individual reports on...
How is the new religion described in it's own literature, on it's own website?
listed in alphabetical order;
(if there is more than one report, the number of reports appears in parentheses)
September 21, 2001
Church of Body Modification (2)
Church of Scientology (2)
Falun Gong (2)
Hare Krishna movement (see Society for Krishna Consciousness)
Heaven's Gate (3)
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
House of Yahweh
Jehovah's Witness (2)
Jews For Jesus
Ku Klux Klan (2)
Moonies (see Unification Church)
New Age Spirituality
Omoto Kyo (also Oomoto, Aizen-en
Oumu Shinrikyou (Aleph)
Scientology (see Church of Scientology)
Society for Krishna Consciousness
Unification Church (2)
As I began to look up "cults" or New Religious Movements, I noticed a number of cult names did not display on the search engines. I tried to look up as many of five cult names and the web page would come up saying "this wed site cannot be displayed".
As my frustration set in I finally tried one final site called "Anti Cult Movement". A web site that describes the promotion of cults, who want to be known as non cults. Or who do not believe they should be classified as a cult in society.
The "Anti Cult Movement" describes themselves to society as New Religious Movements, who will believe in engaged frightening activities, like kidnaping and assaults. They also use the word brainwashing to describe their followers.
This New Religious Movement "Cult" or Group has many different views and ways of thinking about cults in their society. They list 5 specific term that defines their cult or a cult in order for it to be a cult.
1. An authoritarian power structure, with authority concentrated at thetop.
2. Charismatic or Messianic leaders identify themselves as God or state that they are the only persons capable of interpreting the bible properly.
3. The use of deceitful method in recruitment of new members and raising of money
4. Isolation from society; filtering of information.
5. The use of mind control method on the membership.
This type of group all started as a response to a series of spiritual movements in the 1960's. Countless new religious movements had appeared in North America; many were headed by a single charismatic leader. Numerous young adults flocked to these groups, seeking an intense spiritual experience and inter-personal intimacy. Some of these movements encouraged their followers to sever relationships with their friends and families of origin. Many followers abandoned their academic pursuits in order to devote more time to the movement. Parents became and become alarmed fearing that their children are victims of brainwashing and mindless techniques of mind control.
This is how they believe, they should be. How they lure people away from homes etc, in order for them to have complete control over their followers. They believe that this needs to take place in order for the follower to have complete advantage over themselves and within the Religious Movement experience.
As I continued to look up information, the search engines keep referring me back to this web site. I have also tried to find some literature concerning this movement but, their was no information in the Saint John library. I will continue looking throughout the week.
I have decided to learn more about the Bahai religion.There was an overwhelming amount of information available about this particular new religious movement. The best source I found, however, was the Madison Bahai Community website updated in 1999 (http://danenet.wicip.org/bahai/intro.html).Another really good source was entitled The Babi and Baha'i Religions : From Messianic Shiism to a World Religion by Peter Smith (New York : Cambridge University Press, 1987).Due to the large amount of writing about this faith, I have been able to learn quite a bit in a short period of time.The nice aspect about the majority of the information I reviewed was that it was actually written by Bahai groups themselves, allowing for better insight.
Members of this religion see themselves as fulfilling a mission of their prophet Bahalullah. They believe that he is a messenger of God who told of the dawning of a new age and changes that would be brought about by it. His mission was to restore peace and justice in the world to counteract these political and social changes. Bahai members believe they are educating humanity through their practice of this faith. If they successfully restore peace, they believe that Bahalullah will come again.
The Bahai religion is self-claimed to be the second most widespread religion in the world, having over five million believers in two hundred countries. They also claim to be one of the most diverse because their religion is practiced by more than twenty one hundred different ethnic groups.They have a Universal House of Justice which is used to direct both spiritual and administrative affairs of Bahai worldwide.
There are no clergy in Bahai in order to ensure that every person has the same opportunity to serve the community. The purpose of life, according to Bahai tradition, is "to know and worship God, and to contribute to an ever-advancing civilization" (http://danenet.wicip.org/bahai/intro.html).The importance of prayer and meditation is stressed to the Bahai members. They worship the word of Bahalullah and his son with more than one hundred volumes of work. In accordance with this scripture, Bahai uphold honesty, trust,compassion, and justice also emphasizing the importance of legal and governmental obedience.
Although this is a fairly new religious movement, beginning in 1963 in Iran,its members believe that their faith is stronger than many others in existence today.
Bahai a fairly new religious movement which believes in the unification of all mankind to create a global society. A website that provides an abundance of information on Bahai's mission statement, history, beliefs, practices, locations, perspectives, profiles and cultures involved is:
The founder Bahai'u'llah is thought to be "the most recent in the line of messenger's from God." Bahai'u'llah's message is for the unification ofall humans to create this global society. Bahai'u'llah taught "each humanbeing is a mine rich in gems." The purpose of joining people of differentbackgrounds together is to break and conqueour prejudices. The words ofBahai'u'llah state " the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."
This website was very informative providing an abundance of links to different articles dedicated to educating an inquior of this new religiousmovement. There is not only numberous links but are also available inseveral different languages. For the members of the Bahai religion are foundinternationally in 235 countries around the world. This website was published by the Bahai International Community.
Church of Body Modification (2)
The new religious movement which I have chosen is The Church of Body Modification. I thought it sounded interesting, however I had a difficult time finding information on this topic. I happened to come across one helpful website, http://www.churchofbodymod.org/.This appeared to be the homepage for the Church of Body Modification. I discovered the cult began as a group that was interested in learning about ancient societies who used body modification as a ritualistic tradition or rite of passage into adulthood. This small group developed into a group dedicated to teaching acceptance, safety and the different types of body modification that exist. They believe our body is our temple. They have a great deal of self-respect and believe in body modification as a form of self expression.
Some websites that turned up in my search were: www.molokosynthemesc.com/links.exe?cmg=go&to=7 http://sexuality.about.com/cs/bodytransforming/
All of these simply had links taking me back to the homepage for the Church of Body Modification which I mentioned above.
I was also unsuccessful finding information using Quest at the library. I found one book which looked promising, but it did not contain any information relevant to what I was looking for. It was, Encyclopaedic Handbook of Cults in America, by Gordon, J. Melton.
The Church of Body Modification is a very new religious movement. Theybecame officially recognized by the state in the year 2000. They believe that body modification is a spiritual practice. It is a non-denominational congregation that accepts anyone who is seeking a higher spiritual truth. The emphasis is not so much on one specificdeity but on spirituality in general and because of this members of anyfaith are welcome to the church.
Their mission statement (in part) reads:
Here we are gathered to understand and to be understood. Our wisdom brought us here. Each of us is wise in our reasons. Each of us ispowerful in authority over ourselves. Our bodies are the physical structure, our temple; the encasement of our own very personal dreamsand experiences, our beliefs and our hopes. We stand absolutely firm on our birthright of ownership of our individual bodies.With such emphasis on personal choice, can this be considered a cult ?
All ministers in the church have been involved professionally in the body modification community for quite some time and are themselves oftenheavily modded.
Currently the church is undergoing a growth period. Their set doctrine is in the process of being hammered out. I know this not because of anyof the Church s literature but because I am somewhat involved with themand friends with many people who are.
The Church of Body Modification based out of Phoenix, AZ and while they have Canadian members there is currently no active church in Canada.This, however, is being changed and discussion is currently happening to open a church in Canada. This discussion is being held in a forum at http://iam.bmezine.com?glider . However iam.bmezine.com is a members-only community (membership is free).
The official website for the Church of Body Modification can be found at http://www.churchofbodymod.com . Many members of the Church are part of the iam.bmezine.com community or are affiliated with the BodyModification E-Zine (a terrific resource for information on body modification) http://www.bmezine.com .
In my search I found websites that discussed the Church however they were very much from an outsider voice. For example Suzy Smith atBellaOnline questioned the need for there to be a Church at all. Theaddress for that article ishttp://www.bellaonline.com/beauty/beauty_and_fashion/body_art/articles/art967619216592.htm. The rest of the websites only mentioned the Church in their list ofbody modification-related links.
Church of Scientology (2)
There is more than an abundance of literature on what The religion of Scientology is. The most useful resource that I found was their website found at www.scientology.org. I found that the information was set up in a way that was very easy to follow. It described how Scientology was a new religion and how it "grew" out of the work of it's Founder L. Ron Hubbard. It started with a book that he (Hubbard) wrote called "Dianetics" (1950), the basis of this book was what the Human soul was doing to body. It is the basis of Scientology that humans do not "have souls" we are the souls and we "have" bodies and minds. Scientology also states that man is good but it is trails of daily life, and his experiences that "make" him do bad things.
Scientology is a new religion, having been born only fifty years ago. It uses a scientific methodology to teach it adherants to achieve a balance between their spritual selves and the person that they must be in our technological society. Scientology states that over the last century man has evolved technoligically but not as a species (morally and ethically) and it is this unbalance that Scientology has to address. Scientology states with the advent of Psycology and Psyciatry, people have been made nothing but animals that are nothing more then "a collection of chemical compounds and stimulus-reactive responces" These new sciences, according to Scientology paints man as just a physical being with no soul. Scientology claims to be able to allow men to find true spiritual enlightment and freedom to become and indiviual.
Scientology claims to be the heir to all the ancient religious philosophies that have been handed down throught time, however Scientology claims to have something that all these other old (and new) religions don't have. Scientology has a workable methodology to attain it's goals of spiritual enlightment and personal freedom. A full run down or this can be found at www.goodauditing.org/. Basically what one has to do is purify oneself by eating right, exercising,purging all drugs from ones system. There is also a grading system that is employed to help you attain these goals.There are six levels in total: ARC Straightwire- affinity,realit, communication (putting these 3 things into better communication with the mind and the world, Grade 0- freeing all block of communication, Grade 1- recognizing the source of problems and making them problems no longer, Grade 2- to easily bring relief to oneself and others, Grade 3- freedom from upsets in the past and an ability to face the future,and Grade 4- moving out of fixed conditions (breaking habits) then freedom.
I assume that these levels are accompanied with more intruction within the confines of Scientology, because there were no such instuctions on this or any other websites. In the end Scientology promises what all religions promise, to make you a better person and by doing so making the world a better place.
The Church of Scientology, Los Angeles Organization found at www.theta.com/csla/ .
Has many links explaining this NRM's practices, beliefs and celebrations. On these links I have discovered that this religion was founded in the 1950's by L. Ron Hubbard as a way to help people deal with the fact that despite the many technological advances, we as a society still had little insight into ourselves. This religion was seen by many as a way to balance out this problem. This balance is achieved through auditing and training.
Auditing is when (found at:www.scientology.org/world/worldeng/corp/des2.htm) you with the help of an Auditor ( someone trained in the steps) carefully examine your existence through a carefully structured set of steps. By following these steps, people will be able to face what they are and where they are in life.
Training is the study of Scientology principles. Through training people can improve every aspect of ones life by using the principles found in Scientology.
Training and Auditing are seen as the "Bridge". This embodies an ancient concept -- a long-envisioned route across a chasm between man's present state and vastly higher levels of awareness. The Bridge is comprised of gradient steps so that gains are incremental, predictable and apparent.(found at:www.scientology.org/world/worldeng/corp/des4.htm)
There are two sides to this bridge, on the first side one reaches the highest states of enlightenment through receiving auditing, and on the other side one learns to become an auditor, and strives to reach the highest level of auditor skill.
This is just a brief look at these sites, there is much more information to be found and looked at. These two sites seem to be the best at explaining this religion and its views.
The two sites are:
The Church of Scientology, Los Angeles Organization
The Church Of Scientology
The cult that I have chosen to study is called Eckankar.There is a good body of information available on this cult,both from insiders and critics. I came across two particularly helpful book sources:
- Know Your Right - by Darwin Gross. Mr. Gross was the leader, or "Mahanta" of Eckankar in the 70s, and this book provides information from him on the key beliefs and rituals of Eckankar, along with some viewpoints on how to apply them to everyday life.
