Nov 30, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 11/29/2021 (Maharishi Inc., Children of God, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Legal)

Maharishi Inc., Children of God, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Legal

Trustpilot: Every once in a while something resembling a reality-based view of the TM organization properties on Trustpilot leaks through, as in these recent reviews.
"After decades of persecuting, emotionally abusing, destroying mentally, discarding, or otherwise antagonizing thousands of sidhas, the TMOrg has shriveled down to nothing. Their latest effort to make the TM course more affordable is just a desperate last ditch campaign to replenish the ranks with new zealots.

The Cult of Mahesh is no joke."

Cosmopolitan: This Is What It Was Like to Grow Up in Notorious Sex Cult the Children of God
"For the first time, Faith Jones, the granddaughter of David Berg—the man who founded the infamous cult known as the Children of God—is sharing never-before-told, highly detailed stories of her upbringing. Growing up on an isolated farm in Macao, Faith prayed for hours every day and read letters of prophecy written by her grandfather. Over decades, the Children of God grew into an international organization that became notorious for its alarming sex practices and allegations of abuse and exploitation. With indomitable grit, Faith survived, and at age 23, she broke away from the cult, leaving behind everything she knew to forge her own path in America. In the below excerpts from Faith's forthcoming memoir Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away From the Children of God, a Wild, Radical, Religious Cult, you'll learn disturbing details about her childhood and about how difficult it was for her to have a "normal" relationship after leaving the cult."
Defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is facing another sexual abuse lawsuit, from a man who claims McCarrick abused him in the 1980s when McCarrick was serving in New Jersey.

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In Clearwater, no clear path for addressing Scientology-related land buys

City officials express concern but say there’s little they can do.

Tracey McManus
Tampa Bay Times
November 29, 2021

As companies tied to the Church of Scientology continue to buy more properties around downtown and keep them vacant, City Council member Mark Bunker on Monday proposed that city officials try to “understand what the hell is going on.”

The Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this month that limited liability companies managed or operated by members of Scientology have bought 45 parcels in the North Marina Area bordering downtown since July 2019. The companies paid $11.8 million in cash but have done little with the mostly undeveloped lots and vacant buildings.

The pattern mirrors what occurred downtown between 2017 and 2019, when companies managed by parishioners purchased 100 properties and have since kept about half of them empty.

Both sets of purchases come as the city is spending millions on Imagine Clearwater, a major redevelopment of the downtown waterfront aimed at attracting investment and bringing life to the area.

The church itself was not involved in the acquisitions, according to Scientology spokesperson Ben Shaw.

During the council’s work session on Monday, Bunker suggested the purchases fit “a pattern of how Scientology behaves” and that the city should ask the state attorney or the federal government to convene a grand jury with subpoena power to investigate potential coordination by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

“I think we should consider this not as ‘Oh, it’s a church in the area,’” Bunker said. “Many people consider (it) organized crime and I don’t think that’s a stretch.”

Allegations of criminal activity, from human rights abuses to financial fraud, have swirled around Scientology since the church arrived in Clearwater under a false name in 1975. But no evidence has led to criminal convictions in the U.S. since around 1980, when 11 members of Scientology went to federal prison on charges related to government espionage.

Bunker’s colleagues said on Monday that the same dynamic appears to be playing out with the property acquisitions, leaving little evidence for the city to act on.

Council member David Allbritton acknowledged his concern around the purchases connected to Scientology but at the same time said “buying property is not illegal” and that “there’s nothing we can do about it.”

“I realize a lot of people have overpaid for properties and they bought them and they are sitting on them doing nothing because that’s what they’ve been told to do, I know that,” Allbritton said. “Because nobody buys a property, overpays for it and doesn’t get a return on it somehow right away.”

Allbritton also said it would be “so ludicrous” to ask the FBI to investigate the property acquisitions because “you can’t investigate something unless you have cause.”

“I mean you might not like the Catholic Church, let’s go after them, they own a lot of property,” Allbritton continued.

Bunker drew comparisons between the pattern of property acquisitions downtown and events in Scientology history.

He noted how the IRS granted Scientology tax exempt status in 1993 after Miscavige met with the agency’s then-commissioner. The church and parishioners then dropped more than 50 lawsuits they had filed against the IRS and its agents.

Bunker also noted that after the Cult Awareness Network went into bankruptcy in 1996, some of its assets were purchased by groups represented by Steven Hayes, an attorney and member of Scientology. The hotline created to counsel families with loved ones in mind control groups was then acquired and rebranded by members of Scientology.

Hayes is one of two parishioners who manage or operate the companies that bought the 45 properties in North Marina since 2019.

“There’s a pattern here,” Bunker said.

In response to a request for comment about Monday’s discussion, Shaw, the Scientology spokesperson, said in a statement that Bunker “is unfit for public office due to his continued harassment.” He also referenced a permanent injunction that prevents Bunker from coming within 10 feet of any member of Scientology.

The injunction also applies to members of the church coming into contact with Bunker. It was issued by a Pinellas County judge in 2001 following months of chaotic protests downtown between members of Scientology and the Lisa McPherson Trust, a nonprofit established in memory of a woman who died in Scientology’s care. Bunker worked as the group’s filmmaker.

“The Church has been and is and will always be willing to work with the City in the spirit of the Urban Land Institute recommendation of a City and Church partnership,” Shaw said, referencing a consultant’s report from 2004 urging a partnership for downtown revitalization.

City Attorney David Margolis said whether or not illegal activity is taking place, the city could take one of three approaches: partner with church officials, effectively ignore them or take “some kind of path of conflict, whether that is a path with law enforcement or through other means.”

“Which of those three philosophies to pursue is really a decision for council,” Margolis said, adding discussions about that can occur in the one-on-one meetings council members have weekly with him and City Manager Jon Jennings.

Mayor Frank Hibbard said he finds the property acquisitions concerning and that he has tried to think strategically about how to make downtown better.

“I don’t find the behavior to be rational,” Hibbard said of the purchases. “So at some point if rational behavior does not break out, that’s going to be an issue.”

