Jan 19, 2022

CultNEWS101 Articles: 1/19/2022 (Twelve Tribes, Interfaith Marriages, QAnon)

Twelve Tribes, Interfaith Marriages, QAnon

The Gazette: Twelve Tribes group, with a Manitou Springs connection, finds itself in spotlight after Marshall fire
" ... Twelve Tribes members trace their origins to the New Testament book of Acts: "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. … All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need."

They believe they are gathering together the 12 biblical tribes described in the book of Revelation in preparation for Christ's return. They don't proselytize, but are more than willing to talk about their faith. They spread their message through their Freepaper, which is distributed through their cafes and restaurants, which are their primary means of both financial support and community outreach.

Members receive no pay because they work as volunteers. And because of their common treasury, the IRS classifies the group as a 501(d) "religious and apostolic association or corporation," similar to monasteries.

They comprise more than two dozen communities in the U.S., as well as Canada, Argentina, Australia, England, France, Japan, Brazil (where they harvest the mate used for drinks) and Spain (where they make olive oil). They look like Amish or Mennonite believers, with males wearing simple beards and bound hair, and women dressed in simple, homespun clothing.

At the Manitou Springs community, which is led by three male "shepherds," members gather for worship every morning and evening, and welcome guests to their Friday evening services. During the day, some work at the café while others home school the children or do other tasks. They don't watch TV or read the news. "Sensationalism," one member said.

They follow a strict morality that some see as family values on steroids, and practice corporal punishment on disobedient children. Twelve Tribes communities have frequently been accused of — and occasionally found guilty of — child abuse and labor violations, and have faced penalties for requiring children to perform adult work by farming and doing crafts.

Twelve Tribes members deny they are part of a cult, and say members are free to communicate with family members and other outsiders. They typically avoid the media, even in good times, but gave The Gazette access to do a story in 2020 because one member had been introduced to the group by a Gazette story years earlier.

"The couples marrying and raising the next generation now are redefining what it means to be Hindu in America."
"When my wife and I started dating, we thought our shared Hindu faith would make things simpler. We had friends who had dated non-Hindus who had encountered bumps when it came to how they would tie the knot and how the children would be raised. The fact that we were both Hindus meant we could sidestep those kinds of interfaith hassles.

We soon learned that, even though we both called ourselves Hindu, some key differences in the way we each practiced the faith complicated our relationship.

The oldest of the major global faiths, Hinduism formed more than 4,000 years ago out of widely diverse sects across what we now call India. As it spread to the four corners of the globe, thanks in part to the Indian diaspora prompted by British rule, Hinduism took on local colors.

The Hindu identity of my wife's family was shaped by generations of living in Guyana, a former British colony on the northeast shoulder of South America. Their practice was shaped by the trauma of indentured servitude, pressure from Christian missionaries and cultural hybridity passed down from generations in the West Indies.

My family traces its lineage to the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where our faith was shaped by thousands of years of rituals and rites of worship, some of them germane only to Tamils.

As our lives were intertwined, I adapted to singing bhajans, devotional songs that were foreign to me growing up. I learned to celebrate Holi, or Pagwah, the spring holiday called the festival of colors, which is less known in South India. My wife, for her part, had to familiarize herself with my family's observance of regional festivals such as Pongal, celebrating the sun deity Surya, which is observed widely in the Tamil diaspora on Jan. 14.

Our conflicts may not have the same implications as a Catholic marrying a Protestant, a Sunni marrying a Shia or even an Orthodox Jew marrying a Reform Jew, for whom the theological differences may go beyond devotional customs. Nonetheless, nearly two decades after we met, we still occasionally encounter tensions about when to celebrate a given holiday or which mantras — prayers — are correct in certain religious observances.

But over time we have come to understand that our differences are cultural deviations and that our spiritual practices are enriched when we meld the best of both of our backgrounds.