- A Modern Prophet Answers Your Key Questions About Life -by Harold Klemp. Mr Klemp is the current leader of Eckankar, and this book provides his "insight" on just about every moral issue you could think of. This is useful as because it shows how Eckankar insiders deal with reality and make use of their beliefs and practices in the real world.
My most useful web resource was the official Eckankar website: www.eckankar.org This site provides information on Eckankar beliefs, rituals and key figures.
Eckankar is presented to the world by insiders as a series of ancient beliefs which provide the believer with education and insight on God and the soul, along with a way to purify the soul. It is stated that these ancient teachings were first made widely know in 1965, by the cult's leader or "Mahanta", Paul Twichell. There are a number of key beliefs which insiders hold, all of which are intrinsically linked.Firstly, they believe that there is a hierarchy of worlds,or planes, in which souls exist. The lowest of these planes of existence is the real world in which the body lives, and the highest is inhabited by God. The soul makes use of these planes throughout a series of many reincarnations.The reincarnations are seen as a sort of "journey", on which the soul comes to a fuller understanding of God, and purifies itself. Another key belief is in Karma, which is more difficult to understand. From what I gather, it is believed that Karma is formed as a result of a person's actions in the lower planes of existence, and is kind of like baggage for the soul. It is then dragged around until the soul is able to purify itself by understanding the higher planes of existence.
Eckankar followers believe that there is always a person on earth whose soul has completed its journey, and is thus purified and fully understands God. This person is called the Mahanta, and is considered to be the leader of all members of the cult. At any given time, there is only one Mahanta. It is suggested to followers that they should form a connection to the Mahanta, in order to learn from him.Also, this connection apparently is able to remove Karma from the follower's soul, though I'm not sure exactly how.It is suggested that this Mahanta is a prophet, who is able to provide answers to the followers on the best way to access God.
There are a number of rituals which are also practiced by members of Eckankar. Some of these are special meditations,or "Spiritual Exercises"(The website offers a "Spiritual Exercise of the Week" feature), and something called "Soul Projection", which is a process in which the believer enables his soul to visit higher planes of existence, in order to learn from them. Also, dreams are studied, since it is believed that they provide insight on higher planes and past lives.
Falun Gong (2)
Best websites: -- www.cnn.com/2001/special/falungong ---www.naplesnews.com/today/religion --http://archive.abcnews.go.com/sections/world/dailynews/falungong ---www.mindspring.com
Best Books: Falun Gong: Principles and Exercises for Perfect Health and Enlightenment by Li Hongzhi
How is the new religion described in it's own literature, on it's own website?
Falun Gong (also know as falun dafa) is best described as a cultivation practice. Practicioners cultivate their hearts in accordance with the principle of truth, compassion and tolerance to become a better person and gain wisdom toward life, the universe and humanity. They also do five sets of simple and gentle exercises including a sitting meditation while moving their arms to cultivate energy. The five exercises and breathing exercises improve the well-being of the body and mind. The movements are easy to learn, and at once both relaxing and energizing. Through practicing Falun Gong, practitioners enjoy a healthy, peaceful and harmonious way of living.Fa refers to the laws and principles of the universe, Lun means wheel. Thus falun gong can be translated to mean law wheel. Gong is a form of energy derived from cultivation practice. It is different from regular chi and has a higher manifestation. Regardless of cultures and backgrounds, almost everyone who practices Falun Gong reports significantly improved health, reduced stress, and increased levels of energy.Mr. Li Hongzhi introduced the practice of Falun Gong to the general public in China in 1992. He then taught the practice publicly for two years in China, after which the practice continued to grow primarily by word-of-mouth. In keeping with Chinese tradition, Mr. Li is sometimes respectfully referred to as "Master" or "Teacher." He has ensured that the practice be available to all people, and without any terms or conditions. Mr. Li has given occasional public lectures over the past few years in various countries, including Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the US.
In the last few years, the Chinese government has been persecuting Falun Gong practitioners because they see the movement as a threat, just as it has other groups that are popular or that involve principles not directly related to their communist ideology. Starting in July, 1999, the Chinese government banned the practice of Falun Gong and have since detained practitioners, some of them beaten, forced from their jobs, homes, schools, and sent to labour camps without trial. So far, over 30 participants are confirmed to have died while in police custody, and the situation in China isn't getting any better.
--As one can see from the excerpt above, the literature above describes Falun Gong as a great way to improve your overall well being. The website offered ways to learn more, and contacts so that you can join a falun gong group.
1. Falun (Law Wheel) and Falun Gong
Q: What does the Falun consist of?
A: The Falun is an intelligent being consisting of high-energy substances. It transforms Gong (cultivation energy) automatically and it does not exist in our dimension.
Q: What does the Falun look like?
A: It can only be said that the color of a Falun is golden yellow. This color does not exist in our dimension. The background color of the inner circle is a very bright red.The background of the outer circle is orange. There are two red-and-black Taichi (Yin-Yang) symbols, which belong to the Tao School. There are also two other red-and-blue Taichi symbols, which belong to the Great Pre-Taoism School. These are two different schools. The swastika symbol "" is golden yellow. People with Tianmu (third eye) of a lower level see the Falun rotate similar to an electric fan. If one can see it clearly, it is very beautiful and can inspire the practitioner to cultivate even harder and strive forward vigorously.
Q: Where is Falun located initially? Where is it located later?
A: I really only gave you one Falun. It is located at the lower abdomen, the same location where the Dan (energy cluster) we talked about is cultivated and kept. Its position does not change. Some people can see many Falun spinning. Those are used externally by my Fashen (law body) to adjust your body.
Q: Can Falun be developed through practice and cultivation? How many of them can be developed? Is there any difference between these and the one given by master?
A: Falun can be developed through practice and cultivation.As your energy potency continues to strengthen, more and more Falun will be developed. All Falun are the same. The only thing is that the Falun located at the lower abdomen area does not move around, because it is the root.
Q: How can one feel and observe the presence and rotation of the Falun?
A: There is no need to feel or observe it. Some people are very sensitive, and will feel the rotation of Falun. During the initial period after Falun is installed, you may feel a little unused to it being in your body, you may have abdominal pain, or feel like something is moving and have the sense of warmth, etc. After you have adapted to it, you will not have any sensation. But, people with supernormal capabilities can see it. It is just the same with the stomach; you do not feel the movement of your stomach.
Q: The direction in which the Falun rotates on the Falun emblem is not the same as the one on the student pass (referring to the first and second seminars). The Falun printed on the student pass for the seminar rotates counterclockwise. Why?
A: The goal is to give you something good. Its outward emission of energy adjusts everyone s body, so it does not rotate clockwise. You can see it rotating.
Q: At what time does master install the Falun in the students?
A: We want to discuss this with all of you here. We have some students who have practiced many different practices.The difficulty lies in the fact that we have to get rid of all the messy and disorderly things that exist in the body,keeping the good and throwing away the bad. Therefore, this is an additional step. After that, Falun may be installed.According to the level of his cultivation, the size of Falun installed varies. Some have never practiced Qigong before.Through readjustment and with good inborn quality, some people may have their sicknesses eliminated in my class,leaving the level of Qi and entering into the state of "Milky White Body". Under those circumstances, Falun can also be installed. Many people have poor health. They are undergoing adjustments continuously. How can Falun be installed before the adjustments are completed? This is only a minority. Do not worry. I have already installed the Qiji (energy mechanism) that can form the Falun.
Q: How is the Falun carried?
A: It is not carried. I send out the Falun and install it in your lower abdomen. It is not in our physical dimension,but in a different one. If it were in this dimension, with the intestines that are inside of your lower abdomen, what would happen if it started to spin? It exists in another dimension and is in no conflict with this one.
I thought perhaps this was the easiest way to explain Falun to the class because as you can see it is a bit complicated.Falun Gong is said to be 3,000 years old, it has a Chinese history and became popular during the Tang Dynasty, others say it has a 5,000 year old history and as old as Chinese civilization. Archaeological findings date it back 7,000 years. Li Hongzhi claims it is from prehistoric culture.Hongzhi is the founder of this present day movement, which was established in May of 1992.
This information I found on line in his own book, which has been translated into English, the entire text is there for the reading. It can be accessed at falundafa.org/book/eng/flg.htm.
Although Falun Gong is not Buddhism they do have the same goal, which of course is to reach enlightenment. Hongzhi says that Falun Gong is an advanced civilization method of the Buddha School, and is not the same as Buddhism, they take two different cultivation methods and two different paths. As I read along it became quite evident to me why this is so. Buddhism does not use a Falun and their works alone achieves enlightenment.
For these followers there is a Falun and an energy mechanism installed into the body to produce the energy required to sustain an individual as he reaches for his goal. There are also a series of 5 exercises done to music, which aids in the process. Law Bodies (fashen) who will protect the person who has the Falun installed within him.
The goal is to develop Gong, which are both energy and an intelligent entity. Gong has physical characteristics and practitioners can experience and perceive its objective existence through practicing cultivation (good living). The higher a person s Gong potency and level, the greater his or her supernormal abilities are and the easier they are to use.
Supernormal abilities produce an open third eye,clairaudience, telepathy, precognition and other things, and these things improve as people reach enlightenment.A person with impure pursuits and an unstable mind is unlikely to have great supernormal abilities. Supernormal abilities are achieved by having the third eye open up, and at different levels different things can be experienced.Some of the higher masters or teachers have the ability to see different dimensions, and their spirits are able to leave their bodies so visits can be made to these dimensions.
Others have the ability to cure diseases and/or illnesses that our current medical system cannot do. Hongzhi claims that the root cause of a patient s illness is an intelligent entity that exists in another dimension, they are able to remove this entity and put up a shield so that the illness will not be able to invade again.
Some people are suddenly able to speak a certain type of language and is not the language of any human society. It is a celestial language. This is not seen as a supernormal ability but a manipulation from foreign entities and only those who have mind reading abilities can get a general sense of what the words mean.
In the end all of these supernormal abilities are used to help an individual to reach a state of enlightment.Till next time
Religious Cults, Sects and Denominations, Ontario consultants on religious tolerance.Religioustolerance.org/acm.htm
Li Hongzhi s book,Falundafa.org/book/eng/flg.htm
China Internet Information Center,http://ppflg.china.com.cn/indexE.html
Although I have a few "Mo Letters" in my posession,
I thought I might hit the homepage of The Family, just to see
what's new. Formerly known as The Family of God and The Children of God, and now simply called The Family, this
group's formation co-incided with the explosion of the San Francisco hippie movement. A true California Religion.
According to the Bio of the founder, 'Moses' (Mo) David Berg was known to truck around to the hang outs of the
disenfranchised youth of the period and teach them about the life of another young drop-out named Jesus. Not intending to
start a new religion, Berg was surprised when people began to follow him around and listen to him speak. Through his
writings, now known as Mo Letters, a sort of dogma was set up, and The Children of God were born...so to speak. These
Mo Letters are linked to the website www.thefamily.org The Family has grown considerably since their meager
conception among the flower children of San Fran. The recently updated website is very professional, clean, easy
to navigate and, to be honest, sorta fun.
In the site's introduction, The Family's members
describe themselves as a caring extended family, especially dedicated
to their children, who are eager to lend a hand to any and all persons, especially through the use of their own
inspirational music. They abound at musical fundraisers, says their welcome page.
The site is overflowing with thumbnailed photographs
of Family events and world outreach programs, although little
is written of them. Readers can navigate their way to an enormous page outlining the beliefs of Family members or
catch up on endtimes news, a page outlining and teaching about The Family's beliefs regarding the end of the world.
