a column from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, page 35. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.
UFO Cults Are Flourishing in New Age Circles
A leading East Coast New Age magazine, New Frontier, recently ran a "dirt for sale" advertisement in its November issue. But this one had a twist -- the dirt had allegedly been supercharged by extraterrestrials (ETs). It stated:
UFO LANDING site radiates cosmic energy, alters psychic awareness. Soil samples $5 -- p&h.
Not surprisingly, the Boulder, Colorado firm that ran the ad did not respond to a letter asking for proof that there was something unusual about the dirt.
While it is not immediately known how many people actually sent in their $5, the appearance of such an ad is not unusual. Alongside all the ads bought by New Agers -- peddling crystals, "power within" seminars, and channeling sessions -- are news bits about recent UFO landings, announcements of upcoming UFO conferences, and advertisements from some of the nation's leading names in the field of UFOs and the New Age. Some of the ads are placed by alleged "walk-ins," people who claim that ETs have literally invaded their bodies and can be summoned up (sometimes for a fee) to share wisdom and Ann Landers-type advice.
In short, more and more people today are saying UFOs have landed. And while proof that they have seems consistently elusive, it is clear that the phenomenon of UFOlogy -- a fascination with UFOs and alleged space creatures -- has landed squarely in the middle of the New Age movement.
What is behind the recent resurgence of interest in UFOs, particularly in New Age circles? Los Angeles Christian journalist Stuart Goldman says one reason for the rise in interest is the unbelievable success of science fiction/horror writer Whitley Streiber's 1987 book, Communion (which soared to number one on the New York Times best seller list), and his recent sequel, Transformation.
In his books, Streiber alleges that he was abducted by UFO creatures and subjected to incredibly harrowing experiences, some of them sexual. Following publication of his books, Streiber formed "Communion" support groups throughout the country for people who claim to have had similar abduction experiences. These too have been growing.
In an unpublished manuscript, Goldman suggests that Streiber's approach to the UFO phenomenon has fit the New Age movement well because it is "a much more Shirley MacLainesque approach." Goldman, who claims to have infiltrated Streiber's group, wrote that Streiber calls the aliens "visitors" who have possessed his body. And, says Streiber, they "are not necessarily extraterrestrial at all, but rather interdimensional beings who have come here to take man on a journey through his own consciousness" for the betterment of the planet.
In UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game, UFO investigator Phil Klass writes: "Streiber's remarks suggest that he now sees himself as a modern-day messiah who has been chosen to warn the people of this planet, bringing them not the Word of God, but of the omniscient UFOnauts."
Goldman, who has appeared on numerous television and radio shows -- including "Good Morning America" and "Hard Copy" -- says there are many reasons to be wary of Streiber's message, as well as those proclaimed by other UFO enthusiasts. First and foremost is that Streiber and others have been heavily involved in the occult prior to their "abduction" experiences, which could mean demons -- not aliens -- are toying with them.
"In looking at the backgrounds of UFO abductees, it quickly becomes clear that almost to a man, they have some background in New Age or occultic beliefs," Goldman wrote. "Interestingly, studies show that there are very few practicing Christians or Jews amongst UFO contactees. What could this mean? Are the aliens racists? Or does this, rather, indicate something about the belief systems of the abductees themselves?"
Streiber was a 15-year follower of (occult mystic) G. I. Gurdjieff, and his "occultic belief system includes Zen, alchemy, witchcraft, shamanism, tarot, hermeticism, and 'mystical' Christianity," Goldman wrote. Moreover, says Goldman, "in an interview with author Douglas Winter in Faces of Fear, a book profiling horror writers, Streiber says, 'I am a student of the great thirteenth-century mystic, Meister Eckhart. I have been a witch. I have experimented with worshipping the earth as a goddess/mother.'"
Streiber was one of the leading drawing cards at the Whole Life Expo in New York City, October 6-8, 1989 -- the largest New Age festival ever held on the East Coast. But he was not the only workshop leader who spoke about space beings. A number of people representing UFO sects were manning their booths -- spreading their messages of benevolent space brothers and furnishing instructions from outer space on how mere humans could usher in a new Golden Age. At the same time a handful of UFO "experts" were giving workshops on topics like how to welcome the space brothers to planet Earth so they can help us save ourselves from destruction.
One of the older UFO groups represented was the Jesusonian Foundation, which follows the teachings of The Urantia Book. According to the foundation's booklet, "Origins of The Urantia Book," the 2,000-plus page book was penned by "numerous supermortal (angel-like) beings" working in accord with a small group of people headed by a Chicago psychiatrist in the 1920s. The Urantia Book teaches that God is a "trinity of trinities," that the human race never had a fall, and that humans are moving forward through progressive revelation to become fused with God. The book also gives a detailed "account" (or gospel) of the life of Christ which declares that Jesus did not die to satisfy the Father's justice and wrath.
Another group represented at the festival was the rapidly growing Raelian movement, founded by French writer Claude Vorilhon (allegedly renamed "Rael" by the space aliens). In a booklet entitled "Help us welcome Extra-terrestrials," Vorilhon claims that on December 13, 1973, "in a volcanic crater located in the center of France," he "met with a space-craft from which emerged a small human-like being" that looked like a child. Vorilhon said the space being chose him as the one to spread "the greatest message ever revealed to humanity" and that he would be an apostle of a new world order.
