Beware of the Gurus on Facebook: Raw Impact Ministries

DSC04416

here is one testimony from a friend to a friend

about a Guy called David….who runs RAW IMPACT Ministries…(out of other people’s houses!)

” I met David on Facebook about 2 years ago in early 2014. He was a friend of one of my Facebook friends and she introduced me to him.

When I first messaged him it was far from a “normal” conversation like you would have when you first meet someone. He started to say he was getting these visions of me or for me and just started talking like some kind of oracle or prophetic wording. I am well educated on spiritual knowledge so it wasn’t that surprising at first. We kept talking via Facebook until he decided to take a trip to a town in my state about 45 minutes from where I live.

Then we met in person for the first time. At the time he was staying at one of his friend’s house in the town and I drove over there to meet him and the couple he was staying with. He was always giving advice or suggestions to the male of the family and saying he was hearing the words of god and was very convincing to believe him. Within about a week he had caused a lot of conflict between the man and his wife and their relationship was starting to destabilize.

David assumed everything he was doing was the right thing and from what I got it was that he was always right and the others were wrong or didn’t understand things like he did. He was very easy to get along with and I considered him a friend and after he caused the problems for the family, the man didn’t want him staying at their house anymore.

So I agreed to let him come stay at my house and he ended up staying for about 3 weeks until I decided I couldn’t stand him being at my house any more. While he was staying with me, he would a lay down and tell me he was going to meditate and receive visions or downloads from god and hearing the voice and following what the voice was telling him to do. I went along with it but he ended up manipulating me to a very high degree. I lost a lot of very important and valuable items I had put a lot of work and effort into. I had a very customized computer system and special artistic objects I had made and he convinced me almost all of that was useless and that I should take it down and completely change my lifestyle. So I agree and the destruction began. He would try to give me advice and tell me what I needed to do and convince me instead of me relying on my own judgement and discernment.

After that I told him he had to leave and once again he said god told him before that I was about to ask him to leave. He would get on the phone and talk to people sometimes event to the point of yelling at them preaching his word to do anything he could to make them believe. He clearly showed signs that he was somewhat unstable mentally.

Earlier before I met him in person, he convinced a young woman to fly from her home in Washington all the way to where he was living in Alabama and they were convinced they were soul mates but shortly after she arrived, she ended up leaving him after about a month. He also did this with another young woman not very long after and the same thing happened. I noticed women were very attracted to what he would post and say on Facebook. He was always posting this parable/poetic like words that he said was the voice of god telling him to post.

I had deactivated my FB acct last year for some time but decided to reactivate it earlier this year in Feb. I messaged him back and we talked a bit, but we weren’t as close as before. I noticed then that he was with the woman Sarah and she sent me a friend request right after David and I had talked again.

Then one day a couple of weeks later I had posted my opinion about some spiritual feelings and opinions I had and he commented that I basically didn’t know what I was talking about. I responded by telling him he was some kind of prophet that was too old school to understand the modern philosophies and to basically shut up. Immediately after I sent him that he banned me as a friend and I was no longer able to view his profile. He didn’t send any kind of message or anything for his reason to do so, just instantly banned me.

Then a few hours later Sarah sent me a private message saying I didn’t know anything I was talking about and that David was always right and correct and that I will always be miserable in my life because I don’t listen to the voice of god or follow god’s guidance and basically was very rude and condemning. After I read the message I tried to view her page but she had also banned me as well. So she sent me a message just telling me off and banned me before I could even response. So from what I noticed David tends to brainwash people into believing almost if not all of what he says and thinks. I personally find this rather disturbing and women are more susceptible to persuasion than men that were his friends, but there were also a few men who also would follow and believe him.”

Don’t Call it “a Cult”!

DSC06205

From: Info-Secte <infosecte@qc.aibn.com>
Sent: Saturday, June 4, 2016 8:45 AM
Subject: How to Escape From a Cult in the 21st Century
——

How to Escape From a Cult in the 21st Century

The new documentary Holy Hell offers an unprecedented view of 20 years inside the Buddhafield religious group. We talked with apostates from Buddhafield to find out why they’re still grateful for a “cult” experience.

