Oct 15, 2021

NXIVM Survivors Sarah Edmondson, Nippy Ames Tease Season 2 of Their 'Culty' Podcast (Exclusive)

Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames in The Vow HBO
Stacy Lambe‍
October 4, 2021

After escaping and blowing the whistle on NXIVM, married couple Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames are channeling their lessons learned into the Acast podcast, A Little Bit Culty, which explores abuses of power and cult-like practices through conversations with people who have experienced it firsthand. Ahead of its return with season 2, ET has an exclusive preview of the all-new episodes, which includes guests, like former LuLaRoe retailer Roberta Blevins, who shared her story in the Amazon docuseries LuLaRich; Stolen author Elizabeth Gilpin and more.

When it comes to speaking to Blevins, Edmondson reveals the two shared a laugh over their similar experiences. “You know, the patterns are so obvious now. Like, even just the similarities between the sociopathic behavior of both of our respective leaders and the names of the different ranks that you have to climb,” she says, adding they were able to “find the humor in this dark content.”

And following the recent the sentencing of Allison Mack and other former members of NXIVM, the personal development company founded by Keith Raniererevealed to be a pyramid scheme and cult that forced its female recruits into sexual slavery, Edmondson and Ames have a conversation with former prosecutor Moira Penza about the implications of the case.

That conversation, they admit, is quite different in tone “because this one had a legal component,” Ames says, adding that Penza “really embodies this is how it works. This is how you put people away. This is justice. And it was just really interesting for me to have a conversation with someone can explain all the nuances of that.”

In addition to LuLaRoe and NXIVM, season 2 covers the Mormon Church, various yoga groups, and R. Kelly’s sex trafficking case, in which he was found guilty of multiple charges. And compared to the first season, Edmondson says it is timelier and more topical. “We’re diving in a little bit deeper,” she says, adding that the podcast will even connect the dots between Raniere and the R&B singer and how one case laid the groundwork for the other.

While each episode they try to address the fundamental question about when does devotion turn into abuse, it is also meant to be a place for healing. “We ask all our guests, ‘What are you doing to heal? How do you help people? What do you suggest?’” Edmondson says.

No matter what, “we want to be as responsible as we can with our platform, and help other people by having the honest, informed conversations we wish we’d heard when we were in NXIVM,” Ames says, with Edmonson adding, “We’re going to keep on getting personal this season, as we continue to reclaim our identities and provide a roadmap for people to wake up, leave abusive relationships, and to heal.”

A Little Bit Culty is produced by Citizens of Sound’s Will Retherford, in collaboration with executive producers Edmondson and Ames, and associate producer Jess Tardy. It is distributed by Acast and is accessible on all podcast players. Season 2 premieres Oct. 18.

Praise of Israel may dent Iran asylum hopes for anti-Zionist Haredi cult

Clip shows Lev Tahor spokesman lauding IDF efforts to minimize civilian casualties, months before group, which includes Israelis, began heading from Guatemala toward Tehran

The Times of Israel
October 14, 2021

The spokesman for an anti-Zionist Haredi cult was recorded praising the IDF in a clip retrieved by The Times of Israel Wednesday, in what could threaten the extremist group’s ongoing efforts to seek asylum in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The clip — a Zoom conversation recorded shortly after the war Israel fought with Hamas in Gaza in May — features Lev Tahor spokesman Uriel Goldman rejecting as a “joke” accusations that the IDF used excessive force during the 11 days of fighting.

“There [are] people who are always saying ‘how come you’re attacking children?’ There [are] casualt[ies] with children!’… It’s nonsense because you know how [Israel] care[s] about [these] things much more than Americans,” Goldman can be heard saying.

The clip was retrieved as the cult of roughly 280 members — among whom are citizens of Israel, the US and Canada — has begun gradually making its way from Guatemala, where they are based to Iran, sources familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

Relatives of the cult members and victims rights groups have notified the Israeli, US and Guatemalan governments of what they worry could be a “massive diplomatic incident” if Lev Tahor makes it to Iran, but authorities have been slow to act, one of the sources said.

“The Shalit deal will look like child’s play next to this,” one relative told the Ynet news site Wednesday, referring to the 2011 prisoner deal with Hamas in which Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terror convicts in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive since 2006.

Lev Tahor filed a request for asylum in Iran in 2018, swearing allegiance to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and claiming that it faced persecution due to its anti-Zionist stances, according to documents presented to a US federal court in 2019.

In recent weeks, several small groups of Lev Tahor members have left Guatemala for the Middle East, seeking to enter Iran through its border with Iraqi Kurdistan, a source familiar said. Efforts by authorities and private investigators hired by victims rights groups have managed to temporarily delay the cult’s travel plans, with some of the members arriving at the airport in Guatemala to find that their passports have been rejected.

The Guatemalan authorities have already detained a number of the cult members who hold US citizenship and were allegedly on their way to Iran in recent days, after a request from American authorities, Ynet reported.

According to Yeshiva World News, which first reported on the cult’s attempted move to Iran in recent weeks, one of those already in Iraq was Lev Tahor spokesman Goldman, along with Amram Moshe Yosef Rosner and Yosef Hanoch Helbrans.

Goldman in the Zoom video this past summer could be heard mocking those who sympathize with the Palestinians. “We are laughing when they say, ‘Oh the Palestinians! So nebach (Yiddish for unfortunate). They’re attacking them.’ It’s a joke. Between me and you, everybody knows it’s a joke.”