One strategy Hibbard raised is the potential for land swaps with the church. The city owns several downtown parcels that Scientology has coveted, which “are not as strategic” for Clearwater as properties owned by the church or companies managed by parishioners.

“I think there’s different things we can look at, both carrots and sticks,” he said.

CultNEWS101 Articles: 11/30/2021 (Shincheonji, Korea, Legal, Mother of God, LGBT, Conversion Therapy, France)

Shincheonji, Korea, Legal, Mother of God, LGBT, Conversion Therapy, France

BBC: 'Wait a second, am I in a cult?'
"There are believed to be as many as 2,000 suspected cults currently operating in the UK and many of them recruit students.

Jess, a former physiotherapy student, was recruited into the Shincheonji Church of Jesus on the campus of the University of Salford.

Jess says she "didn't recognise herself" when she was with them.

A spokesperson for Shincheonji says they are not a cult and deny controlling or manipulating members.

The University of Salford says its campus is open to the public which can cause challenges with external organisations."

The Guardian: South Korea: cult whose leader 'heals' by poking eyes at centre of Covid outbreak
At least 241 people linked to religious community test positive for virus.

"A little known sect led by a pastor who pokes eyes to heal is at the centre of a Covid outbreak in South Korea, as the country reported a new daily record of 4,116 cases and battles a rise in serious cases straining hospitals.

In a tiny, rural church in a town of 427 residents in Cheonan city, south of Seoul, at least 241 people linked to the religious community tested positive for coronavirus, a city official told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We believe the scale of the outbreak is large …" the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement.

About 90% of the religious community are unvaccinated and the majority are in close contact through communal living.

Many of the congregation are in their 60s and above and are unvaccinated, the city official said. Just 17 out of the 241 confirmed cases had been vaccinated."

Rolling Stone: From 'Mother God' to Mummified Corpse: Inside the Fringe Spiritual Sect 'Love Has Won'
"Amy Carlson was supposed to be the incarnate of Marilyn Monroe, Joan of Arc, and Jesus Christ. When she shed her Earthly body for the latest time, authorities found her followers still worshiping it — shedding light on the group many have called a 'cult''"

RFI: Gay conversion therapy victims push France towards banning 'medieval' practice
"As a teenager, Frenchman Benoit Berthe was subjected to sessions led by a charismatic Catholic movement to "cure" him of his homosexuality. Traumatised, he went on to co-found Rien à guérir (Nothing to heal) – a collective that has helped bring a bill before parliament criminalising conversion therapies in France."

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.




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Russia comments on US 'religious freedom' claims

November 30, 2021

Russia isn't cracking down on religious minorities, and claims to the contrary are part of a concerted smear campaign by the US, a senior Moscow diplomat has insisted after Washington added the country to a rights blacklist.

“The Americans’ categorical statement on ‘egregious violations of religious freedom’ is outrageous,” Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry Gennady Askaldovich told journalists on Monday. “We must repeat again and again that there is no religious persecution in Russia. There is no one who could be considered a ‘prisoner of conscience’ even at a stretch. I remind you, that in the Russian justice system punishment is decided based on facts and on the severity of the misdemeanor and crime.”

The diplomat’s comments come after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken included Russia on a list of countries that Washington believes violate freedoms of believers. “Certainly, this typical American attack, which fits in a series of other unfriendly actions by the US in relation to our country, will not go unnoticed,” Askaldovich went on.

“We will expose the Americans’ desire to use the religious factor for the realization of their global ambitions. This example of crude American pressure is not our way,” he blasted.

Earlier this month, Blinken announced ten countries Washington claims are “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom." In addition to Russia, the list included China, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Eritrea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan. Nigeria, which had been on the list last year, was removed.

“In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Blinken said at the time.

Moscow maintains that the US is politicizing the religious sphere and using ‘human rights’ as a pretext for sanctions. “Have the steps taken by the Americans, their dictate and their political pressure, led to any positive results?” asked Askaldovich. “If I’m not mistaken, there are no examples in the history of international relations. It is an inertial approach, driving a situation that requires delicacy, tact, and restraint into a dead end.”

The most common religion in Russia is Orthodox Christianity, which, according to a 2017 Pew Forum survey, around 70% of people say is their faith, while the country has one of the largest Muslim minorities in the world. Moscow has, however, come under fire from international groups for effectively outlawing Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious organization. The group was termed ‘extremist’ in 2017 by the Russian Supreme Court over beliefs and activities that officials say are harmful to society. Those breaching the ruling face arrest and prosecution.

However, earlier this month, the Supreme Court banned the criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses for worshiping together. The justices said that joint prayers among members of banned religious organizations “consisting exclusively in the exercise of their right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, including through individual or joint profession of religion…do not contain elements of extremism.”

Guru-Free: Laura Tucker on Safety for Seekers

Guru-Free: Laura Tucker on Safety for Seekers
A Little Bit Culty: Episode Seven
November 29, 2021

"In 2009, Laura Tucker attended a Sedona spiritual retreat and sweat lodge hosted by charismatic spiritual teacher James Arthur Ray. It all went tragically wrong, resulting in the deaths of fellow attendees Liz Neuman, Kirby Brown and James Shore. In this episode, Laura chats with Sarah and Nippy about her experience, what it means to practice safe spiritual seeking, and the dark side of self help.

More about today’s guest: Laura Tucker is the host of the Free Your Inner Guru® Podcast, a photographer, writer, and a self-described ‘recovering coach.’ A creative at heart, Laura likes to explore, figure things out, create stunning visuals, and nuanced conversations. As an insight provoking leader and speaker, Laura has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders become more self aware so they can lead more intuitively. She is a former high school teacher, trainer, sales professional, multi entrepreneur, consultant and leadership coach. She survived the 2009 fatal “sweat lodge” at a self help retreat in Sedona. You may recognize her from Enlighten Us, a CNN Films/Netflix documentary about the self help industry and the Wondery Podcast Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment. She has also appeared on CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin and William Shatner’s The UnXplained."

