Feb 28, 2023

CultNEWS101 Articles: 2/28/2023 (Southern Baptist Convention, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Podcast, Gnostic Gospels, Book, Christian Monastic Orders, Ryan Scott, Fakes, Frauds & Scammers)

Southern Baptist Convention, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Podcast, Gnostic Gospels, Book, Christian Monastic OrdersRyan ScottFakes, Frauds & Scammers

An Indiana Baptist pastor, Benkert played a key role in setting up an investigation into how SBC leaders have responded to the issue of abuse. He also reported a church that had platformed former SBC President Johnny Hunt, who has been credibly accused of sexual assault.

" ... Hunt was one of a number of SBC leaders named in a 2022 report from the investigative firm Guidepost Solutions hired by the denomination in 2021 to resolve long-running conflicts over sexual abuse. The report found those leaders had chronically mistreated survivors of abuse and spent decades trying to deny responsibility for abuse at individual SBC churches."
"From the religious historian whose The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of Satan and his role of the Christian tradition. With magisterial learning and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan's story into an audacious exploration of Christianity's shadow side, in which the gospel of love gives way to irrational hatreds that continue to haunt Christians and non-Christians alike."

"In early Christian history, three Church Fathers established monastic orders that lasted more than a thousand years. Learn more about St. Macarius, St. Basil, and St. Benedict!"
"For decades, Ryan Scott has claimed to be a priest. He performed baptisms, weddings, and took confession. But former followers call him a con man. 

Victims say he was scamming his loyal followers to fund a lifestyle which included extravagant purchases… such as a herd of premium llamas. 

Every time Ryan ran into trouble, he would move on to another small Midwestern town and start his scheme all over again. 

We examine how "Father Ryan" used deception and exploitation to gain trust and financial donations from the very people who put the most faith in him."

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Lawyers for former Jehovah's Witnesses followers allege child-abuse practices

February 27, 2023

A team of lawyers lodged a complaint with Japan's health ministry in Tokyo on Monday against the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group. The complaint said the group's practices such as declining blood transfusions for their children could amount to child abuse.

The lawyers provide legal assistance to former followers of the group as well as to the children of group members.

About 100 people said in interviews with the team that they had been instructed by senior members of the religious group to refuse blood transfusions for their children.

Others said they were whipped by their Jehovah's Witness parents while growing up.

The lawyers say such practices may constitute child abuse.

Monday's action comes as the health ministry in December issued guidelines to municipalities stating that denying children necessary medical treatment, including blood transfusions, is neglect, a form of abuse.

The guidelines also state that resorting to such punishments as whipping a child constitutes physical abuse.

One of the lawyers, Tanaka Kotaro, noted that the team was able to hold meaningful discussions with ministry officials, as the two sides confirmed the need for cooperation in dealing with the problems.

The ministry has expressed its readiness to discuss what actions should be taken after scrutinizing the submitted report.

Jehovah's Witnesses maintains that the claims run counter to the facts.

Jehovah's Witnesses said it is heartbreaking that a wrong conclusion has been reached based on distorted reports from only those critical of the group.

They say they do not approve of blood transfusions for religious reasons.

The group maintains that medical decisions are made by individuals and their families, and should be made after sufficient discussion.


Inside the UK's Mormon missionary boot camp

Harvey Day
BBC News
February 28, 2023

Every year, thousands of young Mormons go on missions to try to recruit others into the religion. The BBC was given access to their UK boot camp, where they learn how to teach Mormon beliefs and use social media to reach potential converts.

When 19-year-old Rebekah Cooper started her mission, she had to give up her first name, stop making phone calls to her friends and surrender any time to be on her own, other than to use the toilet or shower.

Known only as Sister Cooper during her religious mission, she also began a strictly-planned daily schedule - of prayer, study, exercise, volunteering in the community and seeking out potential converts - starting at 06:30 every morning and ending with a nightly curfew.

Along with general Mormon rules based on religious scriptures like a ban on premarital sex and drinking tea and coffee, missionaries aren't allowed to stay out late or watch TV or movies. Typical Gen Z pastimes like gaming and TikTok are also forbidden.

Rebekah is one of tens of thousands of young Mormons around the world who volunteer to take part in missions every year, with the goal of recruiting others to join the religious group.

Most are aged under 25 and live away from home for up to two years - and the biggest training centre in Europe for these young missionaries is located in Chorley, Lancashire. TV cameras were allowed into the training centre for a BBC documentary The Mormons Are Coming.

Officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the Church believes in Jesus but is separate from other Christian groups. It has more than 16 million members and has the largest full-time missionary force in the world.

Awareness of these young missionaries has grown in recent years thanks to the Broadway and West End musical - The Book of Mormon. Some missionaries even try to find converts by speaking to theatre-goers outside of venues putting on the production.

Rebekah says the strict life of a missionary is "a completely different lifestyle" to that of an everyday Mormon. "Even though I'd grown up in the church, it was still a very big lifestyle change for me."

President Ostler, who oversees the missionaries at the training centre in Chorley, adds: "Missionary life is very different from a normal young adult's life - and they're up for that."

'Sometimes you feel like an influencer'

Rebekah says being brought up in the LDS Church was, at times, "tough" - and she felt "very different to my peers" when she was young.

But her religion also helped her through a period of anxiety and depression, after one of her classmates took his own life. "It kind of set off a series of events where I realised not only did I have clinical depression [but I'd] had it all my life."

For about a year, Rebekah - from Tring, Hertfordshire - went through different types of treatment and says she struggled with her faith. She remembers spending one day crying and praying, until she eventually got a feeling that she should begin taking medication - something she had resisted to that moment.

After that, "everything just got better and I was a lot more stable," she says. "It sounds a bit weird but there were a lot of little spiritual nudges to help me out."

It was this experience that convinced her to go on a mission.

The Mormons Are Coming

Follow three young Mormon missionaries through the first few months of training and work in the field - which can make or break them.

Watch on Tuesday 28 February, 21:00 GMT on BBC Two - and on BBC iPlayer.

Friends of Rebekah's had been sent to exciting international locations for their missions - and Lancashire wouldn't have been her first choice. When she found out she wasn't going overseas, she hid her phone away and refused to look at it. "I was a little bitter for a few days," she says.

