May 8, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/7/2021

Exclusive Brethren, New Zealand, Ole Anthony, Obituary, Edgar Cayce, Legal, Child Abuse, ARE, EU, Online Recruitment

Note: an article in yesterday's newsletter has been retracted by the publisher. "EU Reporter: Beware of false refugees, the cult nature of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God)."
"Former members of the Exclusive Brethren allege the secretive sect is breaking up families, putting members in isolation and attacking their livelihoods in order to maintain control.

Last week RNZ revealed the church, which gets millions of dollars in tax breaks each year, is using private investigators and lawyers to fend off its critics.

A chance remark to her adult daughter three years ago triggered a chain of events that has left a Christchurch woman and her husband estranged from eight of their nine children, 25 grandchildren and wider family, and repeatedly hauled before the courts.

The couple, whom RNZ has agreed not to name, blame the organisation, which now calls itself the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church."

Front Burner: Ole Anthony, R.I.P.
" ... Ole Anthony was a complicated man. Several journalists over the years tried to understand him, usually looking for the "gotcha" factoid that would reveal him to be a charlatan or a con man — and they usually found it! Insecure about his lack of a formal education, he tended to inflate his credentials and pretend to have skills he didn't have. He basked in the attention of intellectuals and media figures. He never met a microphone he didn't love. Before his conversion experience in the '70s, he was a heartless corporate creep and politician. And not just any politician — he was the kind that always bent the rules and at one time was engaged almost exclusively in the business of selling access to the Dallas mayor's office.

All these tendencies were suppressed but not extinguished by his Damascus Road experience, and they served him well as he established the Trinity Foundation and became a one-man scourge against the "prosperity gospel" religious establishment and its shameful, organized, computerized and cynical fleecing of widows and orphans. He recognized greed because he was greedy. He spotted the cons because he knew how to deal from the bottom of the deck (literally! — he had dealt blackjack in a small-time western casino). He loved the "whited sepulcher" types, the holier-than-thou preachers, because he could easily spot their hidden sexual fetishes, the secret lives that often led to the collapse of empires built on fake healing and dummy corporations used to finance their lust."

"At the Association for Research and Enlightenment's long-running summer camp in Virginia, established 90 years ago by a self-described spiritualist and clairvoyant, campers are told they'll experience "a different kind of vacation."

Sprinkled among hiking, swimming, and other traditional camp activities, A.R.E. encouraged campers to participate in unconventional pastimes, like massage trains that resembled a conga line of male counselors and young girls, hugging circles, and learning "body-mind-spirit" resources.

During the "Liberated Underwear Movement," underage campers would run through the rural grounds in their underwear. On "Goddess Night," girls would be expected to strip naked and run through a field while male staffers and fellow campers cheered them on.

Now, at least eight women have come forward to allege they were sexually harassed and abused by adult counselors and other staff members, whose ages ranged from late teens to early 40s, according to two lawsuits filed Wednesday in Virginia Beach.

"I was 12 years old the first time I was sexually assaulted by an A.R.E. counselor," one woman, identified in the lawsuit as Lynsey Doe, said during a Wednesday press conference. She alleged she was assaulted by two counselors between 2009 and 2014. "I reported the assault to camp authorities, who did nothing. When I was 16, I returned to camp and I was forced to participate in a so-called 'Forgiveness Circle,' which meant I had to hug my abuser and say I forgave him. It was a horrible, degrading experience."

The women are among dozens who say they were victims of a cult-like organization that brainwashed campers to believe in unconditional love and forgiveness—even against their abusers. The lawsuits state that victims told camp managers about assaults but were ignored and their abusers continued to work.

"A.R.E. created a cult-like atmosphere that encouraged sexually abusive behavior by these camp counselors," attorney Steve Estey, who is representing the women, said on Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges A.R.E knew of sexual abuse dating back to the late 1980s.

The lawsuits, which name Executive Director Kevin Todeschi, seek $10 million per client, as well as punitive damages.

"A proposed EU law that forces Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) to remove terrorist content within an hour of publication cleared its final hurdle after EU lawmakers gave their backing despite concerns from civil rights groups. The European Commission had proposed the law in 2018, worried about the role of such content after a series of attacks by radicalised lone-wolf attackers in several European cities. The EU executive defines online terrorist content as material inciting terrorism or aimed at recruiting or training terrorists as well as material that provides guidance on how to make and use explosives and firearms for terrorist purposes. The European Parliament approved the law late on Wednesday. Lawmaker Patryk Jaki said the legislation "balances security and freedom of speech and expression on the internet, protects legal content and access to information for every citizen in the EU, while fighting terrorism through cooperation and trust between states". The companies can face fines up to 4% of their global turnover for non-compliance. They have said they shared regulators' efforts to tackle the issue and keep the content off their platforms."

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Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

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