Are you old enough to remember Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Are you old enough to remember the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ADiK74fve8
Oregon Public Broadcasting, Nov. 21, 2012

In 1981 this spiritual leader from India spent $5.75 million on a remote piece of property in Oregon and invested millions more to build Rajneeshpuram as a spiritual retreat for thousands of his red-frocked followers.[ref]They used to be known as Rajneeshees or "Orange People," because of the orange and later red, maroon and pink clothes they used from 1970 until 1985[/ref]

The East Oregonian recalls

In news clips from the 1980s, Rajneeshees line the road for the Bhagwan’s daily drive-by in a vehicle from his fleet of more than 90 Rolls Royce automobiles. Rancho Rajneesh, as some called it, had its own newspaper, fire department, night club and mall.

The Rajneeshees clashed with locals over land use. The utopian desert commune collapsed after Rajneeshees were convicted of infecting four salad bars with salmonella in The Dalles, the Wasco county seat, in order to hamper voter turnout and swing an election. Other crimes included attempted murder, arson, election fraud and wiretapping. About 10 followers were imprisoned. The Bhagwan was deported for immigration violations.

751 people were poisoned in the 1984 bioterror attack. According to Wikipedia, "The incident was the first and single largest bioterrorist attack in United States history. The attack is one of only two confirmed terrorist uses of biological weapons to harm humans since 1945."

The Rajneesh had hoped to incapacitate the voting population of the city so that their own candidates would win the local election.

The Rajneesh actually did gain political control of the nearby city of Antelope.

But by 1986 they were all gone.

Oregon Public Broadcasting, which produced the fascinating documentary shown above, says

Twenty-five sannyasins would be convicted of crimes: arson, wiretapping, immigration fraud, election fraud and attempted murder. Ten would serve time in prison.

At the end of it all, Wasco County Judge Bill Hulse predicted (correctly) that somebody would write a book about what had happened there: “The people who read that book,” he said, “will think it’s fiction.”

The East Oregonian reports that

Montana billionaire Dennis Washington bought the seized property for a cool $3.65 million as a destination resort, but ran into zoning problems. The Washington family donated the property to Young Life in 1996 and has continued support with additional donations.

Given Bhagwan's open disdain for Christianity, it ironic that his former land now is home to the world's largest Young Life camp -- a Christian camp.

Speaking of irony, the paper also writes

When planners couldn’t decide what to do with the Bhagwan’s house, a 1997 range fire decided matters. A finger of the fire raced down the ridge and torched the residence, the only one of 300 Rajneeshpuram buildings to burn.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGH5q_QLwbY]

Born in 1931 as Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh, in the 1960s he changed his name to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and in 1989 to Osho. Though he died in 1990, he still has an international following.[ref]Wikipedia entry on Rajneesh[/ref]

Want to know more? Rajneeshes in Oregon: The Untold Story, a special report by The Oregonian, is a great place to start. Includes FBI and police reports.

See also:

Seeing a cult through a child's eyes
Rajneesh Foundation - The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power

Full story: Are you old enough to remember Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?

Escaping Polygamy — and Scientology

Escaping Polygamy

Escaping Polygamy

Going Clear, Alex Gibney's smash documentary that exposes the Scientology cult to daylight, was HBO's highest-rated documentary premiere in almost a decade. By popular demand it is going to be back in theaters.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXCXKcRDCN0]

By the way: the documentary has seven Emmy nominations.

“I want to leave and I want to leave now, but I’m scared and don’t know who I can trust.”

That anonymous text message opens LMN’s documentary series Escaping Polygamy.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pnfP7tW494]

"This show is not like 'Sister Wives'" Fox News headlined. It sure isn't. Rather than sugarcoat polygamy, this series highlights what it is like to be trapped in an insular polygamous group.

The series follows the work of three sisters who left the Kingston clan, a secretive polygamist group based in Salt Lake City, Utah known as the Order, as they help both loved ones and strangers break free of polygamy.

Which Groups Practice Polygamy?
10 Polygamist Wives Who Escaped Unbelievable Abuse

Can Moral Disputes Be Resolved?

From the head-in-the-sand department: Obama's looking-glass Islamic World.

Reality check: The Religion of Peace

Full story: Escaping Polygamy — and Scientology

Religion News, Wednesday July 15, 2015

newspapers

newspapers

Scientology quacks at work:

After a Church of Scientology-backed group helped organize a campaign against it, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed legislation that would have given Texas doctors more power to detain mentally ill and potentially dangerous patients, according to records obtained by The Texas Tribune.

The group in question is the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) -- a Scientology front group that fights against alleged abuses in psychiatry and psychology. (Yes, it's an odd name. Scientology and human rights do not normally go hand in hand).

After all, Scientology hates psychiatry with a passion.

The cult's primary goal is to "clear the planet" by "obliterating psychiatry."