Sitting next to Goldman and nodding along as he talks is Shmiel Weingarten, who was arrested in a joint raid by American and local Guatemalan authorities in July on suspicion of abusing and kidnapping children. Weingarten is said to be another influential leader in Lev Tahor.

The group has been described as a cult and as the “Jewish Taliban,” as women and girls older than 3 are required to dress in long black robes covering their entire body, leaving only their faces exposed. The men spend most of their days in prayer and studying specific portions of the Torah.

“Marriages” between minor teenagers and older members are common.


CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/15/2021 (Totalist Organizations, The House of Yahweh, Obituary, Kenja Communications, Sexual Abuse, Australia, Jehovah's Witnesses, Russia, Legal, Religious Freedom)

Totalist Organizations, The House of Yahweh, Obituary, Kenja Communications, Sexual Abuse, Australia, Jehovah's Witnesses, Russia, Legal, Religious Freedom
Disorganizing our attachment is a form of control used by authoritarians.

" ... Social psychologist Alexandra Stein, a cult survivor and longtime expert on cults, argues that attachment disruption is part of the recruitment tools totalitarian (totalist) leaders and organizations use. Stein, who chronicled her experience in Inside Out: A Memoir of Entering and Breaking Out of a Minneapolis Political Cult, writes about research on totalist systems in the book Terror, Love & Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems.

"The leader's primary goal is to create a set of guaranteed attachments to others," a form of relational control that stems from the leader's own disorganized attachment (p. 16). Although the leader fears abandonment, they will purge the unfaithful—all part of maintaining control over the relationship.

To work, totalist structures require an isolating environment, which serves the purpose of coercive persuasion, keeping group members away from other influences. To determine whether or not an ideology or belief system is totalist depends on structure and function. The structure is exclusive, allowing no other truths, affiliations, or interpretations. No dissension is allowed against the leader's word. The function of the belief system is multiple: to maintain the leader's absolute control, to establish rigid boundaries between group members and the outside world, to justify loyalty, and to prevent escape."
"Hawkins was the leader of a group called The House of Yahweh. He drew national attention after the Branch Davidians standoff in Waco.

Also known as "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins, he started the group — referred to as a cult — in 1974 after serving as an Abilene police officer.

The leader predicted the end times on several occasions. The latest was in 2020. He also said he would never die and that he was the "second coming."

'My job is to preach the Message of the Kingdom to the world, whether you will listen or not is up to you," he warned. "Look at how many people listened to Noah; don't let that be you. Read this letter and get on our mailing list, so you don't get caught in the flood.'"

"The leader of a personal development group described by police as a "cult" groomed young girls to be sexually abused by her late husband and gave them antiseptic lollies after ushering them into private sessions with him, a senate committee has been told.

Jan Hamilton operated Kenja Communications with her husband, Ken Dyers, until he died by suicide in 2007 when new allegations of sexual abuse were raised against him, and has run the group by herself ever since.

Dyers was accused during his lifetime of sexually abusing seven young girls during "processing sessions" that were supposed to clear the girls of negative energy. A police strike force formed to investigate some allegations in 2005 formed the position that Kenja fitted the profile of a cult."

"A Jehovah's Witness in Russia was convicted and sentenced to prison for practicing his religious beliefs Monday (Oct. 11). Vladimir Skachidub, 59, was sentenced to four years and two months in prison by the Pavlovsky District Court of Krasnodar Territory.

"I am a Jehovah's Witness, and I am being prosecuted solely for my peaceful religious activities. … I face imprisonment only for the fact that I simply exercised my right to profess religion," said Skachidub during a hearing, according to a statement from the Jehovah's Witnesses world headquarters.

Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, said in a statement that Skachidub was imprisoned on baseless charges. Skachidub, who is disabled, was formally charged as a criminal, and a case was opened against him by the Russian Federal Security Service in June 2020, after he was found to be preaching his faith. The next month he was added to the federal extremist list."

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Religious protections don't apply to Falun Gong protest sites

Exercises like this yoga practice qigong are considered a way for Falun Gong practitioners to "cultivate" themselves. (Image by Vô Vi from Pixabay via Courthouse News)
While not disputed that the group is persecuted by China's communist government, its reputation as a cult makes its bid for sympathy a complicated one.

Courthouse News Service
October 14, 2021

MANHATTAN (CN) — Followers of a 30-year-old Chinese spiritual practice called Falun Gong cannot designate their protest sites as places of worship to silence counter-protesters, the Second Circuit ruled Thursday.

“The record here shows that at most that there were only sporadic instances of worship at the tables,” the 28-page lead decision states. “Plaintiffs and their fellow practitioners instead understood the primary purpose of the tables as a site from which to disseminate information about the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Falun Gong.”

Founded in China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong does not have any temples, churches or religious ritual — the usual trappings of a religious group. Rather, as summarized by the Second Circuit, its followers believe that meditation and other forms of regular spiritual practice known as “cultivation” will allow them to “return” to their “True Sel[ves]” or “Primary Soul[s].”

The Taiwan Cultural Center in Flushing, Queens, is a common gathering spot for Falun Gong cultivation, which includes physical exercises like qigong and the study of the “Zhuan Falun,” a book of Li’s lectures. For roughly a decade, leaders of the group assembled tables outside the cultural center to raise awareness about the torture Falun Gong adherents in China.