Listen to Podcast

Groundbreaker: Moira Penza on Prosecuting NXIVM

Groundbreaker: Moira Penza on Prosecuting NXIVM
A Little Bit Culty: Episode Six
November 22, 2021

"If you watched “The Vow” or have followed the fall of NXIVM, you know Moira Kim Penza as the prosecutor who brought Keith Raniere to justice. Her accomplishments are mighty: Like Keith’s conviction on all counts including racketeering and sex trafficking and a brisk 120 year sentence. Moira’s groundbreaking approach to the case has been credited with paving the way for other sex trafficking prosecutions against powerful individuals. In other words: She’s a total badass. In this episode, Moira sits down with Sarah and Nippy to talk about what it’s like to take on a world-class dirtbag (our wording, not hers) and what really chaps her ass about NXIVM’s Voldemort.
More about today’s guest: Moira is now in private practice as a litigator, and a partner at Wilkinson Stekloff. Crain’s New York business named her in the 40 under 40 list, she’s been ranked as one of Bloomberg Law’s 40 under 40, and her legal analysis has been featured in The NY Times, CNN, ABC, NPR and Daily Beast."

Nov 29, 2021

Berland's son-in-law, follower named as suspects in cold case murders linked to sect

Tzvi Tzucker was head of Shuvu Bonim cult’s ‘modesty patrol’ at the time 17-year-old Nissim Shitrit disappeared; police tell court they plan to charge ex-minister’s son

Times of Israel
November 29, 2021

The son-in-law of convicted sex offender Eliezer Berland and another follower of the extremist Shuvu Bonim sect were named on Monday as two of the suspects in the cold case murder and suspected murder tied to the cult.

The names of the two were permitted to be published after a ruling by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

The first suspect was named as Tzvi Tzucker, Berland’s son-in-law who served as head of the ultra-Orthodox sect’s “religious police.” He left the sect a few years ago amid the allegations of sexual abuse against his father-in-law.

Tzucker has denied all involvement in the killings.

The second suspect was named as Baruch Sharvit, a member of Berland’s cult. According to Channel 13 news, Sharvit has admitted to investigators that he killed 17-year-old Nissim Shitrit and has implicated other suspects.

Earlier this month, Kan news reported that Sharvit met with Berland in the interrogation room, where the sect leader instructed his follower to provide information to the investigators.

According to the report, Sharvit then admitted to playing a role in the murder of Shitrit as well as the killing of 41-year-old Avi Edri. Sharvit was said to have additionally incriminated other suspects.

Shitrit was allegedly beaten by the sect’s “religious police” four months before he disappeared in January 1986.

In a documentary broadcast by Kan in 2020, one of Berland’s former disciples said that the religious police murdered the boy, dismembered him and buried his body in Eshtaol Forest near Beit Shemesh. His remains were never found and the case was never solved.

Edri was found beaten to death in Ramot Forest in the north of Jerusalem in 1990.

According to reports, police told the court on Monday they also intend to charge the son of a former senior cabinet minister who was arrested earlier this month in connection with the investigation. His identity has not been cleared for publication.

Police say their investigations into the suspected murder of Shitrit and the murder of Edri are tied to the Shuvu Bonim sect, run by Berland.

Last week, police told the court that the current mayor of an ultra-Orthodox city was also present and played an active role in the murder of Edri. The mayor was 17 years old at the time.

The mayor’s attorney told reporters that his client “has nothing to do with the grave affair and has no idea how his name was insinuated into it.”

Police have previously said that some of those arrested were questioned over allegations of kidnapping, murder, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Not all are suspected of direct involvement in the killings.

Berland, the head of the sect, currently in prison for fraud, was remanded earlier this month to allow his continued interrogation in connection to the murders. A police representative said that there was evidence showing Berland’s responsibility for, and involvement in, the killings.

The cult-like Shuvu Bonim offshoot of the Bratslav Hasidic sect has had repeated run-ins with the law, including attacking witnesses.

Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted several female followers. After evading arrest for three years and slipping through various countries, Berland returned to Israel and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2016, on two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault, as part of a plea deal that included seven months of time served. He was freed just five months later, in part due to his ill health.

Berland was arrested for fraud in February 2020, after hundreds of people filed police complaints saying that he had sold prayers and pills to desperate members of his community, promised families of individuals with disabilities that their loved ones would be able to walk, and told families of convicted felons that their relatives would be freed from prison.

Berland entered prison last month after he was convicted of fraud in June, in a plea deal that saw him sentenced to 18 months.

Human Trafficking Lawsuit Filed Against Portland Church

Human Trafficking Lawsuit Filed Against Portland Church
J. Williams
Oregon Faith Report
November 29, 2021

"A 26-year-old woman filed a lawsuit against a Southeast Portland church and its former pastor, alleging sexual abuse, human trafficking, forced labor and battery.

The woman was 20 and just released from rehab when a friend dropped her off at The Living Room Coffeehouse, a business on Southeast Tacoma Street run by the Adsideo Church, which operated out of homes in the Sellwood neighborhood.

Church leaders told her to turn over her phone, all electronic devices, and her purse, according to the Oregonian/Oregon Live. She lived in a church house with the pastor, Jimmy Ellis Wicks Jr., 53, and his family. Although she worked for the church, leaders kept her wages to cover her room and board and “mandatory church tithing,” her lawsuit claims. Wicks sent text messages asking her to masturbate as therapy and let him watch on FaceTime. He also urged her to use sex toys provided by a co-pastor, a woman named in the lawsuit who said she the man described as “a father figure” in the church also victimized her.

From January to April, Wicks then summoned the 26-year-old to him day and night and forced her to have sex with him, according to the lawsuit, which seeks recompense for unpaid labor from 2015 through 2021, $50,000 for future medical damages, and $1.5 million in noneconomic damages. A church business is also named as a defendant.

After allegations arose in April, church member Jiung “John” Bang said, leaders notified police and asked Wicks to resign as pastor. Portland Police have made no arrests in the case.