Pacific Standard

Jun 3, 2016

By Michael Agresta

Toward the end of Will Allen’s new autobiographical documentary Holy Hell, Danielle Lefemine, his friend and longtime associate in the controversial Buddhafield religious group, reflects on the 20-odd years of history related by the film and characterizes her experience in stark terms. “I was brainwashed,” Lefemine tells the camera. “I was in a cult.”

Over the course of its first hour, Holy Hell — released last Friday in New York and Los Angeles — has pointedly avoided these charged words. Rather than an exercise in casting judgment, Allen has built his film around unprecedented access to the inner workings of a secretive religious community: As the Buddhafield’s unofficial videographer for more than two decades, Allen documented the group’s evolution from an idyllic experiment in communal living and meditation practice in 1980s Santa Monica to a paranoid gang of guru-worshipping disciples in 1990s Austin. When the group’s charismatic leader, then known as Andreas, was caught in a sexual abuse scandal in the mid-2000s, many longtime members, including Allen and Lefemine, exited the group. Only in the film’s final chapter, describing their decision to leave the Buddhafield, do they use words like “cult” and “brainwash.”

It’s common for apostates to toss around such terms when discussing their past affiliations, but most sociologists now agree that “cult” represents a potentially dangerous designation. Contemporary debate over the term dates at least to the 1970s, with the rise of Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. On one side were self-appointed experts from the so-called anti-cult movement, who warned parents and young people about the dangers of spiritual leaders who bewitched impressionable followers into brainwashed servitude. On the other side were more careful academics who viewed the cult panic as dangerous both to the lives of adherents and to the constitutional tradition of free exercise of religion.

These tensions reached their zenith after the Federal Bureau of Investigation siege and massacre at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Many scholarly observers blamed the tragedy on anti-cult activists, who had propagated the widespread vilification and dehumanization of Branch Davidians, and some of whom were advising the FBI. “After the Branch Davidian fiasco, people realized that the ‘cult’ label objectified groups in a way that made violence more possible,” says Diane Winston, the Knight Center Chair in Media & Religion at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who studies the way religions are discussed in the public sphere.

To a large extent, the religious freedom-oriented academics won the late-20th-century battle of ideas over the “cult” label. Today, the preferred term is NRM, or new religious movement. Anti-NRM vigilante groups like Cult Awareness Network no longer threaten to kidnap adherents and forcibly “deprogram” them in hotel rooms and other extrajudicial locales, as they did from the late ’70s to the mid-’90s. For a while, even some journalists got the memo. “Groups that are controversial still get referred to as cults, but good journalists shy away from it now,” says David Bromley, a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and perhaps the country’s foremost expert on how people exit NRMs.

Journalists haven’t exactly been shying away from the term in their coverage of Holy Hell, however. The film has been called an “exposé of a Californian cult” and “a textbook case of how a cult operates.” Perhaps the first widely disseminated apostate documentary to include extensive, behind-closed-doors footage from within a secretive religious group, Allen’s film is reviving a long-dormant public conversation about NRMs and manipulative psychological techniques. Along with that conversation comes a new interrogation of words like “cult” and “brainwash,” words ready to be re-discovered and re-litigated by a new generation.

Allen and the other Buddhafield apostates who appear in Holy Helltake a varied approach, appropriating “cult” while eschewing the demonization and objectification of NRM members that typically go along with it. “I like the term ‘cult’ simply because it’s so irreverent,” Allen said by phone from Los Angeles. “We never would have used it. It makes us laugh at ourselves. But I think the word has to be re-defined.” He and his friends have little charitable to say about the anti-cult movement, which threatened their lives and liberty in the early ’90s, but they’re serious about wanting to broaden popular understanding and empathy for what goes on inside an NRM, even a fringy, dishonestly led, abusive one like the Buddhafield. As a result, Holy Hell is a document of fascinating contradictions. It’s an old-school anti-cult exposé crossed with an open-minded, 21st-century effort to destigmatize individual NRM members; it’s also a thoughtful re-invention of the cult-apostate narrative in the exhibitionist tradition of reality television. In the end, Holy Hell is perhaps the fullest, most human view we’ve ever had of life inside an NRM — and the ever-complicated business of getting out of one.