Although the site promises a complete archive of the Mo Letters, I noticed that neither "The Rich Don't Understand,"
nor "Brother Sun" appear on the list, long as it is. Hm.
The Family seems to want to represent itself more
as a multi-cultural community than a 'radical' religious
movement, as it began so many years ago. Most pictues contain many different skin colors and are taken from many
far reaching locations. The best pictures are of the founder in his later life, an apparent vision of tranquility in each
All in all, the site seems to indicate a healthy movement not afraid of change and open to all who choose to enter.
The craft has been around since the Middle Ages. They are a fraternal organization with secret rites and signs. They are found all over the world and is confined to only men. Although there are at least 2 Grand Lodges in England and Wales for women. These lodges are not recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England. The United Grand Lodge of England is the first Loge made. Now Lodges can be found all over the world, such as in Europe, North America and China. A Freemason Grand Lodge is only a true Lodge if it is recognized by the United Grand Lodge in England. Lodges that are not recognized by the United Grand Lodge may not encourage their members to believe in a supreme being or may encourage them to engage in politics which the Freemason forbid. They call themselves a brotherhood and address each other as brother so and so.
Carl J. Smith, Grand Master of Freemasons in NY has had his Grand Lodge donate 1 million dollars to the NY disaster fund raiser. There is an address on the Freemason's website, freemasonry.org, to donate money to their donation.
There is a Philalethes Society, founded on Oct. 1, 1928, by a group of Masonic student made to "spread and seek Mason light". There are 3 chapters of the Philalethes Society in Canada.
This NRM can be described as a religion that accepts men of all faiths to live their lives with good moral according to their own personal beliefs with God. This society is concerned with moral and spiritual concerns and membership is only open to men with a believe in a supreme being. The men who join this society can be of any race, religion, ethnic background, etc..
Freemasons stress on their sites that they are not a religion and want you to keep your own religion. They "do not allow religion to be discussed at their meetings" They also do not allow politics to be discussed in their meetings. They have 3 Principals which they follow. I have copied them from the website modena.intergate.ca/personal/dconrad/free.html and they are as follows:
Every true Freemason will show tolerance
and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and
understanding to his fellow creatures.
Freemasons are taught to practice
charity, and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community
as a whole,
both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
Freemasons strive for truth, requiring
high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
They spend a lot of money on charities and have been concerned with the sick and the aged for many years. They enforce respect for the law of the country where he may live.
Hitler outlawed anyone to be a Freemason so the Freemasons in Germany had to wear a little forget-me-not flower instead of their usual "G" symbol for others to recognize they were a Freemason. The "G" in their symbol just means geometry.
I couldn't find any bad media on the Freemasons. I looked on Lycos, Hotbot, and Google. I did find a list of famous freemasons. Some of them are: Abbott, Sir John J.C. - Prime Minister of Canada 1891-92, Aldrin, Edwin E. "Buzz" - Astronaut - Second man to walk on the moon, Booth, Rev. William - Founder of the Salvation Army, Borden, Sir Robert L. - Prime Minister of Canada 1911-1920, Bryan, Richard - U.S. Senator, Buchanan, James - President of the U.S. and Clemens, Samuel L. - Mark Twain - writer. There is a big list of famous Freemasons.
Here is a list of some of the Websites I got my information from: Web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Massonry/essays/Miter-trowl.html, Modena.intergate.ca/personal/dconrad/free.html, fremasonry.org, gomasonry.com.
The followers of Hasidism Cult portray themselves to be closest to God as anyone can get. They believe they become close to God by having a profound understanding of the Torah. Members of the Hasidism Cult define themselves as a class of Jewish people who heavily devote themselves to the writings of the Torah and pride themselves on their knowledge of it. People of this cult also define themselves as being passive and peaceful and have had no troubles with police authority or Holy Wars.
The Jewish followers of the cult are wealthy and share their income with other members of the cult which is why they define themselves as unselfish.
Heaven's Gate (3)
The Cult I have picked is Heaven's Gate.
The resuorces I have found thus far are:
I have also gone to the library web site search and I was not able to find any material on Heaven's gate.
Using www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol3/issue3/robinson.html#gate as a source, they describe this cult as being a UFO cult, formed in the 1970s and it attraced as many as 1000 followers. DO and TI, the creators, believe they were Christ-like extraterrestrials who had taken human form. Members believed they were leaving their bodies behind in a Chrysalies that would take them to the evolutionary level above human. They called their bodies shells and vehicles for a new life in a more evolved corner of the universe. They would travel with the spaceship which they believed followed behind the Hale Bopp commet.
The New Religious Movement I chose to study was the group known as "The Heaven's Gate" cult.
I studied the group's website, http://www.trancenet.org/heavensgate/
At the top of the site was a line stating "As was promised - The keys to Heaven's Gate are here again in Ti and Do (The UFO Two) as they were in Jesus and His Father 2000 yrs. ago."
On the website, there was a history of the movement, and an explanation of how they were connected to the early Christian movement. One of the headings was "Our Purpose,According to Do". Marshall Herff Applewhite is the person who referred to himself as Do (formerly Bo) and was one of the two leaders. The other was Ti, or Bonnie Lu Nettles (formerly Peep). In this section Do describes the mythology of the group, in connection to Christianity.
About 2000 years ago, a crew of members from the Kingdom of Heaven decided that some people on Earth (plants) had developed enough that they were now able to store souls in them. A member came down and deposited himself in a body that had been "prepped" - Jesus, when this man was about the age of thirty. He did so at His Father's (Older Member) instruction. This took place when Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. "That body (named Jesus) was tagged in its formative period to be the receptacle of a Next Level Representative, and even just the 'tagging' gave that 'vehicle' some unique awareness of its coming purpose." (Do) The job of the member incarnated in Jesus was to offer the way to Heaven to those who recognized and followed him (people with soul deposits). This kingdom was in the literal heavens, not on Earth. "Since He had been through this metamorphic transition Himself from human to Level Above Human - under the guidance of His Father - He was qualified to take others through that same discipline and transition." (Do)
This mission of Jesus two thousand years ago is the same mission that that Do and Ti were carrying out in the latter part of the twentieth century. Do had the same position as Jesus, it was a continuation of His task. The Older Member came with Him this time due to the difficulty of completing the task. Do noted that in order to join the Kingdom of Heaven, one must separate from their humanness/mammalian qualities and this world and rely on the Kingdom of Heaven. He continued on to explain their mission to fight against the evil presences in the world, that are here through the fallen angels and Satan. These fallen angels are malevolent space aliens that the group called "Luciferians". They had souls in the Kingdom of Heaven and chose not to follow. They serve in opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven. Do states that "the Kingdom of God even permits them to attack us in order for us to learn their tricks and how to stay above or conquer them." They use disincarnate spirits (people whose bodies have died)to influence others to follow acceptable societal norms, considered evil by the group (such as having good credit, or going to an organized church service on a regular basis). Any of the bodies that have been influenced are barely usable by the members of the Kingdom. Do says that these evil aliens, (having taken over bodies in the acceptable establishment) "don't want themselves found out so they condemn any exploration" such as astrology,metaphysics, UFO's and any Eastern Religion. This is all done in an attempt to keep themselves hidden. He states that "unless you are currently an active student or are attempting to become a student of the present repesentative from the Kingdom of Heaven - you ARE STILL 'of the world', having done NO SIGNIFICANT separation from worldliness, and you are still serving the opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven". This is only said to help the people of Earth, he says, in hopes that other 'plants' with soul deposits may recognize their true form and attempt to rejoin the Kingdom.
He gives the process that one must go through in order to go to the Kingdom of Heaven. Firstly, a human must have a soul deposit within them, that then they must become a student of the Representative while He is present, until the process ends so they can be adequately 'grafted' to the Representative. Then they will literally leave the human world as He is about to. This was only possible when the Hale-Bopp comet was passing by, for the ship was travelling behind it, and the next window of opportunity would not come until another civilization has matured enough (which is at the judgement of the Next Level).
A chronology of the group's activities and literature is also given on the site. They have a statement against suicide which is a little convaluded, but I found their definition of "true suicide", which is "to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered". In other words, to stay on Earth when the Representative offers you a way to the Kingdom of Heaven is committing suicide. They see themselves as going against the acceptable norms,which are influenced by the Luciferians, that they are the only 'plants' who will be able to join the Kingdom of Heaven at this time, and they feel sorry for those who do not understand or agree with their mission.
All of the quotes and information were from various pages on the site: http://www.trancenet.org/heavensgate/
The only books found at the library were accounts written about the Heaven's Gate, rather than from the point of view of a Heaven's Gate member. Most gave small snippets and facts here or there, rather than a detailed account of the cult's operation.
The book which was most useful in the search for information is: Comprehending Cults The Sociology of New Religious Movements".
>From this, it was learned that:
- originally called the "Bo and Peep UFO Cult". This is due to the 'flock' of followers it gathered.
- the majority of the members of this cult were middle-aged and had been with the group for over a decade.
- after the mass suicide, the dead ranged in age from 24 to 72.
- of the group, 20 of the 39 were women.
- as part of their cult life, members had an elaborate schedule of daily routines designed mainly to promote regular and intensive interaction of all of the members of the group. As well, these activities were designed to separate feelings or connections to the 'human world' in preparation for the "Next Level Living".
i- other than a few defected members, there are no survivors to give an accurate description of life leading up to and including the mass suicide.
The website search resulted in several websites with information. The actual Heaven's Gate website, www.heavensgate.com was not functioning. Another website, cultawareness.com seemed to be designed in preventing cult activity and help for families who may have a relative involved in a cult, etc. There was little to no 'unbiased' information. The most useful website was www.watchmen.org, the exact ling being www.watchmen.org/profile/hvnsgatepro.htm. From this site, the following information and excerpts were gathered:
- it was founded in 1975 by Marshall Herff Applewhite, with help from Bonnie Lou Nettles.
- he was the son of a minister, and he had some training in ministerial work.
- although having fathered two children in the past, he eventually castrated himself because he thought it was the only way to cure him of his homosexual desires and become more focused on his 'calling'
- recruited members through public forums and information sessions set up across the US.
- the cult went into a 16 year period of seclusion, where membership dropped to between 30 and 40 members. They moved around the US in their communal environment, from tents to small urban or suburban homes, preparing themselves for "Next Level Living".
- they believed that a 'UFO'of some sort was awaiting them in the afterlife to take them to the "Next Level Living", and that Applewhite was a prophet sent to prepare them to go.
- the following is a breakdown of their beliefs in relation to the beliefs of the Christian faith:
TRINITY - Denies the Trinity, teaching that God is a singular being, "chief of chiefs" among other beings of his creation, who exist in the "Next Level."
GOD, THE FATHER - An Upper Level Being, and the Older Member to whom Jesus attached himself. Also incarnated in Bonnie Lou Nettles. Speaking of His Older Member, Do wrote, "His relationship to this planet is as Chief Administrator, and is the One referred to as the 'True God' in the early stages of this civilization" (Undercover Jesus).
GOD, THE SON - Jesus was not God but an Upper Level Being who incarnated on the human level to train others how to attain the next level. He incarnated a second time in the 1970s in the person of Marshall Herff Applewhite.
GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT - Not recognized as a separate being but rather as the evidence of a deposit of an older member being placed in a human level body. For example, the descent of the spirit upon Jesus at His baptism was actually the placement or deposit of an upper level being into the human Jesus.