“There is no pastor right now,” said Bang, whose law firm is the church’s registered agent. “Right now, the church is kind of in flux because the pastor has been asked to leave because of these horrible things that he did.”

He told the Oregonian/Oregon Live that the church is focusing on the victims.

'It was important to listen to the women, to listen to their experiences and to help them heal,' he said. 'These last few months have been focused on healing for all.'”

In Good Spirits

Carissa Schumacher channels the dead for her A-list celebrity clients. But most days, she’s in the forest.
Carissa Schumacher channels the dead for her A-list celebrity clients.
But most days, she’s in the forest.

Irina Aleksander
The New York Times
November 26, 2021

Last Saturday night, a group gathered at the Flamingo Estate in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles to meet the spiritual adviser Carissa Schumacher.

At the front of an open-air room, a seat awaited Ms. Schumacher under a large floral arch. After guests, including the actresses Jennifer Aniston and Uma Thurman, filled the rows of chairs, others moved to the floor. Andie MacDowell reclined on a rug among a heap of pillows. Ms. Schumacher was supposed to appear at 8:30 p.m. A gospel choir sang while everyone sat around and glanced at Ms. Schumacher’s empty chair and at each other.

Since 2010, Ms. Schumacher has worked as a medium, meaning someone who receives messages from people who have died. She doesn’t have a website and is often booked months in advance. Her prices are another obstacle, with sessions priced at $1,111 per hour. (She likes the synchronicity of the number.)

Ms. Schumacher might fall under a category of so-called New Age practitioners. But spiritualism — the belief that the living can communicate with the dead — is very old, its popularity surging in times of high mortality rates: in the Victorian era, for example, and after major wars in the United States and Europe.

In late 2019, just as the world was on the precipice of a plague of biblical proportions, Ms. Schumacher said she began channeling Yeshua, a.k.a. Jesus Christ. Transcribed recordings of some of those sessions appear in a new book, “The Freedom Transmissions,” out Nov. 30.

The party was for the book, but it was also a chance for her clients, many of whom hadn’t experienced the Yeshua channeling, to see what it was all about. Maybe she would channel him at the party. No one was quite sure.

Ms. Aniston, who’s been seeing Ms. Schumacher since 2019, has a Rolodex of healers, astrologers and numerologists that she’s acquired over the last 30 years. Ms. Schumacher’s advice, she said, has helped her navigate personal struggles, work and friendships. “The Yeshua channeling thing is way out there,” she had told me earlier, “and for some people, it’s going to be insane this idea of someone channeling Jesus, but it’s more about this message that she’s tapped into. Everything she’s communicated to me just resonates with me and excites me.”

Rooney Mara, another client, couldn’t make it to the party, but spoke to me by phone. She hadn’t experienced Yeshua’s transmissions, but was open to the idea. “I’m pretty much open to everything,” she said, adding, “I think because she’s channeling Yeshua, that automatically closes the door for some people. But she could be channeling anyone. It doesn’t close the door for me.”

Ms. Schumacher finally appeared a little after 9:30 p.m. A petite woman of 39, she walked tentatively toward the front of the room, removed her metallic gold heels, and sat cross-legged beneath the giant floral wreath, which now looked like a halo. The wall behind her was covered in photos of rainbows.

“We love you so much!” someone screamed. She put her hands together in prayer and nodded to a few fans around the room. “For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Carissa,” she said. “I knew my whole life that I would be a channel for Yeshua.”

‘Lost Souls’

A few weeks earlier, I had met Ms. Schumacher at her home in Escondido, Calif., outside San Diego, where she lives with her partner, David Carnell, a mission assurance engineer at a defense technology company. “Hello, beloved!” Ms. Schumacher said, embracing me while their two rescue dogs milled at our feet. (“Beloved” is how Yeshua addresses readers in the book.)

Ms. Schumacher wore brown leggings, suede brown boots and a turquoise hooded sweatshirt, saying that she mostly wears Faded Glory, Wal-Mart’s clothing label. A tangle of Native American medicine necklaces jangled around her neck, a gift from a Cherokee healer. Ms. Schumacher grabbed a turquoise JanSport backpack and we headed out to the Elfin Forest, a vast recreational reserve near her home.

Ms. Schumacher estimated that she goes to Los Angeles almost never. She doesn’t like the collective feeling of dashed hopes that tends to fester there. “There’s this tragic lost souls energy,” she said. “I think a lot of people go there to become something or to find themselves, and very rarely do they actually.” What they find instead are the cults, gurus, healers, psychics and the swollen egos that drive them. Ms. Schumacher doesn’t want to be known for any of the above. “I hate talking about myself,” she said. “But I have a lot to say about my journey with Yeshua.”

Not that she doesn’t understand how that sounds. “I can’t even say ‘channel for Jesus’ without laughing,” she said. “It sounds so freaking blasphemous! And frankly, really insane.”

Ms. Schumacher isn’t the only medium to attest to channeling biblical figures. Besides Esther Hicks, whose best-selling “Law of Attraction” series in part inspired the popular 2006 documentary “The Secret” and was based on messages she said she received from “Abraham,” there are also authors who tour lecture halls with the promise of channeling John the Apostle and the Virgin Mary.

Susan Gerbic, the founder of Guerrilla Skeptics, a group that conducts sting operations of people she calls “grief vampires,” told me that the invocation of religion was consistent with a psychic’s desire to feel special. “If you are in conversation with dead biblical figures, then that is really special and holds a lot of power,” she said, adding that it also served as a shield against skeptics. “Who’s going to attack someone who’s playing the religion card?”

Ms. Schumacher told me that she tries to avoid the spotlight. “I say no to everything,” she said. Among the things she has said no to were a potential TV show with Discovery Studios and another that the actor Rob Lowe, also a client, proposed in which Ms. Schumacher would channel for other celebrities. She wanted to say no to the book party too, she said, but her fans convinced her the party was really for Yeshua.

She recalled something Brad Pitt once told her. “Brad said that in the beginning of his career, he never knew that the cost of having a public life would be his freedom,” she said, “I’ve heard that in the back of my mind all this time.”