According to sociological consensus, people who leave NRMs typically join a group that opposes their former group — called an “oppositional coalition” — and develop a narrative that suits both their new ties and individual needs. In the first essay of a 1998 collection of sociological studies about NRMs called The Politics of Religious Apostasy, Bromley calls this storytelling the “captivity narrative.” In Bromley’s foundational account, NRM leave-takers emphasize that they “were innocently or naively operating in what they had every reason to believe was a normal, secure social site.” Apostates will often claim they were “subjected to overpowering subversive techniques,” e.g. brainwashing, and endured subjugation and humiliation until they ultimately escaped or were rescued. Leave-takers will vigorously resist any “ambivalence” or “residual attraction” toward their NRM once they’ve departed the group — those expressions could be seen as evidence of untrustworthiness, according to Bromley — and conclude by issuing a public warning about the dangers of membership. It’s a straightforward script.

This after-school-special version of NRM membership will be familiar to anyone who came of age before the turn of the millennium. The 1981 fiction film Ticket to Heaven, about a young schoolteacher who attends a training camp for an NRM and becomes brainwashed, is a classic of this genre: The happy ending comes only when he is kidnapped by anti-cult types and deprogrammed. But research doesn’t support the Pied Piper-like captivity narrative popularized in the 1980s and ’90s. “At that point in time, many people believed that, if someone entered into a cult-like group, if they were deprived of sleep and the food they received was monotonous and bland, if they were sexually tempted and argued and bullied into obedience, that their minds would snap and they’d become brainwashed cult members, glassy-eyed, easily led,” Winston says. “Since then, people who study human behavior have come to the conclusion that brainwashing is not that simple.”

Holy Hell doesn’t begin like a typical captivity narrative. In Allen’s rendering, Buddhafield members join the group without coercion, of their own free will. Later in the film, each apostate interviewed offers extenuating reasons for why they stayed in the group too long, several laying the blame on Andreas’ psychological manipulation or groupthink inertia; nevertheless, all agree that they entered the group of because they found it socially and spiritually fulfilling.

“The hardest part of the film to make was the first part, to acknowledge that we were in this and we loved this, and to make him look good,” Allen says. From the beginning, Holy Hell presents the Buddhafield as spiritually ambitious, tolerant, and sexually open; one apostate refers to it wistfully as “the booty field.” Everyone in the group, it’s also worth noting, is extremely attractive — a recruitment philosophy that Allen attributes to Andreas’ genius for cultivating “social proof” — the notion that appearing happy, popular, and sexy confers legitimacy to an otherwise-controversial leader or group. “If he has a lot of beautiful people around him who support him, that keeps him safe,” Allen says. Another way Andreas protected himself was by frequently changing his name. In the group’s early days in Los Angeles, he went by Michel; recently, re-settled in Honolulu, he has adopted the name Reyji, or “god-king.”

Allen doesn’t like the term “brainwash,” in part because he believes it delegitimizes the hard work of daily meditation and ego suppression that he and other Buddhafield apostates still look back on with pride. “We thought of it as a cleansing of our brain,” Allen says. “We thought we were seeing things in a different way, that it was healthy. And it is healthy — for a semester, in a controlled environment, with a qualified teacher, with checks and balances. We weren’t doing that.”

The group followed an ad hoc program of spiritual exercises designed by Andreas to help adherents experience direct communion with the divine. Initially, much of it was borrowed from the teachings of Maharaji, an Indian guru who developed a large American following, known as “premies,” in the 1970s, while other Buddhafield ego-shedding exercises came from theater training. Holy Hell holds onto a sense of group spiritual achievement even through the film’s darker passages. Ex-Buddhafield members seem more likely to look back on their spiritual work as an impressive achievement that nonetheless left them vulnerable to Andreas’ predations than to recall it as a scam and a fraud.

“We were like the Navy SEALs of spiritual discipline,” Radhia Gleis, a Buddhafield member who was with the group for over two decades, says over green curry when we meet one evening in May in a suburban Austin shopping mall.

In its second half, the film conforms better with Bromley’s archetypal captivity narrative. For instance, Holy Hell directly confronts the various ways in which members were humiliated. Apostates recall sexual dimensions to “karma cleansing” sessions, weekly one-on-one meetings between Andreas and his adherents, during which they were encouraged to drop all defenses and confess their deepest secrets. Recorded audio from these sessions suggests Andreas groomed straight men for sexual encounters, and multiple apostates testify on camera that Andreas manipulated them into unwanted sex. Those and other accusations recall Bromley’s description of “overpowering subversive techniques.” “The dude was a hypnotherapist,” Gleis says. “He had his talons in our psyche every week.”

