Religion News Blog, March 14, 2003
[World Ministries Church] Body's morgue stay lengthens
More than two months after his estimated date of death, James W.
Killeen has yet to be cremated or buried.
Eleanor Killeen's telephone has been disconnected. Family members say
her involvement with a religious group called World Ministries led her
to pray with other group members over Killeen's dead body for three
weeks, believing it would be resurrected.
The local leader of World Ministries, Stan A. Bennett, operates a
retreat center in Sahuarita. When a photographer and a reporter
visited the compound last week, Bennett asked them to leave. He said
he would not talk about World Ministries, nor would he speak about
accusations from Killeen's brother and sister that the group is a
[Sikhism] Sikh leader to pray for his 3 accusers
An internationally renowned Sikh religious leader has filed documents
in B.C. Supreme Court offering his prayers for three dissident members
of a Richmond congregation who want him deposed for misappropriating
Harnek Singh Grewal, 65, vehemently denies charges that he used
hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to the Nanaksar
Gurdwara-Gursikh Temple Society for personal use.
[Brian Mitchell] Relatives Recall Kidnapping Suspects' Downward Spiral
In their early years, Brian D. Mitchell had been a jewelry designer
and Wanda Barzee an accomplished pianist who knew Tchaikovsky and
Beethoven and once played the Mormon Tabernacle Choir organ. They met
at their Mormon church. He was in drug rehabilitation for a heroin
problem, two of Ms. Barzee's sons said yesterday.
Then Mr. Mitchell began hearing voices, his stepson Mark Thompson
recalled in an interview yesterday. "He said prophets were starting to
talk to him," Mr. Thompson said. "They told him to sell all his
worldly possessions, and he did."
And so began, as Mr. Thompson and his brother, Derrick, described it,
a downward spiral for the couple.
[Brian Mitchell] Smart Was Forced to Depend on Captors
Frightened at first by her abduction at knifepoint, Elizabeth was
forced to depend on her captors during her nine-month disappearance,
authorities said. When found by police, the 15-year-old vehemently
denied her identity when asked if she was Elizabeth Smart and told
officers that the couple she was with were her parents.
"There is clearly a psychological impact that occurred at some point,"
Police Chief Rick Dinse said. "There is no question that she was
[Brian Mitchell] Teenage girl kidnapped by fanatic 'to be his child
Newspapers reported that police believed that the heavily bearded
Mitchell wanted Elizabeth to be his second wife.
"It was a religious thing," the police source said. "This guy just
wanted another wife and God told him this was the one."
[Brian Mitchell] Smart Might Have Been A Perfect Victim To Fall Prey
Those who study cults say Elizabeth small was the perfect victim:
smart, attractive and soft spoken.
Shirley Landa, who has been a cult fighter for almost 30 years, told
KOMO 4 News: "She's a very obedient little girl, came from a wonderful
family. She's going to do what she's told to protect her family."
Landa believes the suspected abductor, Brian Mitchell, threatened the
girl's family and Elizabeth believed him.
NOTE: Landa was the CAN volunteer who referred Jason Scott's mother to
Rick Ross - an act that figured prominently in the trial charade
against the real Cult Awareness Network. Scientology subsequently
gained control over CAN, and turned it into a hate group. See:
[Brian Mitchell] Captors likely controlled Utah teen, experts say
The experts said that Mitchell, an excommunicated Mormon who saw
himself as a prophet to the homeless, may have brainwashed Smart, as
her father has said. Or she may have experienced what psychologists
call the "Stockholm syndrome," a reaction in which prisoners begin to
identify and sympathize with their captors. Patricia Hearst, the
heiress who participated in a 1974 bank robbery with her kidnappers,
is the best-known example of this.
Another possibility is that Smart was simply paralyzed by fear.
Steven Hassan, a Cambridge, Mass., mental health counselor who is both
a former cult member and anti-cult crusader, believes that Elizabeth
Smart was more likely the victim of active brainwashing than of the
Stockholm syndrome, which is an unintentional identification with the
"This is really a case where she was completely dependent on them for
an extended period of time," he said.
She was subjected to a combination of fear, isolation and intense
control over every aspect of her life. Even her clothing was changed
as she was made to wear a white robe and veil, he said. All that works
to weaken a sense of identity.
"I believe that she was a victim of a cultlike, mind-control process,"
[Brian Mitchell] Police Say Smart Girl Mentally Joined Captors
Elizabeth Smart was taken against her will at knife-point from Salt
Lake City home nine months ago but at some point in her captivity she
"psychologically" joined her captors, police and family members said
The chief said Elizabeth was held against her will for two months in a
remote mountain campsite and later became "psychologically affected"
by Mitchell and her other captor, Mitchell's wife Wanda Barzee. That
attachment prevented her from escaping when she might have had the
Asked why Elizabeth had not tried to escape from the street preacher
and his wife held on suspicion of kidnapping her, Dinse said; "There
was clearly a psychological impact that occurred at some point. There
is no question she was psychologically affected by this group."
March 13, 2003 (Continued)
[Alternative Healing] Cameroon bans urine 'remedy'
The Cameroon health minister has deemed it necessary to warn people
that drinking urine may not be good for your health.
Urbain Olanguena Awono has even warned that those who advocate
drinking urine risk prosecution.
