 following allegations of unreported stillborn children. It is illegal not to report the births of stillborn children under the Birth, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995.

Police are now investigating additional allegations against Twelve Tribes and have been gathering information since raiding two of the sect’s properties in March, said Blue Mountains Police Area crime manager Detective Inspector Scott McAlpine.

Officers from the Blue Mountains Police Area Command first executed a crime scene warrant at the sect’s headquarters at Peppercorn Creek Farm, on Remembrance Driveway in Picton on 3 March, 2020.

Days later, police entered the sect’s remote property, Mount View Farm, surrounded by thick bush on Bigga Road in Bigga, two hours north of Canberra.

They worked through the day and under lights by night to dig for the remains of the alleged unreported stillborn children.

No remains were found at Peppercorn Creek Farm, while details of findings at Bigga have not been revealed by NSW Police.

Despite no arrests, the investigation is ongoing and should conclude at the end of 2020 or in early 2021, said Detective Inspector McAlpine.

The Bigga property was deserted by Twelve Tribes members during the March raid, however dozens of adults and children have slowly returned and are living there full-time in two sheds.

Twelve Tribes is a registered religious organisation started by former high school teacher and carnival man Gene Spriggs in Tennessee, USA, in 1972.

The sect formed in Australia in the early 1990s and has hundreds of members who run the Common Ground Bakery and Cafe at Picton, and Yellow Deli at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

Members also live in a house in Coledale, north of Wollongong.

Twelve Tribes is a self-governing community that aims to get back to the ‘humbled’ life of Christ, following a strict daily routine of songs of praise, folk dance, teachings, cooking and cleaning. Children are homeschooled in academics and old-fashioned practical skills. Electronic items such as phones, television and laptop computers are banned.

In 2013, The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed former Twelve Tribes members Mark Ilich and his wife, Rosemary, who revealed that contraception was forbidden and mainstream medical care was shunned in the sect, a reason linked to its higher than normal rate of stillbirths.

Twelve Tribes is also known for its harsh discipline of children, some as young as six months old.

Former QAnon Followers Explain What Drew Them In - And Got Them Out

Qanon supporters wait for the military flyover at the World War II Memorial during 4th of July celebrations in Washington, DC.  Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post/Getty Images
Like those leaving cults, some people who believe in conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate can break free from their beliefs

EJ Dickson
Rolling Stone
September 23, 2020

Jitarth Jadeja is a hirsute man in his early thirties, charming and jovial, speaking with equal effusiveness about economics and his baby niece. He’s an atheist, pro-choice and pro-drug decriminalization, who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would be deeply invested in a dangerous far-right conspiracy theory involving baby-eating Democrats and Hollywood actors. But for two and a half years, he says, that’s exactly what he was.

“It’s almost like a drug,” he tells Rolling Stone from his parents’ house in Sydney, Australia. “You read a Q drop and he tells you something, and you’re like, ‘Whoa dude, that’s crazy’….a hit of dopamine goes off in your brain, and you have to go in deeper and deeper and deeper in order to get that feeling again. When Q first started posting I felt like, ‘Here is an explanation that, while it doesn’t make sense, if it were true explains the situation better than the current explanations I’m getting.'”

QAnon is a loosely connected system of conspiracy theories and unfounded beliefs spawned by Q, an anonymous on forums like 8chan (now 8kun) claiming to have high-end military clearance within the Trump administration. QAnon adherents believe, among other things, in the existence of a deep state cabal of pedophiles and child traffickers led by prominent liberals like the Clintons, and that President Trump is lying in wait to arrest and execute his enemies.

Recently, QAnon has gotten a great deal of attention in the media due to QAnon-promoting congressional candidates such as Republican nominees Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, thus bringing the theory mainstream. It has also been linked to violence, such as the 2019 shooting of a Staten Island mob boss by a QAnon supporter and a Texas woman attacking two strangers with her car earlier this year because she believed them to be child traffickers. President Trump has refused to overtly discredit or reject QAnon ideology, to the delight of believers, whose primary goal is to win Trump’s attention.