Some of the posters depict organ harvesting. There is no meditation, but the Falun Gong insist that their tables should be treated as an extension of their faith. About six years ago, 13 individuals brought the underlying suit in Brooklyn, saying that a counter-protest group called the Chinese Anti-Cult Alliance harassed them in violation of a federal law called FACEA, short for the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The alliance denies that it has ever been the aggressor in any of the protest scenes, and Thursday's ruling notes that the Falun Gong teachings that the alliance highlights as troubling are not in dispute: "Defendants object, for instance, to Falun Gong teachings that followers should not take medication for illness, that aliens have visited earth, and that the heavens are divided into racial zones and a person of a mixed racial background will 'go to the heaven that belongs to the race of
his Main Spirit.'"

A federal judge sided with the Falun Gong at summary judgment in 2018, but the Second Circuit reversed Thursday after finding that the Falun Gong practitioners passing out pamphlets in Queens is not entitled to protection under the law meant to protect women from being harassed while seeking abortion services.

“At most, the evidence shows that the activity at the tables was motivated by teachings of the Falun Gong leader, akin to how Quaker groups may protest wars or Catholic groups may protest abortion laws in public streets motivated by their respective religious beliefs,” U.S. Circuit Judge Susan Carney wrote in Thursday's lead opinion. “But that such political and social action may be rooted in religious belief does not transform the public spaces where the action occurs into “places of religious worship.”

Specifically, the religious section of the FACEA prohibits a person from intentionally injuring, intimidating, or interfering with another who is exercising her religion at a place of religious worship. In reaching its decision, the court dissected what can be considered a “place” of worship.

U.S. Circuit Judge Pierre Leval, a Clinton appointee, concurred with Carney, an Obama appointee, in full, as did U.S. Circuit Judge John Walker, who also wrote a separate concurring opinion.

“Although we have previously sustained the provision of FACEA that prohibits violence at abortion clinics, in part based on legislative findings that women, doctors, and medical supplies may travel interstate for reproductive health services, those findings were limited to regulating violence at abortion clinics,” said Walker, a George H. W. Bush appointee. “They have no bearing on whether violence against worshippers at places of religious worship substantially affects interstate commerce.”

Reacting to the decision Wednesday, Elizabeth Hurd, a professor of political science and religious studies at Northwestern University, said that religious freedom hinges on what the law views as a religion.

“Protecting a right to religious freedom in law requires defining what the state means by ‘religion’. There will always be groups left out of that definition, particularly when powerful actors, like the Chinese government, have a say in who gets protected as a religion and who does not,” Hurd said in an email. “This is a casualty of legalizing religious freedom. It is not surprising that Falun Gong would not be privy to these protections. The challenge, then, is to reconsider whether religious freedom is equipped as a legal construct to do the work we are asking it to do. I think not.”

Led by Zhang Jingrong, the practitioners were represented by Terri Marsh with the Human Rights Law Foundation. The alliance was represented by Tom Fini of Catafago Fini law firm. Neither party immediately responded to emails seeking comment.


Satanic panic 2021: Heavy-metal-loving Ontario principal can stay despite parents petitioning for her removal

Parents at Eden High School in St. Catharines, Ont. created a petition to remove Principal Sharon Burns (right) due to her unabashed fandom of Iron Maiden. PHOTO BY CHANGE.ORG
Worried parents complained that rocker's Instagram posts 'blatantly showed Satanic symbols and allegiance to Satanic practices'

Adrian Humphreys
National Post
October 15, 2021

While schools like to make a mark and small cities love international attention, it isn’t always appreciated when it comes. Take for instance the odd tempest over an Ontario high school principal whose enthusiasm for a heavy metal rock band angered parents of “impressionable children.”

A public campaign to oust the head of Eden High School in St. Catharines after Instagram photos revealed her fondness for the dark imagery of Iron Maiden — followed by an outpouring of support — spun into a world-wide phenomenon this week, rekindling the Satanic panic of the 1980s.ies A for start-ups: what entrepreneurs should know before launching their business

“I’m surprised it blew up in the way it did,” said St. Catharines city councillor Karrie Porter. “It is funny, silly and frustrating all at the same time.”

It didn’t take long for the dispute to travel from the Niagara region across social media, talk radio, newspapers and beyond, from New York to Kuala Lumpur, and shared by politicians and rock bands.

It began, as it does these days, with social media.

Sharon Burns, principal of Eden, posted two photos on her Instagram account showing her fandom for the legendary British heavy metal band that’s almost as famous for its imagery as for its music.

One photo shows her with Iron Maiden regalia and a personalized licence plate reading “IRNMADEN,” enthusiastically giving the horns-up hand sign of metal fans.

Another shows a doll of Eddie, the band’s skeletal mascot, with a hand-drawn sign of a heart around “666,” a number biblically associated with the devil that is used by the band in its marketing.

That was too much for some who wanted Burns thrown out of Eden.

“As concerned parents with impressionable children at Eden High School,” began an online petition for her ouster, “we are deeply disturbed that the principal assigned to the school blatantly showed Satanic symbols and her allegiance to Satanic practices on her public social media platforms where all the students can see them.”

She has made Eden a safe space for so many people. She spreads nothing but love and kindness.


A counter-petition — called We Need Mrs. Burns — was soon posted in response.

“It is ridiculous that a couple of parents only judge her role as a principal only based on an Instagram post,” the retort says. “She has made Eden a safe space for so many people. She spreads nothing but love and kindness.”

Public support quashed the call for Burns’ ouster.

The petition against her garnered 553 supporters while the petition of support zoomed well passed 20,000 after wide calls from students and fans of music and free speech.

Apparently feeling heat from the backlash, the creator of the original petition added a defence before removing it altogether.

“Sharon knows full well what she did was simply inappropriate, unnecessary and not professional but has yet to publicly admit so and is willing to allow people to believe a completely different story, making very real concerns seem petty,” it said.

