THE THREAT FROM PROBLEMATIC ORGANIZATIONS AND CULTS
“I remain hopeful that proper actions can be undertaken to help preserve a welcoming, ethical, tolerant, and legal religious environment in the USA. We are a religious nation, yet also a nation of laws. Religious freedom must not be used as an excuse or cover to inflict abuse and commit crimes. That is not what our laws provide for”, says the anonymous author.
BY AN ANONYMOUS AMERICAN HINDU.I was born a Hindu in India, in a traditional Hindu family. A temple offered me some of my earliest memories. I became a US Citizen many years ago along with my parents. My parents were first generation immigrants to America, who arrived in the 70’s after my father was accepted into a PHD program. I now reside in Houston, Texas along with my immediate and extended family.We have had a long journey and a good life overall. While we are all American through and through, we have remained very traditional in many respects.
My parents always stressed that we should all take the best from two cultures, two countries, while doing our best to keep out the bad. Therefore, I was very fortunate to have been raised in a traditional Hindu family as the son of Indian immigrants who stressed family, education, and traditional Hindu family/spiritual values.
I have watched how the Indian community in the US has grown and changed from the early 1970’s. Our faith is vital to our daily lives and we seek to engage in right action (karma) and to do our duty in life (dharma). Things have changed drastically over the years in the Indian American/Hindu community overall. Many traditional Hindus such as myself find have lived in America for many years. Meanwhile, a wave of “New Religious Movements” (NRM’s) has flooded America. Many of these groups are in fact “destructive cults”, operating fraudulent charities (501c’s) here in the US and globally. Is this Hinduism or any other religion per se? No. Many of them only use the “cloak of religion”. An extreme example is ISIS, which has very little to do with religion at all. ISIS is in fact a destructive cult, with brainwashing as a key ingredient in its power to mold impressionable minds.
Allowing this plethora of destructive “guru” cults has very damaging economic, social, and religious impacts for America and all Americans. They have the potential to lead to a national if not global crisis. These are not just questions of faith. This also has national security implications, especially since criminality is involved. Many of these groups work with criminal elements within the US. Meanwhile, Americans and primarily Indian Americans continue to be harmed and divided. Our society must not allow for such negative influences here in the United States of America. Tremendous negative consequences will ensue if we do nothing and allow this to persist. Even American companies and prestigious academic institutions are being severely influenced by the propaganda and money that is used to fund these operations. Some even have “MOUs” with these destructive organizations or cults. So, there are such business alliances involved. It is a very sophisticated web that has been woven, especially since the late 1980’s. Yet, the roots go back much further back into at least the late 1800’s. There are billions of dollars and deep seated corruption linked to many of these NRM’s/cults. They are receiving assistance from many special interests and political allies.
Meanwhile, social media and even IT hackers play key roles in “recruitment”, as well as systematic harassment of those that oppose their efforts. Those that are critical or acting to stop their criminal enterprises are often targeted by illegal means, so law enforcement must by brought in to mount the effort to combat them. Many people in authority, in government and otherwise, have seemingly been swayed or lured into providing begrudging support. Other are simply looking the other way, in purposeful ignorance. Some in our community are going along with all this simply for political or monetary reasons. This is away to grab power as well. Many first-generation immigrants from India and South Asia have always known full well what has been occurring. Now, their children are also getting wrapped up in this nexus.
These groups with connections to India have formed a strategic alliance with New Religious Movements (NRMs). These cults often have Indian “gurus” (teachers) as leaders/figureheads of the destructive cults. In this way, the Indian community here in the US is being split badly and harmed. There is much corruption, fraud, and in fact criminal activity connected with many of these 501(c) organizations. They are typically for profit businesses hiding behind charity/non-profit status. Often the 501(c) have devotees run businesses as registered agents, and then the money simply gets funneled back to the 501(c). The businesses run by such fraudulent 501(c)’s are utilized for recruitment as well financial and tax fraud. There is also immigration fraud, tax fraud, slave labor and much criminal activity linked to many of these destructive cults. In this way, they do significant personal damage to their followers or devotees. They also thereby harm extended families and friends of devotees, who are slowly transformed into slaves of the organization. Even God and family slowly comes second to the destructive cult.
These problematic organizations take in huge cash donations and they do not have independently audited financial statements. They also take in donations such as gold and ask for property to be willed to these so-called charities. Just how much “charity” is actually being done? Are the donations being audited and traced from source to destination? No, they are not. If there is a way to make money off their devotees and their lives, these groups will do it. Then, where is that money going? What are the money flows globally? A complete list of these destructive groups would be very long. There are many splinter groups or small groups that copy the formulas of the largest most lucrative destructive cults. Many of these groups in fact disparage “traditional” or “Vedic” Hinduism, or simply copy the principle and text from ancient texts in the public domain. They then monetize it all. There are groups in the USA now attempting to recast Hinduism in a new problematic way here in the USA, in India, and worldwide. This is part of a larger effort to make spirituality more lucrative for a select few, at the expense of the general Hindu population. The future of the Hindu religion is at stake in the US. Many honest and devout Hindus simply want to practice our ancient faith, which has been passed down from thousands of years ago by our ancestors. Such Hindus are traditional in their practice of the faith, in that they do not attempt to convert others into their faith and they cannot be converted to some other faith. Traditionally, Hinduism is simply not a missionary religion. That is one of its strengths and key features. In this manner, it has influenced all the other major religions of the world, through sheer strength of the ideas contained in the world’s most ancient religion.