We settled on a cluster of rocks above a stream, where Ms. Schumacher pulled a pipe out of her backpack, packed it with kinnikinnik — a Native American smoking mixture — and began to recount how she became a channel for Yeshua. “People are like, ‘Oh, it must be so amazing being Yeshua’s channel,’ and it’s not,” she said. “I meant it is, but it requires a huge amount of discipline.

‘Searching for Something’

Ms. Schumacher was raised in Westport, Conn. Her father, a Catholic who became Unitarian, worked for Pitney Bowes, the mail services company. Her mother taught English as a Second Language classes. In grade school, a cemetery field trip earned her the nickname “Crazy Carrie” after she called out the names on the graves before her class would reach them. It stuck with her until middle school, when she was bullied again for developing early. “I struggled a lot with self esteem, and some of that resulted in feeling like I needed to please guys,” she said, “so that I can feel loved and wanted.”

Ms. Schumacher attended Brown University, where she majored in cognitive neuroscience. She went on to work in biotech, and eventually landed in San Diego at NovaRx, a pharmaceutical company developing a lung cancer vaccine. She was vague describing her time at the company. “I was pretty traumatized,” she said. “I felt like I was dying. I just needed to let everything die.” I asked if she felt comfortable explaining what she meant. “Are you talking about the New York Post story?” she asked.

In 2006, Justin Murdock, the Dole Pineapple heir, became the C.E.O. of NovaRx, after he and his father, David Murdock, invested $35 million in the company. In 2010, Ms. Schumacher accused Justin Murdock of sexual harassment, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Mr. Murdock’s lawyer, in a comment for this article, said that the case was dismissed with prejudice and that there was no merit to Ms. Schumacher’s claims.

After leaving the company, Ms. Schumacher moved to the Elfin Forest. One day, she said, she returned home from a hike and felt a blue flame swirl down her spine. She heard glass shatter and a baby cry. She said this is when she first felt Yeshua’s energy.

Her naturopathic doctor suggested she meet Danielle Gibbons, who lives in southern Oregon and says she has been channeling the Virgin Mary since 1994. (She has a YouTube channel.) In 2011, Ms. Schumacher attended Ms. Gibbons’s workshop in Los Angeles, and subsequently booked private sessions with her roughly once a year. Ms. Gibbons told me that she didn’t know Ms. Schumacher was a Yeshua channel until much later, in 2019.

Ms. Schumacher said that she spent the next decade preparing her channel for Yeshua. She meditated daily, cut out sugar and caffeine, and limited her diet to five foods: broccoli, cauliflower, turkey, chicken and watermelon. “If someone’s channel is diluted,” she said, “there’s a kind of film or gunk that the energy gets stuck in and can’t push through.”

Ms. Schumacher, who dated men and women in her 20s, assumed she would also have to be celibate. But then she kept getting a message, “David with a black dog.” She signed up for Mr. Carnell’s profile, which had a photo of him with a black dog, was the first one that popped up. When she took him to a John Mayer concert for his birthday, he understood when she suddenly had to go channel the dead lover and brother of a woman in another row. “That’s love,” she said.

By 2013, Ms. Schumacher had started channeling for friends, then friends of friends, and eventually put on free events. She also received a message in a dream to lead her followers into the desert. She began hosting journeys to Sedona, Ariz., where she invited clients for meditations in caves and occasionally channeled their dead relatives.

Ms. Mara attended such a journey in 2018. She first wrote to Ms. Schumacher under an alias when she had just finished filming “Mary Magdalene,” a 2019 film in which Ms. Mara starred. “The first session was just out of this world incredible,” Ms. Mara said. Other mediums were more vague, making generalized statements that could apply to anyone. But Ms. Schumacher, she said, knew specifics about her family that no one could have known. “Even if she did somehow figure out who I was,” Ms. Mara said.

Ms. Schumacher then invited her to Sedona. “I was definitely scared and slightly resistant to it,” Ms. Mara said. “I think I pulled up and almost turned right back around. But after a few hours I was like, ‘Nope, I can trust these people. We’re all just human here, searching for something.’”

Ms. Schumacher thinks of her referral system like trees, with each person referring six others. Rain Phoenix, Joaquin’s sister, referred Ms. Mara, who then referred the director David Fincher — “we had a really ‘wow’ session,” Ms. Schumacher said — who then referred Brad Pitt. Mr. Pitt also didn’t write his real name, but signed his initials. “I thought he was Brad Paisley,” Ms. Schumacher said. (Mr. Fincher could not be reached; Mr. Pitt declined to comment.)

Ms. Aniston was referred via a totally different tree, specifically “the Rob Lowe tree.” When she received a session with Ms. Schumacher for her 50th birthday in 2019, Ms. Schumacher revealed details about the death of a relative that gave Ms. Aniston clarity about her childhood. “One moment after the next just left my jaw on the floor and tears streaming out of my eyes,” Ms. Aniston said.

Later that year, Ms. Aniston attended a Sedona journey, which included a heart-opening ceremony. “My heart might have been closed down for the last 15 years or so for whatever reason,” she told me. (I wasn’t sure if she was referring to her divorce from Mr. Pitt in 2005, and I didn’t ask.)

Ms. Aniston said it is not typical for her to do anything with groups of strangers. “Normally that would paralyze me with fear,” she said. “For someone who’s built a life of walls and protection and suspicion and being, you know, a public person, it was probably the greatest gift I’ve had in terms of human experience in a long, long time.” By the end, she said, “I just put my arms around 29 strangers and thanked them for their vulnerability.”

Ms. Aniston left that journey early, and the next day Ms. Schumacher said that Yeshua spoke through her for the first time. Those who’ve witnessed it since then say that Ms. Schumacher’s voice and body change. Yeshua’s voice is deeper, more measured, and has a slight British accent.

When I asked what it’s like to channel Yeshua, Ms. Schumacher said, “It feels like I’m being flushed down a toilet. I go whoosh! And he comes up. I breathe a lot. My body shakes.” On journeys, someone is tasked with holding down her ankles. Coming back into her body is hard, she said. “It’s a little bit like … womp, womp.”