In raising our child, we are combining elements of both of our cultural practices and theological interpretations of Hinduism, making sure that he participates in the Hindu devotionals his Caribbean ancestors did to maintain their religion through a life of bondage, while teaching him how to identify religious symbols in Tamil, my ancestral language."
RNS: Muslims in interfaith bonds are proliferating. Imams willing to marry them are not.
One out of five Muslims is in an interfaith relationship, surveys suggest. But few imams are willing to conform the traditional Muslim wedding ceremony to their needs, couples say.
" ... According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 79% of U.S. Muslims who are married or living with a partner are with someone of the same religion. That leaves 21%, presumably, in interfaith relationships.

The rules about intermarriage favor men, according to Imam Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, head of the Islamic Law program at Zaytuna College, a Muslim liberal arts school in Berkeley, California. Ali said the Quran is clear that men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women as long as their brides are "People of the Book" — Christians or Jews, both of whom recognize Abraham as their spiritual forefather, as Muslims do.

A Muslim woman, however, cannot marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts.

Whether the conversion is sincere or a matter of convenience, Ali said, is a question between the person and God. "If he converts because he really desires to be with his wife, we don't know, we only know his testimony of faith, which is indicative of his conversion."

Another interfaith couple whom Sayeed married via a big-screen Zoom call last year said they, too, had consulted other imams who expected the husband's conversion.

Sayeed, who thinks the Quran's rules for marriage are open to other interpretations, sums up his attitude with the logic of love. "I believe that two people coming together and leading a life of commitment and love is a beautiful thing," Sayeed said. "And why would God not bless that?"

"I don't require anyone to convert, because conversion is something that happens from the heart," he said. "We have to stay true to who we are, and I also don't want to ostracize these couples from Islam," Sayeed said.

Muslims for Progressive Values, a nonprofit organization, founded its Marriage Celebrancy division, offering wedding celebrations for couples with diverse religious backgrounds, in 2006 and claims on its website that its practices are "deeply rooted in both Islamic and democratic principles." In 2020, MPV's network of officiants celebrated about 75 weddings in the U.S. and, with partner organizations, another 20 in Canada, the U.K. and Europe.

Ani Zonneveld, founder and president of MPV, said that the way marriage is interpreted in Islam today is "cultural," and it's not prescribed in the Quran. While men are clearly limited to marrying within Abrahamic religions, women are advised to marry "believers," Zonneveld said, but the term is ambiguous.

Zonneveld said there is also evidence of mixed-faith marriages in the hadith, the commentaries on the Quran and Muhammad's teachings. Several Muslim faith leaders warned that Zonneveld's scholarship is outside the mainstream."

" ... Cirsten Weldon, who went by the name "CirstenW" online, died at a hospital in Camarillo, Calif., the Daily Beast reported.

On her last video, posted on December 28, Weldon was coughing and admitted she felt "exhausted" and "weak."

Weldon was virulently anti-vaccine, both online and in real life. In one video posted to her social media channels, she can be seen harassing people in line to be vaccinated against COVID-19. "The vaccines kill. Don't get it," she shouts. "This is how gullible these idiots are. They're all getting vaccines."

Weldon was so well-known as a QAnon influencer that she even live streamed with comedian Roseanne Barr, who has now devolved into a full-time conspiracy theorist. An October livestream with Weldon has over 70,000 views on Barr's YouTube channel. In it, Weldon rambles about how Donald Trump is still the "real" president and claims without evidence that "arrests are happening in California'' of her political enemies.

Weldon livestreamed constantly and posted relentlessly on Instagram, Telegram and Facebook, inadvertently tracking her own symptoms. She began showing signs of illness around Christmas. In a December 27 stream, she started off by saying, "Good morning, patriots, I didn't think I was going to make it. I'm sorry. I'm exhausted, and I'm very, very weak. I have no strength. I haven't eaten in four days."

On December 31, she posted a photo of herself wearing an oxygen mask with the caption, "Almost died at hospital in CA from Bacterial Pneumonia." "Bacterial pneumonia" is a phrase commonly used in anti-vax circles to explain a COVID-related hospitalization without admitting to contracting the virus.

Weldon also posted on Telegram, where she had nearly 100,000 followers, that she rejected treatment with remdesivir."

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