Rebekah and her fellow young missionaries spent two weeks at England's Missionary Training Centre in the grounds of the large Mormon temple in Chorley. It's where she learned how to recruit new converts using a book called Preach My Gospel, which sets out the basics of the Church's beliefs.

Rebekah and fellow missionaries were also taught how to keep to a tight schedule for their work - using an app where they planned every minute of their days.

The Chorley boot camp also teaches missionaries how to use social media to find people for conversion by creating targeted Instagram Reel videos and Facebook posts. And they're expected to send at least 50 social media messages per day to potential converts, based on who has engaged or interacted with their posts.

"It was a bit weird," Rebekah says. "You had to be very public about your life and you were trying to get interactions from people. Sometimes you do kind of feel like an influencer."

Posting so many social media posts did have some downsides for Rebekah, including being mocked online. She remembers feeling "upset" and "lonely" after someone shared one of her posts with the caption: "The psychos are at it again."

"It just made me so sad," she says. "Little things like that make it really tough."

During missions, internet use is closely monitored and is strictly limited to only missionary work. "Once you're on your mission, your phone is not a source of entertainment, it's your job," Rebekah says.

At the Chorley training centre, the missionaries are assigned with their first companion who they'll later live and spend all their time with. Over the course of a mission, they'll be assigned to other companions.

Rebekah was first assigned to live with two companions in a flat in Wrexham - which, she says, was so small the bedroom only had room for two bed frames with a third missionary sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

"It was very cramped. I think I did struggle to find my space, at first. It was hard to adjust to."

Speaking to the public on the street or over the phone during the mission could also be difficult, Rebekah says. While most people find the missionaries to be "quite friendly", she says some members of the public don't like them, and end up arguing with them and calling them crazy.

Some people on the street also give out friends' phone numbers as a prank, which can lead to the missionaries being shouted and sworn at when they call to make contact.

But Rebekah remembers being given one phone number, which she assumed would be a prank, for someone who turned out to be genuine - 19-year-old car mechanic Josh.

"We spoke about the Book of Mormon," Rebekah says, "and from then on he just wanted to learn more."

After five weeks, Josh was invited to be baptised into the Church.

Back to post-missionary life

The most difficult part of missionary life for Rebekah was not being able to speak to her friends back home. She also struggled to find things to do in her limited free time - at home, she'd spend a lot of time on her computer or playing on her Xbox.

There were positives to this, though, like not having to read the news for months. "I'm actually very grateful I had that time away from the world."

And Rebekah says she picked up a lot of confidence from her mission. "I think you have to, because you're just thrown into these situations to either sink or swim."

Peter Johnson, president of the Church's Manchester mission and responsible for Rebekah and her fellow missionaries, says the strict missionary standards "help them to be more productive".

"Missionary life is one of discipline and commitment and focus," he adds, "but those are the same attributes they'll have to use throughout their lives, whether in a job or in school."

Now she has returned to normal life, Rebekah is hoping to study psychology and child development at university.

And she's still getting used to post-missionary habits, like being on her own again after spending so much time with a church companion.

"It's hard not having someone around me constantly. I'd go out to the shops by myself and it would feel really wrong. That was a weird change to get used to again."

Watch The Mormons Are Coming on Tuesday 28 February, 21:00 GMT on BBC Two and on BBC iPlayer.

BBC images courtesy: Peggy Pictures/Dan Harrison/Sky High Aerial

Mormon Church fined over claim it hid investments

Feb 27, 2023

Ram Rahim: Anger over parole for Indian guru jailed for rape

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was one of India's most influential religious leaders until his conviction

Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi
February 22, 2023

Last week, a video of a controversial religious guru, who is serving long jail sentences for rape and murder, went viral in India.

It showed Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, out of prison on parole and cutting a cake with Honeypreet Insan, a young woman he calls his adopted daughter. The celebration was to mark her Instagram account reaching a million followers.

A few days earlier, another video had gone viral that showed the guru cutting another, much larger cake with a sword.

The videos made headlines in India, with critics asking why the authorities are allowing Singh "frequent parole".

Singh has been held at Sunaria jail in the northern state of Haryana since August 2017 when he was convicted of raping two female followers and sent to prison for 20 years. In 2019, he was sentenced to life for the murder of a journalist and in 2021, he received another life sentence for the 2002 murder of one of his employees.

But despite being convicted of such serious crimes, Singh has been out of prison for a total of 131 days in the past 13 months - he was granted a 21-day furlough in February 2022; parole in June for 30 days and again in October for 40 days. And on 21 January, he was let out for another 40 days.

An official from Singh's Dera Sacha Sauda told the BBC that "parole is a right of all prisoners, it's a human right".

"He's spending his time in spiritual discourse, he's working hard to address problems of people, working on the de-addiction programme," the official said, claiming that every day 100,000 people were quitting drugs because of him.

But Singh's release has been greeted with dismay on social media, with many wondering how a man found guilty of crimes such as rape and murder could be allowed out of prison.

Sikhism's highest religious organisation, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), has filed a petition in court challenging his parole, saying "it sends a wrong message to society".

SGPC General Secretary Gurcharan Singh Grewal told the BBC that Singh was "a disgrace" and his presence outside jail was "bad for society".

Until his conviction in 2017, Singh was one of India's most influential religious leaders. With tens of millions of followers, his sprawling headquarters in the town of Sirsa in Haryana, where he was based, was visited by hundreds of thousands of devotees every year.

Known as the "guru of bling" because of his love for outlandish outfits and jewellery, Singh was also called "rockstar baba" - he acted in films he made, performed rock concerts and rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty in India.

For years, he was courted by India's main political parties, the Congress and the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for his ability to influence election outcomes by asking his followers to vote for one party or the other.

In recent years, he's thrown his lot behind the BJP. In the run-up to the 2014 Haryana state assembly elections, he urged his followers to vote for the party, which went on to win the vote.

Before his fall from grace, he was photographed with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on a number of occasions.

Even after his convictions and the long jail sentences he received, it appears that Singh's influence hasn't waned.

Reports say that from his ashram in Barnawa, in Uttar Pradesh state's Baghpat district, where he's staying during parole, he's been holding virtual meetings with tens of thousands of followers.