Only Human

In the fall of 2020, Ms. Schumacher emailed recordings of Yeshua transmissions to her clients. Among them was Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, who was referred to Ms. Schumacher after leaving her longtime job running the literary department at WME. She thought Yeshua’s teachings could be a book and connected Ms. Schumacher with the publisher of Harper One, which will release “The Freedom Transmissions.”

Though there’s some Christian iconography in it — references to the crucifixion, for instance — the rest is a more neutral smorgasbord of divine power surrender, Buddhism, repairing the fragmented self after trauma, and accessing “the God self,” a reference to Carl Jung.

Ms. Rudolph Walsh said that Yeshua’s teachings changed her entire nervous system. “I don’t react to the weather,” she said. “I don’t report the weather. I am the weather. And the weather is always peace.”

I asked Ms. Rudolph Walsh if she believed that Yeshua was truly speaking through Ms. Schumacher. “To me, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It matters what is being said. But do I personally believe she’s channeling Yeshua? Yes, I do.”

Later I asked Ms. Gerbic, the psychic skeptic, if she believed there were any legitimate mediums in the world. “I could give you the long answer about how we don’t know all things yet and science does not know everything, but I think you know my answer: It’s all BS,” she wrote in an email. “And the way I know this isn’t because I’ve been doing this for so long, and know many people who have been doing this for so long. But because it is NOT possible to communicate with dead people. They are dead.”

Ms. Schumacher pointed out that Ms. Gerbic hasn’t met her or read her book. “If people want to judge, it’s their choice to do so,” she said. She also wanted to be clear that Yeshua is not her alter ego. “And frankly that type of response is exactly what was said to Mary Magdalene,” she said. (According to some Christian texts, after Jesus came to Magdalene in a vision, his disciple Peter ridiculed her.)

Back at the party in Los Angeles, Ms. Schumacher held court. She had already signed a deal for two more books of Yeshua transmissions. A fashion designer offered to dress her for the event, but Ms. Schumacher bought a used turquoise Express dress online and wore that instead.

“Yeshua invites us to set our burdens down,” she told her audience. “The problem with burdens — where is Jenna? We were just talking about this.” She searched the room for the actress Jenna Dewan, who attended her first Sedona journey the year her divorce from Channing Tatum was finalized. Ms. Schumacher said the only way to freedom was through forgiveness. “Your freedom cannot be taken away when you lose your fortune or get put in a tabloid or whatever you people have to deal with,” she said. (Everyone laughed.)

Ms. Schumacher’s fans say that she is far from a cult leader: There’s no indoctrination, they say, no mind control, no shame or isolation involved. “It’s not going to be for everybody,” Ms. Aniston said. “But as long as it’s not harming anyone, I feel that to each his own. Whatever makes it easier to walk through this world with a lighter step, especially today.”

But Ms. Mara told me that it’s good to be wary. “Any time you’re looking to any one person for all the answers, that’s a problem,” she said. “Carissa is human like the rest of us, so you have to take from it what resonates and leave the rest.”

Ms. Schumacher decided ultimately that the vibe at the Flamingo Estate wasn’t conducive to channeling Yeshua. (“I am not a go-go-gadget channel,” she told me.) Instead she channeled Kenneth, a guest’s dead father who she said liked fishing and fixing cars. Kenneth’s son, John, wiped his eyes, as did many others in the room. “I’m sorry,” Ms. Schumacher said.

“Don’t be,” John said. “I loved it.”

Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.
A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 28, 2021, Section ST, Page 12 of the New York edition with the headline: She Found the Voice She Had Been Waiting For.

Nov 24, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 11/24/2021 (Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, Sex Trafficking, Philippines, Conservatorship)

Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, Sex Trafficking, Philippines, Conservatorship

SFGate: Philippine church leader charged with child sex trafficking
"The leader of a Philippines-based church was charged with having sex with women and underage girls who faced threats of abuse and "eternal damnation" unless they catered to the self-proclaimed "son of God," federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Apollo Carreon Quiboloy and two of his top administrators are among nine people named in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury last week and unsealed Thursday. The indictment includes three Los Angeles-based administrators of Quiboloy's church who were charged last year. The new indictment also names a church administrator in Hawaii.

Quiboloy, 71, is head of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, founded in 1985. The church claims to have 6 million members in about 200 countries. Its United States headquarters is in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.

The church backed the 2016 candidacy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend of Quiboloy. Duterte used the group's radio and TV program in southern Davao city to express his views on issues way back when he was mayor of the southern port city."

Asian Journal: What Will Happen To Televangelist Apollo Quiboloy's Media Empire? Duterte's Friend And Spiritual Adviser Indicted In The US For Sex Trafficking
"'PASTOR' Apollo Quiboloy, founder and chairman of the mega-church "Kingdom of Jesus Christ" in the Philippines, made headlines again globally on Thursday, November 18, not just because of his outrageous claims about his identity and how he "brands" himself to millions of Filipinos who follow him, but because he has again been implicated in serious crimes.

This time, the man who claimed himself to be the "Owner of the Universe" and "Appointed Son of God," was indicted for a sex trafficking operation that was supported by funds solicited by donors here in the United States.

An indictment is an official accusation stating that a person is being charged with a crime and that a criminal trial will be held. An indictment is the final step in the evidence-gathering process before a person is out on trial for a serious crime.

Quiboloy, a long-time friend and the spiritual adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte, has millions of Filipino followers because of the privilege accorded to him and his media empire. Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), also known by its legal operating name Swara Sug Media Corporation, is the official broadcasting arm of The Kingdom of Jesus Christ mega-church. Duterte granted Swara Sug Media Corporation 25 years extension to operate when he signed the Republic Act. 11422 in 2019."

" ... The point of the cult was to break the girls' wills and to eradicate our identities so that we'd become compliant zombies and do whatever we were told. Cults are about power and control, and much is the same in a conservatorship, such as Britney's — the purpose is to abolish the selfhood of the conservatee, turning them into a puppet of the conservator.