“They desperately need a place to put their anger and a way to make sense of the world. Us versus them, the horrible bad guys, is something they all seem to cling to,” says cult expert Diane Benscoter, who has spoken to numerous people whose loved ones are involved in QAnon. “The doctrine makes it easy to say, ‘Clearly we have to make a stand against this,’ and it feels really good to believe you’re on the side of righteousness and saving children.”

The mainstreaming of QAnon has also led to the advent of subreddits like r/QAnonCasualties and r/ReQuovery, for family members of QAnon believers to discuss the impact the ideology has had on their lives. Former believers who’ve extricated themselves have also taken to such subreddits to share their own stories, recounting what drew them in and providing tips and resources for those trying to get their family members out.

“I was disillusioned with the system, and seeing the system reward corruption, the idea that these people were so corrupt there was nothing they couldn’t do wasn’t that outlandish to me,” says Lem, 26, a computer programmer in Columbus, Ohio.

Like Jadeja, Lem did not identify as conservative, and supported Sanders during the 2016 primary; his disgust with the liberal establishment after having seen Sanders passed over for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention is what led him to become obsessed with Pizzagate, the antecedent to QAnon, a conspiracy theory suggesting that Clinton and other Democratic operatives were running a child trafficking ring out of the basement of Comet Ping-Pong Pizza in Washington, D.C.

Anti-Clinton sentiment stoked by vloggers on YouTube set the stage for him to believe even the most outlandish claims proposed by Pizzagaters. It also helped, he says, that he grew up in an extremely religious Christian Baptist family (He says his father is still an ardent QAnon believer). “[Growing] up 18 years in that household played a role into my being primed believing something that was outlandish,” he says. “[The] fact that you can have that kind of faith in certain things leads you to be open into believing certain things without there necessarily being proof.”

Another common thread among the stories of former believers on Reddit is a history of mental illness. Jadeja had recently disconnected himself from many of his friends; he was isolated and intensely struggling with depression and undiagnosed bipolar II disorder. Because he was in graduate school, he also had a lot of time on his hands. “I was, I guess you could say, a prime candidate for Q to take a hold of me,” he says.

Ivan*, 26, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym for fear of getting doxxed, was struggling with anxiety and depression when he stumbled on Pizzagate in the subreddit r/cringeanarchy in 2016, right before Trump’s election. Though r/cringeanarchy, which would later be banned, was a haven of far-right “edgy” content, “I was politically illiterate,” though alienated and embittered, he recalls. Swapping theories about Pizzagate “wasn’t about politics. It was about team sports. It was about cheering for this side, for Team Right.” Scraping together bits of “evidence” whole cloth to support Pizzagate was not just fun, it was also empowering at a time when he was desperate to feel some semblance of control.

Ivan was conscious enough of how deranged his views sounded that he instinctively knew not to mention them to others — not, he says, that it would have helped. “I distinctly remember that if I read some article about this debunking or fact-checking, I would feel bored. I’d feel like, ‘What am I reading here? They are just probably hiding the truth. It’s not even worth the attention,'” he says. “From my own experience, when you get deep enough, any kind of fact-checking, it just flies right through you and you don’t really capture the information at all.”

Benscoter agrees that fact-checking is essentially useless. As difficult as it may be, she urges, those with loved ones deep into QAnon must refrain. “To try to make rational arguments is not going to work because they’re not going to think rationally,” she says. “You can throw rocks in it and try to make cracks,” for instance, by asking the other person to consider the possibility that Q may not be who they claim to be. But arguing with a person who is not operating according to logic or reason “just makes them stand firmer,” she says.

Instead, she advises people to try to appeal to their loved ones’ “higher selves.” “People who get involved in extremist mentality are usually really good people who care deeply about wanting to use their life for something bigger than themselves,” she says. She urges loved ones of QAnon believers to approach the conversation by saying something like, “I know the reason you care so much about this is because you’re a good person and I know you want to do right, but just consider the possibility that you are being lied to,” or, “It would be a shame if you put all this good sincere energy in something that turns out to be a lie.” “If they don’t immediately argue back fervently, if they stop for a moment, that would be a sign of a crack” in their belief system, she says. It may take a long time for such cracks to emerge, but without them believers can’t do the difficult work of setting off on the process of self-rediscovery and recovery from the false delusion of Q.

