- The sentences of three German men found guilty for their leadership roles at the infamous Colonia Dignidad cult in Chile have been increased. The cult's founder, former Nazi Paul Schaefer, was sentenced in July 2008 for torturing children.[wpipa id="36637"]
Schaefer -- whose followers thought he was “God on earth” -- preached an unnamed religion that said harsh discipline would draw them closer to the supreme being.
In April 2010 Schaefer died in prison.
- California state parole officials postponed a decision on setting free Patricia Krenwinkel, a follower of Charles Manson and convicted killer, after the woman’s attorney made new claims that she had been abused by the cult leader or another person.
- Emma Donoghue's novel The Wonder delves into the cult of fasting girls
Anorexia is not a new disorder. The compulsion to refuse food stretches as far back as Ancient Greece and into the Middle Ages, when Catholic saints such as Catherine of Siena would eschew meals as a symbol of their piety. Unlike contemporary sufferers of anorexia nervosa, those with anorexia mirabilis (the miraculous loss of appetite) were celebrated for their ability to exist without earthly pleasures.
- Top 5 ‘heresies’ of 2016: ‘One God,’ biblical authority and more
What is heresy?
What are the essential doctrines of the Christian faith?
What is a cult of Christianity?
- The hunt for FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs' lost child brides: Three girls married off to Warren Jeffs aged 12 and 13 are still missing 12 years later as polygamist father who has 145 children goes on trial for arranging ceremonies
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Full story: Religion and Cult News, Saturday
The world’s deadliest terrorist groups are increasingly open about their intentions, tactics, and targets. Last month, Rumiyah, the slickest terrorist magazine on the Internet market, was very precise. The “most appropriate” killing vehicle, the Islamic State publication advised, is a “load-bearing truck” that is “double-wheeled, giving victims less of a chance to escape being crushed by the vehicle’s tires.” It should be “heavy in weight, assuring the destruction of whatever it hits.” It should also have a “slightly raised chassis and bumper, which allow for the mounting of sidewalks and breeching of barriers if needed.” And it should have a “reasonably fast” rate of acceleration.
In the same issue, Rumiyah urged Islamic State members, or sympathizers anywhere in the world, to hop in vehicles—steal them, if need be—and attack outdoor markets, public celebrations, political rallies, and pedestrian-congested streets. “All so-called ‘civilian’ (and low security) parades and gatherings are fair game and more devastating to Crusader nation,” the magazine, which is published in several languages, said. [...more...]
- Source: The New Yorker
See: Islam and Terrorism
In March 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide inside a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego, California. Police discovered their bodies on March 26. It was the largest mass-suicide in U.S. history.
But the group's website is still available -- and is maintained by two ex-members. Troy James Weaver contacted them:
So why maintain the website? Obviously if you still believe it, you are a proponent/member of something, right? The reason I ask about suicide, is because if Do and Ti were the only Next Level Members, what does that say about the others who took their own lives? They were human, correct? Not inhabiting a human body, but human? I’m confused by this and what I’ve read. I’m just trying to understand more clearly. Also, what is a task partner?
The website is to provide information for their future return. We are designated to maintain and care for it.
Humans are not to commit suicide. Those 38, and those 38 only, we allowed to shed their human body, take on space-capable, Next Level bodies and depart this planet. No human can do that or would be allowed to do that. We know you are confused about this but those individuals did not commit suicide. They broke the bond of human connection and quickly switched to a Next Level one.
[Ed. note: Reports showed that there were 39 bodies, suggesting that Heaven’s Gate does not include Marshall Applewhite a human.]
- Source: Fanzine
Ex-Scientologists tell disturbing stories about David Miscavige, the ‘pope of Scientology,’ on A&E series
The dwindling Scientology cult can't get a break nowadays. It is exposed to daylight on the internet, on television, on YouTube, on countless blogs and websites, in new book after new book, and by more and more ex-members -- including those who held high ranks and/or were inside for significant amount of time.
And then there was actress Leah Remini.
Remini left the 'Church of Scientology' in 2013 — after 35 years as a devout member — and ever since, she has been on a crusade to expose the controversial organization’s secrets. Including those persistent stories about cult leader David Miscavige.
This Washington Post article talks about her ongoing A&E television series, 'Scientology and the Aftermath.' It also highlights the way the 'church' can't help but shoot itself in the foot by -- time and again -- engaging in a hate campaign against those who left the destructive cult.