To normal people the organization is known as the destructive space-alien cult that teaches, promotes, and engages in quackery:

Medical claims within Scientology's secret teachings
Scientology versus medicine
The healing claims of Scientology

Here's a site you'll want to bookmark and use: What is Scientology?

In our view, CCHR is morally reprehensible -- a dangerous hate group.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SAFFM1sFZA]

So here's the moment more than 30 people, mostly women and children, made their way to freedom after escaping the IS barbarians who kidnapped them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSDPCKY08AI]

This footage -- filmed in Northern Iraq -- is part of Escape From ISIS, to be broadcast by the UK's Channel 4, tonight at 10pm UK time.

The Independent says

In August 2014 the area was attacked by Isis, with the militants killing hundreds and capturing 3,000 Yazidi women and young girls.

Isis locked up their captors and forced many to convert to Islam; the kidnapping has been described as the largest of its kind this century.

We steadfastly refer to IS/Isis/Daesh members as barbarians. These depraved savages -- who pretend to be Muslims -- have no qualms committing the most horrendous crimes.

Last April Human Rights Watch released a report that documents how Isis has carried out systematic rape and other sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls.

Human Rights Watch documented a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces. [...]

“ISIS forces have committed organized rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yezidi women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured.”

Incidentally, while climate change is seen as the 'top global threat,' the Pew Research Center says Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners Focus on ISIS as Greatest Danger

Wheaton chaplaincy staffer Julie Rodgers [attracted to women, celibate] backs same-sex relationships, quits the evangelical college, Religion News Service reports.
Julie Rodgers

The news of Rodgers blessing committed, same-sex relationships has upset many evangelicals who have presented her as a model gay Christian. [...]

The most critical portion of Rodgers statement wasn’t her affirmation of same-sex relationships but her condemnation of how the church treats celibacy.

“I’ve become increasingly troubled by the unintended consequences of messages that insist all LGBT people commit to lifelong celibacy,” Rodgers wrote.

“No matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians. It leaves folks feeling like love and acceptance are contingent upon them not-gay-marrying and not-falling-in-gay-love…. It’s hard to believe we’re actually wanted in our churches. It’s hard to believe the God who loves us actually likes us.”

Are you a Christian sharing fake news? Cut it out!

Twelve years in, US bishops’ sexual abuse charter is facing challenges.

US Catholics at every level need to guard against “a tendency for complacency” toward the sexual abuse crisis says Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“We have established procedures and policies, and we think that we have that in place,” he told Catholic News Service. “There might not be that ongoing mindfulness and certain small things might start to slide. They are not really paid attention to the way they should.”

We may add to this page throughout the day. Got an appetite for more right now? Join 16.600 people who enjoy our Religion News Twitter feed.

Full story: Religion News, Wednesday July 15, 2015

Brazilian Evangelicals set up a ‘sin free’ alternative to Facebook

Facegloria

Facegloria

A group of Evangelical Christians in Brazil have set up Facegloria -- a sin-free version of Facebook, the Telegraph reports.

The service is patrolled by volunteers who prevent the posting of all-too-revealing selfies, 600 banned words, and anything related to homosexuality or, for that matter, the whole LGBT alphabet of lifestyles.

The paper notes that 42 million of Brazil's 202 million people are estimated to be Evangelicals – and that the "fervent Protestant movement continues to make inroads into traditionally dominant Catholicism."
Facegloria

Brazil has the world's biggest Roman Catholic population.

However Evangelicals, who numbered just six per cent of the population in 1980, are now 22 per cent, while the Catholic total has dropped from 90 per cent to 63 per cent.
At that rate, Evangelicals will become the majority by 2040 and Facegloria hopes to be riding the wave.

But the term 'Evangelical' is rather flexible and not clearly-defined. For instance, the Telegraph says that

the biggest-selling books in Brazil over the last two years have been autobiographical works by Edir Macedo, who founded the powerful Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in 1977, and owns the country's third-biggest media group.

Macedo and his church are controversial, to say the least. Both have a seemingly insatiable appetite for money.

Many Christians consider the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus) to be theologically a cult of Christianity.

It promotes the teachings of the Word-Faith Movement, with a particular emphasis on the seed-faith doctrine.

According to this teaching God cannot bless you (with health and wealth) unless you 'sow' a seed of faith (yes, money -- 'donated' to the church).

Perhaps Brazilia's evangelicals have yet to find the story about Jesus and the money-changers.

Anyway, Facegloria has attracted 100,000 users in its first month, and the folks behind it expect to have 10 million users in Brazil in 2 years time. After that, the world.

Acir dos Santos, the mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos -- and the person who provided the start-up capital -- says there's no limit.

"Our network is global. We have bought the Faceglory domain in English and in all possible languages. We want to take on Facebook and Twitter here and everywhere," he said.