It took years for the cracks to emerge for Jadeja, who slowly started to realize that Q drops were laden with logical inconsistencies. A turning point for him was a follower asking Q to get Trump to say the term “tippy top” as proof of Trump’s knowledge of the conspiracy; when Trump did say the phrase during a 2018 Easter egg roll speech, Q believers rejoiced, believing it to be confirmation that Q was real. Jadeja did some research and saw that Trump had said the phrase many times before. “That’s when I realized this was all a very slick con,” he says.

Today he views the rise of QAnon with abject horror, which is compounded by the fact that he’d also managed to rope his own father into the conspiracy. (Like Lem, Jadeja’s father is still a true believer.) “It’s gone out of control. And it continues to grow out of control. And they’re not going away. Even if Trump loses, they’re not going to go away, they’ll just look at it as part of the conspiracy,” he says. He sees speaking out about his own involvement with the cult of QAnon as a form of penance — even as he worries it may be too late to curb its toxic, potentially lethal influence.

“Any time you dehumanize any part or segment of the population to such a low level, to the lowest level you can go, people are happy on the opposite side to do the worst against them,” he says of QAnon believers’ views of Trump’s enemies. “That’s the real danger here — not that [QAnon adherents] will get into the Senate. When you frame your opponents [as subhuman], you won’t just watch them burn. You’ll be happy about it.”

New York Threatens Orthodox Jewish Areas With Lockdown Over Virus

Community leaders said residents have resisted the rules in part because of the influence of President Trump, whose views on masks have been embraced.
Community leaders said residents have resisted the rules in part because of the influence of President Trump, whose views on masks have been embraced.

Liam Stack and Joseph Goldstein
New York Times
September 25, 2020

Facing a worrying spike in coronavirus cases in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, New York City health officials began carrying out emergency inspections at private religious schools on Friday and threatened to impose an extraordinary lockdown in those communities that would be the first major retreat by the city on reopening since the pandemic began.

Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office to enforce public health guidelines in several Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, where residents often do not wear masks or engage in social distancing. But community leaders said residents have been resisting the guidelines because of hostility toward Mr. de Blasio and the growing influence of President Trump, whose views on masks and the pandemic have been widely embraced.

The crackdown is occurring shortly before Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, which begins on Sunday night, and it was not immediately clear the impact that the measures might have on the ability of people to gather in synagogues. The Health Department said that if significant progress toward following guidelines did not occur by Monday, officials could issue fines, limit gatherings or force closings of businesses or schools.

“This may be the most precarious moment we are facing since we emerged from lockdown,” Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said at a news conference in South Brooklyn.

Officials this week released statistics showing that the positivity rate in some Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods had grown to anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent, significantly more than the city’s overall rate of between 1 percent and 2 percent. Officials are especially worried about the positivity rates in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park, Midwood and Gravesend, which they have referred to as the “Ocean Parkway Cluster.”

Mr. de Blasio said on Friday on The Brian Lehrer Show that the city had closed four yeshivas over violations of social distancing rules.

“There’s a very rigorous outreach effort in the community in English and Yiddish,” the mayor said, adding, “There’s a substantial number of Yiddish speakers who have been brought into the effort. Test and Trace has been hiring directly from the community. We are going to keep doing that, though. I think this is an indicator we will be fighting for a little while here.”

The uptick in these neighborhoods amounts to the first major coronavirus challenge for the city after months of declining or flat infection rates. The concern now is that if the outbreak spreads further in the Orthodox community, it could begin to take hold elsewhere, with even more serious consequences. If the city’s overall positivity rate hits 3 percent, that would trigger a new lockdown, including the closing of public schools.

“In the absence of our doing the right thing, we will need to be in a lockdown-type situation as occurred in Israel,” Dr. Mitchell Katz, the head of New York City Health and Hospitals, which is overseeing the city’s contact tracing program said earlier this week. He was referring to the decision by the Israeli government to reinstitute restrictions because the country is facing the highest rate of new cases per capita in the world.

The distrust of the authorities was on display during Friday’s news conference in South Brooklyn, at Gravesend Park, which was attended by several city health officials, when one man interrupted Dr. Katz by loudly saying the city had been exaggerating the severity of the outbreak.

The scene grew tense when a second man, who was not wearing a mask, approached Dr. Katz, who told him to back off or put on a mask. The man shouted that he wouldn’t wear a mask and anyone who didn’t like it could leave.