As usual, A&E put up a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode and between each act break, given the religion’s leaders harshly condemned the series and denied many of the claims. The church also has called Remini an “obnoxious, spiteful ex-Scientologist” who is angry that she was expelled from the church, and that she’s doing the series for money; they also said the show is “doomed to be a cheap reality TV show by a has-been actress now a decade removed from the peak of her career.”
Scientology likes to call itself a 'church' and a 'religion.' At Apologetics Index, we call Scientology a hate group.
Here's how the cult destroys friendships, families and other relationships.
Full story: Religion & Cults News – Wednesday
Large checkmark w/ headline:
UK: Churches warned of 'deceptive cult' linked to South Korea infiltrating congregations
The Church of England has issued a formal alert to almost 500 parishes in London about the activities of the group known as Parachristo.
The organisation, a registered charity, runs Bible study courses at an anonymous industrial unit under a Botox clinic and a personal training company in London Docklands.
But it is understood to be linked to a controversial South Korean group known as Shinchonji (SCJ) – or the “New Heaven and New Earth” church (NHNE) – whose founder Man-Hee Lee is referred to as God’s “advocate”.
It is claimed that some of those who become involved gradually withdraw from friends and family and actively lie about their real lives [...]
A companion article, titled The Korean religious leader on a collision course with the Church of England notes:
Organisers insist Parachristo exists solely to help “understand the Bible more deeply”. [...]
Former attendees of Parachristo study groups have claimed that existing members effectively pose as new students.
Shinchonji teaching documents seen by The Telegraph instructs these “maintainers” to “arouse curiosity” of newcomers and “try to be close to each other until the student relies on you fully”.
They are told to “take notes of the conversation with the student” and report back to the group leader.
Shincheonji -- Cult of Christianity
According to the SCJ, their leader - Manhee Lee - is the Messiah or the spokesperson of the Messiah ("Promised Pastor").
Lee Man-Hee claims that Jesus appeared before him as a "bright heavenly figure." Some see him as God’s “promised pastor” who holds the key to avoid impending judgement. Followers believe that Lee Man-Hee is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Reportedly the church teaches that Lee Man-Hee is the angel referred to in Revelation 22:16:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
The church also believes that Revelation 7:2 refers to South Korea (East) and to Lee Man-Hee (angel):
Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God.
According to the group's promotional literature Lee Man-Hee is the only person who can testify to the mysteries of the Book of Revelation -- which he claims already has been fulfilled. He is said to teach that the world has already ended, and that we are currently living in the afterlife.
Shincheonji denies the biblical teaching that people are saved by faith in Jesus Christ -- and not by works.
The church denies the doctrine of the Trinity.
Sociologically Shincheonji has many cult-like characteristics as well.
Front Groups; Alternative Spellings
Note the different spellings of the name of the group: Officially it is Shincheonji, Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ). Commonly referred to as Shincheonji, but the name is sometimes spelled without the 'e' -- Shinchonji.
Likewise, the name of the cult's leader is Lee Man-Hee, which is sometimes written as Man-Hee Lee or Manhee Lee.
Lee Man-Hee founded Shinchonji in 1984.
Other names related to this movement: Mannam Volunteer Association/Mannam International Youth Coalition (MIYC), International Peace Youth Group (IPYG)/Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ).
World Peace... and Deception
Like similar cults, Shincheonji claims it promotes world peace -- but its deceptive nature tends to backfire, like it did when the cult organized the World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit (WARP). Wikipedia:
From 17-19 September 2014 Shincheonji organised their SCJ 6th National Olympiad. It is the major event for SCJ which they hold every four years, and it coincides with Lee's birthday. On this occasion, they also invited many international guests who all believed they were attending a secular "World Peace Summit". As the two events took place simultaneously and in the same venue, it led to significant confusion and embarrassment for international guests who had been misled.
Here's one blogger's experience at a similar event: "We thought we were going to a world peace festival...turned out to be a religious cult sort of thing."
- Court Rules [Korean TV Broadcaster] CBS May Call Shincheonji an Antisocial Group. This article, posted on a website dedicated to observing another cult, is part of a larger collection of news items about Shinchonji
- My Experience with Shincheonji, by Breanna Jennings -- and English teacher in South Korea. See also her video and the follow-up
- GotQuestions.org: "What is Shincheonji? Is it a cult?"
- Analysis of Shincheonji's Movement
- Freedom of Mind: Information posted on the website of cult expert Steven Hassan
- Thesis: The Shincheoji Religious Movement - A Critical Evaluation