In Britney's testimony, she claimed her dad controlled what she ate and whether she drank coffee. She also couldn't drive. In the cult, our diets were also controlled. The teenage girls were fed last, often only lentils and rice. For years, we weren't allowed to drink caffeine of any type, and surely not coffee. Just as Britney wasn't allowed bodily autonomy, having lithium pills forced down her throat, we also weren't in charge of our bodies."

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.

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The QAnon JFK Cult in Dallas Is Tearing Families Apart

"My sister may be too far gone, but it's not too late to bring awareness to others. Do not fall into this trap."

David Gilbert
November 22, 2021

Katy Garner and her sister grew up in a small town in Arkansas and were always close.

"We both were cheerleaders in school, made pretty good grades, and loved to just hang out with friends and each other. No one has a perfect childhood, but we had each other. We knew that. And that's what made us so close. We even have matching tattoos to remind each other of that," Garner told VICE News.

They both became nurses, and Garner's sister married a doctor and had three children.

Then, around the time of the 2020 presidential election, Garner's sister started looking at some of the conspiracy theories swirling online about how former President Donald Trump lost the vote. Ultimately she found QAnon.

"It took her about three months to become totally obsessed," Garner said. "That's all she would talk about. You could call her and somehow the conversation would turn into how we live in a world with reptilians and how the Clintons are evil baby-eaters."

Then she found Michael Brian Protzman, known to his followers as Negative48, who is the leader of a QAnon offshoot that's been camped out in Dallas for the last three weeks awaiting the return of John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr.

Garner's sister left her family behind and drove to Dallas about a month ago and has cut off almost all communication with her family.

According to Garner, her sister has so far handed over about $200,000 to the group, and is being forced to drink a hydrogen peroxide solution and take "bio pellets" to ward off COVID-19 and stay healthy. Her phone calls and messages are also being monitored, according to Garner, who believes her sister will never return.

"She left her children for this and doesn't even care. She is missing birthdays and holidays for this. She truly believes this is all real and we are the crazy ones for trying to get her to come home. But she won't," Garner said. "I don't believe she will ever come back from this. We are in mourning."

Garner's sister was one of the hundreds of people who initially traveled to Dallas to see JFK reappear on Nov. 2. However, when that didn't happen, the goalposts shifted, and Protzman convinced dozens of people that if they waited long enough, something else would happen.

Katy says her sister's brief messages to her parents have gone from "be home in a few days" to "I am not coming home, my husband can take care of the kids. I am not leaving until this is over."

While the group initially appeared to be waiting for the reappearance of JFK, over the weekend, the tone of Protzman's comments shifted dramatically. Besides proclaiming that he was God's representative on earth, he also took part in a video chat where participants openly spoke about having to experience death in order to learn the truth.

"Ultimately... we have to experience that physical death... let go... come out on the other side," one of the participants in the video call suggested.

Hours later, the administrator of Protzman's Telegram channel posted a screenshot of a navigation app showing the destination as Waco, Texas, where in 1993 a monthslong law enforcement siege of the Mount Carmel compound belonging to the Branch Davidian religious sect ended with 76 people dead, including 25 children.

The QAnon offshoot cult that has been camped out in Dallas for three weeks has been widely mocked for claiming that John F. Kennedy and his son would suddenly reappear.

But as the weeks have passed, the group's rhetoric has become increasingly extreme, and many cult and extremism experts are concerned about the direction the group has taken.

"The moment when the leaders of a cultic group start talking about the need for physical death to reach utopia is the moment to get the authorities involved," Mike Rothschild, the author of The Storm Is Upon Us, a book about QAnon, tweeted.

Caroline Orr Bueno, a behavioral scientist who researches social media manipulation and far-right extremism, compared the shift in direction of the group's rhetoric to the beliefs expressed by accused murderer Matthew Coleman earlier this year.

"These are basically the exact same spiritual/religious teachings that the guy in California was getting into just before he brutally murdered his two young children," Orr tweeted.

Several extremist researchers who are closely tracking this group's activities told VICE News that they've sent information to the FBI. The agency's Dallas field office didn't immediately respond to VICE News' request for comment about whether they are investigating or monitoring the group.

A spokesperson for the Dallas Police Department told VICE News that "the department has limited contact with the group. At this time there is no significant reason this group should be a cause of concern."

When contacted by VICE News on Sunday, Protzman did not deny the allegations about the threat his group posed to its members. But rather than responding directly to the specific questions sent to him, he lashed out at the media's coverage of his group, mocked mask-wearing, and said the media were the "whores for the 1% globalist pimps."

But for those whose family and friends are under Protzman's spell, concerns about their safety are growing by the day.

"I'm very worried about her safety," one friend of a person inside the group told VICE News, requesting anonymity to speak openly about the situation. "We don't know if she's given him any money, but her husband is about to cancel her cards. She's blowing through money fast."

The woman said her friend's husband was making the decision to cancel the credit cards because he's "worried about how he's gonna pay his mortgage this month."

In an audio chat among members of Protzman's group on Telegram, one man spoke about cashing in his retirement savings in order to fund his stay in Dallas.

As well as soliciting funds from members of the group, Protzman and his core group of supporters continue to solicit donations from the hundreds of thousands of people who follow him online.

​The financial impact on the group's members is just one concern that's been shared by members of a splinter group of former Protzman followers, who are now trying to help people to leave him.

In the Telegram channel the splinter group has set up, one woman spoke about her fiancé, who traveled to Dallas initially at the beginning of the month, returned home to Missouri, but returned to Dallas a week later, after Protzman made another prediction.

Now she's worried that her fiancé may be lost to her for good.

"I keep asking him to come home, and he keeps saying something big is going to happen and he doesn't want to miss it," a member of the Dealey Plaza Truthers group wrote. "I have already thought that perhaps my fiancé might be penniless if he stays with this group. I just hope they wake up before losing everything."