After several BJP politicians were seen in attendance, opposition parties began accusing the party of having a hand in the parole he had been given.

The party's chief spokesman in Haryana, Sanjay Sharma, denied that the BJP or its government had any role in granting Singh parole.

"The individuals who visit him or attend his discourses do it because they have faith in him. We don't have a soft corner for him, we let the law take its own course," Mr Sharma told the BBC.

Besides, he said that "it's the jail authorities or the district administration that approve parole" and that "it's all being done within the ambit of the law".

Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma, head of administration for Rohtak district where the jail housing Singh is located, refused to answer the BBC's questions on his parole, saying the matter was in court and hence sub judice.

The director general of prisons Mohammad Akil also refused to speak but added that two similar earlier petitions against Singh's parole had been thrown out by the courts.

Supreme Court lawyer Akshat Bajpai says it is very difficult to get parole and adds that it's hard to understand how Singh manages it repeatedly.

Parole and furlough are "extraordinary measures meant to cater to specific needs of prisoners, such as a death in the family or marriage of children or siblings, but they are not meant to subvert judicial orders".

"Singh's not an under-trial, he's a convicted prisoner who's been found guilty by court of such heinous crimes as rape and murder. But every three-four months he is out.

"And the brazenness with which he conducts himself is shocking. He's seen cutting a cake with a sword which is an offence under the Arms Act, he's composing and releasing music videos, he's making a mockery of the criminal justice system," he adds.


Gloriavale leader Howard Temple says much criticism of Christian community valid

Jean Edwards
February 27, 2023 

Gloriavale's Overseeing Shepherd has told a court much of the criticism directed at the Christian community is deserved and he is saddened by the harm done during a "dark period" in its history.

In a rare public appearance, Howard Temple admitted leaders had made mistakes and promised to report abuse to police, instead of appealing for repentance and forgiveness.

The 82-year-old has been giving evidence in an Employment Court case brought by six former Gloriavale women who claim they were treated like slaves and are seeking a ruling they were employees, rather than volunteers.

Temple said Gloriavale's leaders always intended to keep members safe and comply with New Zealand law while adhering to their Christian beliefs.

"Much of the criticism and scrutiny we have received in recent times as a community is deserved," he said.

"I and the other leaders are concerned and saddened that members and former members of our community have experienced harm. It is not what we want for our families."

Temple said Gloriavale had apologised for failing to protect victims of labour exploitation and sexual abuse and had made changes to stop members being harmed again.

"The wrong-doing in our community is a dark period in our history," he said.

"I accept that these issues could have and should have been handled differently, handled better. As leaders we made mistakes and were naive in how we dealt with these issues."

Gloriavale's mistakes would not be repeated, Temple said.

"Any form of child abuse or the abuse of anyone is unacceptable. This must and will be dealt with by reporting it to the appropriate authorities - police or Oranga Tamariki - and no stigma or shame should be brought upon the victims or their families," he said.

The women claimed they worked long hours under an all-pervading regime of secular and religious control, doing food preparation, cooking, cleaning and laundry on a gruelling four-day rotation.

Temple told the court the women had confused the concepts of religious submission - distinct from any form of forced servitude - and subjugation.

Purity Valor shows Employment Court Chief Judge Christina Inglis around Gloriavale on 24 February 2023. 

"Some of the plaintiffs and witnesses are endeavouring to paint me as some sort of unrestricted dictator or tyrant. I am certainly not that, I truly value the input and ideas of others," he said.

"I do not have, nor do I exercise absolute power and control over community members. I have never claimed to have such power and nor do I want such power."

Witnesses have testified about unwanted attention from Temple, but he said he gave girls a hug or put a comforting arm around their shoulders as a fatherly figure.

Temple said he respected their wishes when they complained.

"It was not my intention to cause harm and my intentions were certainly not sexual in nature as is being implied. I never pinched Rosanna Overcomer, or indeed anyone else's bottom," he said.

Gloriavale Shepherd Samuel Valor later questioned Howard Temple about the ramifications of a declaration the six former members were community employees.

"I'm having a bit of a problem solving that, off the top of my head at the present time," Temple said.

"You might have to give me the solution, how all this would work," he continued, before chief judge Christina Inglis interjected, "Or I might give you the solution".

Temple said employment relationships could foster inequality and disunity at Gloriavale.

"If it [applied] to these girls working in the kitchen, it would also spread out through the whole community. Everybody then becomes employees, and that's where I can see some real problems. For a start we wouldn't be able to pay everybody a minimum wage," he said.

Temple said Gloriavale could only afford to pay the minimum wage to 60 out of 130 Christian Partners, who work for the community's businesses run by the Christian Church Community Trust.

"There wouldn't be enough money to pay all of these partners the minimum wage. That would leave the rest of them with no income. It would get very complicated," he said.

"If people were to selfishly keep earnings to themselves, we would see that as a breach of what the Bible teaches."

The women's case follows similar legal action by three former Gloriavale men found to have been community employees from the age of just six, doing "strenuous, difficult and sometimes dangerous" work on farms and in factories when they were still legally required to be at school.

Temple said the May 2022 Employment Court ruling was "unexpected".

He will continue giving evidence on Tuesday.


How much do Americans know about the faiths around them?

And what helps us most to understand our neighbors’ faiths?

Ryan Burge
Religion News Service
February 15, 2023

(RNS) — One of the truly unique features of the United States is its incredibly diverse religious landscape. A county or region dominated by a single religious group is the exception, not the rule. Scholars have pointed to this religious competition as one of the reasons religion is still relatively robust in the U.S. compared with other industrialized societies, such as Western Europe.

It would behoove those of us living in the United States, then, to have a decent working knowledge of faith traditions beyond our own. But our religious diversity often comes at a cost: intolerance and infighting, often driven by mutual ignorance. As the writer Andrew Smith once wrote, “People fear what they don’t understand.”

There is also a gap between Americans’ confidence in their grasp of the nuances of other religious traditions and their actual religious literacy, according to data from the Pew Research Center posted by the Association of Religion Data Archives.

Pew asked individuals to assess their level of knowledge about a variety of faith traditions, from different types of Christians (evangelical and mainline Protestants, Catholics and Mormons) to faith groups that make up a smaller portion of the population, such as Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.


