DIALOGUE IRELAND - NEWSLETTER 10 - 1998
In this issue:
Dublin Church of Christ
Tony Quinn Yoga
If 1997 was dominated by the Scientology Organisation, certainly the group that has been the most prominent in 1998 is the Dublin Church of Christ. More will follow on these groups in separate reports.
It is clear that the New Religious landscape in Ireland is about to change following the political settlement represented by the Good Friday Agreement. We will see a slow move from sectarianism to normalisation in the North with the attendant growth in cults. Here in the Republic it is unclear whether the current post Christian emphasis will continue, but it is certainly clear that a variety of cults along with materialism are filling the vacuum. Dialogue Ireland believes that it is important that the churches work together in this area and that we are available to help the public as the
Unfortunately, attempts to find support from Religious Orders over the past year proved unsuccessful. We approached CORI and they in turn sent our proposals to other orders, but we did not get one response! We were looking to expand the work in the schools. I was in 98 schools last year and would love to see a team working in this area. We also have no permanent office, library facility or counselling space. At present everything is done on a shoe string and we are unable to provide any form of helpline! However a lot is being done, but we continue to have dreams as to how things could be!
The family and friends of Odhran Fortune organised an information day on cults for politicians in early March which I helped with. Unfortunately, only two politicians turned up. Later in April I met with the Minister of State at the Department of Education, Willie O'Dea TD, to discuss the issue of cults, and to see if we could get cult education to be taught as part of civic and social education I am still waiting to hear back from him on this, but he suggested I contact the Select Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights with a view to giving them a briefing on the current situation in relation to Cults and NRM's.
Meanwhile the presence of NRM's provides a wake up call and a challenge to the churches to incarnate the gospel, and do so in such a way as to attract people to the person of Christ.
We hope that many of you will be able to come to our "SEEKERS" conference on the 17 October. We are trying to encourage an academic understanding of New Religions and Philosophical groups. We are happy to do this in association with the Department of Sociology, UCD, the Irish School of Ecumenics and the Department of Anthropology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
In early January they closed their shopfront on Middle Abbey Street and the basement where they offered saunas and other activities as part of the extremely expensive spiritual activities they offered the public. They have reverted to using the first floor offices they originally used when they first came to Ireland 10 years ago. It is obviously a sign that they are in decline, and it makes their recruitment of people through the free personality test much harder. Unfortunately, however, many people are still joining. In February we received a request from the head chaplain from Arbour Hill Prison about an organisation called CRIMINON IRELAND, which uses Scientology to recruit prisoners. Katrin Ruckert, the leader of this project said "This has nothing to do with Sdentology. It just so happens that I am a Scientologist". Gerard Ryan, on the other hand, as the spokesperson for the S.O. in Dublin admitted that Criminon is sponsored by the Church. Many of you will remember the courageous interview given by Mary Johnston on the Late Late Show in 1995. Since then she has taken a case against the SO who have attempted to slow the pace of the case to a crawl. Anyone who would like to send Mary a message of support, may send it to our address and we will pass it on. Anyone wishing to know more about Scientology should get a copy of "A Piece of Blue Sky" by Jon Atack. Price £17 inc p&p from DI.
DUBLIN CHURCH OF CHRIST:
The DCC moved to the ATGWU Hall on Middle Abbey Street at the end of last year. Even though the union was briefed on the cult like nature of the group, they still persisted in providing them with legitimacy. People assume that if a Union is allowing them use their premises that the Church must be OK. Many parents have implored the union to stop enabling them, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In February I attended their service with the intention of challenging their leader Nick Izaaks to a public debate. Two years previously I had spoken to the leader privately about a debate and he later left a message on my answering machine saying no. So this time I wanted to be sure the whole congregation heard the challenge. After the service had ended I stood up and challenged Nick to a debate. They then tried to remove me from the building, and on the way out Nick rejected the invitation to debate.