Burns declined an interview, forwarding a request from National Post to the school board’s spokeswoman, who called the international attention a “unique experience.”

“As you can imagine, Principal Burns, like all of us, is quite surprised by how her Instagram post led to two petitions and grew to be a topic of interest around the world,” said Kim Sweeney, chief communications officer for the District School Board of Niagara.

“We know Ms. Burns as a passionate and dedicated educator who is happiest when she can focus on and connect with her students.”

Taste in music is subjective and we support that both students and staff enjoy a wide variety of genres


After the complaints were aired, the board spoke with Burns and the parents who published them, and the issue is over as far as the board is concerned, Sweeney said. No disciplinary action or policy changes were needed.

“Our belief is that taste in music is subjective and we support that both students and staff enjoy a wide variety of genres,” Sweeney said.

Even so, the two posts were removed.

Porter, the city councillor, said the dispute at Eden may be about more than Iron Maiden’s imagery.

Burns doesn’t look like every school principal. Some photos show her with purple hair, fluffed up in a fauxhawk style. And Eden doesn’t have the same history as every school.

As the name suggests, Eden’s root are in the Christian movement. Started as a Bible school by the Mennonite Brethren in the 1930s, it then became a private Christian school.

In 1988, it became a public school but retained the wearing of school uniforms. It still hosts privately funded afterschool Christian activities.

“I think that’s why this happened at this particular school,” said Porter.

“It’s now publicly funded and probably still some lingering tensions around the fact that the community is changing, and the school is changing. This is probably feeding into this issue.”

Popular music has long been a concern for some parents.

There is a long history of Satanic panic over emerging music, back to the blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll each being decried as “the devil’s music.” Heavy metal bands, producing hard, guitar-heavy rock, embraced that reputation in the 1980s.

They wore it on their sleeve — record sleeves, in this case — featuring ghoulish images of re-animated corpses, fiery hellscapes and overt devil imagery.

Fueled by conservative mothers, ministers and televangelists worried about the Satanic influence on young minds, there were campaigns against heavy metal, as each new album looked like a darker, scarier vision of an elaborate Halloween display.

Iron Maiden was one of the best in the genre.

They released a series of platinum-selling albums, including their third, with the title The Number of the Beast, which sparked particular controversy, including public record burnings.

The panic subsided as heavy metal’s popularity waned and consternation moved on to rap music.

Burns’ interest in rock remains and has not been fully muted. She recently retweeted a U.S. university marching band’s tribute to Canadian rock band Rush, alongside her tweets on school sports results and a cat meme about photo day.

Her Twitter bio still includes: “Fueled by metal & ska.”

And her Instagram account, where the brouhaha began, remains, minus the controversial photos. Her other posts remain, such as photos of Eden’s student athletes, artists and musicians — those without umlauts or hellscapes.

As for Iron Maiden, the renewed Satanic panic came just as they release a new album, Shenjutsu (image above) their first in six years. It must seem like old times.

• Email: ahumphreys@postmedia.com | Twitter: AD_Humphreys


Oct 11, 2021

‘Cult’ leader’s widow accused of grooming girls for sexual abuse

‘Cult’ leader’s widow accused of grooming girls for sexual abuse

Sydney Morning Herald 
October 11, 2021

The leader of a personal development group described by police as a “cult” groomed young girls to be sexually abused by her late husband and gave them antiseptic lollies after ushering them into private sessions with him, a senate committee has been told.

Jan Hamilton operated Kenja Communications with her husband, Ken Dyers, until he died by suicide in 2007 when new allegations of sexual abuse were raised against him, and has run the group by herself ever since.

Dyers was accused during his lifetime of sexually abusing seven young girls during “processing sessions” that were supposed to clear the girls of negative energy. A police strike force formed to investigate some allegations in 2005 formed the position that Kenja fitted the profile of a cult.

Earlier this year, former banking executive Michelle Ring told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that she had also been raped by Dyers during private processing sessions that occurred over a period of seven years when she was a teenager, but lied in court to protect him when charges were brought against him in 1996.

Ms Ring told a senate committee on Monday afternoon that many adults who are still active in Kenja knew about and witnessed her abuse, including Ms Hamilton who also groomed and emotionally abused her as well. The group, which describes itself as a spiritual and communications training centre, is based in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. It also runs sporting competitions and musicals.

Ms Ring’s submission to the committee was protected by parliamentary privilege.

“[Ms Hamilton] drove me in her white VW to Ken,” Ms Ring said.

“She sent me into the room and ushered me out when he was done, or held me there until the next girl arrived to join us. She gave me antiseptic lollies after each session with Ken so I wouldn’t get infections in my mouth from his abuse. There are many who have the same story."

When Ms Hamilton unsuccessfully sued the NSW Police for persecuting Dyers and driving him to take his life, the NSW Supreme Court heard in 2019 that other adult members of Kenja witnessed the sexual abuse of children.

Police tendered a statement by Alison DeCamp in which she claimed that a woman known as Person 3 – not Ms Hamilton – had been in the room while he sexually abused her as a 12-year-old child.

“I told him that it hurt when he touched me and that this was wrong,” Ms DeCamp said in her police statement. “I said there had to be another way to solve my problems. He started talking to Person 3, ignoring me and talking about me in the third person. He said that my natural sexual responses were abnormal.”

Ms Ring has tried to make a claim against Kenja under the National Redress Scheme, which was set up following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, for survivors to access counselling, an apology and a payment from the institution that was responsible for the abuse. She was unable to do so because Kenja has refused to join the scheme.