Americans, it turns out, feel they have a good idea of their neighbors’ faiths.

“How much do you personally know about each of the following?” Graphic by Ryan Burge

Given the ubiquitousness of Catholicism in the United States, it should come as no surprise that 82% of respondents said that they knew “some” or “a lot” about the Catholic Church. Respondents also expressed familiarity with Protestantism. It’s notable that 68% expressed a strong familiarity with atheism, given that atheists make up less than 10% of the United States.

The faith groups that were less understood are, unsurprisingly, ones that comprise the smallest parts of American religion today. More than half of respondents said that they knew “nothing” or “not much” about the practices or beliefs of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, and fewer than 1 in 10 said they knew a lot about those faith traditions.

Familiarity, then, seems to be related to exposure to the faith in question.

But perception of knowledge and actual knowledge are two different concepts, entirely. The Pew American Trends Panel also included a religious literacy battery that consisted of eight questions about different faith traditions found in the United States. These questions were offered in multiple-choice format — with three potential answers listed. But they also allowed respondents to say they were unsure of the correct answer.

“Can Americans Answer Basic Religious Literacy Questions Correctly?” Graphic by Ryan Burge

The one question that the overwhelming number of respondents knew the correct answer to is “What is an atheist?” Nearly 9 in 10 respondents correctly indicated that atheists are “someone who does not believe in God.” But strong majorities were also able to associate Moses with the Exodus and knew that David killed Goliath, both stories from the Old Testament.

Religious literacy rates dropped significantly from that point. Just 62% of people knew that Mecca is the holiest city in Islam; nearly the same number could accurately describe the beliefs of agnostics. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on Mount also seemed to stump many respondents, even though large majorities are aware of who Moses was.

When given a list of three possible commandments, a third of people incorrectly believed that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was part of the Decalogue. A bare majority correctly answered the question “According to the Christian Gospels, who delivered the Sermon on the Mount?”

The question that clearly caused the most trouble concerned Rosh Hashanah and its meaning for people of the Jewish faith. Nearly half of the sample refused to answer the question.

Given these blind spots, it’s worth asking which factors increased religious literacy among the respondents. To test that, an additive scale was constructed, taking in all answers to the questions in the battery, with scores ranging from zero questions correct to all eight questions answered correctly. The survey also asked respondents about their level of educational attainment and whether they had taken a world religions class in high school or college.

“More Educated Individuals Have Higher Levels of Religious Literacy” Graphic by Ryan Burge

Those with higher levels of educational attainment answered more of the questions correctly — little surprise there. Among those with a high school diploma or less, the mean score was about four questions out of eight. Among those who had completed a four-year college degree, the mean score was about six questions correctly answered.

What’s noteworthy, however, is how much taking a world religions class helped with religious literacy. At each level of educational attainment, a person who took world religions classes scored about half a point better than those who did not take a world religions class. This is clear and measurable evidence that these courses have a long-term impact on knowledge about faith traditions.

An average score of four out of eight questions answered correctly is commendable for someone who has had few encounters with other faiths, as many Americans have not. But the country is if anything becoming more religiously diverse — and, famously, more politically polarized. Zeenat Rahman, executive director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, has argued that increased religious literacy could lead to a decrease in polarization. It is sure to come in handy for those of us who imagine we know and welcome our neighbors.


Native American activists speak out against alleged cult leader

Katelyn Newberg
Las Vegas Review-Journal
February 24, 2023

A group of Native American activists plan to hold a rally this weekend in support of the alleged victims of Nathan Chasing Horse, an accused cult leader they say took advantage of their culture.

“There are people who are under the impression that he has nothing but support within our nation, from our state, from our region and from the whole Native American community across America,” said Allison Renville, a political organizer and Lakota media consultant.

Renville drove to Las Vegas from South Dakota this week to attend a court hearing for Chasing Horse, who is accused of misusing his spiritual influence to operate a cult and sexually abuse Native American women and girls. The 46-year-old was indicted Wednesday on 19 felony charges, including sexual assault of a minor under 16, sex assault, open and gross lewdness, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

Renville and a group of about a dozen other Native American activists gathered in Las Vegas this week to combat the perception that Chasing Horse has a overwhelming number of supporters, Renville said. The rally is scheduled for noon Saturday at an event space located at 2650 S. Decatur Blvd. to raise money for domestic violence survivors and Chasing Horse’s alleged victims.

During recent court hearings in North Las Vegas, more than a dozen of Chasing Horse’s supporters have filed into court wearing traditional regalia or clothing items with Chasing Horse’s name. They have declined to speak with reporters.

Renville said that by speaking out against Chasing Horse, she wants other survivors of domestic violence to be comfortable coming forward, even if it breaks cultural taboos of speaking ill against others in their community.

“The more people that come forward, the more that we take it upon ourselves to speak up because we know it’s the right thing to do, we’re hoping that it encourages other people to speak up as well,” she said.

Prosecutors have said that at the height of Chasing Horse’s group, which they called “The Circle,” he had up to 350 followers. Renville said “The Circle” is a translation of a Lakota word that roughly means “prayer circle.”

Chasing Horse was arrested last month after police raided his North Las Vegas home where he has lived with up to six women he viewed as wives, according to a North Las Vegas Police Department arrest report. Multiple women told police they were groomed by Chasing Horse and were raped by him starting when they were teenagers.

He also faces charges in U.S. federal court, and warrants charging him with sexual assault have been issued by the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana and by Canadian authorities.

The arrest report identified Chasing Horse as a member of the Rosebud Sioux Indian Lakota Tribe, which is based in South Dakota. He portrayed himself as a “medicine man” who gained the trust of Indigenous families through Native traditions and spiritual ceremonies, police wrote in the report.

Chasing Horse was known to travel to ceremonies on reservations throughout the western United States, according to the police report. In 2015, he was banished from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, which is located in northwest Montana and is home to the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, after he was accused of human trafficking, spiritual abuse and intimidation of tribal members.

Simona Bearcub, a member of the Fort Peck tribes who also traveled to Las Vegas for the court hearings and rally, said Chasing Horse was well known in the communities surrounding Montana and South Dakota. She said many of his followers were women not from the reservations, who were looking to reconnect with their culture.