But Holy Hell doesn’t dwell on members’ powerlessness, and when I speak with ex-Buddhafield members about the film’s more ominous moments, they tell me their aim wasn’t to disown their actions, but rather to call out Andreas’ bad-faith mentoring. Gleis feels deeply betrayed by Andreas, even though he never asked her for sexual favors. “The real abuse is in the cleansing. That’s the real intimacy,” she says. “That’s where you shared every dark deep secret. He didn’t use it against me much, but sometimes he would.” Though Gleis admits that Andreas’ spiritual counseling helped her through difficult periods in her life, she has come to the conclusion that he was delving into his adherents’ inner lives more to enrich, titillate, and protect himself than to serve others.

For her part, Gleis flatly refuses to say she was “brainwashed.” “I made decisions based on lies,” she says. “But everyone was different. People came in at different levels of maturity.”

The subjects of Holy Hell bring nuance to their “cult” stories. It’s worth noting, though, that some held official roles so high up in the organization that their “captivity” narratives deserve special scrutiny. Both Gleis and Allen occupied exalted positions in the Buddhafield hierarchy. Gleis describes herself as the group’s “consiglieri” — she was the one who managed the early-’90s legal threat from CAN that chased the Buddhafield out of California, and she purchased Andreas’ Austin home, which became the group’s headquarters for a decade. Allen was a key member of Andreas’ “entourage,” a mostly male coterie of self-described “beautiful ones” who were financially supported by the group and spent their days massaging the leader and accompanying him on Speedo-clad excursions to Austin-area beaches and swimming holes. Both Gleis and Allen admit to lying constantly — to their family members, to lower-ranking Buddhafield members, and to each other.

Gleis says that at least one other longtime Buddhafield member thinks Holy Hell goes too easy on the entourage, insulating high-ranking apostates from the sorts of criticisms levied at Andreas. Bromley’s scholarship would critique this as the tension between “apostate” and “traitor” roles: Leave-takers, of course, don’t want to be seen as turncoats or losers of power struggles; they want to be seen as victims. “You can’t have a leader without followers,” Gleis says. “I think we are all guilty of a lot of lies.”

Toward the end of the film, Allen tracks down his former guru in Hawaii, where elements of the Buddhafield community have re-settled post-scandal. When he asks Andreas, on hidden camera, whether he’s “being a good boy” to current members of the group, it becomes clear that the chance to expose the group, and to break it up, is a central reason why so many ex-Buddhafield members have risked public humiliation to put their faces and stories onscreen. Nevertheless, Allen says his primary artistic aim was not to raise alarm about Buddhafield.

“I would like to see a dismantling of the group and everyone waking up and being in their own power,” he says. “But I did not make this movie for 100 people. I spent 20 years living for 100 people. I couldn’t spend four more years for 100 people. I made this movie for everyone else.”

This is where Holy Hell departs definitively from the ’90s-era captivity narrative formula and creates a new model for the genre, one that can reach the mainstream. By “everyone else,” Allen means the widest possible film-viewing audience: people of all ages, races, sexualities, religions, etc., most of whom will likely encounter Holy Hell not as a polemic of anti-cult advocacy but as a character-driven story of hope and disillusionment, tragedy and triumph — and a bit of an amusing freak show.

While Allen did belong to an explicitly anti-Buddhafield coalition when he first took leave of the group several years ago — Gleis refers to a period of “innies” and “outies” arguing against each other — by the time he began editing footage, that alliance had faded as apostates began to move on with their lives. By then, Allen’s key organizational ties were to film-business players like the Sundance Institute, where he worked on Holy Hell as a fellow, and later Jared Leto, who became executive producer on the film.

It’s no dig at Allen to note that the resulting story includes a narrative arc that follows confessional conventions established by Oprah and reality television, and that the cathartic result is a people-pleaser. (Indeed, two ex-members mentioned rumors that Leto is pursuing plans to serialize the Buddhafield story.) Over the course of the film, apostates cast their stories as journeys of seeking and overcoming, stories that unfailingly culminate in personal growth. There are moments when viewers might envy the experience described by these apostates — by the end, membership in a controversial NRM begins to sound like a vital opportunity. The so-called “cult” experience, however abusive, comes off as a liberating net benefit.