She raised Ms Hamilton in her submission to a senate committee into the implementation of the National Redress Scheme because she said the complicity of the adults who remain active in Kenja is a point of vulnerability that could be leveraged to encourage the group to join the scheme.

Other groups have only joined the scheme when the government has threatened to withdraw their charitable status for taxation purposes, but Kenja is not a registered charity.

“The adults of Kenja knew what was going on and have never been investigated, just like Jan Hamilton has never been investigated because responsibility of care wasn’t an issue like it is now,” Ms Ring told the committee.

“I do think there is some vulnerability there because one of the ways that Jan manages to stay within that organisation is with the support of her very dedicated followers ... [but] the way that it’s set up from a finance perspective doesn’t make them vulnerable.”

Kenja said in a statement that Ms Ring’s statement was “false and malicious” and an abuse of parliamentary process.

“All Ms Ring’s statements are completely denied. They are baseless and degrading. Furthermore, the allegation that other adults were aware of the alleged abuse is similarly baseless. This is a terrible smear on people’s good character.”


Oct 9, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/9-10/2021 (Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sexual Abuse, Financial Abuse, Religion and Poverty, NXIVM, Legal)

Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sexual Abuse, Financial Abuse, Religion and Poverty, NXIVM, Legal

ReGAIN, Religious Groups Awareness International Network: Marcial Maciel & Walter White: Breaking Bad in Meth and Sex
" ... I am called by God to found a Catholic Religious Order, is the conviction that drives Marcial Maciel, a white, blue-eyed, provincial Mexican from the age of fifteen.
Marcial is fully convinced he has a calling from God. His uncomfortable childhood, with an enabling mother and a punishing father, leads him to isolation and mistrust. It is rumored he was sexually abused by one of the farm hands at Don Francisco Maciel's Poca Sangre ranch in early puberty. He determined nobody would ever hurt and humiliate him like that again. It seems he was never attracted to girls and never had a girl-friend like other precocious boys in Cotija, Michoacán. He was not good at sports. The other kids called him "sissy" or "specky-four-eyes" because of his glasses. But that was not important as he was being called by God to follow in the footsteps of his three saintly uncles, all Catholic bishops. He yearned to be admired and famous like the saintly one, his uncle Rafael Guízar y Valencia.
With the mystical calling firmly embedded in his psyche, Marcial read every little event in his adolescence as a confirmation of his vocation. The first step was to enroll in a seminary. Off he went enthusiastically. God seemed to be against him for he was expelled from seminary three times. When he tried to imbue a small group of his fellow seminarians with true devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the superiors accused him of over-familiarity. But Marcial remained faithful to his calling. Hidden astute resources helped him, at the age of nineteen, to wheedle into the trust of his third uncle bishop, Monsignor Gonzalez Arias in Cuernavaca. This uncle bought into Marcial's plans, thus fulfilling the budding saint's dreams.

Marcial continued with his mission recruiting young boys of 9, 10 or 11 for the new order, The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He liked being close to them, too. He did not want them to be spoiled by others as they approached adolescence. As their spiritual father, he found it natural for him to introduce them to puberty; he showed them how to handle their sexual organs while they helped him lessen the tension in his scrotum. He could not tell anyone about this unique love for his seminarians because they would not understand. And it would also jeopardize his God-given mission to create a new religious order that would be better and greater than the Jesuits who had rejected him in the Montezuma seminary. He used all his guiles to keep his privileged victims silent. He was able to get rid of one irate Mr. De la Isla who accused him of interfering with his son, thus trying to impede the work of God.

The seminarians believed he was a holy man, chosen by Jesus to start a new religious order. They felt privileged to be part of this special and unique group of Christ's commandos. Marcial believed that his little peccadilloes paled in comparison to the gigantic mission he was fulfilling. He knew that God understood.

He was too busy instructing his seminarians, raising funds with rich widows and providing for the boys' every need to be able to study for the priesthood. But his bishop uncle overlooked this minor detail on seeing his nephew's zeal for souls and his vocation as a founder, the first in the family.  And so Marcial fulfilled another dream when he became a priest on November 26, 1944 at the age of twenty-four, ordained in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City. By this time, he was training his twelve apostles, just like Jesus."
"Leaked files reveal nearly $300 million stashed overseas for the Legion of Christ in wake of Vatican investigation. Millions were invested with a corporate landlord that evicted struggling U.S. tenants during the pandemic."

" ... In January, Carlos Lomena, a truck driver in suburban Miami who lost his job during the coronavirus pandemic, begged a judge to stop his landlord from evicting him.

The 37-year-old Lomena hoped to get a fair shake in court. He'd emigrated from Venezuela after high school with a sense that the U.S. had a more just legal system.

In a letter to the Florida judge, he pointed to a recent extension of the nationwide moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus outbreak and asked for more time to pay his overdue rent.

"I do not have a place to go," Lomena wrote, "nor the money to move into a new apartment."

His landlord — a holding company formed by real estate firms in Miami and Iowa — wasn't moved by his pleas; it had investors to satisfy. The company pressed the court to evict him and, in early February, the judge ruled that Lomena hadn't filed the right form to prevent his eviction. Within days, during the height of the pandemic, the Broward County Sheriff's Office posted a large notice in bold red letters on his door ordering Lomena to vacate his home within 24 hours or be arrested for trespassing.

Lomena isn't alone.

Tenants across the country have faced aggressive tactics — including evictions during the pandemic — from a growing number of massive corporate landlords that draw on pools of money from wealthy investors around the world.