Full story: Brazilian Evangelicals set up a ‘sin free’ alternative to Facebook

International Cultic Studies Association: Upcoming Events

ICSA International Cultic Studies Association

ICSA International Cultic Studies Association

Founded in 1979, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic or high-demand groups, alternative movements, and other environments. ICSA is tax-exempt, supports civil liberties, and is not affiliated with any religious or commercial organizations.

ICSA is unique in how it brings together former group members, families, helping professionals and researchers.

We highly recommend ICSA. See our sister site, CultExperts.org, for details.

International Cultic Studies Association

Upcoming Events

Recovery Workshop for Former Group Members (July 31 - August 2, 2015) - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Organized by Carol Giambalvo, a thought reform consultant, these workshops are for former group members only, not family or friends (ICSA has other events for these persons. ICSA also has a special workshop for former group members who were born or raised in high-demand groups.)
ICSA Recovery Workshops: The Colorado Model

High-Control Groups: Helping Former Members and Families (November 6-8, 2015) - Santa Fe, New Mexico

This conference will focus on the needs of former group members and families and will include a training track for mental health professionals.

Surviving and Moving On After a High-Demand Group Experience: A Workshop for Second-Generation Former Members (April 15-17, 2016) - Chester, CT

As increasing numbers of people born or raised in cultic movements have reached adulthood, the International Cultic Studies Association has developed a program that addresses their special needs. Two articles describe this program: (1) Lessons Learned from SGAs About Resiliency and Recovery (Leona Furnari and Rosanne Henry) and (2) My Perspective of Rosanne Henry and Leona Furnari’s Presentation to the Annual SGA Workshop (Patrick Rardin) describe this program. There is also a video on ICSA's YouTube channel: "Born or Raised in Cultic Groups" with Lorna Goldberg and Leona Furnari.

Meeting annually since 2006, this workshop addresses the needs of SGAs (Second Generation Adults) through presentations by specialists and former members, including discussions in which attendees may participate according to their comfort levels. Special attention is paid to the need of SGAs for privacy, reflection, and working at their own pace.

Call for Papers: ICSA Annual Conference (June 30 - July 2, 2016; preconference workshops on June 29th) - Dallas Texas

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is conducting its 2016 Annual International Conference jointly with Info-Secte/Info-Cult of Montreal in Dallas, Texas. The conference will take place from June 30 through July 2, 2016 (preconference workshops on Wednesday June 29). The conference will address the needs and interests of ICSA’s four main constituencies: former group members, families, helping professionals, and researchers.

Full story: International Cultic Studies Association: Upcoming Events

Anti-gay bakery owners must pay $135.000 to lesbian couple

sweetcakes2

sweetcakes2

The Christian owners of the Sweetcakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, Oregon who denied service to a same-sex couple must pay $135,000 in damages, the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries has ruled.

The bakery refused to bake a wedding cake cake for lesbian couple Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer in January 2013.

In April this year, a judge ruled that the bakery had discriminated against the couple and suggested damages of $135,000. Now, the Bureau of Labor and Industries has affirmed that amount, ordering Sweet Cakes to pay it.
Sweet Cake by Melissa
Bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein said their refusal to bake for the lesbian couple was prompted by their religious beliefs regarding marriage.

The case has been cited in the national debate over religious freedom and discrimination against gays.

The couple intends to appeal the decision.

Last April crowdfunding site GoFundMe shut down the couple's campaign because it involved formal charges.

The Kleins will still receive the $109,000 donated to the fund before it was shut down.

Meanwhile, Samaritan’s Purse has established a fund to help people who face financial distress and are punished for their sincerely held religious beliefs, convictions, and conscience.

Full story: Anti-gay bakery owners must pay $135.000 to lesbian couple

Polygamous FLDS cult erects wall around meetinghouse

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two

The insular Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) is building a "fortress-type" wall around its meeting house in Colorado City, Arizona.

Private investigator Sam Brower, who has observed the cult for many years, says he has no doubt that the wall is being erected on the express orders of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs, whom followers believe to be a prophet who speaks for God, is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in a Texas prison after he was found guilty of taking underage girls as his wives in what were claimed to be 'spiritual marriages.'

While his brother, Lyle, and other leaders in the cult take care of day to day business, Warren Jeffs continues to rule his followers with an iron fist.

Theologically, the FLDS is considered to be a cult of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, commonly known as the Mormon Church) -- which itself is, also theologically, a cult of Christianity.

It is the best known among many such groups, most of which separated from the church over the issue of polygamy.

Interestingly, for the most part, the doctrines and practices of Mormon Fundamentalists are closer to those of the original Mormon Church than are the doctrines and practices of today's Mormon Church.

Sociologically the FLDS is also consider a cult. The movement has been in the news for ousting young boys, for reassigning the wives and children of excommunicated men to men who are for the time being still in good standing, for forcing girls into underage marriages, for other forms of child abuse, and a range of other issues.

Full story: Polygamous FLDS cult erects wall around meetinghouse