“Had I been unlucky to run across him, I would have been an easy mark for him. Easy prey,” Bearcub said. “He could have harmed me and I wouldn’t have known any better. I would have been seeking my culture, seeking out healing, seeking out my people.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter


CultNEWS101 Articles: 2/27/2023 (LDS, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi International Agricultural University, India, Multi Level Marketing, Events)

LDS, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi International Agricultural University, India, Multi Level Marketing, Events

"On [February 7, 2023] ... the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints instituted a number of revisions to the temple endowment ceremony. Over the last few days, I've been interviewing people off the record about their impressions of the changes."

" ... [This article] is a provisional overview. Latter-day Saints don't go into the temple with a notebook or a recorder — or at least, they shouldn't. Though the people I spoke to tried, to the best of their recollection, to tell me what was new and different, this is not an exhaustive list, and in at least one instance, their memories conflicted with each other.

Out of respect, this preliminary assessment doesn't reveal what the signs and tokens are, as those are the elements of the temple ceremony that participants covenant not to reveal. But there are quite a few changes to other aspects of the temple endowment that merit discussion."
"Government Minister Ashish Patel, Secondary Education Minister Gulab Devi, Minister of State for Higher Education Rajni Tiwari, Chief Minister's Education Advisor Prof. DP Singh, Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University Prof. Alok Rai, Principal Secretary Lucknow, February 12

The UP government's main priorities are to educate, develop, and assist youths in getting employment through higher education. With the New Education Policy 2020, the government is committed to provide the youth with a bright future by connecting them with education. In view of this, a session on 'Decoding National Education Policy 2020' was held at Bhardwaj Hall-3 on Sunday, the last day of the Global Investors Summit.

During the session, eight investment proposals totaling more than Rs 6680 crore were received on the spot. This will provide employment to about 13000 people in the state.

Yogendra Upadhyay, Minister of Higher Education and Science-Technology, stated that the New Education Policy 2020 was created to link a new culture of education with the nation's progress. It is our goal to make education a medium of knowledge by connecting it to culture.

The Higher Education Minister gave the mantra, "Learning is more important than reading. Although it is possible to forget what was studied, one can never forget what was learnt. The new education policy is created around combining the modernism of today with the specialization of the past."

Education has to be linked with culture, employment, and technology. Education is more than just a degree; it is linked to knowledge—science, research. This should be the core. This education teaches how the family, society and nation are related to the world, he added.

State Government Minister Ashish Patel, Secondary Education Minister Gulab Devi, Minister of State for Higher Education Rajni Tiwari, Chief Minister's Education Advisor Prof. DP Singh, Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University Prof. Alok Rai, Principal Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Sudhir Bobde etc. were also present."

" ... MoU of Rs 680 crores to open Maharishi Mahesh Yogi International Agricultural University in Bilhaur, Kanpur, 1237 jobs"

Conference Date: March 13, 2023

" ... This year's virtual conference will be on a single day, Monday, March 13th. As in the previous two years, the speakers include academics, regulators, social media activists, attorneys, and consumer protection advocates. The four session themes are:

* Review of some recent MLM cases
* Social Media Activism
* In their own words: MLM industry documents, statements, and behaviors
*FTC's ANPR re: the Business Opportunity Rule and other recent news

The conference website has the full schedule, a list of presenters, and a link for registration. 
Conference website: https://mlmconf2023.org

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery



Intervention101.com to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement.

CultRecovery101.com assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice.

CultNEWS101.com news, links, resources.





Cults101.org 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.

Please forward articles that you think we should add to cultintervention@gmail.com.

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor indicted in Nevada sex abuse case

Nathan Chasing Horse
Associated Press
February 22, 2023

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Charges are mounting against a “Dances With Wolves” actor who is accused of sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls in the U.S. and Canada for decades.

A grand jury in Nevada indicted Nathan Chasing Horse on Wednesday on 19 counts, expanding on previous charges of sexual assault, trafficking and child abuse to include kidnapping, lewdness and drug trafficking. Chasing Horse, 46, now faces charges in four jurisdictions, with the newest case brought by prosecutors on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.

Police in Las Vegas have described Chasing Horse as a cult leader who used his position as a self-proclaimed medicine man to gain access to Indigenous girls and women, who he physically and sexually assaulted and took as underage wives. Prosecutors also accused him of grooming young girls to replace his older wives. His followers in the cult known as The Circle believed he had healing powers and could communicate with higher beings.

Chasing Horse’s public defender, Kristy Holston, told The Associated Press that she was looking forward to revealing holes in the state’s case during a preliminary hearing that was canceled Wednesday morning ahead of the indictment. She declined to elaborate.

“Since the public is so interested in this case and because only select details of the accusations have been released, we think it would be most appropriate for the State to present their evidence in a public hearing where the defense can reveal the weaknesses of the State’s case on the record in court,” she said in an email.

Holston didn’t immediately respond Wednesday afternoon for comment on the additional charges filed against her client. An arraignment is scheduled March 1 in Clark County District Court.

Chasing Horse has declined multiple requests from the AP for an interview from the Las Vegas jail where he’s being held on a $300,000 bond.

Born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Chasing Horse is widely known for his role as Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar-winning film, “Dances With Wolves.” He was arrested Jan. 31 near the North Las Vegas home he shared with his five wives.

Authorities searched the home and found firearms, psilocybin mushrooms, 41 pounds of marijuana and two cellphones containing videos and photos of underage girls being sexually assaulted, according to an arrest report.

The footage of the assaults led to federal child pornography charges in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

Chasing Horse’s arrest in Nevada was the culmination of a monthslong investigation by Las Vegas police. According to court documents, police uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse and alleged crimes dating back to the 2000s across multiple states, including Montana and South Dakota, as well as Canada, where he’s been charged with a 2018 rape in British Columbia.

Earlier this month, prosecutors with the Fort Peck Tribes in Montana charged Chasing Horse with one count of aggravated sexual assault in connection with a 2005 rape, according to a warrant obtained by the AP.

Ken Trottier, a tribal court criminal investigator, said Wednesday that two teenage girls at the time had accused Chasing Horse of rape. The investigation was closed, Trottier said, because the girls’ statements couldn’t be corroborated.