A trove of leaked documents reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 150 media partners provide an unprecedented view of global financial maneuvers that turn rent payments into big profits that are often hidden in accounts owned by shell companies controlled by anonymous investors.

The investors revealed in the leaked documents include offshore trusts holding hundreds of millions of dollars for the Legion of Christ, a wealthy Roman Catholic order disgraced by an international pedophilia scandal.

The confidential records show that the trusts became a secret partner in the ownership structure of Lomena's apartment complex, working with the landlord to invest $2 million in the complex in 2015. The trusts invested millions more in other modest residential buildings in Florida, Texas, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois.

Soon after the Vatican announced in 2010 that it would seize the operations of the troubled order and launch a new investigation, high-profile Legion of Christ operatives began quietly setting up one of a trio of New Zealand trusts designed to hold money for the Legion, according to leaked records.

Two of these trusts, formed shortly after, secretly moved millions of dollars around the world. This included more than $14 million funneled into investments in apartment complexes that Pensam Capital, the firm that owned Lomena's building, was acquiring across the United States. In comments to ICIJ, Pensam said it has not received information indicating it has received investments from the Legion.

These two trusts would come to hold nearly $300 million in assets devoted to the Legion of Christ, according to leaked records, at a time when victims of sexual abuse by its priests were seeking financial compensation from the order through lawsuits and through a commission overseen by the Vatican.

In response to questions about whether the Legion disclosed the trusts to the Vatican, the order told ICIJ that "religious institutes do not have an obligation to send detailed information to the Vatican regarding their internal financial decisions or organization."

In statements to ICIJ, the Legion acknowledged it had set up one of the three trusts, but distanced itself from the other two, which held the majority of the funds designated for the Legion. The Legion said it had no knowledge of the other two trusts' operations. The two trusts were funded by scions of a prominent industrialist family in Mexico, including Father Luis Garza Medina, one of the Legion's top leaders. A spokesperson responding to ICIJ's questions for Father Garza said that Garza has no control over the trusts.

A review of leaked documents by ICIJ shows deep connections to the Legion in all three trusts, which share the same New Zealand address and have the same trustees managing them.

The spokesperson for Garza said the secret trusts were strictly charitable and devoted to the support of elderly priests and other Catholic causes, and that the trusts have only made charitable distributions.

The leaked documents are part of the Pandora Papers, the millions of secret files at the heart of a global investigation by ICIJ and its media partners, including the BBC, the Washington Post, L'Espresso in Italy, El Pais in Spain and the Mexican publications Quinto Elemento Lab and Proceso. The records involving the Legion of Christ come from Asiaciti Trust, a Singapore-based corporate services provider that helped administer the New Zealand trusts.

The trove contains large amounts of data on various wealthy investors who used offshore entities to channel money into real estate.

They are part of a growing class of international investors in real estate ventures that often use hardball tactics to maximize the rate of return from properties occupied by low- and mid-income renters.

Dozens of current and former tenants at Pensam-owned buildings interviewed for this article described problems with their units, including flooding, mold or mildew, broken appliances and dangerous elevators. Pensam routinely partners with Iowa-based BH Management Services, which takes on the day-to-day administration of its buildings.

A review of more than 100 court cases in Florida showed that the property managers added steep penalties on late rental payments and pursued rapid evictions of tenants unable to pay their rent. Tenants said customer service was difficult to reach and eviction notices appeared to be a go-to tool to manage tenants. In a statement, BH Management said it coordinates rent collection "under strict adherence of lease agreements and the law, including the CDC order on evictions."

The kids asked: 'How are we going to tell people we live in a hotel?' The whole thing is devastating for a family. — Collette Northrop

The high returns that financial firms promise their wealthy investors inevitably lead to vulnerable renters being squeezed, according to Jim Baker, the executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit organization that monitors private equity firms and other large investors.

"This is the problem of growing global wealth inequality crystallized in one industry," Baker said.

In 2013, Pensam and BH Management evicted Collette Northrop and her children from a Dunedin, Florida, apartment after the family missed a $895 payment, according to court records. Just months before, the trusts holding money for the Legion of Christ had secretly invested at least $1 million toward Pensam's purchase of the apartment complex. Northrop said that the family moved into a motel and that her children switched to a new middle school. "We were homeless at that point," Northrop said. "The kids asked: 'How are we going to tell people we live in a hotel?' The whole thing is devastating for a family."

'The millionaires of Christ'

In 1941, a charismatic Mexican priest named Marcial Maciel founded the Legion of Christ, a Catholic order that would become known for its intense focus on courting wealthy patrons. Some would come to call Maciel's order "los millonarios de Cristo" — "the millionaires of Christ."

Over six decades, a cult of personality grew up around the group's founder. Members of the Legion were taught that Maciel was a "living saint." His creation grew and became a global force as it cultivated ties to Vatican officials, very wealthy Catholics and conservative Republican luminaries in the U.S. such as Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Maciel became "the greatest fund-raiser of the modern church" — and "its greatest criminal,"  according to Jason Berry, an investigative reporter who delved deeply into the Legion and its leader.

In early 1997, Berry and a reporter at the Hartford Courant wrote a front-page story that exposed Maciel's decades of sexual predation, reporting that nine men had come forward to accuse him of sexually abusing them when they were boys or young men training to be priests.

Before the story was published, Berry later reported, one of Maciel's confidants, the Rev. Luis Garza, "traveled to Legion houses in several countries to warn of the forthcoming article, claiming it would be based on lies and telling Legionaries … not to read the report should they see a copy."

