an article from the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 4: Number 3, 1991.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
What's New in the Headlines
Time Magazine Calls Scientology "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power."
The May 6 Time cover story -- which took seven months to research and was based on more than 150 interviews -- describes the cult this way: "Ruined lives. Lost fortunes. Federal crimes. Scientology poses as a religion but is really a ruthless global scam -- and aiming for the mainstream." Though the church portrays itself as a religion, the article reports, "in reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."
How has the church attracted so many members? One way is through a wide array of "front groups" owned by the church that lure people into the cult. These front groups include businesses such as publishing, consulting, health care, drug rehabilitation, and even remedial education. Moreover, the church has received more than a little publicity due to the growing number of Hollywood celebrities joining the church -- including Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Mimi Rogers, Anne Archer, Sonny Bono, and Chick Corea. (The June issue of California magazine ran a cover story entitled, "Scientologist Tom Cruise and the Cult That's Taking Over Hollywood.")
Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote one of the church's sacred texts: Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950). In this book, Hubbard introduced a technique he called auditing. Auditing sessions involve the use of what amounts to a simplified lie detector (called an "E-meter") that measures electrical changes in the skin while subjects discuss intimate details of their past. "Hubbard argued that unhappiness sprang from mental aberrations (or 'engrams') caused by early traumas. Counseling sessions with the E-meter, he claimed, could knock out the engrams, cure blindness, and even improve a person's intelligence and appearance," according to Time.
Once a person becomes "clear" of engrams (which allegedly takes 100 to 150 very expensive hours), participants are strongly encouraged to continue on to higher ground. "Scientology doctrine warns that even adherents who are 'cleared' of engrams face grave spiritual dangers unless they are pushed to higher and more expensive levels. According to the church's latest price list, recruits...take auditing sessions that cost as much as $1,000 an hour, or $12,500 for a 12 1/2-hour 'intensive,'" Time reports.
The Time article also notes that since 1986, Hubbard and his church have been the subject of four critical books. "In each case, the writers have been badgered and heavily sued. One of Hubbard's policies was that all perceived enemies are 'fair game' and subject to being 'tricked, sued, or lied to or destroyed.' Those who criticize the church -- journalists, doctors, lawyers, and even judges -- often find themselves engulfed in litigation, stalked by private eyes, framed for fictional crimes, beaten up, or threatened with death." Scientology retains more than 100 lawyers at a cost of $20 million annually to handle its hundreds of suits against perceived enemies.
In response to the Time expose, Scientology published several pamphlets chronicling alleged "inaccuracies," "biases," "cheap shots," "character assassination," and "hatchet job journalism" in the article. Scientology also ran a series of full-page four-color ads in USA Today -- attacking the magazine for such "wrongs" as writing nice things about Adolf Hitler before the beginning of World War II.
Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for Time, declined to comment except to read a statement that said: "Time's article on Scientology speaks for itself and Time stands behind the article in its entirety. If Scientology chooses to put its story before the public through advertisements in USA Today, that is, of course, its privilege. We are content to have the public read Time's article and make up their own minds," according to the May 31 New York Times.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and His Followers Fight Crime By Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Fighting violent crime has become the focus of those participating in "the Greater Washington D.C. Association of Professionals Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Program," according to the May 13 issue of The Washington Times. Since March, several hundred lawyers, doctors, and executives have gathered twice daily to meditate for peace. "If all goes well, these sessions will reduce violent crime in Washington 15 percent by the end of the year. So says the association."
The article says that "the secret weapon being used to effectuate that transformation is the Super Radiance Effect, also known as the Maharishi Effect. Basically, it means good vibrations emitted collectively [by those meditating] are greater than the sum of their parts."
Maharishi's pet project, however, is his "world peace proposal." He wants to gather 7,000 people in one location to perform his advanced Sidhi meditation technique on a steady basis. "Seven thousand people represents the square root of 1 percent of the world's population. According to some cosmic precept, that is the threshold of participation necessary for the Maharishi Effect to have its full, global impact," according to the Times.
Small-scale group meditations, Maharishi claims, have already produced a trickle of positivity. He takes some responsibility for the thawing of East-West relations. He concedes, however, that the recent war in the Persian Gulf was a "discouraging back step for humanity....During these days people must have not been regular in their meditation, so the coherence effect went down."