Sanskrit, the language of the Hindu texts, is the world’s oldest surviving language.Will we allow Hinduism to be taken over by powerful, money interests and fake gurus while it heads towards a future of continued corruption and serious crimes? The damage would certainly not be easily contained to our Indian American community, since active Americans in these cults are very often Americans born in the USA. These cults impact and influence the communities around them in a myriad of ways, fostering criminal activity, significant social costs, and the weakening of the fabric of our society. What are we leaving behind for our children that are growing up in the USA? What will be left for them to aspire to? How will they practice Hinduism if we are not good stewards of our faith? This entire nexus that I speak of uses “religion” or “spirituality” to cloak very bad motives and efforts. Yet, this will not be allowed to continue if enough Americans stand up and say no, not in the U.S.A., not in our country. The US Constitution allows for religious freedom, yet not when such organizations engage in criminal behavior and actively harm devotees, by utilizing brainwashing, fraud and various concerted, systematic efforts. There are many devotees today that are secretly being abused and they have no voice. No one is helping these folks. I also suspect that many minors are being harmed, especially the ones who have parents that live at the sites of these organizations. Many children end up with no protection at all and are abused unfortunately, by gurus and others. Unless corrective actions are taken to change these dynamics and shut down such organizations, we will pay huge societal costs as a nation. Meanwhile, some reap rewards while many do absolutely nothing. There are those too afraid to even speak out, for fear of retribution, especially since they may have friends and family involved with such groups. These cults are also very vindictive by their very nature, casting those that are critics as being biased, dishonest, or intolerant of other “faiths”. Yet, freedom of religion does not offer protection for criminal and civil wrongs in America. The American public and the citizens that are served by our Government has a right to know these things and to be fully informed of what exactly is at play. For far too long, there has not been a proper airing of these issues. They should be exposed to the light of day, especially since many end up unwittingly giving their money and lives to these groups. Our community and society at large has a fundamental, legal right to be protected from these groups. This issue cuts across all religions and countries. It impacts Hindus, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims alike.
This problem has only continued for decades now, especially since the 50’s and 60’s when there was a large uptick in destructive cult activity. The USA has more cults per capita than any other country in the world. Please reference the exhaustive work done by Drs. Lifton and Singer. Dr. Robert Lifton is an American psychiatrist and noted author. His studies of destructive cults, the psychological causes and effects of war and political violence, as well as his theory of thought reform are very pertinent to the study of these organizations. Dr. Lifton is also an expert on psychohistory. Meanwhile, Dr. Margaret Singer was a clinical psychologist and researcher. She was a very prominent figure in the study of undue influence in social and religious contexts. Dr. Singer interviewed over 3,000 cult followers, family members of cult followers, and friends of cult followers while contributing so much to our understanding of how destructive cults operate. Dr. Singer’s primary areas of research included coercive persuasion, schizophrenia, family therapy, and brainwashing. Also, see the legal work done by famous Attorney Paul Morantz as background research. He has prosecuted numerous cults over the last several decades. Also see the information outlined by the “Cult Education Institute” run by Dr. Rick Ross, and the international group, ICSA. The Rick Ross website has the largest archive of information on cults available online. Both Rick Ross and Paul Morantz are certified experts in this field. Both are FBI consultants as well.
Relying on academia, such as religious scholars and “spiritual leaders” is not sufficient, since these issues involve other disciplines such as the legal field, psychiatry, psychology, and sociology as well. Furthermore, many religious scholars are muted in their criticism of such groups, since academia in the USA has been infiltrated by them, through moneyed interests. Furthermore, “spiritual leaders” are often protective of NRM’s that use the very same destructive cult formulas they employ. Commonly these destructive cults put their devotees through four stages: love bombing, then confessional, followed by indoctrination/brainwashing, and finally significant “exit costs”. Once immersed in such groups, followers find it very difficult to return to their “old lives”, especially since their old self has been obliterated and cognitive dissonance has set in. Information that is contrary to their new belief system is often simply disregarded by cult followers. Followers of destructive cults must be treated with sympathy as they are victims of these organizations, yet it is critical to understand how these groups and their followers operate.
The brainwashing of many people by such cults or “spiritual organizations” continues, and there are Westerners, Indians, and people from all backgrounds being harmed spiritually, financially, physically and emotionally. This nexus that operates and in effect harms and subverts Hinduism and the Indian community in America is now being exposed through books, articles, and social media. Yet, awareness is not enough. More must be done, through corrective action as well. Many victims are simply silenced and too afraid to even report the crimes involved. These are uncomfortable truths. There are so many silent victims, searching and eager for a way out. Meanwhile, many are striving to install as many cult leaders as possible and to grow their “followings” through internet recruitment and direct personal contact, often in social settings or even at temples and community events. Much of this is driven by the billions of dollars being generated and the significant corruption that is intertwined with it all. I remain hopeful that proper actions can be undertaken to help preserve a welcoming, ethical, tolerant, and legal religious environment in the USA. We are a religious nation, yet also a nation of laws. Religious freedom must not be used as an excuse or cover to inflict abuse and commit crimes. That is not what our laws provide for. Thank you for taking the time to hear me out and read this article. May God bless us all, no matter the religion, and may God bless the United States of America!