MAN'S DESTINY - In order to progress to the Next Level one was required to be attached to an older member - a being from the next Level. "If you want or ever expect to go to Heaven - here is your window. That window opportunity requires: 1) an incarnate (as human) Representative of the Kingdom of Heaven; 2) that all who hope to enter Heaven become active students of that Representative while the Representative is present; 3) those who endure the 'transition classroom' until it ends (adequately bonding or 'grafting' to that Representative) will go with that Representative - literally LEAVE the human kingdom and earth as he is about to do" (Do's Intro). "Only those individuals who had received a 'deposit' containing a soul's beginning had the capacity to believe or recognize the Kingdom of Heaven's Representative" (Ibid.). Followers were taught that during each lifetime they would progress to a certain level and then, possibly, be taken aboard a spaceship where they would await their being implanted into a new physical vehicle on the human level, in order to further progress.
CREATION - They taught there was a "Chief of Chiefs" (the Most High God) who created a race of beings who in turn created this human level as a place to conduct experiments. These experiments would be designed to see how those of the human level might best progress to the Next Level. The "class" therefore came to view themselves as guinea pigs in a laboratory experiment.
LUCIFERIANS - Those who had received a deposit from the Next Level and fell away - became part of the opposition to the Next Level. Their leader is named Lucifer and approximately one-third of the class fell. "These 'Luciferians' (for the most part from the 'unseen' world) started all religions and masquerade as 'gods' to humans".
SELF DENIAL - Class members forsook all that tied them to the human level: possessions, people (including family), desires, plans, religion, rights, etc. Applewhite wrote, "literally LEAVE the human kingdom and earth" including "family, sensuality, selfish desires, your human mind, and even your human body if required of you"
***An interesting fact: *Applewhite worked at St. Thomas University - in Housten Texas, before being dismissed for questionable activity with a student***
Submitted by: KEVIN HULL
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn" is the name of the new religious movement that I researched these last few days. This movement was first founded in 1888, in London by Dr. William Wynn Westcott. Although I did not find any books in the library written by members of this movement I did discover several web sites. The sites contained a lot of information, but at times it was difficult to understand because the language that was often used required some understanding of the sect.
The members of this sect believe themselves to have a preexistence. All first existed "as pure mind on an ideational, thought level" (http://home.earthlink.net/~xzistos/GoldenDawn/index.htm). They are on a quest, which involves searching oneself, to attain Absolute Truth, Absolute Light, and Absolute Bliss. They believe that their Order provides a foundation to the direct forces of nature. In trial and hardship a member can find their inner strength, which will guide them down the pathway to light. A member attempts to always remain true to themselves. Sinning against oneself is considered to be rejecting the truth.
This group encourages tolerance of other sects and religions. They believe that all paths lead to "One Knowledge". They put effort into developing the powers of the soul and commanding spirits of the elements. In an attempt to control thoughts they only voice opinions that coincide with the desired results.
There was mention of spells, tarot readings, magical power and rituals on the sites but there was little on the explanation for these practices. There seemed to be a great emphasis placed on discipline and personal study for members. After being initiated growing in the "faith" depends upon the determination and dedication of the member.
House of Yahweh
I searched at the library to find out about this religious movement but I couldn't find anything. I looked in Quest and in EBSCO but I guess I will have to do some deeper digging to find non-internet sources.
My best website resource was the group's site. It's address is <www.yahweh.com> I learned that this group is located in Texas and they describe themselves as teaching the true name of the Creator, which is Yahweh and the true name of the Messiah, which is Yahshua. They seem to think that the proper names are extremely important.
They claim to teach the same things as the Patriarchs,Prophets, Messiah and the Apostles taught and that is to "live by every word of Yahweh". This means living by the 613 perfect Laws of Peace spoken by the Prophets and the Apostles of Yahshua Messiah.
They believe that if anyone preaches another message other than the true one taught by the messiah and Apostles,they are accursed.
The following text is what they claim to be their mission:
The House of Yahweh is PROPHESIED of, by the prophets of old and has been ESTABLISHED in these LAST DAYS with the commission to WARN the world through teaching and preaching the IMPENDING DANGERS soon to come upon the inhabitants of this world by revealing the LAW and PROPHECIES that were written long ago to a "sin-sick" and "dying" world which now, only knows death, misery and destruction as the result of REFUSING to KEEP, PRACTICE and UPHOLD the 613 PERFECT Laws of Yahweh that will bring TRUE PEACE to ALL the world! Yahshua Messiah taught this great way of enjoying life and proved to us how it can be done. FAITH without WORKS is DEAD! [Yaaqob (James) 2:17, 26]. The prophecies reveal to us that when Yahweh takes control of the kingdoms (governments) of this world by sending His Son, Yahshua Messiah and the saints of Yahweh (those who keep the whole Law), to establish His Kingdom of Peace based on the pure and holy Word of Yahweh (His Laws), then POWER will be given over ALL NATIONS to teach the way to have true joy, love and peace. One day soon, the PLAN OF YAHWEH for mankind will be understood and experienced by every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. The House of Yahweh is now busy bringing forth THIS MESSAGE to all those who desire to HEAR and JOIN US in this great WORK the ONLY WORK AUTHORIZED BY YAHWEH through HIS inspired PROPHETS.
The Main problem with my area of research is that Islamic jihad is considered by Muslim groups to be an intrinsic part of the great monotheistic religion of Islam. There seemed to be five main pillars of Islam which forms the larger context of certain fundamentalist sects. The sects tend to interpret Jihad or holy war as being the sixth pillar, and that one cannot be truly of Mohammed's way (peace be upon him) without engaging in Jihad. My web based sources with an insiders understanding of Jihad is were for the larger context of Islam as well as a potentially extremist view of the meaning of Islam. I also found sources that were primarily Christian is Bias trying to explain and EXPOSE Islamic Jihad's true nature, saying that all wise Islamic leaders gloss over the nature of Jihad in order to convert more moderate peoples. My sources against Jihad (indeed it seems Islam as a whole) also accuse Islam of having the agenda of converting the entire western world to Allah (who is great and merciful).
Jihad, it's interpretations and importance vary from source to source and I found that in trying to connect to some of the most extreme sources that I was given an html page saying that the sight was forbidden. I don't know who would be responsible for such, but that I could see it either as a government censorship or perhaps the Jihadists' need for secrecy. Whatever the case, it is no doubt a contraversial idea both outside and within Islam as a whole.
Here are my sources:
with christian biases:
www.islamreview.com www.islam review.com/articles/to_kill_and_to_die.html
Islamic and Fundemntal views:
thats all I had done...
hmmm... i am off to a somewhat rough beginning with my research on cults. last class someone mentioned that there is a group of individuals in Great Britain who are trying to get their jedi cult recognized as an official religion. I thought this seemed really curious, so this week i set out to find any information i could about Jedi cults... well I waded through a whole lot of websites devoted to starwars and to the PC jedi game by LuasArts, and what i came out with was a whole lot of questions. first of all, i found no explicit mention of this group of people in great britain. what I did find where many, many sites that featured roll playing, fan fiction, jedi games, tournaments, trading cards, forums, etc. there are a lot of people out there who are really into the whole jedi thing.... for example one website (www.public.usit.net/stansell/starwars.htm) i found was written by soemeone assuming the identity of a Jedi master, and offering the jedi code, various aspects of jedi training, an expalanation of the nature of the force, history of the jedi movement, etc. there are even jedi meditation techniques... but the thing is, at the bottom of the page there is is a statement saying "thid lesson was based on actual meditation methods...". that would seem to indicate to me that what i have come across is a lot of people who take their rollplaying very seriously...I don't exactly think that constitutes a cult, though. all of this makes me wonder how exactly to tell when I have come across a cult rather than a really, really enthusiastic fanclub, or a bunch of people rollplaying? it seems that these people are aware that they are using their imaginations to construct something fictional, something based on movies- maybe that awareness is a crucial difference. anyway, I don't know whether to press on with this, or just find something I am sure IS in fact a cult. confusion.
The cult I chose to research was the Jehovah's Witnesses. I found several sites by members of this new religious movement, but the one I found the most helpful in understanding their views was the official site produced by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (http://www.watchtower.org). This site included and covered topics such as: beliefs and activities, media, publications and medical care. Their were many books relating to the Jehovah's Witnesses in Quest, however many of them were critical and not written by an insider. There was one I found that fit the criteria: Jehovah's Witnesses : proclaimers of God's kingdom., and it was published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (the same group that produced the website) so the approach to the religion and descriptions were much the same.
The website went into great detail as to how the Jehovah's Witnesses see themselves, and what it is exactly that they believe. Jehovah's Witnesses see themselves as kind people who are dedicated to the God Jehovah, and carrying out his will. They describe themselves as friendly people who want to share the good news (of Jehovah) with others. Witnesses believe their religion is the "right" one, but do not think that they will be the only people "saved" by Christ. They want people to see them and their religion in a clear light, in order to fully understand it, without the pretenses often provided to the public through the media's sometimes negative light. Perhaps the issue focused on mainly by the media is that regarding the Witnesses' refusal of blood transfusions. The site goes into much detail describing that the bible tells us the taking in blood is wrong, and provides examples of alternatives for members. Witnesses believe that the bible is the word of God, and the truth, so base their daily lives and beliefs in the truths they find in the bible. Their beliefs on the website were always backed up with an excerpt from the bible.
The Jehovah Witnesses
The Orwellian World of Jehovah Witnesses Heather and Gary Botting. 1984.
A Jehovah Witness described (him/herself) as: "Servants of Jehovah, the Almighty God, and active witnesses to his sovereign supremacy. Since the time of Christ Jesus they are Christian ministers, doing the will of God by following the course exemplified by Christ their leader. The name Jehovah meaning ‘The Purposer’, his witnesses declare him as the only true God, who is now working out his purpose of vindicating his name and sovereignty and blessing all faithful mankind through his kingdom. Not a sect or cult that follows or adulates human leaders or rites and ceremonies."
The Jehovah Witnesses distinguishes themselves from all other "Christian sects." "The appellation 'Christian' rightfully belongs only to Jehovah Witnesses, according to their beliefs, for the 'Christian congregation under Christ is the present-day "Nation" of Jehovah Witnesses'. The Jehovah Witnesses have some controversial beliefs such as Jesus Christ was not God. "Although Christ is not God, he is the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith." The Jehovah Witnesses believe in the omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful) Jehovah. Another controversial belief surrounding the Witnesses is that their God Jehovah is not omnipresent (all-present). They believe also that most Bible prophecies are being fulfilled today, which they call "The Time of the End."
The Jehovah Witnesses portray themselves to the world as 'seekers of the Truth' and a "religious society offering symbols of significance most consonant with their individual aspirations and visions of man's purpose and destiny."
Jews For Jesus
Since September 1973, a group known as "Jews for Jesus" has slowly made it's way into the spectrum of the world's religions. The group has since then, grown into a multinational organization which is estimated to hold a membership of approximately 125,000 individuals and it's popularity continues to expand. The San Francisco based organization has posted an official website on the Internet which can be located at, http://.jewsforjesus.org/welcome.htm. The site outlines the group's mission statements and beliefs. According to the site, Jews for Jesus is a evangelistic outreach program aimed at Jewish people in urban areas. It strives to deliver the message that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Their intentions are clearly conveyed as making the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to Jews everywhere. They claim to act under the authority of God and his word, with the intent to honor Jesus Christ. They rely on the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, while recognizing the value of traditional Je wish writings.
Jews for Jesus followers believe in one creator God while also recognizing the concept of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit and the Son are said to considered co-equals with the father and were believed to both be present in the creation of all things. The name, "Jews for Jesus", according to the group, speaks for itself. In the second century, Jewish Christians were a valid Jewish Sect, the first Christians after all were Jews. The Jews for Jesus community seems to rely upon this to legitimize their mission. They proclaim that one classification does not cancel out the other. The group feels they can sway Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah, while still maintaining their Jewish identity. The community is governed by board of directors, made up of a executive and a council of nine senior missionaries, elected by their peers. There are currently boards recognized in the United States, Canada, South Africa, and in Europe.
