Feb 3, 2023

CultNEWS101 Articles: 2/1/2023

College of Integrated Philosophy, Oasis GroupJohannes de Ruiter, Canada, Jehovah's Witnesses, Religious Freedom, Russia, Children of God
"A well-known Edmonton-based spiritual leader has been charged with four counts of sexual assault.

Johannes de Ruiter, known as John de Ruiter, was arrested and charged Saturday by Edmonton police.

De Ruiter is the leader of a group known as the College of Integrated Philosophy, or the Oasis Group, which has been operating in Edmonton for decades.

Police allege de Ruiter, 63, assaulted four people in separate incidents between 2017 and 2020.

"It was reported that the accused informed certain female group members that he was directed by a spirit to engage in sexual activity with them, and that engaging in sexual activity with him will provide them an opportunity to achieve a state of higher being or spiritual enlightenment," police said in a news release Monday. 

Investigators say they believe there may be additional complainants and are asking others to come forward.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson said de Ruiter intends to challenge the allegations."
"In two trials in mid-December 2022, two courts in Russia's Far East sentenced a total of 9 Jehovah's Witnesses to long jail terms. All but one received jail terms of between 6 and 7 years. The 9 men were among 19 Jehovah's Witnesses to receive general-regime prison terms in the last quarter of 2022.

Raids, prosecutions, and convictions of Jehovah's Witnesses for practising their faith in Russia continued unabated in 2022, despite the issuance in late 2021 of amended guidance for judges in extremism-related cases.

Across the calendar year, there were 124 convictions in first-instance courts, according to statistics from the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses (a small number were later overturned on appeal and sent back to prosecutors or for re-trial). The number of convictions has risen every year since prosecutions began in 2018, in the wake of the nationwide ban on Jehovah's Witness activities.

In Birobidzhan, capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region, which has seen one of the highest numbers of prosecutions in the country, the district court handed two men 7-year sentences and their two fellow defendants terms of 6-and-a-half years and 3-and-a-half years respectively, all followed by lengthy periods of restrictions and bans on particular activities..."
"On Daniella Mestyanek Young's first day of military training, she stands among her fellow recruits holding a duffle bag high in one arm above her head. As she ponders the other bodies lined up in her peripheral vision, all struggling to maintain the same pose, it gradually occurs to her that this feeling — of being owned, coerced, programmed — seems unsettlingly familiar: "Have I just joined another cult?"

This sense of suspicion forms a pattern in Mestyanek Young's life, which she documents with remarkable insight in her memoir, Uncultured, exploring the systems of control in which toxicity can thrive.

Mestyanek Young was born into the religious cult the Children of God, also known as The Family. (Not to be confused with Anne Hamilton Byrne's Australian-based cult, also known as The Family.)

Mestyanek Young spent her childhood shuffled from compound to compound in Brazil, Mexico and the United States. At 15, she fled what she would come to recognise as a cult, made her way to Texas and put herself through school and college, eventually graduating as valedictorian and joining the US army, where she served as an intelligence officer.

But this book is not simply a survival story. It's an exposé of the abuse that can run unchecked within cults. It's a story about trauma, a war memoir, a meditation on the difference between culture and cults. And it's a searing indictment of groups that continue to view those who are not men as subservient to those who are.

But at its core, Uncultured is a book about groups. It asks readers to look closely at the power mechanisms at work within the communities we call our own."

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