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Rejects a Controversial Report on Sex by an Overwhelming Margin.
The June 11 New York Times reports that on June 10 the governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overwhelmingly rejected a report urging the church to relax its traditional strictures against sexual relations among homosexuals and unmarried heterosexuals. "By a vote of 534 to 31 at their meeting [in Baltimore], the elected delegates of the church's annual General Assembly accepted the recommendation of a 67-member committee to set aside the report, which had provoked fierce opposition among church members." The General Assembly's rejection of the report came after nearly five hours of often fiery debate.
This rejection was not unexpected. Following the initial release of the report, "more than half the Presbyterian Church's local bodies of clergy and elected church leaders condemned it. One quarter of these bodies even demanded that it not be included in the minutes of the General Assembly meeting," according to the Times.
The controversial report argued that "premarital sex, homosexuality, and bisexuality should be encouraged if the partners are truly consenting adults. What matters most is not narrowly whether sexually active adults are married or not, but whether they embody [equal and just love] in their relating," the June 6 Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the May 6 issue of Newsweek, the sexuality report rests on the assumption that "sexual gratification is a human need and right that ought not to be limited to heterosexual spouses or bound by 'conventional' morality. Indeed, the panel [that designed the report] finds that marriage itself, though sometimes liberating, is too often vitiated by 'patriarchalism' and 'heterosexist' assumptions. 'Gays and lesbians are feared,' the report argues, 'because erotic passion between persons of the same gender is a sharp break with socially conventional patterns of male dominance and female subordination."
Responding to the outcry of church members, the 67-member committee, which had the backing of top church officials, spent 36 hours dissecting the 200-page report and engineering its rejection. The General Assembly accepted the committee's recommendation for a church-wide discussion at the congregational level on this issue.
The delegates at the assembly also adopted a recommendation of the 67-member committee to send a pastoral letter to all 11,500 churches in the denomination. The letter says in part: "We have dismissed the special committee [that designed the report on sexuality] with thanks for their work, and with regret for the cruelties its members have suffered....We have reaffirmed in no uncertain terms the authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We have strongly reaffirmed the sanctity of the marriage covenant between one man and one woman to be a God-given relationship to be honored by marital fidelity," the June 11 Los Angeles Times reports.
Many within the denomination are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the report has been rejected by such an overwhelming margin. "I've never seen the church so outraged, and it ought to be," said Thomas Gillespie, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, in the May 6 issue of Newsweek.
Marj Carpenter, the denomination's longtime public information director, said: "It's dead. They [the elected delegates of the General Assembly] heard the massive hue and cry of Presbyterians that they didn't want to be represented by this document," the June 11 Orange County Register reports.
The March/April Issue of Back to Godhead -- "The Magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement" -- Urges Students in the Sect to Form Hare Krishna Clubs in Their Schools.
"If the people in charge at your school allow other clubs, off the subjects taught in the regular classes, they have to allow your Hare Krishna club too. That's the effect of a 1990 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court....They can't say 'No religion' or 'No Hare Krishna.'"
The article cites Bridget Mergens, an Omaha high school student, who wanted to form a student Christian club that would meet at school after hours. But since her school was a public school receiving federal funds, the school authorities said allowing the club would breach the constitutional "wall of separation" between church and state. Her request was therefore denied.
According to the article, "Bridget replied that the school's decision deprived her of 'equal access' to club activities because of what the club would be about. The school allowed other clubs not related to the curriculum, such as chess and scuba-diving clubs. So Bridget argued that she was entitled to organize a club for Christian activities." Bridget said that by denying her request, "the school was violating her constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association and the free exercise of religion."
Bridget's complaint, which began in her principal's office, made its way to the Supreme Court, and she won. "Federal law, ruled the court, requires that schools grant all students equal access to what the school offers, even when students wish to form a club with a spiritual or religious content....This rule applies when your school allows clubs that are unrelated to the curriculum. For example, if your school has a chess club and chess is not a part of the school's official courses, the club is unrelated. (A math club or French club, on the other hand, would be related to the regular classes in math or French.)"
The article thus urges students: "If your school has even one club unrelated to the curriculum, the court's ruling applies. Your Hare Krishna club should be allowed....And if other clubs have access to the school newspaper, bulletin boards, public address system, and club fairs, so should your Hare Krishna club."