Many outreach programs have been developed in order to gain a following. Direct Jewish evangelism is their main priority and they only deploy front-line missionaries who are either Jews or those married to Jews. They claim this keeps the integrity of their name and that when your name is Jews for Jesus, you better maintain truth in advertising. Currently, eight million pamphlets are distributed each year, by street missionaries. These street missionaries conduct what's known as "witnessing campaigns" in the summer months throughout the streets the world's major cities. They talk to Jewish unbelievers and present them with a alternative way of living. Also, they have created Jewish gospel in order to persuade interested Jews and make them feel more comfortable. Jews for Jesus has also invested substantial amounts of money in paid ads to appear in leading news papers and magazines, sporting phrases like, "Be More Jewish, Believe In Jesus". But it doesn't stop there. Jews for Jesus ads can be f ound on billboards, in commuter trains, in bus shelters, Internet banners, and radio stations. A accessible website has been constructed as a recruiting device which is divided into two sub-sites, one for believers in Christ and one for the non-believer. A toll-free number known as "the Messiah Line" for Jews who desire to hear from a Jews for Jesus missionary has been instated as well.
However, this Jews for Jesus movement has stirred much controversy amongst the Jewish community and at times provoked violence. Many orthodox Jews have assembled groups dedicated to dismantling such organizations. Rabbi Shmuel Arkush, head of "Operation Judaism", an organization centered on fighting missionaries nationwide, is one such individual. In his article, "Why Jews Can't Be For Jesus", he denounces these missionary groups. He claims these organizations target those people lacking fulfillment in their lives and claim that they can overcome their problems by placing all faith in Jesus. Which will in turn, make them a better Jew. He states that when a Jew accepts Jesus, he thereby rejects his history and places himself outside the Jewish faith. Since Christians believe in a three person God, Jewish Christians basically denounce the one true god of the Torah. Therefore by accepting the Christen God, he claims, you commit a cardinal sin and cannot be identified as a Jew.
Another group called, "Jews for Judaism", has emerged to educate and counsel Jews throughout North America. It is dedicated to opposing groups that target the Jewish community for conversion. The media has referred to the Jews for Jesus as essentially Baptists who are putting up money to recruit Jews, saying you can be a Jew and a Christian simultaneously.
Currently, Jews for Jesus is conducting a nationwide project called, "Operation Behold Your God". Between March 2001 and October 2005, Jews for Jesus plans to launch an outreach in every city worldwide that has a Jewish population of 25,000 or more. They believe God uses a handful of ordinary people to accomplish great things and that God is now launching them into a new phase of evangelism. Their website states,
"We want to do more to make Jesus known to our Jewish people and we believe God is giving us a way to do it."
They believe they have been called upon by God to bring the word of Jesus to unbelieving Jews. The website offers many different subscriptions to various types of their Jews for Jesus propaganda, yet the material is only free to Jews. Current Christians and other non-Jewish faiths, don't seem to be of an equal importance. The concern is not developing a prominent following of members, but rather its an attempt to motivate Jews to convert. Their reasoning for focusing on Jews, they claim is due to the fact that most Jews grow up with the belief that Jesus is not an option for them. They claim Jews have not been given the same opportunity to consider the gospel due the whole mindset that tells them Christ is for Gentiles only. Without their witnessing programs, they claim, Jewish people will not hear the gospel.
"We believe our Heavenly Father takes no more joy in a Jew coming to Christ than He does in a Hindu or a Buddhist or a pagan. Nevertheless, Jewish evangelism is crucial -- perhaps it is the most significant issue on which the church will prove its character, conviction and commitment to evangelism."
In essence, this Jews for Jesus community intends to assimilate all Jews and guide them to a more "Christian" way of living. While the front-line missionaries are in fact Jewish, there seems to be a underlying Christian authority controlling the organization.
* I collected my information, mainly at the Jews for Jesus Homepage: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/welcome.htm. It provided a wealth of in-depth information and publications about Jews for Jesus.
I found information on anti- Jews for Jesus movements at sites such as:
-Jews For Judaism at, http://www.csj.org/resources/resource_us_religious.htm#Jews
- "Why Jews Can't be for Jesus", by Rabbi Shmuel Arkush at, http://www.ed.ac.uk/~jsoc/chadash/jesus.htm
There are various books published by Jews For Jesus followers, which offer techniques for witnessing (converting) Jews. However I could not find them using Quest.
Ku Klux Klan
The NRM I researched was Ku Klux Klan. The resourceful website I found was:(Http://www.kukluxklan.org/). This was a site that had every possible description of anything that takes place within the KKK.
KKK has a name derived from the greek word Kuklos, meaning circles, and the English word Clan. White superiority is their philosophy adn often use terrorization adn violence to enforce their beliefs. At first, in the late 1800's, their violent acts were directed primarily to Black Americans. However, in the Early 1900's, the KKK directed their hate to all non-white ethnic groups.
They believed that America should be a white nation. They intimidate, and at many times, kill non-whites that take part in their "white economy". They feel that non-whites take away financial, political, and economical power.. They want the nation to stay white, rather than grow into a multi-cultural society.
They believe that they are only trying to save white Christians.
Ku Klux Klan
Six confederate officers established the Klu Klux Klan in 1866, in Polaski, Tennessee. It is said to be a fraternal organization that began to protect the white race. This movement was started in the midst of the civil war in America.
Their white sheets recognize this cult. They are supposedly posing as the ghosts of dead confederate soldiers. They also carry flaming torches, and they burn immense crosses in a circle. They are an extreme racist group and kill African Americans ôjust because they are black.ö Many lives have been horrendously lost due to these hate crimes.
In 1869, due to the disgustingly violent behavior, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate general ordered the group to cease. However, in 1915, it began again, only with more power and hate. Unfortunately, the group kept spreading to more and more places, inflicting more and more people with their ideas.
I received my information from this website: www.religion-cults.com/secret/klu-klux-klan/kkk.htm
New Age Spirituality
New Age Spirituality
New Age Spirituality (N.A.S.) is fascinatingly enough, a religion liberated of the conventional accustomed norms that are tied to most mainstream religious confederations. For example, the unavailability of a specific holy book serving as the guide or printed reference to its faith-holders. I personally find the absence of a distinct “sacredö document of some sort, which aids the believers and those, interested in embracing the nouveau religious movement quite peculiar. A single explanatory text popular amongst New Agers which they consider to be their basic N.A.S. book, detailing the fundamentals and teachings of the New Age Movement, regardless of the fact of whether it's necessarily divine or not, i.e., “the word of Godö, is also virtually non-existent. There are, however, countless published books none of which hold especial preference to the New Age community as a whole. I conducted my research on the Internet and used fragmented data on New Age websites to serve as my focal fount of “primaryö resources.
I have come to the realization that New Agers partake in a relatively loose, unrestricted religion, in the sense that they fail to follow one particular uncontroversial, unarguable philosophy, dogma or religious doctrine, at least that's the assumption I was brought to believe through my readings. The ambiguity, vagueness and certainly variety in their beliefs and rituals is substantial and noteworthy. There is no definite place of worship, membership organization, priesthood, set of mandatory prayers or invocations to the deity/deities, religious services, sermons, etc. Each individual operates according to their personal preference they pick the beliefs and practices which seem more appealing to them out of a myriad of new-age related ideologies and customs. However, the one element they all seem to associate with is,their thirst and yearning for spiritual fulfillment, irrespective of the manner through which they seek this fulfillment. They claim that Christianity and Secular Humanism have drastically failed to redeem the spiritual bankruptcy and ethical breakdown in modern-day Western society and hence their pursuit of New Age Spirituality. The interesting point which I've found in most websites is the incredible religious tolerance they posses they perfectly understand and are aquatinted with the fact that most people arriving at their site would be followers of some other formal religion and come to embrace and extract a few New Age teachings and incorporate them into their own system of belief. Therefore, N.A.S. is expected in many cases to become an addendum to people's primary faiths. As I previously mentioned they don't have a too specific, solid doctrine of their own to promoteàThey seem to build on people's individual beliefs and are perfectly content in their image as an “accessoryö religion. Holding a dual religion is an issue which leeks of profound contradiction holding one belief in alliance with another from a foreign religious dogma proves the unsuccessfulness of either to convince and satisfy the religious consciousness of the individual, but then again looking at matters ideally from a black and white perspective is invalid certain religions may satisfy certain curiosities within us and one may find oneself involved in a multitude of beliefs and practices which are somehow harmonious and coherent despite the fact that they originate from different affiliations.
The one truly attractive aspect about N.A.S. is its outstanding mystical, enigmatic essence, which fumes out of every line I read about the religion. They feed their hungry souls with the most artistically creative methods. Terms such as “personal growthö, “spiritual enrichmentö, “self-sponsored salvationö, “self-discoveryö are repeatedly usedàThey seem to adopt a microscope lens approach to themselvesàInsight, intuitiveness and perceptiveness are immensely stressed out and are considered a rudimentary rule of thumb in all their rituals. The religion basically circles around the “Iö and “Meö àThey portray a somewhat self-centered ideology focusing primarily on individual development and advancement and improving one's quality of life. The common goal or end sought by New Agers is the human being; no grand war to be won, or phenomenal declaration to be stated, the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of the human being is the core idea behind the movement. To win one's battle with one's self, to elevate to the level of achieving internal peace. They practice independently each via his/her personal choice of practice at their own exclusive pace. They rarely unite or gather in a certain ritual. They operate in silence rigorously weaving the fabric of their “soulsö.
They claim that the roots of N.A.S. maybe traceable to Astrology,Channeling, Hinduism, Gnostic traditions, Spiritualism, Taosim,Theosophy, Wicca and other Neo-pagan traditions, etc Actress Shirley MacLaine (http://www.shirleymaclaine.com/) is the most prominent celebrity to have embraced the movement. N.A.S. websites seem to be basically the creation of North American and European believers, I have failed to find a website by an author who is far from Western society.
Channeling, Crystals, Meditating, New Age Music, Divination, Astrology,Holistic Health, Yoga, Human Potential Movement, Aromatherapy, Massage,Chinese Astrology, Positive Thinking, Tarot cards, etc are just some of the aspects of N.A.S. advertised in their insider sites.
New Age Spirituality: Rich, Dark, and Open-endedà
Omoto Kyo (also Oomoto, Aizen-en)
All of this information that I have gathered has come from their official website - www.oomoto.or.jp/English/index-en.html. Though on their page they listed books in English about their beliefs and history I could find none of them, nor any articles, in QUEST.
Historically, their origin begins in 1892 ce when Nao Deguchi, a poor illiterate Japanese woman became possessed by God and recorded a number of prophecies and warnings. In 1898 Onisaburo Deguchi, through divine revelation, sought out Nao and helped to construct the Oomoto religion.
Throughout their history they have been persecuted by the Japanese government. The first major incident occuring in 1921 when their followers and doctrine were suppressed. The second came in 1935 when the government vowed to "obliterate Oomoto from the Earth". During the second incident 3000 followers were arrested, 16 dying under torture, and all of their land and resources were confiscated (www.oomoto.or.jp/English/enHist/jiken-en.html),
In 1945 the incident was resolved in the Japanese courts with acquital for the religion and Oomoto started up again under the name Aizen-en. In 1952 it returned to the name Oomoto.
They have two sacred writings - Oomoto Shin'yu (Divine Revelations) and Reikai Monogatari (Tales from the Spirit World) - which were revealed through Nao and Onisaburo Deguchi.
-- Harmonious Alignment with Life
and the Universe
-- Revelation of Celestial Truth and its Lessons
-- Innate Patterns of Behavior for Man, Society, and the Cosmos
-- Instinctual Creative Drives
These are basic rules for human beings to lead a significant life
These are rules of the univerese. Man is apt to live in violation of these rules and therefore comes to grief.