That changed after Chasing Horse was arrested in Nevada, Trottier said, with more evidence that allowed Fort Peck to pursue a criminal case.

It’s unlikely, though, that Chasing Horse will ever appear in tribal court, Trottier said. Tribal leaders banished him from the reservation nearly a decade ago amid allegations of human trafficking.

“We don’t ever expect him to return here,” Trottier told the AP. “If he ever steps foot on our reservation, he will be hunted.”

Trottier said Wednesday that he hopes federal prosecutors in Montana will step in, allowing for stiffer penalties if Chasing Horse is charged and convicted of any crime on the reservation — where federal authorities have concurrent jurisdiction when the victim and suspect are both Native American.

“I will probably never have the satisfaction of being able to put handcuffs on him,” Trottier said, “but at least we’re able to help the Las Vegas case and other investigations.”

What life was really like inside the doomsday cult run by the paedophile known as 'Little Pebble'

William Costellia Kamm claimed God told him to repopulate the earth by marrying many wives. (60 Minutes)
Tara Brown

9Now - Nine
February 27, 2023

His devotees call him Little Pebble; his victims know him as a paedophile.

William Costellia Kamm is the self-appointed leader of a notorious doomsday cult that formed its headquarters in 1987, based in a secure compound in Cambewarra, just outside Nowra on the NSW South Coast.

At its height, thousands of pilgrims from around the world travelled to the bush setting for a spiritual experience like no other.

On the 13th day of each month, the Virgin Mary would appear to William - her apparition only visible to him - and he would pass on her messages and warnings to the gathered and devout crowd.

Watch full interview here on 9Now

He declared his compound the Holy Ground, a new promised land for his followers for when the apocalyptic second coming of Christ would wipe out most of mankind.

At the time, Kamm was married and had four children but unknown to his wife, this self-proclaimed Messiah was planning on creating a royal harem, filled with 12 queens and 72 princesses - 84 mystical spouses to bear his children to repopulate the earth.

Little Pebble claimed God chose who his brides would be but as Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans from the State Crime Command puts it, it was Kamm who did all the grooming, and his preference was under-age girls.

"He was using religion in such a way that just split families. So, it was just awful and it continued for many many years. I see it as grooming with the families to get to these children and it's just terrible," he says.

In the Hinrichs family, Kamm found the perfect target. He discovered them on one of his many pilgrimages to Europe where he would drum up business by preaching his particularly conservative and fringe brand of Catholicism, for which he would ultimately be excommunicated by the Church.

Amongst the faithful in Munich, disaffected by the so-called modernisation of the Catholic Church, Kamm found Ingrid Hinrichs and her family of pretty blonde daughters.

This struggling family had already suffered unspeakable abuse. In the attentive Kamm, they believed they had found a benevolent saviour.

For the next few years, flying between Australia and Germany, Kamm was devoted to infiltrating the family, as daughter Stefanie Hinrichs remembers.

"We weren't a wealthy family. So he took us places and it was like, 'Goodness this man is spoiling us'," she says.

Stefanie was just eight or nine at the time. Her older sister, Bettina, was 15 or 16. Kamm was then 41.

"Eventually, when he came back to Germany, he would stay in our little apartment and sleep with my older sister, because at that point it was, 'she's going to be my wife' ... and in the mornings, William would tell (me) to get under the blankets with them both, and at the time I didn't think anything of it," Stefanie recalls.

"It was playful but now when I think about it, it just kind of makes me sick."

When Bettina was 17, Kamm and she celebrated a "mystical" marriage ceremony in Germany before moving to Australia to live in the cult compound in Nowra. Bettina was already pregnant with the first of their six children.

For a supposed holy man, Kamm was surprisingly handy with a ready-made lie or two.

He had told Bettina God had chosen her to be his new wife and mother to his existing four children because his current wife, Ann, would die in the next month or so. Until then he wanted Bettina to pretend she was the Kamm family's new nanny.

That was 1991. Ann saw through the nanny ruse, left Kamm and moved out of the cult with the couple's four children. Happily, she is still alive today.

The rest of the Hinrichs family moved to the cult headquarters the following year, believing they were relocating to heaven on earth.

As Stefanie revealed to 60 Minutes, the move marked the end of her childhood in the most disturbing way.

When she was just 13, Kamm claimed the Virgin Mary had selected her to be one of his new queens.

At first he promised their children would be conceived through immaculate conception - a heaven-sent gift in more ways than one for the young teenager. But very soon after, the Virgin Mary changed her mind and wanted Stefanie to conceive in the "natural" way.

Stefanie was horrified God wanted her to have sex with her sister's husband.

As she was urged to do by Kamm, Stefanie wrote all her fears and secret pleadings to the Virgin Mary in her diary.

It was a master stroke in manipulation. Kamm, pretending to be the Virgin Mary, wrote back, effectively telling the desperate girl there was no way out.

The diaries are filled with anguish and confusion.

A young girl, threatened with damnation, wanting to please God and the Virgin Mary but desperately trying to escape the clutches of her lecherous brother-in-law.

It was a battle Stefanie ultimately won when, some years later as an adult, she finally reported Kamm to police, leading to his conviction and jailing.

Perhaps it was divine intervention but it was her writings as a child, made at the urging of Kamm, that gave police the evidence they needed to nab him.


How powerful ancient Chinese cults threatened the regimes of the day, and even hastened the end of dynasties

A tapestry of the Taiping Rebellion, a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who claimed to be Jesus Christ’s younger brother. Photo: Getty Images
Opinion: Reflections by Wee Kek Koon

Wee Kek Koon
South China Morning Post
February 27, 2022

  • Some cults in ancient China became so powerful they grew into political and military forces, and launched armed rebellions against the state
  • The most recent nation-shaker before the 20th century saw its founder, who claimed to be Jesus’ younger brother, lead 10,000 followers against the Qing dynasty

I recently watched a deeply unsettling docuseries, Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence (2023).

The series documented a group of students at New York’s Sarah Lawrence College, and the sisters of one of them, falling under the spell of a classmate’s father in the 2010s, and being psychologically and sexually abused by him for close to a decade.