I met former Buddhafield member David Christopher on a plane from Austin to Salt Lake City in January. He wore a Holy Hell baseball cap and passed out business cards to fellow passengers traveling to the Sundance Film Festival. Later, watching the Holy Hell premiere, I’d learn that he had given up a fledgling acting career to join the Buddhafield in the mid-’90s and was now hustling to break back into the business. (All the Buddhafield apostates I spoke to were to some extent involved in the entertainment industry.)

Months later, in a quiet South Austin café, I asked Christopher whether he would call the Buddhafield a cult. “I had to re-define what that word means for me,” he said. “I re-defined it in terms of: Any group or organization that tries to control your process of thinking, through any kind of guilt, coercion, or shame, may be a cult. If you think in those terms, the Catholic Church may be our biggest. But what about the NFL? What about your own family?”

“Your own family has a way of being, and you grow up in that programming, and there’s a language that you use, and a lot of times your parents have an idea of what you should be, and if you want to have an independent thought that goes against that, you might be guilted or shamed because you’re trying to go against the grain,” Christopher continued. “That is a cult. What I often tell people is, I joined a cult to escape a cult. The cult I left was my family. I left my not-so-good programming for a programming I thought was better. And it was better, much higher. But then I had to leave that programming only to find my own authenticity and my own voice, without anybody else’s conditioning. For me, that’s empowerment.”

Allen, on the verge of his first big film release, and Gleis, who is trying to launch a naturopathic television network, echo similar sentiments. “The first five years, I learned love and selflessness and humility,” Allen says. “The next 15 years, I learned a lot of other things — the hard way. They were hard lessons to come by, but very valuable to me.”

Sociologists and veterans of the Waco tragedy may wince to see Holy Hellrehabilitating the word “cult” and returning it to the headlines. But, in Allen’s rendering, the term assumes a different and less dehumanizing meaning. When Lefemine says, at the end of Holy Hell, that she was in a “cult,” the emphasis is not on belittling the group or re-opening the possibility of ’90s-style anti-cult violence. Instead, she’s spinning a tale of self-discovery, relatable to anyone who’s had to make a break with an abusive family, a bad marriage, or a soul-crushing job. “I was in a cult,” in her phrasing, is not substantively different from, for example, “I married a jerk.” The moral of the story is a warning, but a broad one, about just how bad any group can get if you stay too long and ignore the warning signs: The Buddhafield apostates went there so you don’t have to.

Gleis suggests that even Andreas/Reyji may be excited to see Holy Hell, even though the film treats him as a villain. His narcissism reflects one reason whyHoly Hell’s version of the cult apostate narrative feels so much a product of our media-saturated age. “Andreas always wanted to be a star in a movie,” Gleis says. “Well, you got your wish, dude. He’s up there on that cross where he always wanted to be.”

https://psmag.com/how-to-escape-from-a-cult-in-the-21st-century-d3778a8f7b30#.wik0uiqeg

How Cyclist Juliana Buhring Learned to Keep Going After Surviving a Cult and Losing the Love of Her Life

How Cyclist Juliana Buhring Learned to Keep Going After Surviving a Cult and Losing the Love of Her Life

Glamour

By Helen Rumbelow

May 13, 2016

The mountains of Praiano, Italy, tumble spectacularly into the Mediterranean Sea. If you look closely on any given day, you might see a tall tattooed woman jogging the 2,000 stone steps that go almost vertically up those cliffs. It’s like a scene from Rocky: Juliana Buhring, 34, is the underdog, outsider, and rebel, working to win the distinction of fastest female ultradistance cyclist on earth.

Training this hard and this long is about a relationship with pain: facing it, pushing through it, leaving it in the dust. It’s safe to say Buhring knows how to do all that. Her lessons started early, when she was born into one of the most infamous cults of the time, the Children of God. The group, which later changed its name to The Family International and at its peak had thousands of members (including a young Joaquin Phoenix and Rose McGowan), was started in the 1960s by David Berg, an ex-pastor who espoused free sex. The women were sent to bars to go “flirty fishing” and seduce new recruits, and children were encouraged to be sexual. (Responding to accusations of child abuse, the Family has acknowledged that from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s the group “wasn’t as safe an environment for children and young teens as it should have been.”)