-- Purity = purification of mind
-- Optimism = believing in the goodness of the divine will
-- Progressivism = way of social improvement
-- Unification = the reconcilliation of all dichotimies
"God is the Spirit which pervades the entire universe, and man is the focus of the workings of heaven and earth. When God and man become one infinite power will become manifest" - Onisaburo Deguchi
------------------- Joel Brazier
Oumu Shinrikyou (Aleph)
What I found about how Oumu shinrikyou( Aleph) movements understands itself, how it describe itself.
From their official site, I could not find the any voice why they ended up killing people with sarin nor any detailed information about it. However, they seems to be more positive and trying to have more people in their group. It seemed to me that they are telling us that what has happened at subway is nothing to do with Aleph , religious group itself. Their main goal is to have the real happiness and freedom with practices which is from Buddhism and Yoga teachings. They are describing themselves as group of people who emphasizing Satori.
Their official site
what is satori?
I found that "The search for satori & creativity" had good definition of Satori.
Satori is a sudden flash of enlightenment. "The attainment of Satori involves many things. It requires intense devotion. One must be in love with something.It requires constant practice of even very simple operations over a long period of time.It requires concentration and absorption to the exclusion of other things. Generally it involves an intensive, long term, one to one relationship to a Teacher _sesei. Above all, it requires persistence -hard work, self discipline, diligence, energy, effort competence expertness"(Torrance)
#2 The search for satori & creativity ,E. Paul Torrance ,Buffalo, New York. Creative Education Foundation,1979
When first encountering this assignment I was unfamiliar with the religion of Peyotism. I understood that peyote has qualities that could possibly aid in a spiritual journey, but I was unaware as to how organized the Native American Church was. Peyote is a cactus that is native to Mexico. It's most active ingredient is mescaline, which is a common street drug. The Native American Church's statement on Peyote is "Peyote is not used to obtain 'visions' but to open portals to Reality. Always seeking centeredness within this existence. Peyote is the road back to the true self." (http://www.nativeamericanchurch.com/)
The people of this religion use peyote in a controlled environment so they can experience it in a specific spiritual way. "The use of peyote in a structured religious setting, with the guidance of a socially sanctioned healer, has been reported by some authors to be a powerful treatment for alchoholism among Native Americans and a way of bringing balance back into the lives of its participants." (http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v07n4/07403mcc.html)
People have trouble testing peyote and its affects on alchoholism, but there are some organizations that are working hard to increase their knowledge of the healing powers of this cactus. Some of these organizations include:
Multidisciplinary association for psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
Native American Church
Also, the use of peyote has been found in such monumental rituals as The Burning Man.
There is a lot of excellent material available if one is researching the Promise Keepers. Most of my information was found on the official site: www.promisekeepers.org.There is an equally good official Canadian Promise Keepers site found at www.promisekeepers.ca. Another good site was http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/promkeep.html,and although it is not by an insider, it gives many links to pages that are.
I got one book from the library, but after careful inspection I concluded that it was not an insider's opinion. There are, however, books available that have been written by members of the Promise Keepers. "From Ashes to Glory" is a book written by the founder and leader of the Promise Keepers, Bill McCartney.
The Promise Keepers describe themselves as united men.They are an all men group who gather together “to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ through the effective communication of the 7 Promises”(www.promisekeepers.org/faq/core/faqscore21.htm)
They believe that by uniting, men will feel more comfortable in sharing their feelings, and that this will give men companionship in which they can confide: “A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises” (Promise # 2 www.promisekeepers.org/faqs/core/faqscore24.htm)
They believe the group teaches men to be better men,better husbands, and better fathers: “A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values” (Promise # 4 www.promisekeepers.org/faqs/core/faqscore24.htm) The Promise Keepers are Christian based, and they have workshops frequently. One, called “Passage” is for young teenage boys and is aimed to help them in their“passage” into manhood. The Promise Keepers believe that by working as an all men's group they can improve marriages, families, and life in general.
The Rastafarians are a very unique new religious movement. They are a movement from Jamaica based on the Christian faith. What makes them unique is their use of the Bible, their style(like their dreads)and music, their strong political views and the reverance in which they hold a certain herb.
Though they use the Bible as their main source they disregard some scriptures and hold that others may have been misintepreted while being translated into English. Some unique interpretations they have are the interpretation of several verses that refer to a sort of holy herb and to "eat every herb". They see this herb as being marijuana.
Also fundamental to their belief structure is the belief in black superiority and the inherent evil of what society which they liken to the "Babylon" mentioned in Revelations.
The Rastaman sees himself as free spirit and therfore has no clergical authority figures, he also feels defiance to his government as well as the oppressive white man. He sees himself as a child of Ethiopia and draws confidence from mention of Ethiopia in the Bible. He grows his dreads long, long dreads to beat back his oppressors. He sees himself and his Rasta brothers as the truest children of Jah (God).
I found two websites useful located at Http://web.syr.edu/~affellen/napti.html and http://www.aspects.net/~nick/religion.htm.
Sincerely Jordan Mitchell
Rastafarians are members of a Jamaican messianic movement dating back to the 1930s; in 1974 they were estimated to number 20,000 in Jamaica. According to Rastafarian belief the only true God is the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (originally known as Ras Tafari), and Ethiopia is the true Zion. Rastafarians claim that white Christian preachers and missionaries have perverted the Scriptures to conceal the fact that Adam and Jesus were black. Their rituals include the use of marijuana and the chanting of revivalist hymns. Reggae music is the popular music of the movement. The Rastafarians, who stress black separatism, have exercised some political influence in Jamaica (http://mb-soft.com/believe/txo/rastafar.htm) or (http://www.jamaicatravelnet.com/info/rasta.html).
The following description of the Rastifarians views is taken from websites: http://people.morehead-st.edu/fs/t.pitts/rasta.htm, http://home.computer.net/~cya/cy00081.html, http://www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/r00.html, and
Rastafarianism began in Jamaica, where 6 out of 10 Jamaicans claim to be Rastafarians. However, many of the religion's conservatively estimated 700,000 adherents are spread throughout the world (Barrett, p. vii). Currently, the Rastafarian movement has branches in England, Canada, the Caribbean islands and America as well as members in most of the civilized countries (The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions, p. 601).
There is no set doctrine for the religion, but there are some agreed upon principles of the faith. Most Rastafarians regard Haile Selassie as the Divine God, and is referred to as Jah. There is no afterlife, or hell as Christianity believes. Rastafarians do, however, view Ethiopia as their heaven on earth. "Babylon" is the Rastafarian term for the white political power structure that has been holding the black race down for centuries. In the past, blacks were held down physically by slavery. Presently, Rastafarians accuse "Babylon" of using economic and social means to hold back people of color.
Rastafarians do not have any official publication, but use various quotes from the Holy Bible. However, there are parts of the Holy Bible Rastafarians disagree with, which are said to have been written and changed by the Babylon (the white power structure). Instead, Rastafarians refer to the Holy Piby, an occult bible allegedly translated from Amharic, a Semitic language that is the official language of Ethiopia. The Piby emphasizes the destruction of white Babylon and the return of the Israelites to Africa.
Rastafarians use color as the most obvious symbol of their religion. The colors of Red, Gold, Green and sometimes Black are often displayed on flags (also the Ethiopian flag colors). Another symbol of Rastafarianism is the Lion of Judah, which represents Haile Selassie, the Conqueror and successor to the biblical throne of David. Dreadlocks are a feature common to Rastafarians. The dreadlocks are said to represent the Rastafarians' roots, and to contrast with the straight, blond look of the white man and the white establishment. The expression "I and I" is common to Rastafarians. It is a way to show that all people are equal, and is also used as a reference indicating that Jah is always with you. There is no unified Rastafarian Church, but there are different groups of Rastafarians, each having different beliefs. Aside from these basic principles, "true" Rastafarians only eat "I-tal"food -- organic food that never touches chemicals or comes out of cans.
How is this new religious movement depicted in popular media?
The following is taken from website: http://www.commonlink.com/users/carl-olsen/RASTAFARI/BARRETT/preface.html
Despite the early adverse publicity of the movement, the negative reaction to the members' hairstyle, and their constant use of the "weed," this Jamaican movement has evolved into a dynamic, creative instrument for social change. The Rastas are admired by the masses and highly respected by the political leader Michael Manley, who called them a "beautiful and remarkable people."
But while the Rastafarians have quieted down in Jamaica, a new wave of adverse publicity has surrounded some of their followers in New York City where the movement appeared after Jamaica's independence in 1962. Some Jamaicans who immigrated to the United States during this post-independence period were either Rastafarians or marginal followers of the movement. After reaching New York, they found themselves psychologically uprooted in a strange land and, for the most part, out of work and homesick. The dreadlocks' appearance in New York and in other North American cities where the cultists were relatively unknown compounded the isolation of the newcomers. As nostalgia set in, these new immigrants became convinced that only a Jamaican movement could offer them identity. Today, there is nothing more Jamaican than the Rastafarians. The assumption of Rasta garb and habits was natural.
This North American version of the Rastas - mostly youth - oriented and ganglike in character - soon adopted the prevailing patterns of the big-city youth culture. Several groups began opposing each other for separate ganja-turfs which resulted in a wave of shooting and killing. The behavior of these immigrant Rastafarians brought unwelcome publicity to their middle-class Jamaican counterparts living in North America who felt their prestige was threatened by the cultists' Jamaican identification. However, much of this negative behavior is changing and, in time, the creative dynamics of these Rastas will probably be turned toward creative channels like the "Old Settler" Jamaicans who are known for their industry and achievement.
"Rastafarianism is not a religion, but a way of life," ("Local Rastafarians Share Their Culture, Faith," The Community News, Oct. 21, 1999 http://www.huarchivesnet.howard.edu/9911huarnet/ haile.htm). Most popular media depict the Rastifarians in a positive light and refer to it as a means of expressing faith and giving strength to a struggling people. They are not merely a group of dreadlocked, dope- smoking, pleading people looking for attention and are mainly portrayed with a large focus on their history, without which their purpose would go unnoticed and thus judged. Also note: (http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/12/21/fp8s1-csm.shtml) and (http://www.lindesmith.org/news/DailyNews/09_08_00Guam.html).
"Many people think they know who Rastafarians are and how they originated, but the traditional image of a dreadlocked and drug smoking Jamaican listening to Bob Marley records is just one part of the answer. The Rastafarians' roots - which the dreadlocks symbolise - are tied to Ethiopia, whose late emperor, Haile Selassie, was a pioneer of black rule in Africa" (http://www.aptn.com/aptn/events.nsf/ events/2B03BF0D368A0C8B802569CF00457CB7?opendocument).
How is this NRM described in the publications of the anti-cult movement?
i was unable to find information to answer this question. The following is a description as to why Rastafarianism may not have been mentioned.
What anti-cult movements believe (http://www.religioustolerance.org/acm.htm):
1.An authoritarian power structure,
with authority concentrated at the top
2.Charismatic or Messianic leader(s) (They define Messianic as meaning that the leaders identify themselves as God or state that they are the only persons capable of interpreting the Bible properly)
3.The use of deceitful methods in recruitment of new members and/or raising of money
4.Isolation from society; filtering of information
5.The use of mind control methods on the membership.
Very few of these characteristics are relevant to Rastafarianism. In reference to the first characteristic, they have no set rules as such and they are not an organized body with a ruler and followers. There is no set doctrine for the religion, but there are some agreed upon principles of the faith. Most Rastifarians regard Haile Selassie as the Divine God, and is referred to as Jah, but they do not take orders from him as such. As for the second characteristic, they have no living embodiment of their god. They do, however, only take selected passages from the Bible to believe in and change the standard belief of the Bible's origins and truth by claiming that Jesus was black and so on (not to claim, of course, that he wasn't necessarily black!). After reading so much on this new religious movement i've come to wonder why it is referred to as a cult in most situations, because it often is. Rastafarianism holds little relation to the characteristics mentioned above. i almost agree that "Rastafarianism is not a religion (or a cult), but a way of life," ("Local Rastafarians Share Their Culture, Faith," The Community News, Oct. 21, 1999 http://www.huarchivesnet.howard.edu/9911huarnet/haile.htm).
