Jan 28, 2022

CultNEWS101 Articles: 1/28/2022 (Bhakti Marga, Swami Vishwananda, Podcast, Germany, Islamic Marriage Laws, Conspiracy Theories)

Bhakti MargaSwami Vishwananda, Podcast, Germany, Islamic Marriage Laws, Conspiracy Theories

Torial: Just Love: Bhakti Marga's Guru and His Secret
"The Bhakti Marga sect has its headquarters in the Taunus, and its guru, Swami Vishwananda, is worshiped as a god. But again and again dropouts report abuse of power in the ashram - and sexualised violence. This podcast investigates the allegations.

The Bhakti Marga sect has its headquarters in Springen / Heidenrod, a rural area in the Taunus. Her guru Swami Vishwananda is worshiped as God by his followers. What he promises is unconditional love - Just Love. But for many years, dropouts have repeatedly reported manipulation, brainwashing, abuse of power - and sexualized violence that Vishwananda did to them. These warnings are not taken seriously - and the Hindu-Christian faith community continues to grow rapidly, worldwide. In August 2021, Bhakti Marga bought the "Seepark", an old conference hotel, in Kirchheim, Hesse. The communities of Heidenrod and Kirchheim are happy about the ashram operation. Also because the international guests who visit the two German ashrams to be blessed by the guru, flush money into the community coffers. In six episodes, Marlene Halser and Stefan Bücheler investigate the allegations, talk to those affected and ask those responsible why the warnings are not taken seriously. Also they ask: who is this guru, who is Vishwananda? And how did a small religious community become a huge, international company?

A six-part documentary podcast by Hauseins and Hessischer Rundfunk."

Washington Post: For the sake of a visa, I was forced into marriage in Arizona — at age 15
" ... Soon everyone started hugging and saying "mubarak" — congratulations. My heart sank. I realized I had just been forced into a marriage proposal, or "rishta" — a prelude to a "nikah," or Muslim wedding — to a man who needed to stay in the United States when his visa expired. He was seven years older than me. I'd never met him.

The nikah, a religious contract, is not legally recognized under U.S. marriage law. But Arizona's marriage law and loopholes in U.S. immigration law meant my family still had avenues by which they could exploit and force me — a U.S. citizen and a minor — into marriage.

Marriage before age 18 is legal in 44 of 50 states, according to Unchained at Last, an organization working to end child marriage in the United States. In states with no age minimum, children as young as 10 have been forced into marriage. At the time of my engagement, the legal age of consent to marry in Arizona was 15. (Now it's 16 with parental permission or legal emancipation.)"
" ... How do people come to believe in conspiracy theories? It's a question Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor Dolores Albarracín has been thinking about for decades.

"I grew up in Argentina in the '70s, during the Dirty War that eventually led to the disappearance of 30,000 Argentines. The climate within the dictatorship was such that you couldn't really speak, and for a family that was politically involved such as mine, you were instructed to not say anything," recalls Albarracín. "That piqued my interest in secrecy, and in how people make inferences about events that have presumably been covered up, particularly when there is no evidence."

As a social psychologist and communication scholar who studies attitudes, persuasion, and behavior, Albarracín has researched what happens when fringe ideas become consequential for society. "That's what we're seeing with conspiracy theories today," she says. "Nobody can deny now that these are wildly impactful and really problematic."

In a new book, "Creating conspiracy beliefs: How our thoughts are shaped," Albarracín and co-authors Man-pui Sally Chan and Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Penn and Julia Albarracín of Western Illinois University drill down into the phenomenon. Analyzing empirical research conducted on real-world examples of false plots—the alleged sex-trafficking ring Democrats ran out of a pizza parlor, the so-called deep state that undermined Donald Trump's presidency—the team pinpoints two factors that have driven recent widespread conspiracy theories: the conservative media and societal fear and anxiety."

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