In 2006, after being plagued for years by accusations against the Legion's founder, the Vatican investigated nearly 100 abuse allegations against Maciel and removed him from ministry with an order that he adopt a "life of prayer and penitence."

When Macial died in 2008, the scandal didn't die with him. Revelations that he'd fathered several children with different women brought more negative attention to the Legion of Christ. The Legion was increasingly viewed as a liability to the Vatican.

Amid the continuing scrutiny, much of the order's leadership passed to Garza, known as an architect of its complex finances. Garza came from the family that has controlled Mexico's Alfa conglomerate for decades. Garza joined the Legion after graduating from Stanford University, and he quickly rose through the ranks to become one of Maciel's most trusted lieutenants.

On May 1, 2010, the Vatican announced that it would seize control of the Legion's operations, the church's most dramatic action against a Catholic order during the global abuse scandal. The Vatican would examine the Legion's finances and possible sex crimes and establish a commission to compensate its victims.

The following month, one of Maciel's sons filed a high-profile lawsuit against the Legion, alleging that the order had knowingly allowed Maciel to abuse him and other children.

In July 2010 — two days before the Vatican-appointed official took the reins of reforming the Legion — Luis Garza quietly helped to establish the first of the three secretive trusts in New Zealand that would hold money for the Legion.

The Vatican did not directly respond to questions about the trusts, but said that its effort to reform the Legion was mostly focused on issues around its founder and its structure.

During its investigation, the Vatican appeared to be operating on the belief that the Legion was low on money. The Vatican overseer of the Legion, Cardinal Valasio De Paolis, wrote in September 2011 that the Legion's financial situation was "serious and challenging" and that some victims were asking for "enormous sums that the Legion absolutely cannot afford," according to a 2014 book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi based on leaked Vatican sex abuse records.

At the time the trusts were established, New Zealand was a popular destination for people seeking to hide money offshore using trusts. The trusts holding money for the Legion maintained four Swiss bank accounts, including one at a Geneva-based bank, Lombard Odier, that the U.S. Justice Department later found had helped American clients conceal assets from U.S. tax authorities.

Garza's sister, Roberta Garza, who left the Legion's lay branch after high school, told ICIJ that historically the Legion used offshore structures to divert religious and charitable money to more self-serving purposes, including Maciel's lavish lifestyle, his secret children and his drug habits. "A lot of their money was held outside the Legion by their financiers, by people with power of attorney who are completely faithful to the Legion," Roberta Garza said. "So you're never going to find it."

"We are not aware on what basis Roberta Garza makes her affirmations," Father Aaron Smith, a spokesperson for the Legion said in response. "We have found no proof of the use of offshore structures to divert religious and charitable money from the Congregation to finance what we know about Maciel'́s double life."

As the New Zealand trusts quietly built their investment portfolios, the Legion faced legal threats on multiple fronts."

Economist: Religious belief really does seem to draw the sting of poverty
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature…it is the opium of the people." So wrote Karl Marx in 1844. The idea—not unique to Marx—was that by promising rewards in the next life, religion helps the poor bear their lot in this one.

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Jana Berkessel of the University of Mannheim, in Germany, and her colleagues takes a statistical look at the claim. Ms Berkessel's curiosity was piqued by a counter-intuitive finding in development economics. Researchers know that low socioeconomic status correlates with poor mental health. The assumption was once that, as places became richer, this effect would weaken. Being poor in a rich country was presumed better than being poor in a poor one.

Reason: Interesting Unsealing Decision in NXIVM Sex Cult Case
"Supportive letters submitted by the defendant at sentencing can't remain secret."

"From U.S. v. Rainiere, decided Monday by Judge Nicholas Garaufis (E.D.N.Y.).

Defendant Nancy Saltzman [also referred to as Nancy Salzman -EV] pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. Prior to sentencing, Saltzman filed a partially redacted sentencing memorandum, with annexed exhibits under seal, in support of her request for a downward variance from the applicable sentencing guidelines range. After sentencing, nonparty newspaper the Albany Times Union submitted a letter to the court seeking public disclosure of her sentencing submission, subject to reasonably tailored redactions….

Saltzman explains that [certain exhibits] contain supportive letters, and contends that disclosure of their identities that could harm the authors and have a chilling effect in future litigation…. Saltzman argues that the presumption of public access that attaches to her sentencing submission is outweighed by her own and by third parties' compelling privacy concerns. She contends that disclosure will have a chilling effect on individuals who wish to speak in support of defendants in other high-profile prosecutions and that her supporters will be targeted if their identities are publicly known….

"[T]he weight to be given the presumption of access must be governed by the role of the material at issue in the exercise of Article III judicial power and the resultant value of such information to those monitoring the federal courts." The presumption is strongest where, as here, the documents at issue have been "used to determine litigants' substantive rights." The materials expressly relied on by defendants are submitted as part and parcel of their legal arguments for a particular sentence to influence the court's sentencing decision. {Motions to compel disclosure of presentence reports, as opposed to the parties' sentencing submissions, are viewed differently given the distinct function performed by the probation department as "neutral information gatherers for the sentencing judge."} …

Saltzman argues that disclosure would have a "chilling effect on those who wish to assist other defendants and courts in future high-profile cases." The court is not persuaded. This is not a case in which a party seeks to seal identities of cooperating witnesses, where unsealing would present a public safety risk and could discourage witnesses from cooperating in other cases. She submitted her supporters' letters as exhibits to her own memorandum, incorporating them into her legal arguments.

