May 11, 2024

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/10/2024 (Geelong Revival Centre, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Transcendental Meditation, Legal, Religious Freedom)

Geelong Revival Centre, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Transcendental Meditation, Legal, Religious Freedom

Geelong Advertiser: Geelong Revival Centre church leader Noel Hollins receiving medical treatment as leadership change looms
"Leadership changes loom at a shadowy, ultra-conservative Geelong church as former members hit out at the contradictory behaviour of its long-serving pastor.
A controversial Pentecostal Geelong church described by some as a "cult" is facing a forced leadership change, with its 93-year-old founder and long-term leader gravely ill, according to multiple sources."

RNS: Why faith-based groups are prone to sexual abuse and how they can get ahead of it
As Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes to a close, there are a few steps experts say every faith group can take to improve safeguarding protocols.

" .. With more victims coming forward and more research done on abuse within religious contexts, the evidence has shown that when sexual abuse happens in a place designated not only safe, but holy, it's a unique form of betrayal — and when the perpetrator is a clergy member or spiritual leader, the abuse can be seen as God-endorsed.

As the scope of this crisis has been revealed, houses of worship and religious institutions — from Southern Baptists to Orthodox Jews to American atheists — have looked to shore up their safeguarding protocols and protect their constituents against abuse.

But rather than scrambling to respond in the wake of a crisis, faith groups need to adopt policies tailored to their setting and connected to their mission, says Kathleen McChesney, who was the first executive director of the Office of Child Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."
"A high school student recently obtained a judgment in the amount of $150,000 that was entered in her favor and against the Chicago school system, which forced her to participate in Hindu practices, amounting to idolatry in violation of her Christian beliefs.

The Board of Education of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and the David Lynch Foundation were sued by Mariyah Green, a former student at Bogan High School, for mandating student participation in Hindu rituals, despite conflicting religious beliefs. She was granted a $150,000 judgement on October 23 by the clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Bogan students were required to participate in a program titled "Quiet Time," which consisted of two 15-minute periods each day dedicated to the practice of "transcendental meditation" (TM), which was popularized by Hindu guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and involves concepts used in Hinduism, such as mantras.

Green, a 2020 high school graduate, told LifeSiteNews in a phone interview that in addition to the 15-minute periods of "meditation" each day, the school sponsored a three-day class to teach students "the way that they want you to meditate."

During the 2018-2019 school year, Green attended the first day of this three-day lesson, which she described as "very uncomfortable." Students came into a "completely dark" classroom with "curtains closed [and] candles around the picture of [a] man," which had been placed on a table in front of them.  

"I was actually scared for a moment, like, what is going on? Why are the lights off? Why do the candles light the man? Of course, the picture kind of threw me off because it wasn't [anything] that I had ever seen."

Additionally, Green and her peers were instructed to "repeat a mantra" that they were told to keep "to yourself." After the first day, Green told LifeSiteNews that she was able to opt out of future participation in the three-day lessons by avoiding going to the class, but not the 15-minute periods each day.

Aside from teachers casually asking when she would be returning to the class, she didn't receive backlash for opting out of the lessons. She described them as "nice people, but it was against my religion."

On the other hand, the "very mandatory" 15-minute slots designated for TM were linked to student grades, leaving Green feeling obligated to participate so she wouldn't lose the academic standards required for her to play basketball at the school. During these times, Green said she "didn't do it their way" and "didn't keep the mantra in my head," instead closing her eyes so it "looked like I was meditating" to receive the participation credit."

" ... Over the past few years, multiple lawsuits have been filed against DLF accusing the organization of being aware of TM's link to Hinduism and enforcing the practice of worshipping idols rather than allowing students to read or rest during the 15-minute 'quiet time."'"
"A former Chicago public school student alleges that her school coerced her into Transcendental Meditation and Hindu practices, including a ritual invoking pagan gods, as part of a program run by the David Lynch Foundation.

A petition for class action status by a former Chicago Public School student, Kaya Hudgins, who alleged that her school coerced her to participate in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Hindu practices has been granted by a federal judge in a lawsuit against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation. Attorneys at Mauck & Baker, representing Kaya Hudgins, received an order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois awarding class certification to Hudgins and her peers.

The class action lawsuit alleges that while minor students were attending certain Chicago Public Schools that chose to participate in the David Lynch Foundation "Quiet Time" program, they were required to participate in Transcendental Meditation that incorporated Hindu religious rituals, which Hudgins claims on behalf of the class is an egregious violation of their constitutional rights."

" ... Hudgins, by her own declaration, was made to take part in Quiet Time.

"A Chicago Public Schools teacher told me and my entire class to sign a consent form to participate in Quiet Time," Hudgins wrote. "My entire class and I signed the consent because we felt pressure to sign. Our teacher told us that we would get in trouble and be sent to the dean if we did not consent. The teacher also told us that not signing the consent would affect our academics. We also received the same kind of pressure to participate in the Quiet Time program on a regular basis."

Hudgins was 16 years old at the time.

"Additionally, I, like many of my classmates, signed a nondisclosure not to tell anyone, including our parents, about the program," added Hudgins. "My classmates and I were particularly warned by a David Lynch Foundation representative not to tell our parents if our parents were 'religious.'"

"Not only were these minor school children coerced by Chicago Public School teacher into signing a document they had no business signing," shared John Mauck, a partner at Mauck and Baker, 'They were duped into practicing Hindu rituals and Transcendental Meditation during class time and instructed to hide their mandated participation in them from their parents.'"

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