He was moved to speak after a wave of interest in "urinotherapy".
[Brian Mitchell] Kidnapped teenager reunited with parents
Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her home in Salt Lake City by a
self-styled prophet for the homeless, who wanted to take her as a
[Brian Mitchell] Elizabeth May Have Been Taken to Be a Replacement
Mitchell, 49, attended Skyline High School in the 1970s, was a
devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
married and fathered four children.
Then things fell apart.
He and his wife divorced, and in the late 1980s, Mitchell married
Wanda Ilene Barzee, who had several children of her own. Barzee's
daughter, Louree Gayler, was 12 at the time, and her new stepfather
made her uncomfortable.
"He was kissing and holding me the wrong way," Gayler said Wednesday.
"But he never molested me because he wanted to see his other kids."
Gayler says she endured the situation for three years, then went to
live with her father.
Mitchell may have kidnapped Elizabeth to "give my mom back something
she lost," Gayler said. "Elizabeth resembles me at 15."
Gayler's brother, Mark Thompson, a 32-year-old construction worker in
Salt Lake City, agrees.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology case settled out of court
A High Court action for damages by a Dublin sports shop owner against
the Church of Scientology has ended after out of court talks.
The case taken by Mary Johnston was expected to last until May.
However, Mr Justice Peart was told at lunchtime today that the case
appeared to be settled.
No details of the settlement were disclosed but costs in the action
are estimated to be around 2 million.
NOTE: This is not the first time the cult has settled. See, for
example, the case of Scientology's hate campaign(!) against Bonnie
Note, specifically, the cult's full apology in court:
and its PR spin out of court:
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara maintains his silence
At a news conference after the day's session, victims of Aum's attacks
and their families said it was regrettable that Asahara did not speak.
Shizue Takahashi, whose husband died in the subway attack, asked,
"Does this man realize whose trial it is?" It's a waste of time to
hold any more sessions."
However, Hiroyuki Nagaoka, who represents a group of people whose
family members have become cult followers and was himself attacked by
cultists using deadly VX gas, said: "Even now, youths are being lured
into the cult by smooth-talking cult executives. To save such people,
I strongly ask Asahara to say just one thing in the end -- that he was
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum leader Matsumoto stays silent at 251st hearing
Aum Supreme Truth leader Chizuo Matsumoto remained silent during a
hearing Thursday at the Tokyo District Court as defense lawyers
attempted to question him for the first time since his trial over the
sarin gas attacks began in January 1998.
The hearing adjourned after less than an hour. If Matsumoto still
refuses to speak at two upcoming hearings, the prosecution is likely
to close their arguments and make demands for Matsumoto's punishment.
[Elizabeth Smart] Why Did She Not Escape?
Based on similar cases, one expert said it is likely fear or
psychological pressure kept the 15-year-old from making an escape --
that she experienced Stockholm syndrome or another psychological
reaction that made her believe escape was impossible because of
mystical or overt forces.
"We have no idea what psychological or pressure manipulations he used
with her," said Janja Lalich, a sociology professor at California
State University, Chico, and author of Captive Hearts, Captive Minds
and co-author with Margaret Singer of Cults in Our Midst.
Still, she said, past experiences show that "when you are removed from
your normal environment and kept confined in some way, which we know
[Elizabeth] must have been at the beginning, you can enter a very
distorted reality," said Lalich. "If they are good at what they do,
they use a punishment/reward system. It doesn't take much for your
reality to shift."
That reality, Lalich said, is governed by fear and works to keep a
captive in check, even in public settings. "You can't figure out how
to [leave] rather than you don't want to," Lalich said, adding that
Elizabeth's youth could also have been a factor.
NOTE: Mercifully, cult apologists like J. Gordon Melton - who
passionately disclaims brainwashing and/or mind control theories -
have not yet been heard to comment on this case.
[Brian Mitchell] Man found with Smart known as drifter
Mitchell was a downtown fixture, frequently seen wearing white pants,
a robe-like tunic and a brimless white hat that resembles a puffy
turban or baker's toque. One of the photos provided to law enforcement
shows him in such a hat.
He often was seen panhandling and preaching to the homeless in
downtown Salt Lake City before Elizabeth's disappearance last June.
[Brian Mitchell re: Elizabeth Smart] Mitchell was odd, familiar figure
The Mitchells met at a group therapy session, according to Wanda's
mother, Dora Corbett. "They used to be temple workers (for the LDS
Church). But something happened, and I don't know what. They quit
going to church." A dozen years ago, Mitchell began having
"revelations," eventually changing his name to Emmanuel, Hebrew for
"God is here."
Derrick Thompson said his stepfather told him he had taken "10 hits of
LSD and talked to God out in the desert" several years ago. "They said
they weren't on drugs, but we think that was a lie. We think that's
how he could communicate with God. That and listen to the Steve Miller
The Mitchells also got involved in "patriot" groups opposed to paying
income taxes, and later became followers of survivalist guru Bo Gritz,
according to Corbett. "Then all of a sudden they decided to buy a
fifth-wheel trailer and they went up to Idaho where this Bo Gritz
When they didn't get along with Gritz and his other followers they
left Idaho, sold the fifth-wheel, sold all their worldly possessions,
"and went off across the United States" as vagrants.
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