Early on Buhring was separated from her family: Her father was off working closely with Berg, and the leaders scattered her 17 siblings among the cult’s numerous communes around the world. “I had just turned four when I heard our group’s green car start up,” she says. “I ran to the window and saw my mom getting in with my brother and sister, and thought, Wait! I raced to the front door, but they were pulling out of the gate. I remember my mom waving to me out of the window, crying. I was distraught. I thought they were going on a shopping trip. I didn’t understand they weren’t coming back.”

Buhring saw one sister occasionally, but otherwise she was on her own, moving from country to country and living in communes with 20 or 30 kids. “We often just slept on mattresses spread across the floor and were cared for by random adults,” she says. “A lot of them were very violent. We got beatings, hard labor, constant ‘spankings’ with things like coat hangers and cricket bats. They’d even duct-tape our mouths shut.”

A self-described defiant child, Buhring first thought about escaping at 13. She’d even sneak away at night to make friends outside of the commune. But it took hearing that one of her half sisters had died of a drug overdose to give her the push she needed to leave for good. “By then I was 23,” Buhring says. “We were in Uganda, and the leaders were happy to see me go.” She got a job in Kampala, and later moved to England and decided to tell her story. The memoir Not Without My Sister, which she wrote with two of her siblings, exposes the sexual abuse and neglect they suffered and became a best-seller in the U.K. They also started a charity to support other young people leaving extreme religious groups.

Then, in 2009, Buhring reconnected on Facebook with an adventure guide named Hendri Coetzee. They’d first met in Uganda, where they’d had a short, intense affair, but this time they couldn’t let go. “There was not a day when we didn’t chat, Skype, or call,” recalls Buhring. “We finally reached a point where we were like, ‘Let’s give this a go. There’s something happening here.’” They decided to meet up for New Year’s 2011 in Uganda. Buhring booked her ticket and counted the days, as Coetzee kayaked in the Congo. But on December 8 she logged on to Facebook to see her feed flooded with tributes to him. A crocodile had lunged out of the river and dragged him underwater to his death. His body has never been found.

Despite all that she’d been through, losing Coetzee “was the one blow I didn’t want to come up from,” Buhring says. Reckless with grief, she signed up for a race to cycle around the world to raise money and awareness for her charity, which had merged with the Safe Passage Foundation. She had no training, no teammates—she’d be on the road completely alone. Everyone told her she was insane. “This wasn’t about being strong,” she says. “It was about escaping.” On July 23, 2012, after working with a coach for only six months, she took off from Naples, never expecting to make it back. At times she was miserable. She rode through a cyclone in India “covered in mud and human dung—I was sick, constantly wet, and mobbed by men,” she says. “But it never occurred to me, Oh, you could just stop. I’m too proud.”

And in those 144 days of punishing cycling over 18,000 miles, something unexpected happened. Buhring, who had always felt so alone in life, found herself forced to rely on the kindness of strangers, and they came through. “People were amazing,” she says. “I stopped feeling like everyone had it out for me.” By the time she pedaled around the globe—the journey she describes in her new book, This Road I Ride, out in May—she knew she had to keep going. “I had been such a stunted child in a tiny world; I just wanted to make up for all of that lost time,” she says. “I wanted to do everything.”

She’s certainly on her way. In 2013 she became the only woman to attempt the first transcontinental race from London to Istanbul and finished ninth overall. The next year she took first place for women in the Trans Am Bike Race, although she needed a wheelchair to board her flight home. (“I was f—ing winning that race,” she says.) “The last three days,” says her coach, ultradistance rider Billy Rice, “she went without sleep. That’s huge. She is the most determined person I’ve ever met.”

So far Buhring has raised more than $20,000 for Safe Passage: The money will cover things like travel for those trying to leave cults and college tuition to help start a new life. “They need advice on how to set up a bank account, pay rent—things you don’t learn when you’re growing up in a cult,” she says. She’d also like to erase the stigma that “ex-kids” are damaged: “Many are ashamed about their pasts, but I’ve seen people who come out superstrong.”