Protzman's latest deadline for "something big" to happen is Monday, the 58th anniversary of the assassination of JFK in Dallas. But once that passes without anything happening, Protzman will likely propose another date to keep people from leaving. And while Katy Garner believes her sister cannot be saved, she wants other families to be alert to the warning signs that someone is falling down the same rabbit hole as her sister.

"[Protzman] must be stopped," Garner said. "My sister may be too far gone, but it's not too late to bring awareness to others. Do not fall into this trap. Do not believe what these people say. They are all delusional and brainwashed. And if you notice a family member isolating themselves, speaking of nonsense, say something. Bring them back to reality. We didn't put two and two together. She hid this from us for a year. Don't let what happened to my family happen to yours. Pay attention and hold the ones you love tight."

Nov 22, 2021

Panama - Seven sect members guilty of demons massacre

November 21, 2021

A jury on Friday November 19 found six men and one woman guilty of the murder of seven people in El Terrón, Santa Catalina district, in the Ngäbe Buglé region in January 2020.

The investigations began after a complaint lodged by residents, who alerted the disappearance of several neighbors.

The jury of conscience declared Mario González, Olivia Virola Valdés, Marcelo Medina Valdés, Abner González, Obniel González, Amalio González, and Ariel Ríos guilty of the crimes of femicide and aggravated intentional homicide, while the Oral Trial Court declared them guilty for the crime of deprivation of liberty.

On November 15, Josafat and Abdiel González Valdés, two of the nine defendants, received a sentence of 47 years in prison; the rest had decided to accept the opinion of the jury of conscience (made up of four women and three men).

At the trial, residents of El Terrón were summoned by the prosecution to detail the activities of a sect that recruited, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered people under the pretext of driving out demons.

The Judicial Branch announced that the hearing for the individualization of the sentence was set for November 24 and, December 3, the hearing to read the sentence.

Out-of-state money flows into Clearwater City Council race

Scientology defector Aaron Smith-Levin says his campaign donations from across the U.S. show the nationwide interest in addressing the church’s impact.
Scientology defector Aaron Smith-Levin says his campaign donations from across the U.S. show the nationwide interest in addressing the church’s impact.

Tracey McManus
Tampa Bay Times
November 22, 2021

CLEARWATER — Church of Scientology defector Aaron Smith-Levin and community activist Lina Teixeira are running for Seat 5 on the City Council, but the donations they’ve received so far show just how differently their campaigns are unfolding.

Smith-Levin has slightly outraised his opponent, with $26,844 reported between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31, the first six weeks of election season, according to the most recent treasurer report. But of his 176 donors, 91 percent live outside of Clearwater and are unable to vote for him. Seventy-four percent of Smith-Levin’s donors live outside of Florida.

Teixeira has raised $21,020 with 70 percent of her 49 donors living in Clearwater, according to the most recent treasurer report. All but four of the 16 donors from outside of the city are based in Tampa Bay.

The financial reports underscore how distinct the candidates are in their platforms. Smith-Levin, 41, who walked away from Scientology in 2013 and now runs a foundation to assist people starting over after leaving the church, is running on a platform that the city should advocate for the IRS to review and revoke Scientology’s tax-exempt status.

“To me, my contributions tell me that the entire country wants to see Clearwater stand up to Scientology,” Smith-Levin said.

Teixeira, 52, has said addressing Scientology’s impact on downtown real estate is one of her top priorities, but she is also focused on making the city less reliant on tourism and bringing unity to neighborhoods.

Teixeira, an artist who has run a wine bar and her wearable fashion business downtown, said her contributions reflect the grassroots support she has from residents.

“It’s a testament to my years of service to our community as a volunteer and small business owner,” Teixeira said. “We are running a race focusing on all of the issues that affect Clearwater’s residents, including improving the quality of life, quality jobs and quality transportation systems.”

The Seat 5 incumbent, council member Hoyt Hamilton, will be vacating the seat due to term limits.

Council member David Allbritton, 70, who is running for a second term in Seat 4, has so far raised $18,645 for his reelection campaign. Allbritton has drawn support from mostly Clearwater residents, including business owners, attorneys and well-known figures in the community, such as former Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO Frank Dame and state Sen. Ed Hooper. Like Teixeira, Allbritton received $1,000 from the Florida Leadership Committee, the political committee run by former state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Allbritton has drawn two challengers. Retired data manager Gerry Lee, 74, filed on Oct. 22 to run, and community activist Maranda Douglas, 31, filed paperwork on Nov. 15. Lee and Douglas did not have donations to declare as of the most recent reporting deadline.

The announced candidates for the two at-large seats have until Dec. 17 to officially qualify for the March 15 election by obtaining signatures of 250 registered voters.

The last time a Clearwater election got as much nationwide attention was also when Scientology was a major campaign issue in the city, where the church has its international headquarters.

City Council member Mark Bunker won his five-way race for Seat 2 in March 2020 while running a campaign against alleged fraud and abuse in the church. Seventy percent of his donors were from outside of Florida. The race was also Teixeira’s first bid for office, and she outperformed Bunker in fundraising 3 to 1 with about $56,000. Bunker beat four opponents with 27 percent of vote.

When asked if his few donations from Clearwater residents could be seen as a lack of local support, Smith-Levin said that’s unlikely. He said he has so far knocked on 500 doors and received “a 100 percent positive response rate” to every voter who engaged him in conversation.

“The only support I’m hoping for from Clearwater citizens is a vote,” Smith-Levin said. “I’m not asking Clearwater voters to donate to my campaign because I’m already getting donations from all over the country.”

Teixeira said she’s also engaging with residents in neighborhoods and is “listening to their concerns and what they want for the future of our city.”

In addition to Clearwater residents, Teixeira’s treasurer report reflects more support from business and political circles, like former Mayor Brian Aungst Sr., Republican candidate for the District 13 congressional seat Amanda Makki, and businesses like Shephard’s Beach Resort and Tropical Boat Tours. She also received $1,000 from Latvala’s political committee.

“This is a grassroots campaign that will engage with citizens at the doors, in the community and online,” Teixeira said.