In May a number of families contacted me following a series of articles in the Irish Mirror. This also led to coverage on local and national radio. The families began to network. I stressed the need for them to claim their children back. Often the members of this church do not go home for the weekend, because they must be at the Sunday service. If they do go home they are on the phone all the time, look like skeletons and always seem short of money. It is therefore important for families not to wait for the return of their children, but to go up to Dublin to engage them. In June during the World Cup many of the members took holidays and spent the time evangelising. They were trying to double their membership. They plan to restart a ministry in Belfast in the near future.
The DCC claims to be a charity, but repeated requests for a copy of its accounts have been refused. Ayman Akshar who runs a group in London dedicated to helping former members stated that he was thrown out of the church when he started questioning the leaders about finances. They ask each member to pay a tenth of their gross income, including social welfare.
TONY QUINN YOGA:
Tony Quinn seems always ahead of the posse. He is as illusive as a butterfly. He respects Jesus, and uses him to promote his philosophy of greed. He encourages his followers to be millionaires, to go to the best restaurants and to make friends of the rich. He has built up a massive business around himself as he lives off shore in Malibu. This year he managed to take about 100 people on a series of seminars to the Bahamas which cost the participants approximately £15,000 each including the flight and accommodation. They were told if only they cast all doubt away they could be millionaires. Now they are back, their tropical tans are fading and they are resorting to using the fake tan sold in his shops. The reality is setting in that nothing has really changed.
But if that was not enough, they were recently offered the opportunity to offer more sheep for the slaughter. If they recruit someone they will receive £1,000 for their efforts. Once the pyramid is established they get £2,000 for everyone under them who does the course. But they undertake also to go back to to the scene of the Bahamas in case they lose the smell of the coconut oil. This little agreement is between the HUMAN POTENTIAL RESEARCH SEMINARS LTD with its registered office at 23 Pier Road, St Helier, Jersey and the people selling the courses. If you wish to know more about Yoga and Tony Quinn, let me recommend the book by Fr Louis Hughes OP called, "Yoga a Path to God" published by Mercier. It is available from DI for £11.50 inc p&p.
The following report appeared in the Irish Mirror on Thursday 2 July 1998:
The naked and bloodied body of a man was found yesterday in remote undergrowth just yards from a Buddhist retreat centre. Gardai believe the 42-year-old Englishman jumped through a window at the centre while attending a conference in West Cork. His body was covered with cuts and puncture wounds which investigating officers say were caused by the shattered bedroom window. They dismissed rumours that a sacrifice or weird religious ceremony was involved but are treating the death as suspicious. The man was staying at Rigpa Fellowship Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Centre at Allihies when he jumped through the window. His body was found in a strip of isolated land where it is believed he died of blood loss. He had arrived at the centre last week for a two-week conference on Buddhist teachings. A Garda spokesman said "We believe this may may be be in some way drug related. While he was staying at the centre he suffered nightmares and hullucinations which they feel were drug induced. It appears he leapt from the window and managed to drag himself to a spot of undergrowth before he died of exposure and bleeding. We will have to wait for the post mortem results before deciding if we go further."
The death which has shocked the tiny seaside resort, is not the first time the Buddhist Centre has been the subject of media attention. The Tibetan Lama who runs the retreat has been the subject of allegations of sexual assault. LAMA SOGYAL RINPOCHE, head of Rigpa Fellowship, was sued three years ago by an American for $10 million. The woman named as Janice Doe on the lawsuit which which was filed in California claimed she was subjected to abuse, harassment, coercion, sexual assaults and battery at the hands of the Lama."
This is an ancient tradition which is growing in Ireland and many centres are opening to this new movement to our shores. There is a group which has given rise to a number of questions which we should make you aware of. This is Rigpa Ireland with centres at Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Wicklow and Retreat Centre at Dzogchen Beara, Garranes.
Similar allegations were heard at an Inform Seminar, New Religious Movements and Violence at the London School of Economics last year. The ex-member, a woman who had been a member for over 10 years stressed the mental abuse she experienced.