As she hunkers down, dead set on smashing a new record in the Race Across America in June, Buhring pauses to consider her own tough history. “Hendri would often say, ‘The strongest metals have gone through the hottest fires.’ And I now know that’s true,” she says. “When you think you can’t go any further, you always can.”

Helen Rumbelow is a feature writer at The Times in London.

http://www.glamour.com/story/how-cyclist-juliana-buhring-learned-to-keep-going-after-surviving-a-cult-and-losing-the-love-of-her-life

Testimony of one who was had by a Pyramid Scheme: the Ever Present Threat of Tony Quinn in Ireland

DSC06205

Dialogue Ireland, an association concerned about mental manipulation and undue influence, has just published a fascinating testimony of one good Irishman who was taken in by this movement and lost thousands of Euros.

The at the time gullible person bought into promises of HAPPINESS, A FULL LIFE AND PROSPERITY only to discover years later and many thousands of Euros poorer that he was deceived….

 

Brian meets ex-Scientologist

Hello, just got this on Brian’s blog

http://www.briantellsstories.com/podcasts/2016/2/17/brian-meetsan-ex-scientologist

February 17, 2016

Brian Tells Stories

Sharone came on the show to walk us through her experience. She was a Scieftologist from the age of 6 and she shares her stories from her childhood in Scientology. Her stories are incredible and ridiculous and unbelievable. She spent time on the Sea Org and was L. Ron Hubbards assistant….sort of.

We return with a truly fascinating tail. An extra long episode but it is worth it. I have always been fascinated with Scientology and Scientologists. Truth be told, I find all religion and believers fascinating. However, particularly Scientology. This topic and interviewee is something that I have been dying to do a piece on for quite some time.

Sharone was only 6 when her family got involved in Scientology. Even then, she had a bad feeling about it all. At 10, she signed a billion year contract to join the Sea-Organization. Naturally. Sharone worked very closely with the infamous L. Ron Hubbard. She was L. Ron’s personal assistant of sorts.

Sharone joins the podcast to share her truly incredible time in Scientology, living on the Sea-Org, her relationship with L. Ron Hubbard, escaping Scientology and her subsequent life afterwards. You can read Sharone’s blog here and a big shout out to Ex-Scientologists Ireland for putting me in touch. A huge thank you to Sharone for sharing her st

Fake Archbishop flogging Aldi oil as cure for cancer

Trust in the Aldi Mighty: We reveal that a FAKE Archbishop is flogging ‘miracle’ olive oil as a cure for cancer

Message body

brainwashing, alive and well

http://iranian.com/posts/brainwashing-there-should-be-a-law-against-it-61318

AnneKhodabandeh

Anne Khodabandeh @AnneKhodabandeh

Anne Khodabandeh, a leading authority on cultic abuse and terrorism, works as a consultant within the remit of the UK Prevent Duty. After twenty years in the MEK, a dangerous, destructive mind control cult, she helps families through Iran-Interlink.

Leeds, UK

SEVEN SIGNS YOU ARE IN A CULT – Survivor of International House of Prayer

The Atlantic

Writer tells her story of belonging to a prayer group led by charismatic leader and the death of one of members.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/06/the-seven-signs-youre-in-a-cult/361400/http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/06/the-seven-signs-youre-in-a-cult/361400/

Jehovah’s Witness reveals Father’s Abuse

Article courtesy of Info-Secte, Canada

DSC08446

Child abuse royal commission: Jehovah’s Witnesses reveals father’s abuse

·      THE AUSTRALIAN

·      JULY 28, 2015 

Nicola Berkovic

Reporter

Sydney

A Jehovah’s Witness elder says he believed a young woman had been sexually abused by her father but could not take action because he did not have a second witness.

The elder, Dino Ali, told the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse said “divine law” required two witnesses to a crime or for the perpetrator to confess.

Asked why he could not take action, even though he believed the then-18-year-old woman that her father had tried to rape her, he said:

“We couldn’t … Because there was only the person who was aware or knew that that had happened. We [did] not have another person to corroborate.”

Mr Ali said that members of the Jehovah’s Witness church believed that it was up to a victim of a crime to make a report to police.

Asked if this extended even to crimes such as murder, he said he would try very hard to convince the witness to make a report to police and would not do so himself.

Earlier, the Royal Commission heard testimony from the woman, now 43, who said she and all three of her sisters had been abused by her father, who was a senior member of the Jehovah’s Witness church.