Saltzman also argues that significant privacy interests are at stake because the authors of supportive letters may face retribution if their identities are publicly known, given the public attention that has been paid to this case. Specifically, she asserts that "[r]evealing the identities and supportive views memorialized in letters to the court will add little to the record that has not already been stated publicly by the Court and counsel, and will potentially result in harm to those whose aim was to furnish the Court with firsthand information about Saltzman to facilitate a fully informed sentencing proceeding." …

The court understands that Saltzman's supporters may have a genuine interest in assisting sentencing while remaining out of the public eye themselves. The content at issue, however, does not involve traditionally private matters [such as] … "[f]inancial records …, family affairs, illnesses, [and] embarrassing conduct with no public ramifications" as historically private matters …. Nor does the potential newsworthiness of the letters' content or of the authors' relationships with Saltzman establish that publication would inappropriately "gratify private spite or promote public scandal … [or] libel[]." Accordingly, the court holds that the privacy interests identified by Saltzman, while important, do not outweigh the presumption of open access to materials submitted by the defendant in support of her sentencing arguments…."

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Oct 8, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/8/2021(Buddha Field, Documentary, Spiritual Abuse, Beatles, Maharishi, India, Conspiracy Theories)

Buddha Field, Documentary, Spiritual Abuse, Beatles, Maharishi, India, Conspiracy Theories

California News Times: Inside 'cult for beautiful people' where 'monster' guru 'raped disciples' who compare him to 'Hitler' in new doc
"The horrifying reality of the lives of people "manipulated" to participate in the "cult for beautiful people" is a new documentary, as the disciples claim to have been raped by the "monster" guru. It was revealed in.

As leader Jamie Gomez provided followers with a healthy lifestyle away from sex and drugs, what started with a group of 15 quickly surged to more than 150.

However, former members of the cult (known as the Buddha Field) made disturbing claims about the progress of the group-some claim they were molested by Gomez, who was likened to "Hitler."

The horrifying claim was shared in a new documentary, Holy Hell. There, filmmaker Will Allen talks about his experience with the cult.

He claims that he and others have spent years on sexual abuse-Gomez denies this."

"In my mid-20s, I joined a spiritually uncharitable Christian sect and became spiritually harsh myself, mostly toward my own family. Of course, I didn't know this at the time.

I wouldn't say I was in a cult, but I would say that my first pastor who led the church where I gave my life to the Lord, where I was baptized, and where I first became an official church member had some very cultish leanings that were accepted and even magnified by this particular brand of Christianity.

Prior to joining this church, the weight of my sinful choices became heavier and heavier on my shoulders. In Christian speak, I was coming to "the end of myself," a place where I turned from my self-destructive ways toward God. When I finally yielded my life to him, God began to heal me and set me free from that past, and he used this pastor and faith family to do so.

This season was full of loving fervor toward God, toward the people in the church I belonged to, and toward my pastor in particular. I would often counsel with him and when he spoke, it was like through his words and his counsel, God parted the Red Sea of my jumbled mind and deposited his truth on that dry ground to reform my thoughts.

Not having been raised in a church, I found all of this so healing, so freeing, and so beautiful.

Then, this pastor began a radio show, which he was going to use as a medium to share his biblical view of the world — mostly in the political arena. By starting this radio show, I guess he thought he was going to be the next Rush Limbaugh, only with a Christian flair.

I loved listening to it at first, and while I can't remember any, I'm sure he made some brilliant points. I even used my talents as a writer to craft a press release about his new show's launch to be sent to the local media.

But in time, his words grew coarser toward "those" people: gays, Democrats, non-Christians, etc. So, my words became coarser when talking about "them," too. His self-righteousness grew in the pulpit. So, my self-righteousness grew in my relationships with others. His way of being a Christian became the best and only way. So, by following him and his manner, I was showing the world the best and only way to be a Christian."a
"The memory of the Beatles' relationship with India is revived in this engaging documentary, and if there isn't much really new here, it's still salutary to be reminded of how these four young men – and it's amazing to remember that they were only in their 20s, as Craig Brown's book One Two Three Four points out – used their colossal influence, greater than any politician or movie star or religious leader, to direct the world's attention to India, a country which until then had been opaque for many in the west.

The film amusingly notes that, before this, India had been just as crazed with western Beatlemania as anyone else, with a popular Beatles-style band called the Savages, and Shammi Kapoor bopping around wearing a Beatles wig in Bhappi Sonie's 1965 film Janwar.

George Harrison visited India in 1966 to take sitar lessons from Ravi Shankar, and his humility and creative curiosity is still moving. In 1968, all four Beatles (Ringo Starr carrying a second suitcase full of tins of Heinz baked beans) went to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh in the foothills of the Himalayas, where they earnestly pursued transcendental meditation, experienced a summer of spiritual love and wound up composing most of the songs on the White Album."

".... Mike Kropveld, the founder and director of the Montreal-based non-profit organisation Info-Secte and who once helped rescue a friend from a religious sect, launched a new support group for people with friends, spouses or family members who have become extreme proponents of conspiracy theories and other fringe beliefs or groups.   

"Emotionally and psychologically, these situations can be very draining for a family member and they need to talk with people who are in similar situations," he said. "The pandemic just increased the need because we got more and more calls."

The support group includes volunteer psychologists and other healthcare professionals. Their aim is to help families and friends deal with what they often feel is a "hopeless" situation. 

"Bringing someone back to how they were before is a long process, if at all possible," Kropveld said, noting the conspiracy theorists are so "emotionally tied" to their beliefs that any attempt to try to prove them wrong is likely to backfire and may instead aggravate the situation."

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Cults101.org 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 cultintervention@gmail.com.