Editor's Note: We at CRI agree with the Supreme Court's ruling, for it does allow for more religious freedom in public schools. Though we can't limit those who exercise this right to Christians, Christians can rise to the challenge and "out-compete" the Krishnas and other sects on school campuses.
-- Ron Rhodes
Paulo Romeiro Visits U.S., Shares Vision for CRI in Latin America
April was a busy month for CRI-Brazil Director Paulo Romeiro. During this time, he visited the United States to share his vision for equipping believers throughout Latin America to stand for the faith "once for all delivered unto the saints."
"Brazil is a country obsessed with the supernatural," declared Paulo as he told Southern California audiences of his deliverance from a Catholic-spiritist background in rural Brazil and his subsequent call to the ministry. Paulo expressed his concern over the explosive growth of cults like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism, as well as the increasing damage done by the Positive Confession/Word-Faith movement in Brazil.
Radio interviews were an important part of Paulo's hectic schedule. He was featured several times on the nationwide "Bible Answer Man" program and was interviewed for two hours on radio station WMCA in New York, explaining the work of CRI in Brazil and fielding callers' questions about demon possession and spiritual warfare.
But along with accounts of spiritual struggle, Paulo brought a message of hope: the ministry is having a tremendous impact and cultists are being won to Christ! He told of some thirty Jehovah's Witnesses becoming Christians through CRI's work in one city alone.
Paulo's dream is for CRI's ministry to reach his immense nation via radio and to eventually expand its outreach to arm pastors, missionaries, and laymen in all of Latin America. During Paulo's trip to the United States, God opened doors for future ministry in Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, and Guatemala.
CRI Brazil still needs monthly supporters! If you'd like to join the CRI team in Latin America, check the box marked "Brazil Fund" on your next donation receipt, and request a copy of Paulo's testimony on cassette tape (item # C-205).
Paulo is planning to return to the U.S. sometime between October of 1991 and February of 1992. If your church would be interested in having him as a speaker, please contact our International Division.
Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses Enlarge Facilities to Accommodate Swelling Missionary Forces
Two of America's foremost cults are expanding their training facilities as a result of continuing successes on world mission fields.
According to the April 7 New York Times, "A huge religious complex is being built on a former dairy farm" near Patterson, New York, that will be the major educational institution for the missionaries and staff of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses).
When workmen finish sometime in 1996, "they will have built 6 apartment houses 2 to 5 stories high with 624 apartments, a 450-car garage, a 144-room hotel, a huge kitchen and dining room to serve 1,600 people at one sitting, an office building, a classroom building, and several service buildings," the New York Times reports. In addition to the complex, almost half the total Patterson property is being used to provide beef for the sect's workers.
The article states that "with the doubling of [sect] members around the world to four million in the last 25 years and a gain of 295,000 members to a total of 900,000 in the United States in the last 10 years," the Jehovah's Witnesses have outgrown their current headquarters, a complex of buildings in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Watchtower officials place the cost of construction at about $50 million, with an eventual value of $130 million.
Meanwhile, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is expanding its Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. The construction of three new buildings, including a four-story residence hall, will allow an increase in the facility's capacity from about 3,000 Mormon missionaries to 4,000, according to a March 29 report in the Salt Lake Tribune.
In light of the above, a question looms: Where are the Christian missionaries who will go forth to counter this growing cultic army?
Miller's "Crash Course", Martin's "Kingdom" in French; Other Languages to Follow
Elliot Miller's A Crash Course on the New Age Movement is now being published in French as Le mouvement du Nouvel Age. The book may be ordered from CRI for $20 (item # B-094/FR).
Meanwhile, Walter Martin's classic The Kingdom of the Cults is available, or is being translated into, a variety of languages.
- A French-language edition of the book, Le monde des sectes, has been published by Editions Vida and can now be purchased from CRI at the special price of $25 (item # B-001/FR).
- Translation of the book into Portuguese and Korean is now in progress, and its chapters on Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism have been published in Spanish as separate booklets (also available from CRI).
- A Russian-language edition of the book, desperately needed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, has been translated -- but $35,000 is still needed for typesetting and printing.
Finally, Dr. Walter Martin's book The New Age Cult has just been released in Spanish by Editorial Betania and can be ordered through CRI for only $5 (item # B-091/SP).
End of document, CRN0035A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Research Notes" and "International" release A, June 30, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.
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