The woman, known as BCG, told the commission she was discouraged from reporting the abuse to police and warned she could be “disfellowshipped” or excommunicated if she did so.

She said her father sexually abused her when she was 17, while her mother and six siblings were away.

The first time it happened, she said he came naked into her bed at night and touched her all over body and tried to have sexual intercourse with her.

He quoted bible scriptures to her while the abuse was occurring and said: “You have to be obedient to me.”

She said she reported the abuse to several elders — including Mr Ali — but was told they could not hear her allegations without her father present.

BCG said she later learned her mother had been aware the father had sexually abused her older sister when she was just two years old and had also abused her two younger sisters, then just five and eight.

She told the commission that outside members of the community were known as “worldly people” and members of the Jehovah’s Witness were taught they could not be trusted.

Following the church’s investigation of the abuse, BCG said she became depressed and tried to commit suicide. She said she was forced to report the suicide attempt to church elders and was chastised because it was considered a “wrongdoing” against the church.

The woman said she believed members of the congregation had been aware her father had been physically abusive while she was growing up because she went to Jehovah’s Witness meetings with a black eye and bleeding from welts he had inflicted with a belt.

The father was “disfellowshipped” from the church but was welcomed back a few years later.

After this, she told a church elder she wanted to report the abuse to police because she believed the congregation was “not safe”.

However, the elder replied: “He is now a brother again … If you take it to the police you will bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name and you will be disfellowshipped for doing that.”

She said members of the church were taught that those who were disfellowshipped would be killed by Jehovah and that Armageddon was imminent. It also meant she would be cut off from the community.

The father was subsequently convicted in 2004, after three trials, for unlawful and indecent assault and attempted rape and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

BCG told the commission that her father left her mother for another woman, and then tried to set up her older sister with the new partner’s then husband.

The abuse was formally investigated by three male elders, who asked BCG if she “enjoyed” the abuse. She said she felt they were “getting off” on what she told them.

The woman said she used “to pray to Jehovah to put angels” around her bed to stop her father’s abuse but he didn’t help her, and the abuse did not stop.

She said during a meeting with church elders, her father accused her of seducing him.

“At the time I said to my father ‘you’re my father, you’re big and fat, why would I seduce you’,” she said.

Her father was disfellowshipped not for what he did to his daughters, because that required two witnesses, but for “other loose conduct”.

She finally moved to Townsville from the North Queensland town near Mareeba where she had been living, and left the church. She said after she did so, she was “completely shunned, ostracised and avoided” by the congregation.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/child-abuse-royal-commission-jehovahs-witnesses-reveals-fathers-abuse/story-fngburq5-1227460242035

Jehovah’s Witnesses Down Under Sex Abuse Scrutiny

Child sex abuse royal commission: Jehovah’s Witnesses to be focus of inquiry hearing

 DSC09682

Article courtesy of Info-Secte, Canada

ABC Online

By Angela Lavoipierre

July 27, 2015

The Jehovah’s Witnesses will be the focus of the child abuse royal commission’s next set of hearings, which begin in Sydney today.

The case study, which is expected to run for two weeks, is the first to focus on an entire Christian denomination rather than just one part of it.

It is expected to hear evidence from two abuse survivors as well as senior members of the church.

At least seven current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses Elders are expected to be called.

Senior staff for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ company, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia, are also expected to appear.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is sometimes described as a Christian sect, had more than 80,000 followers in Australia at last count.

Lawyer Angela Sdrinis, who is representing a number of people alleging abuse, said complainants had been slow to come forward because of the organisation’s size and culture.

“I’ve been doing this work for about 20 years and it really is in the past few months that I’ve been approached by members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who allege sexual abuse within that church,” Ms Sdrinis told the ABC’s AM program.

“I think people generally need a lot of courage to come forward regarding child sex abuse, and particularly in a faith-based organisation, I think the stricter or more conservative the organisation is, the more difficult it is for the victim to come forward.

“Those who have spoken to me recently, some of them found when they tried to complain about the abuse initially – and we are talking about historical sex abuse – were faced with a response that was basically rejecting of their allegations.

“That felt that the church was trying to blame the victim.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-27/jehovahs-witnesses-child-sexual-abuse-royal-commission/6649340