Recorded video and audio footage of abuse showed Lawrence Ray manipulating his obviously intelligent victims – one of them was a medical doctor who had recently graduated from Harvard and Columbia – to the point that they lost all sense of reality, cut off all ties with their family and friends, and became totally and helplessly dependent on him.

A cult includes some or all of the following characteristics: authoritarian control, extremist beliefs, isolation from society, and the veneration of a person or persons.

Today, the definition of cults has broadened to include groups that are non-religious in nature, such as the one depicted in Stolen Youth, but in the past they typically referred to groups that professed some kind of non-mainstream religious beliefs.

There must have been countless religious cults in China given its long history and its territorial and population size, but almost the only ones that got any mention in historical records were those that became sufficiently powerful to threaten the regime of the day.

One of the earliest religious cults to grow into a political and military force was the Taiping Dao, or Way of the Great Peace.

Its leaders were Zhang Jue and his two brothers, who were venerated as sorcerers and healers by their followers, which numbered in the hundreds of thousands all over China.

Zhang Jue launched his armed rebellion against the Eastern Han dynasty in AD184. Known in history as the Yellow Turban Rebellion after the headgear of the rebel troops, the revolt was eventually put down after a few years, but the Eastern Han was so severely weakened that warlords tore it apart and the dynasty fell in 220.

In the Tang dynasty, a woman named Chen Shuozhen, who claimed to be immortal, led an armed rebellion against the local government in 653.

She even proclaimed herself the Wenjia Emperor, making her the first woman in Chinese history to bear the title huangdi, a full 37 years before Wu Zetian, the only officially recognised “female emperor” in China, took on the title in 690.

Chen’s rebellion lasted only a month before her troops were routed by government forces. She was most likely killed in battle but many of her followers believed that she escaped death and ascended to heaven like an immortal, or survived and lived incognito among them.

The most recent cult that shook the nation before the 20th century was the Bai Shangdi Hui, or God Worshipping Society, a syncretic form of Christianity founded by Hong Xiuquan, who claimed to be Jesus Christ’s younger brother.

In 1850, Hong led around 10,000 followers in an armed rebellion against the Qing dynasty and founded the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a theocracy with him as the supreme ruler.

The Taiping Rebellion grew to such an extent that the Heavenly Kingdom occupied almost all the territories south of the Yangtze River at various stages of the rebellion.

When the final remnants of the Taiping army were defeated in 1871, the Qing dynasty, having been pummelled by foreign aggression and domestic strife, was well on its way to its eventual demise.

As I was watching Stolen Youth, I kept asking myself if I could fall under the spell of charismatic cult leaders like Lawrence Ray, or for that matter, Zhang Jue, Chen Shuozhen and Hong Xiuquan. I hope I never have to find out.

Wee Kek Koon

Having lived his whole life in the modern cities of Singapore and Hong Kong, Wee Kek Koon has an inexplicable fascination with the past. He is constantly amazed by how much he can mine from China's history for his weekly column in Post Magazine, which he has written since 2005.


The Gentle Souls Revolution: A Secret Cult, an Open Rebellion, and Lessons in Protecting and Honoring Your Gentle Soul

Esther Friedman

Have you been told, “you’re too sensitive” or “you think too much”? Do you wonder, what is wrong with me? Nothing, according to The Gentle Souls Revolution.

After a five-year cultic misadventure in a secret "school," author Esther Friedman wrote her cautionary tale. Memoir led to research on narcissistic abuse and a recovery template for empaths. With humor and compassion, Friedman describes how the cult exploited her empathy. She interviews former members from other cults and includes research from leading experts. We learn that all cults and cons market false hope by leveraging human nature to profit from the vulnerable.

This revolution teaches Gentle Souls to self-protect by accepting the existence of—and learning to identify pathological selfishness. Recovery requires valuing your proclivities and protecting them like priceless gems. When you do that, those vulnerabilities can become your greatest strengths. That is The Gentle Souls Revolution.

Available on Amazon.

Feb 26, 2023

Undiscerned Sexuality and Vocation in the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi: Recent Testimony


"Kevin O’Sullivan spent seven years inside the most secretive Catholic organisation in living memory – The Legionaries of Christ. He thought he was going to spread love and compassion: he ended up among disinformation and lies. He fled to save his sanity.

This is the story of how Kevin found, and then lost, his religion, and how he lost, and then found, his sexuality. On the way, the young teenager clings to what his mother has taught him: to be a good boy. The journey brings him face to face with difficult truths, and ultimately to a far deeper knowledge of himself, as he finds out who he doesn’t want to be.

It’s a story full of hope about discovering what matters to each of us, even if we don’t like some of what we find."


After escaping 'religious cult', Montana woman faces new challenges with honeyberry farm

David Erickson 
February 22, 2023
CORVALLIS — Melissa Allred is out to set examples with her life story, but it hasn't been easy.

First and foremost, she's out to prove she's a successful agricultural entrepreneur who can overcome obstacles and severe setbacks. She wants to be a leader in demonstrating that honeyberries can be a viable commercial  crop in Montana. Also called haskap, honeyberries are a sweet, juicy fruit that, although native to North America, haven't been cultivated on a wide scale in Montana.

Second, and more importantly, Allred wants to prove that women who come from psychologically abusive situations can find freedom.

Allred, who escaped from what she calls a "polygamist religious cult" that she was born into — where she was groomed to marry into a plural marriage and submit to her husband and the church — now owns and operates the largest honeyberry farm in Montana.

On her 5-acre plot of land near Corvallis, she's set out to pioneer the best ways to grow the crop while proving that her past doesn't define who she is. She was always made to feel weak and inferior so she wouldn't think about leaving. But building her farm from the ground up and overcoming all the doubt in her mind has changed her perspective.

“I’m a totally different person now," Allred said. "I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m a go-getter. I can do a challenge. I’m reclaiming my whole identity of who I am. I’m rebuilding my life."

After 19 years in a situation that she described as "intolerable," Allred finally broke free. It wasn't easy, because she didn't have many legal assets or rights. She also had her children to take care of. But she knew one thing that gave her solace all those years.

"My garden was my safe space," she said.

So, she planted her first honeyberry bush in 2019 and broke free in 2020.

She took classes at the Montana State University Ravalli County Extension office and ordered thousands of honeyberry plants from Canada. She secured financing through a no-interest Kiva loan from the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition in Missoula and a state Growth Through Ag grant. She registered her business in her name, and her name only. She built a network of friends who helped her along the way. And she set out on her own.