What do academics say about this NRM?
The following is taken from website, (http://www.commonlink.com/users/carl-olsen/RASTAFARI/ BARRETT/preface.html):
The Jamaican Rastafarian cult is the largest, most identifiable, indigenous movement in Jamaica. As such, it has a philosophy and structure capable of providing a rallying point for the masses in search of social change. In the last ten years, the movement has attracted much attention, not only in this West Indian island where it originated, but also in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Africa.
Although the movement has been in existence since 1930, very little - and that mostly sensational - has been written about it. Consequently, the movement is generally misunderstood, not only in Jamaica, but also in America and Canada, where many members and affiliates have migrated Some of the reasons for the Rastafarian's bad publicity in the early days of the movement may be due to some provocative incidents associated with fringe groups of the movement . . . Another reason contributing to the negative image of the Rastafarians is their strange hairstyle known as "dreadlocks," which some people feel is wild and unattractive . . . Another trait contributing to the Rastafarian's negative image is their members' use of "ganja," (marijuana) in their sacred rituals. Despite the early adverse publicity of the movement, the negative reaction to the members' hairstyle, and their constant use of the "weed," this Jamaican movement has evolved into a dynamic, creative instrument for social change. The Rastas are admired by the masses and highly respected by the political leader Michael Manley, who called them a "beautiful and remarkable people"(The Rastafarians, by Leonard E. Barrett, Sr. (Beacon Press 1997), p. v).
The Rastafarian Movement started
in the 1930's, from a man called Marcus Garvey who would contend to establish
prime philosophical ideologies that would soon enough begin to form Rastafarianism. On November 2, 1930, Ras Tafari
Makonnen was crowned King of Ethiopia, and claimed his title as Emperor Haile Selassie I. The Rastafarian movement saw him as a Messiah, and truly began.
This Religious movement is spawned from Christianity. They have no specific religious literature however, they use the
bible as a holy scripture. They have no official churches or leaders and believe that each person shares in the light of
Jah (God), that no man can praise him over an another. They believe in " I and I", the trinity within all Rastamen.
The Rastas have a very distorted
image in the media. They are portrayed as nothing but black people who
marijuana, play reggae and have dreadlocks. These are true but are many times taken from the context of why they do
what they do. They see Bob Marley as an open Rastafarian, and people base many conclusions about the movement from his
portrayal. Marley was a Rasta, but he was in a different sense him and The Wailers were nothing but a "Christian
Rock Band" for the Rastas. The believe in the "herb" and smoke as a sort of communal experience. "Thou shalt eat the
herb of the Field" (Genesis 3:18).
The Rasta Movement is the
biggest in Jamaica. It has spread throughout the world, in England, Canada,
the Caribbean, and
in the U.S.
My research on the Shakers went quite well - at least in the library. I found a text called Shakerism: It's Meaning and Message by Anna White and Leila S. Taylor, who belong to the North Family of Shakers in Mount Lebanon, New York. The book begins with the life of Anne Lee (1736 - 1784), who they now call Mother Ann Lee as she was a leader in bringing the Shaker religion from England to the US. In the book, the Shakers describe their religion in this way :
"Shakerism was founded in spiritualism. Its very essence and life principle is that of conscious, continuous action and reaction between the worlds of spirit and sense."
"Shakerism, which is but another name for advanced Christianity, calls for the whole being. It takes a whole man or woman to be a Shaker. For it means to b e cut off - to come to the end of the world in one's self. It means to leave a kindred, home and people; to renounce politics. . . It means to surrender one's whole life - time, talent, will; to give up one's own way; to work earnestly through all of life and have nothing of one's own to show, save character - the progress made in the work of redemption."
"The beautiful ideals of Shakerism are woven into the world's best life. The great houses stand ready to become once more the centre of hopeful, communistic activity."
"Shakers may see the manifestations of the living Christ today in the hearts of men and women, turning to Him as flowers turn to the sun, their faces following its course."
"Essential Shakerism can never die, for it holds within itself principles which the developed life of humanity demands to have embodied in practical daily living."
For my internet research, the only insider text I could find was a site that had excerpts from a book published by the Shakers in 1816 in Union with the Church. The book and site are called Testimonies of Life, Character, Revelations and Doctrines of Mother Ann Lee, and The Elders Writer
On charity, frugalty, cleanliness:
"On a particular occasion, Mother Ann spoke to Zeran Clark as follows, 'Be faithful to keep the gospel; be neat and industrious; keep your family's clothes clean and decent; see that your house is clean, and your victuals is prepared in good order, that when the Brethren come in from their hard work they can bless you, and eat their food with thankfulness, without murmuring, and be able to worship God in the beauty of holiness. Watch, and be careful, don't speak harsh, nor cast reflections upon them; but let your words be few and seasoned with grace.
From my search, it seems as though Shakers beleive in Christ, but they also believe in Mother Ann, and her visions. They pride themselves on living practical, simple lives, and they respect and admire their elders.
Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna movement)
The Society for Krishna Consciousness, also known as the Hare Krishna movement, is relatively new in the West, even though its roots go far back into the ancient times in India. Krishna is a name of the Supreme, which means "all- attractive". "All of us are pleasure-seeking creatures. So you can say that directly or indirectly we are all seeking Krishna. Chanting Hare Krishna is a way of seeking Krishna directly". (http://www.webcom.com/ara/col/philo/phi-what.html)this follows the same scriptures used by many denominations of Hindus. In the West they have many followers within the Indian ethnic community and are a part of most Hindu ecumenical organizations in both North America and Europe. They believe that everything they do belongs to the Supreme because the Supreme reveals himself through his multitude of energies, so then everything they see and don't see belongs to the energy of the Supreme. There main achievement is getting to know God personally, and entering into a relationship with Him. They hav e a chant that is called mantra, which deal with a vibration of sounds that cleanses the mind, which helps free it from any anxiety and illusions. This is for all religions, nations, all colors and both sexes. But the movement fell into disarray after the death of its founder.
When it came to looking on how it is depicted in the media, the media in very disturbed by it and upset on all the sexual abuse that goes on in that cult..
In the publications of an anti-cult movement when looking behind the scenes at drug dealing, weapons stockpiling, deceptive fund raising, child abuse, and murder, they sense that this is all wrong and are very disturbed by it.
When coming to the final question of what academics think, I had a hard time finding an answer. So hopefully some one can help me with this.
For this project, I choose to research the Solar Temple. So far this might have been an unwise decision, because as of yet I have come across no "insider accounts" of this faith. I have found various academic and anti-cult resources but nothing that speaks with an insider voice. I am not sure why this information doesn't seem to be readily available. On one of the academic sites I was wading through, I came across the name of, supposedly, the only two physical resources used by the Solar Temple. "Medicine and Conscience" is a book written by Luc Jouret, one of the two founders of this faith and "Fundamental Time of Life: Death" is an audio recording by the same author. I have checked: Acadia University, the Atlantic School of Theology, Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Allison University, University of Alberta, St. Francis Xavier University, as well as our university's library for any shred of these documents with very limited success. I have also checked online journals using "ArticleFirst" and "WorldCat," again with limited success. I have also run searches on the internet using Go.Com, Excite, Altavista and Dogpile. What these searches have turned up are more and more academic views of this "ordeal," or "tragedy." Needless to say, I'm very frustrated and if anyone has any leads on these two documents, please let me know.
I decided to look into the 'Spiritual Renewal' amongst Christian churches, stemming from the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. I found the following information from two websites, www.tacf.org and www.partners-in-harvest.org.
History and Identity
No one can come into close contact with the presence of Jesus Christ and not come away changed. For many of us already in ministry positions, part of this change has recently taken the form of a challenge to our assumptions about our places and roles in the church at large, which can be anything from exhilarating to deeply unsettling. Our concept of church has been shaken up due to the wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit which began here at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) in January of 1994. Although the immediacy of these events can make this seem new and unusual to us, history reveals a common pattern in which a special outpouring of God's manifest presence almost always gives cause to re-evaluate and re-negotiate all facets of church life, often resulting in substantial changes; perhaps not in foundational beliefs, but in overall goals and outward practices. This exercise of evaluation throughout history has often brought about new forms of families of churches and ministries.
List of common or foundational goals.
To bring renewal to the international body of Christ through the person and power of the Holy Spirit by giving the Holy Spirit total freedom to move in both old and new ways.
To pursue revival in the Holy Spirit until the lost are saved and swept into the Kingdom of God.
To see the Church moving in the unity of the Father and Son: John 17: 20-23 "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou , Father, are in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. And the glory which Thou hast given me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me."
To provide identity and fellowship that is inclusive and not exclusive: to relate in the body of Christ locally, nationally, internationally over broad relational lines; to be instruments of reconciliation wherever possible; to be supportive wherever and however God chooses to move, and of whomever God chooses to use.
To have appreciation for the value of receiving from others, individuals and movements, in the body of Christ, understanding that we don't have the whole picture, but realistically we are just one piece of God's eternal puzzle. John 17:24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world." In other words, the broader picture of the body reveals more of His glory.
To see the functional reality of unity in which we are not recognized by race, nation, class, sex or denomination, but we are all one under the cross of Christ: Galatians 3:27-28 "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
To see the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit to every nation, tribe and tongue (Acts 1:8) and to see churches established where needed to disciple and build up the saints and new believers.
To see the saints equipped for
the work of the service to the building up of the body of Christ: Ephesians
4:11-15 "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as
evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the
saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of
the son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs
to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children,
tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine,
by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming: but speaking
the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into him, who is the
head, even Christ.
John & Carol Arnott, Senior Pastors, TACF
In it's own literature the Starseed Group is described as a group of mutants who have spliced DNA with extra terrestial beings for the purpose of having special abilities to prepare mankind for a coming new level of spiritual awareness that will be facilitated by the extra-terrestials themselves. They are a group who believes to be in direct communion with aliens on a spiritual level and that they subtly interfere with peoples lives on earth. According to them their whole faith revolves around a prison in Afghanistan, where American citizens are often held, as a kind of "Black Hole" of cosmic energy. In this black hole people receive enlightenment and see the universe as it really is from a place beyond emotion and thought. These people seem to made up mostly of students of astronomy,physics, chemistry an religious people, often Hindu but mostly Christian, that have had an alien abduction experience.
In popular culture, this group is not well known. However the religious genre of "UFO cults" have a reputation as a whole. With the media attention to the Heavens Gate suicides they are massively seen as kooks and people with serious problems with everyday logic. This seems a little hypocritical seeing as according to most statistics most Americans believe that the Earth has been visited by extra-terrestials. Even the emergence of realistic and adult dramas on network television dealing with alien encounters is a clue that aliens are an item of facination for many modern people.
In the anti-cult movement there are a variety of reasons that "UFO Cults" should be de-bunked. There is an ultra Catholic movement that sees them as just another protestant cult as part of a massive leftist conspiracy to overthrow the pope. There are a lot of groups who use science and reason to undermine the starseed claims. The majority of anti-cult groups are Christian Protestants who actually believe in the existence of spacecraft in our skies but identify them as "chariots of Satan". They believe that the devil sends his soldiers in spacecraft to inspect the workings of good Christians.