“You don’t live here,” he shouted. “Get out of here.”

The man, who wouldn’t give his name, soon shouted a racial slur. He also began yelling, “Go to East New York,” a predominately Black neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Visits to Borough Park showed how the rules are often ignored. The coronavirus outbreak devastated New York’s Orthodox Jewish community in March and April, and community leaders say hundreds have died, including influential religious leaders. But this week, there was hardly a face mask in sight, as if the pandemic had never happened.

At a flower stand in Borough Park on Friday, a vendor, Boris Mushayev, tended to his merchandise as customers around him, all without masks, perused the white, red and orange blooms.

“You have some people here who wear masks but it is true that most people do not,” said Mr. Mushayev. “I think some people are just not so worried about the virus anymore. If customers want me to wear a mask I wear it, but for now I have to focus on work.”

Borough Park and Midwood were islands of support for President Trump during the 2016 election, when the president won 89 percent of the vote in one local precinct. Many there view him as an ally on issues like school choice, religious freedom and support for Israel, said Avi Greenstein, chief executive of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council.

Those political cross currents had made many here susceptible to “conflicting information from Washington, where we see a constant downplaying of the crisis and indoor rallies where people may or not be wearing masks,” Mr. Greenstein said.

He added that the political rift had been deepened by what he said were the de Blasio administration’s failures.

“For the city to make this deadline on the evening of Yom Kippur is shocking, and what is worse is community leaders found out about this on Thursday night from a press release,” said Mr. Greenstein. “That tells you everything you need to know about the story of Borough Park during the pandemic.”

Mr. Greenstein contrasted the mayor’s approach with a visit to his community center’s offices in January by Attorney General William P. Barr, who used the appearance at the venue to announce federal hate-crime charges against a Brooklyn woman accused of assaulting three Orthodox women last December.

“That sent a message to the community, to the entire neighborhood, very loud and clear: We’re here, we’re working with you,” he said. But when it comes to the coronavirus, he added, the neighborhood was facing a crisis of “tremendous uncertainty, a tremendous amount of misinformation and a lack of information.”

Yosef Rapaport, 66, a Yiddish podcaster whose brother and brother-in-law both died of Covid-19, said Mr. de Blasio needed to rebuild trust with a religious minority that has largely spurned his administration and aligned with President Trump.

“This community is being hit by a double whammy: the incompetence of City Hall and the ugliness that is coming from Washington,” Mr. Rapaport said. “There is a deep, deep mistrust among the community for the intentions of the mayor, especially when the president takes a different approach.”

Dr. Katz defended the city’s efforts, saying that it had made over 200,000 public health robocalls to neighborhoods with significant Orthodox Jewish populations and distributed tens of thousands of masks in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Brighton Beach and Flushing.

The city has also placed “nearly 60 newspaper ads in community papers to get the word out” among Hasidic Jews, he said, and talked to 20 synagogue leaders in Borough Park, a neighborhood with about 300 synagogues, according to Mr. Greenstein.

One lingering issue in the city’s relationship with Hasidic New Yorkers has been a late-night Twitter outburst by the mayor after he personally oversaw the dispersal of a rabbi’s funeral in Williamsburg in April. For many, it validated their fears about the city’s leadership.

Jacob Kornbluh, a Hasidic Jew who lives in Borough Park and writes for Jewish Insider, a national publication, summed up a perspective he often hears in the neighborhood: “De Blasio became the guy singling out the Jews so we don’t have to listen to him anymore.”

He added that when Mr. de Blasio failed to respond similarly to Black Lives Matter protests in June, it deepened people’s sense that the government was singling them out.

“Trump speaks their language: distrust in his own government that he leads, distrust in the media,” Mr. Kornbluh said.

Liam Stack is a general assignment reporter. He was previously a political reporter based in New York and a Middle East correspondent based in Cairo. @liamstack

Joseph Goldstein covers health care in New York, following years of criminal justice and police reporting for the Metro desk. He also spent a year in The Times’ Kabul bureau, reporting on Afghanistan. @JoeKGoldstein

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 26, 2020, Section A, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: City Warns Orthodox Jewish Neighborhoods of a Lockdown