Max Smith, the co-owner of WinterKissed Farm near Stevensville, knows Allred because the farming community in the Bitterroot is like a close-knit family.

"She's just really tenacious," Smith said. "She's very brave, especially regarding the situation, the community that's she's from. She seems like she doesn't want to affect the community around her in a negative way. She wants to go about having this business and creating a good environment for her kids."

Smith said it's incredibly inspiring to see someone build a successful farm without a background in agriculture.

"It's next to impossible," he said. "You don't see a lot of farms in general starting up. There's just so many prohibitive things about starting a farm, the land being one of the biggest. Developing all the skills to grow a crop and do it commercially as well. It's always hard to start a farm and make a living and she has a knack for it."

Now, Allred has 5,000 honeyberry bushes, along with raspberries, strawberries and currants. It's called Aspen Grove Farm, and they sell at local markets, offer "u-pick" sales and make jams.

"I’m trying to accomplish starting in my 40s what other people started to do in their 20s and I’m really proud of the fact that in four short years I built what I did," she said. "It wasn’t by myself. I had help from the community and people rallied around me by the grace of God.”


But disaster struck late last summer. A malfunction with her giant freezer on the farm led to the loss of $70,000 worth of honeyberries she and her employees had painstakingly cared for the entire spring and summer.

"As such a young farmer, I am unable to absorb such an overwhelming loss, and I lost a large portion of my savings for my family trying to keep things from going under," she described on the GoFundMe. "I am a single mother of eight stepping out as a female farmer by being brave enough to bring a new fruit into the marketplace, and I am showing other women how to be brave and succeed after abuse. What will they see if the farm goes down? How do I now support my family?"

Allred's eyes fill with tears when she describes "juice pouring out the bottom of the freezer door" and having to haul boxes to the dump.

"I had a complete emotional breakdown," she recalled. "It was severely traumatic for me. Not just the financial loss and stress and all that. But also that this was my freedom. And it’s the only thing I have. So there was trauma and that reality."

Allred had worked hard to secure financial independence for herself and her children. This disaster destroyed all of that. Honeyberries are considered a specialty crop by the government, so she wasn't able to get crop insurance in time for the season. She felt all her hopes and accomplishments rotting away in that freezer along with her precious berries. 

"And on top of that it brought back all that past trauma," she recalled, noting that her whole life she had always been made to feel like she couldn't do anything on her own. "‘Like, you can’t do it without me. You’re not smart enough. You’re too stupid.' You know, the things that have been fed into my mind. The belittling that had always occurred. So it hit pretty hard."

Allred said she had some very close friends who took over the farm for a few months while she sought therapy. Her friends set up a GoFundMe to try to replace the lost income, because she still has loans that she needs to pay off.

Control and abuse

"I was raised and groomed to be exactly what they wanted me to be and never knew there was anything else to consider," she wrote on her GoFundMe page. "My role was to be a good 'sisterwife' and mother to many. My husband was my 'head' or ruler, and my children and I were subjected to narcissistic control and abuse. Women are basically the property of their husbands, although this term would never be used. Rather we were under their priesthood power."

Allred was all on her own when she first started the business. When she left the church and her situation, she was facing something that many women in that situation face.

“They pretty much design it so that you will end up with nothing if you try to leave," she explained. "Everything’s owned by the church. Especially for women, it’s designed to put you at the bottom of the barrel if you try to leave. And you’re shunned."

So when someone leaves, they leave everything.

"Your whole world, everybody you’ve ever known, associated with, your family, your church, your work," she said. "Everything’s all within. It’s not like just moving to a different state. So you have to create your own identity and as a woman you own nothing."

Even learning a new career was discouraged. She had jobs cleaning houses, but how the paychecks were spent was not her decision, she said.

“I didn’t have permission because it’s a very male-dominant cult," she explained. "You’re subjected to him. He’s your head. Everything you do is by his permission. They may be as lenient as they think they are but in all honesty, you have nothing without them."

She didn't have any ownership of the house or the car.

"You have nothing, and that’s used as a power tool to keep us. That’s one of the hardest things.

"I was still married and I thought I had to stay at the time," she recalled. "But I knew that I needed to do something and have control over some way to take care of my family. When everything is contingent on somebody else, it’s under their control.”

Starting from nothing

Allred doesn't have a college degree. She doesn't have a background in agriculture. But she's a voracious reader and she's willing to learn from other people and to experiment with new techniques.

Smith said he's been impressed with the fact that Allred hires a lot of local women.

"I think there aren't too many farms that are as ambitious as the one she's put forth," Smith said. "Most farms are direct-to-customer, small-scale and trying to get the top dollar they can. She seems to have developed a business that's geared toward lower margins and feeding as many people as she can and putting as many people to work as possible. That's incredible and unique in our food system." 

Allred said she's hoping that she'll learn all the right things, and wrong things, that come with growing honeyberries, in order to show others it can be done. She's already learned how to harvest up to 4 pounds of large, succulent berries off of every bush. 

There's no blueprint for creating a whole new life after over four decades.

"And it’s scary because you have actually no legal right to anything, and they know it," Allred said. "You’re not a legal wife so you don’t have any rights. But my story shows it’s possible."

Allred is determined to come up with the money to save her farm, and not just for herself and her children. It's because she wants to prove that it's possible.

Her message to other women in that situation is one of empowerment.

“You can get out," she said. "There is a way and I want them to see that. There is a way. I’m not sitting in a cardboard box. I’m not going to stay in a trailer on food stamps. I’m gonna be an entrepreneur. I’m going to be a businesswoman and I’m going to show that I can do something."

She also wants her children to see what's possible in life.

"I can create something and I can send my children to college," Allred said. "And they’re going to have life experiences that would have been denied to them. That’s what they’re going to see."

For her, the farm is freedom from oppression, and she's showing that to others in her community.

"They’re going to see what free looks like," she said. "Because in this country where we tout freedom, there are people who are not free. This is what getting free looks like. That’s what I want them to see. When they see me they see that I’m free. I have the American dream. It’s not easy, for heaven’s sake. But I have the right to freedom.”