In the academic world, there are a lot of different opinions. A popular thing to do is to seek out parallels in more secular churches. The cults that use certain passages from popular texts like the Bible to back up their believes almost do the acdemics work for them. There are mentions in Exodous of the Lord landing' on Mount Sanai. There are many mentions of bright lights as well. (The road to Damascus,Mohammeds Night of Power, Arjuna in the Mahabharata) Many psychologists agree that aliens or no, there are people who genuinely believe to have been taken by them and consequently need a forum to make sense of those events.The big aguements seems to between ufologists, sociologists,and psychiatrists just as to the nature of these events. The medical profession say that the events and belief are a result of illness, Sociologists say that it is an integration of scary modern techology and beliefs into traditional Christian and Hindu belief while the UFO experts believe that these people aredifferent because of their genetic predespotsi ion by alien DNA.
I looked on the internet for information about this cult. There was not a lot of information out there in cyber space, so I may have to do some heavy duty research on this new religious movement, or perhaps chose one that is a little more 'meaty'. Anyway, here is what I found out about The Twelve Tribes . . .
All of the information that I am going to write about came from the internet site www.twelvetribes.com, which is the website founded by The Twelve Tribe members.
The Twelve Tribes say that they never intended to form a community and that their way of life came about naturally.
A little over twenty years ago a man and his wife were touched in their hearts by the great love that our Creator had for them. They understood how He tenderly cares for us and wants us to escape the death and decay all around us. They realized that He had provided a sacrifice for our sins, a way out of the endless cycle of hurting and being hurt. In the only way they knew how, they began sharing their faith with others, inviting people into their home and loving them in practical ways. (www.twelvetribes.com/whoweare.html)
The Twelve Tribes state on their website that when people started coming to their house an inevitable community was formed. They started following and obeying the "scriptures". (I assume that since they are talking about God that they mean the Christian scriptures.) They also state on this website that they are not a new religious movement because they did not invent a new teaching or gather followers (-but the followers did come and form a community, so doesn't that mean that they have followers?). (?!?)
Anyway, they say that they began as small group of disciples in the United States but that soon their love was spread to other nations. They live their lives communally "as very much like the tribal life that Abraham experienced." ( www.twelvetribes.com/whoweare.html)
Our hearts are being turned toward our spiritual fathers, the men of faith who went before us and suffered many things to remain true to their God. At the same time, our hearts are turning toward our children to command them to keep the way of our God by doing what is right and just. (www.twelvetribes.com/whoweare.html)
They say that they live with one another communally because they love one another so much that they are of one heart and mind. They voluntarily share all they possess and are devoted to each other because they are devoted to the One, God.
Any further study on The Twelve Tribes may be difficult because of the little amount of available literature on them. None the less, the Twelve Tribes seem to be a very intriguing break-away sect of Christianity and any advanced research on their beliefs would prove to be interesting.
Unification Church (Moonies) (2)
Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity". The leader is the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and he feels that he the second Jesus. He says that as he was praying on a mountain in Korea, Jesus came to him and told him to finish the work on earth that needed to be done -- rebuild the kingdom of God, in so many words. This happened to him when he was 15. "After personally accepting Jesus' call, the young man set out to discover its very meaning. If Jesus called him to complete his mission, it meant that Jesus' mission was incomplete. Was not salvation through the cross all that man needs? What was it that Jesus had left undone on earth? If sin is not completely solved, then what is the actual root of sin?". Here began the long process of Rev. Moon developing this faith called the Moonies.
In a sermon he spoke years after, he said:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, what is the Messiah? The Messiah is the True Parents of humankind. God's original plan was to establish perfected Adam and Eve as the true ancestors of humanity. Satan, however, invaded this ideal, and God, ever since, has been working toward the emergence of ideal True Parents through which all humankind can be restored. As true fathers and true mothers ourselves, we must vanquish Satan, liberate humanity and build the kingdom of Heaven on earth. As God's sons and daughters we must inherit God's love, life and lineage. Moreover, we must also inherit True Parents' love, life and lineage. Then we will have achieved unity between heaven and earth, vertical and horizontal, and mind and body. This will be the starting point for the eternal world of peace."
Here, it is noticable how his faith developed over the years.
The best website I found was http://unification.org as it is the official website of the Moonies. When I went onto the page to look at their basic priciples, I came to a page that said "Building a World of True Love" at the top. Moon feels this is possible by "moving beyond the present impasse, religion and science must be brought into harmony by a higher understanding of truth, one which interprets the spiritual and material aspects of life within one consistent framework."
This is a very brief beginning to the Moonies and their faith. I've listed the page where I found the most on the net. Exploring Unification Theology (Bryant and Hodges, 1978) was also a good book in certain ways and I feel I may be able to grasp the faith by taking a more indepth look at it. I feel it is, however, a more academic source which is written by outsiders.
Thanks for reading the results of my search! ( :
The Unification Church, a.k.a The Moonies
Official Unification Church website:
I found all of my information about The Moonies on those two websites, they seem to be related because I found repetition of sermons from Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
How is this religious movement described on its own website?
I search through the websites above for many hours because I found it so interesting to discover. I wanted to know more and more about it. One of the reasons why it was so captivating is that it describes itself as a Christian/Protestant Church and I wanted to know what exactly was so different from Christianity as I know it.
Reverend Moon is the founder of the unification Church also known as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity which was founded on May 1, 1954. Sun Myung Moon is from Korea and at the age of 16, Jesus appeared to him and asked him to complete the task of establishing God's kingdom on earth and bringing His peace to humankind which he (Jesus) had not been able to fulfill during his time on earth. First, "God instructed my husband to bring a new message of truth to Christians in Korea." After reading many of Moon's sermons (all translated into english) and his wife: Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon's sermons, it is very clear that Rev. Moon and his wife believe to be the "True Parents" sent by God to reunite families, churches and to bring about restitution. "My husband and I have walked a path of indemnity, or restitution, in order to restore the failures of the past, including those of the Old and New Testaments eras." Moon's wife explains in her sermon: True Parents and The Completed Testament Age, that "Jesus determined to give his life to achive spiritual salvation for humankind" and that her and her husband are the chosen ones to bring about physical or earthly salvation which is done through The Blessing (marriage done by Moon, involving many rules and traditions. Example: Sexual abstinence for a period of 40 days after the Blessing.)
This ministry is very prevalent in the United States because Moon was directed by God in 1971 that America is the chosen land for the fulfilling of His mission. "I came to America because this is the country which God, our Heavenly Father,has chosen. I came to America because I know the heart of God. I know God's will is to save the world, and to do this America must lead the way." According to Moon, "America must win ideologically over atheistic communism on the world scale."
The reason that makes me think that Moon believes to be the Christ of the second advent is from this: "Korea, then, is the nation in the East where Christ will return." This quote along with the rest of his sermon sums up by saying that he,Moon, is the Christ but people around him are not able to recognize it.
I wish I could share more of their principles but I realize that this is only supposed to be a resume of our findings.There is so much more to explain, the Unification Church is very large and their beliefs are very clear on their websites. From reading their teachings and the Principle (book written and inspired by Moon) which describes everything from the Holy Spirit as a female Spirit (was supposed to make the True Parents with Jesus as his bride...), I discovered that this movement is not to be taken lightly.
I hope that you have learned and understood clearly the basics of the Moonies.
In searching the net for information on the new religious movement 'Wicca,' I found several informative sites on this rapidly expanding religion. The one I deemed to be most informative is as follows...
This site contains everything from the history of Wicca to information on spells and charms often used by Wiccans. This and other related sites seems to be trying to get the message across that Wicca is in no way related to Satanism (a popular belief in Christianity). Wicca is a Neopagan religion - one interpretatation of Paganism is 'the worship of nature.' The Pagan ethic is, "Do what thou wilt, but harm none." Wiccans are to abide by this law (which they have taken on as 'The Wiccan Rede') and by the 'Three-fold Law,' which states, "All good that a person does to another returns in three-fold in this life; harm is also returned three-fold." One aspect of this religion is the celebration of Wiccan Sabbats. Wiccans celebrate the two equinoxes - March 21 and Sept 21 - two solstices - December 21 and June 21. They also celebrate Samhain (October31), Imbok (February 2), Beltane (April 30), and Lammas (August 1). These dates are approximate and may differ by a couple of days from year to year. Wiccans also celebrate Rites of Passage such as dedications,initiations, funerals, etc. During a ceremony (which is held outdoors whenever possible) everyone gathers in a circle that is approximately 9 feet in diameter and made of rope,small rocks or markings. A candle is placed in each of the four cardinal direction with an alter at the Northern candle or in the center of the circle. The circle is always purified at the beginning of the ceremony and banished at the end. these rituals seem to take place at all ceremonies performed by the Wicca.The website mentioned above includes information on the history, Rites of Passage, tools, spells, charms, and beliefs of the Wiccan religion, just to mention a few. In most of the sites I found, the Wicca is represented as a positive religion that is very aware of the environment and is close to nature. They seem to really want to get the point across that they are not in any way associated with Satanism or evil, contrary to popular belief.
The new religious movement I am writing about is Wicca. There were several useful web-sites about Wicca, but as for the books I read, they were mostly concerned with learning it.
Wicca, described in its own literature, see it as an Old Religion. This Craft is a way of life that investigates every potential that you have. The Craft draws its strength from the diversity of Nature itself. Wiccans are not bound by traditions from another time and culture, and owe no allegiance to any person greater than the Divinity manifest through our own being. (www.wicca.org)
Popular media see Wiccans as Satanists and are associated with the devil. They are seen as witches who cast evil spells for the purpose of evil. This confusion stirs up religious animosity against followers of benign faith traditions. This ignorence has been known to trigger lynching, attempted mass murder, fire bombings, etc. Wicca, is no closer to Satanism than it is to say Hinduism. (www.religioustolerance.org).
'Wicca is the name, and witchcraft is the game-and the Devil is laughing his head off. Into darkness we go to discover the evil force that mascarades behind the name Wicca.' (www.jesus-is-lord.com). Witches are bad, including Wiccans. Any objective person can find that Wicca is made up of fairy tales, heresay, etc. Followers of Wicca generally call themselves Wiccans or Witches. Almost all uses of the word 'witch' has a negative connotation. Witchcraft is seen as evil sorcery, black magic intended to hurt or kill other humans. Also, the Bible refers to evil sorcerers or poisoners as witches. This also adds to the misconceptions of Wicca, showing even the Bible condemns witchcraft.
Wiccans live according to the rede, "An ye harm none, do as ye will." A wiccan lifestyle demands a constant path to better health and deeper connection. Every person of any faith, is affected by another's actions. Someone living the wiccan path will take that into consideration whatever they choose to do with their life. (www.hickorytech.net).
Wicca is described as many things, but most commonly, a religion that is focussed on nature, the Goddess and the God. They do not describe themselves as having found the one true religion and they do not try to seek members.
In the book "What Witches Do", by Stewart Farrar, he describes Wicca as "the fertility based philosophy of the old countryside" (p. 20). He also points out that Wicca is partly built upon occult tradition.
In "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner", by Scott Cunningham, it is said that Wicca "teaches that nature includes a broad spectrum of mental and spiritual states of which most of us are ignorant" (p. 4). Cunningham goes on to say that Wicca does not claim to have the "one true way to Deity" (p. xv), he does however say that unlike some religions Wicca "doesn't view Deity as distant" (p. 4). They believe that the God and Goddess are in everything including the inanimate.
On the website www.religioustolerance.org/witchcra.htm it is mentioned that Wicca is young. "Wicca is a recently created, Neo-Pagan religion. It is based largely on symbols, seasonal days of celebration and deities from ancient Celtic society..." It first rose in popularity during the 50's, in England.
On the site www.thepaganweb.com/wicca.html the definition of the word 'cult' is brought up. They plainly state that Wicca is NOT a cult because a true cult "presupposes blind faith in a central figure whose every word is regarded as ultimate truth, and the utter conviction that no other way or philosophy will lead to this truth".
My best book resource:
Cunningham, Scott. "Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner". USA: Llewellyn Publications, 1996.
My best website resource: