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Cults and New Religions

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1 Cults and New Religions
New Age Scientology Wicca Heaven’s Gate Other

2 Cultic Definitions Cult – “religious practice” or “a new religious movement that often takes social stances based on modern world history” or “a dangerous social group taking extreme measures based on religious reasoning” Religion – an organized practice and attempt to control and make sense of reality After Jesus, Christianity was considered a “cult” to the Jews in Jerusalem The United Methodist Church is a huge religious body in the United States, but it is considered a divisive cult in Germany Most people get their information from media rather than informational discovery Only cults that do something to make history get spoken Cult Common Attributes and Stereotypes: Founded by a Charismatic Leader Charismatic – an attribute of charm that is easily and often followed Leadership is Formally Spoken and Understood Focused on Social or Political Reform Practice Mystic Religious Practices Shrouded in Layers of Secrecy Attempt to “Brainwash” Members Highly Evangelistic Philosophical Dualistic towards Body and Soul

3 The Church of Scientology
L. Ron Hubbard – ( ) former science-fiction author who is considered the founder of Scientology Lived during World War II and felt he was “destined for greatness” According to legend, he was made a “blood brother” of the Blackfoot tribe in Montana Wrote Dianetics – main text of Scientology True spiritual essence is trapped or restricted by past experiences, loss, pain, and unconsciousness that can be freed through “dianetic therapy” All his writings are being engraved and safely stored so that future societies will learn from his teachings He teachings were submitted to the APA (American Psychological Association), but they were dismissed He founded the Dianetics Research Foundation (offered classes and taught “auditing”) He is considered as one to be remembered constantly Origins: The world consists of pure energy (Theta) that manifests itself in individual expressions Thetans By experiencing Scientology and its practice, one can fully live to the highest potential of the individual thetan Famous: John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley

4 Scientology Theory “Applied Religious Philosophy” – attempt to combine universally true elements of all religious movement Goal: full rehabilitation of a person’s innate spiritual self A person is made of three parts: Body, Mind, and Spirit Thetan – the life force that “is” a person “The typical residence for the thetan is the skull” Humans are spiritual beings that have a body; Not physical beings that have a soul The thetan places in all human beings the search for meaning The thetan is originally good, and “evil” is merely losing touch with this internal goodness Reincarnation – thetans have travelled through time Analytical and Reactive Minds: Analytical Mind – sees and stores data Reactive Mind – sees and records emotions and spirituality Hubbard Electropsychometer (E-meter) – “Pinch Test” Engram – the mental print an emotional experience makes on your Reactive Mind Therefore, in order to realize one’s full potential, one must become free of the limitations of the reactive mind and activate the full spiritual potential of the thetan

5 Scientology Practices
Orgs – the general term for Scientology’s missions, centers, or churches Bust of Hubbard is on stage right between the lectern and the Scientology cross Lectern – area in which a speaker stands to deliver a speech Every org has an office that is symbolically empty (referencing Hubbard’s figurative presence) Weekly worship service that look similar to Christian assemblies 96 “official” sermons – most reference either Hubbard’s teaching or life story Auditing – primary practice in Scientology Process: Training, Rundowns, and Processing Spiritual counseling between a Scientology minister and follower Using the E-meter and specific questions, a minister traces life history in order to find engrams With full understanding, engrams will be destroyed so that a person could live “fully human” Auditing occurs on a “fee-per-service” basis that are on a graduated scale The Bridge of Total Freedom – moving from preclears to Clears Process can take up to two years Once Clear, one can move through the 15 levels of OT (Operating Thetan) The higher you are on the path; the more expensive the sessions can be Costs can be lessened by training to train others

6 Scientology Organization
Hubbard wrote a 24-volume manifesto on the structure of the church It is hierarchical from the highest to the least Highest officers live on the MV Freewinds out of Clearwater, FL Each leader and org is evaluated on effectiveness and can lose their status with poor data reports Church of Scientology International (CSI) – based in Los Angeles, CA Responsible for the promotion and leadership of the church Considered the Mother Church (which also serves to license other churches) Office of Special Affairs (OSA) – handles the legal responsibilities of the movement and its followers Sea Organization – or “Sea Org” The figure heads of the Scientology movement Highest ranking officials are given special, secret knowledge that others cannot possess The group lives in community and sign a “Billion Year Contact” to symbolize their commitment to furthering of Scientology in the world Religious Technology Center – power behind the throne Ensure that practices are exactly as Hubbard told Counteracting those who infringe on trademarks of Scientology Collection and interpretation of the “data”

7 The New Age Movement JZ Knight – (1946-pres.) founder, by means of trance, of the formal New Age Movement Judith Hampton – born in Roswell, New Mexico Grew up poor farmers with an abusive father, from whom her mother divorced early in life Went to a Baptist church and learned about God She distanced herself from church upon trying to understand the actions of the God of the Old Testament She left church when her cousin was publically called out by the preacher for putting on lipstick She married and divorced (and she had two children) Got a job at a local TV station and developed the nickname: “JZ” Ramtha – 35,000 year-old warrior-mystic who manifested himself through the trance state of JZ Knight Lived only one life in Onai, the port city of Atlantis His family were refugees of the continent of Lemuria (treated as slaves) He raised an army of Lemurians and attacked the Atlanteans He realized that “He was God” after looking at the injustice in the world Ramtha told JZ to start something great, to invite people to trance sessions, and to charge them $100 a session She founded the Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE) Famous: Shirley MacLaine, Carrie Fisher, and Linda Evans

8 New Age Philosophy Four Fundamental Beliefs:
Statement: “You Are God” Your soul is apart of the Great Soul, so you therefore are the Great Soul School is about “gnosis” – knowing that you are God Mandate: Make Known the Unknown Concept: Consciousness and Energy creates the Nature of Reality Physical world is only one level of reality (the densest), but there are many more 7 chakras - places of unique consciousness and energy to be awakened One often visualizes the world they wish to create for themselves Challenge: Conquer Yourself There is an unseen order, the infinity of Thought, which is the equivalent of God Practice of alternative health practices, focus on supernatural events, contact with discarnate entities, and belief in reincarnation Most followers are women, have college degrees, and were raised in some traditional religious setting Followers choose to pay for every session on DVD or to attend the RSE full retreats in Yelm, Washington

9 Heaven’s Gate Cult Bonnie Lu Nettles (1924 – 1985) and Marshall Applewhite Jr. ( ) – the founders of the Heaven’s Gate group The become known as “Ti and Do” Applewhite grew up as a strict Presbyterian, got married and had children, and soon realized he was struggling with homosexuality (which caused his divorce) He worked within the academic sphere and was fired from two jobs for sexual interactions and “emotional instability” In each, there was rumor of the background reason being sex Nettles was raised in a Baptist home, left to explore metaphysics and New Age philosophy, and she became interested in astronomy and supernatural forces Both found each other and opened a center for the discovery of metaphysics They both began to believe that they were two “incarnations” of other beings put on earth (aliens) They formed a monastic community that was progressively developing theories Then, Nettles died of Cancer

10 Heaven’s Gate Belief and Practice
Nettles and Applewhite had a “vision” and believed they were the prophets described in the book of Revelation In the Bible, these prophets are resurrected and “taken up in the cloud” They believed the “cloud” would take them to the physical Kingdom of Heaven The wrote and published the “First Statement of Ti and Do” (which was a manifesto of physical implications of the Heaven’s Gate) They believed their goal was to “restate the truth Jesus taught in a way that spoke to the current world” They proposed that the goal was not to escape with world, but the goal was to fully live in the Kingdom Growing to the Next Level Process – renouncing the earthly ties and gaining a new name 17 Steps – series of questions leading one to understand themselves Commuting – establishing a mental connection with someone at the next level Friction – learning from the partner what is restrictive Uniforms – all should be one without individuality Death was seen as a transfer to the Next Level Halle-Bop Comet – passed Earth in 1997, Applewhite convinced his followers that there was a UFO in the tail of the comet that would physically take the bodies to the Next Level if they all “transferred to the next level” together

11 Wicca Gerald Gardner – (1884-1964) – English customs agent
Became a part of the Fellowship of Crotona (explored various witchcraft legends) Found a coven of functioning witches in England and was initiated Dorothy Clutterbuck – initiated Gardner on the eve of World War II (Operation Cone of Power) Covens of witches attempted to prevent Hitler’s invasion of Great Britain by magic He began to call modern witchcraft – Wicca He wrote Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft He also researched various other groups and practices and compiled them into his Book of Shadows Although based in England, Wicca made its way to North America and various other European countries Often the “covens” or different sects focus on fertility, paganism, or female goddesses

12 Wiccan Practice and Beliefs
Personal Gnosis – even if others do not agree or understand (including other witches), the god or goddess will reward a witch who comes with a sincere heart Nature is Sacred – all things are connected to the sacredness of the world around The Divine are Immanent Control of Universal Process

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