Jan 15, 2022

CultNEWS101 Articles: 1/15-16/2022 (Cognitive Dissonance, Islam, Spiritual Abuse, UFO, Twelve Tribes)

Cognitive Dissonance, Islam, Spiritual Abuse, UFO, Twelve Tribes

"A little more than 60 years ago, Leon Festinger published A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957). Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance has been one of the most influential theories in social psychology. It has generated hundreds and hundreds of studies, from which much has been learned about the determinants of attitudes and beliefs, the internalization of values, the consequences of decisions, the effects of disagreement among persons, and other important psychological processes. This introductory chapter presents an introduction to cognitive dissonance theory, followed by an overview of current perspectives and research on the theory. It provides a brief description on research paradigms in dissonance research and alternative accounts of dissonance phenomena."
"Spiritual abuse is certainly a topic that needs further attention from leaders and followers of different Islamic schools of thought, topped by scholars.

Religious cults are not breaking news. What's new is ground initiatives, organisations, and activism on several levels that advocate against and confront Muslim spiritual leaders' misuse of their power, or their "spiritual abuse."

In cases reported or witnessed, and usually handled outside of the legal system, Sufi sheikhs would be found taking advantage of their followers, especially women, exploiting them financially and/or physically to the extent of sexual relationships. They would also gain various benefits from their service and networks through games of manipulation, downplaying reality and threatening of displeasing Allah and His allies -- the sheikh being one of them --and so one's relationship with His Creator would be affected in case of disobedience. Islam has no immunity from any human.

Misguided, narcissist Sufi sheikhs would always ask to be given the benefit of the doubt and tell followers not to follow the sins of others. These groups would eventually lead their followers to cut off ties with the outside world and with any voice of reason in the name of sincerity, companionship, and faith. Thus, they remain hostage to the notions their sheikhs feed them, which means these groups transform into a cult where followers would face bullying and threats if they try to break away.

Muslim community activism has been astounding in this field. For the past decade, Muslims have been raising awareness against communities of cults, engaging surviving victims, encouraging them to come forward to tell their stories anonymously and overcome feelings of fear and shame, offering support, and finally, holding those who violated the trust accountable for their wrong-doings doings. Examples of this activism are "In Sheikh's Clothing," "Hurma Project," "Face," and "Heart."

It is notable that Muslim activism against spiritual abuse originated in the West, despite the phenomenon's existence in Muslim-majority countries. Yet, no similar organised civil activism can be noticed on the ground in any Arab country, for instance. Culturally, Arab Muslims tend to deny wrong-doings related to the practice of faith. There could be some working groups or even individuals who do not wish to formally announce their activism, either because they prefer to work secretly and not state publicly that such abuse exists, out of fear that it will be used by Islamophobes, or they fear the repercussions if their names are known to be active in this sphere they will be branded as conspirators against Islam."
"For those younger readers who won't remember his work, von Däniken wrote the cult non-fiction book of all cult non-fiction books. His 1968 Chariots of the Gods – subtitled, "Was God An Astronaut?" – was a fixture on every 1970s bookshelf and its argument was propounded in any number of dope-clouded student common-rooms. That argument, as the subtitle indicates, was that aliens visited our planet in the distant past, and that all sorts of archaeological oddities from the Great Pyramid at Giza to the mysterious Nazca Lines in Peru are testament to their presence.

And this spry Swiss gentleman, to whom I speak a few months before his 87th birthday, in no way resiles from that conviction. He believes that aliens mated with ancient humans and tampered with our genomes, gave us various technological and scientific leg-ups, and then left Earth with the promise to return; which, he thinks, half a century of UFO sightings indicates is a promise they made good on. He says the folk memory of these aliens – with their fiery ships descending from the heavens – is encoded in the ancient texts of religions all over the world, from the book of Ezekiel to the Mahabharata and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

We're talking because von Däniken's work is credited with having inspired the new Marvel movie The Eternals – or, at least, the 1970s comic books by Marvel's Jack "King" Kirby on which it was based. That story has as its premise that a team of superpowered aliens came to earth in 5,000BC, as part of an extraterrestrial mission to guide the development of intelligent life on the planet – which is essentially the von Däniken thesis. There's no doubt that Kirby was influenced by Chariots of the Gods, but its author has never, in turn, heard of him. "The Eternals? It's a book?" says von Däniken. "I didn't know about that, but I'm happy to hear about it."

The ideas that inspired Kirby, says von Däniken, germinated in him as the son of devout Catholic Swiss parents in a Jesuit boarding school. Crammed with Latin and Greek and immersed in the Bible, he became intrigued as to whether other religious texts shared the same myths."

New York Times: Colorado Wildfire Inquiry Focuses on Christian Sect
" ... Investigators looking into the cause of a colossal wildfire in Colorado that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people are focusing on a property owned by a Christian fundamentalist sect, after witnesses reported seeing a structure on fire there moments before the blaze spread with astonishing speed across drought-stricken suburbs.

Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County said at a news briefing on Monday that the property owned by Twelve Tribes, which was founded in Tennessee in the 1970s, had become a target of the probe after investigators ruled out the possibility that downed power lines might have sparked the fire.

Still, Sheriff Pelle warned against jumping to conclusions regarding the fire's origins, emphasizing that the investigation was in its early stages and that it could take weeks or even months to determine the exact cause. He said investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Forest Service were assisting his department's probe.

"We're going to take our time and be methodical because the stakes are huge," Sheriff Pelle said.

The efforts to determine what caused the fire are adding to the challenges that authorities are facing in Colorado, after heavy snowfall over the weekend blanketed the suburban areas that had been torched by the Marshall fire. About 35,000 people were forced to evacuate the area last week, and many families remain in shelters after more than 900 homes were destroyed.

Authorities are still searching for two people missing in the blaze, which figured among the most destructive in Colorado history. A severe multiyear drought nurtured the brittle-dry conditions that allowed the fire to sweep through residential areas.

Discussion of the Twelve Tribes property emerged on social media on Thursday, around the time the Marshall fire began spreading, when video of a structure on fire there started circulating. By Sunday, officials confirmed that the fire began on private property at the Boulder County intersection of Marshall Road and Highway 93, which is owned by Twelve Tribes. Sheriff Pelle confirmed on Monday that investigators were examining the site in addition to adjacent areas.

Several witnesses who live nearby said they had alerted the authorities about the fire at the site before hurricane-force winds spread flames around Boulder County. Anne Michaels, a kindergarten teacher who lives in the area, said she was driving by the property on Thursday while talking to her mother on her mobile phone when she noticed something was wrong."

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