The message was that he was to prepare humanity "for the Age of Apocalypse or the Age of Revelation," which was kicked off by the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945. The space being also told him that life was created by aliens in an outer space DNA laboratory.
The Raelian movement is surprisingly large and organized: it claims 30,000 members worldwide, and has more than a dozen offices throughout the world -- including ones in Japan, Africa, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, and three offices in the U.S.: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami.
Other UFO groups include The Aetherius Society (which is also one of the oldest and largest UFO sects), the One World Family, the Mark Age Metacenter, the Solar Light Center, the Solar Cross Foundation, the Universal Mind Church, the Ashtar Command, the Earth Mission Interplanetary Outreach, the Unarius Educational Foundation, and the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America.
Mormon Church Secretly Alters Its Temple Rituals
The secret temple "Endowment" rituals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) have been changed -- and the church is mum on the reasons why.
At least six significant portions of the Endowment ceremony Mormons perform in temples worldwide have been eliminated: a film segment that shows a Christian minister working hand-in-hand with Lucifer to deceive mankind for profit by teaching orthodox Christian doctrine; three morbid gestures that imply Mormon initiates will lose their lives (through having their throats slashed, their hearts torn out, and their abdomens cut open) if they reveal temple secrets; the chanting in unison of Pay Lay Ale, Pay Lay Ale, Pay Lay Ale (supposedly meaning "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth" in the "Adamic language"); and the Five Points of Fellowship in which initiates embrace "the Lord" through openings in the veil of the temple.
Also removed were two activities affecting female Mormons: they are no longer required to veil their faces during the prayer in the Endowment prayer circle; and, women no longer have to swear an oath and covenant of obedience to their husbands.
According to Mormon doctrine, participation in the Endowment ritual is necessary to receive eternal life.
Sources close to the Mormon church said the changes went into effect during the LDS General Conference in early April when all or most of the 19 Mormon temples in North America were closed for this major renovation. When they reopened on April 10, a new film and audio tape were in place for the Endowment ceremonies.
Although about 80 percent of all Mormons never go through this ceremony, many of the remaining 20 percent do so once a month, with some devout Mormons participating daily -- believing they are doing so on behalf of dead persons.
What is a mystery to many, including those in the rank-and-file of the 7.3-million-member church, is how these drastic changes could have gone into effect without a formal revelation through the current living "prophet," Ezra Taft Benson, and without an announcement given at the General Conference or by other public means. Mormons are taught that the temple rituals were given through a direct revelation from God to church founder Joseph Smith.
"So far the people are delighted" over the changes, said church spokesman Don LeFevre. But he refused to disclose what brought them about, or to explain why there was never a public announcement of them. "We can't tell you that because of our deep feeling about the temples, which we view literally as the house of the Lord," he said. "We do not publicly discuss specifics of our sacred temple."
Sandra Tanner of the Utah Lighthouse Ministry in Salt Lake City (a leading Christian ministry to Mormons) said the changes probably stem from pressures both inside and outside the church. The Endowment ceremony was criticized by both Christians and feminists, and people were not going because it was too repetitious and too long," she said. "This shortens it and makes it easier for people."
It is also known that Mormons were becoming frustrated with the exposes and criticisms of the temple rituals being disseminated by Christian ministries. On the Christian Research Institute's "Bible Answer Man" program (December 13-14, 1989) ex-Mormons Chuck and Dolly Sackett of Sword of the Shepherd Ministries in Thousand Oaks, California played several taped segments of the actual Endowment ritual and answered callers' questions concerning them.
Christian countercult ministries see the changes as an opportunity to evangelize Mormons. "I think it's an opportunity for Christians to present a challenge to Mormon people that their god is not the God of the Bible," Tanner said. "Their god is one who has to come back at a later time to rewrite his revelation and correct it to make it fit with current practice and acceptance."
In other news involving the Mormon church, in April Helvecio Martins, 59, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was named to the Quorum of Seventy (an international church leadership position), thereby becoming the sect's first black "general authority." Before 1978 no black could even belong to the priesthood in the church. Tanner speculated that Martins's selection was intended to neutralize highly publicized charges of racism directed at the church. On September 1, 1989, General Authority George P. Lee, a Navajo Indian, charged leaders with racism after he was excommunicated from the church.
-- Chuck and Dolly Sackett, with William M. Alnor
The Christ Has Presented His Credentials to the Media, New Age Organization Says
A man claiming to be "Lord Maitreya" presented his credentials as the messiah before 200 media representatives and world leaders at an April 21-22 conference in London, according to the Tara Center of Los Angeles.
But Lynne Craft, spokeswoman for the organization founded by British New Age author Benjamin Creme, declined to say where the meeting took place and who the 200 conference participants were. She did say a member of a royal family and a Christian church bishop attended, along with various dignitaries and members of the intelligentsia.
Craft added that the man, who claims to be the "World Teacher" -- the Maitreya Buddha, the Messiah, the Imam Mahdi, or the Christ -- presented his credentials and astounded some of the conference-goers by "appearing, then disappearing." "He dematerialized in front of people," she said.
Asked why the so-called "historic conference" had not been reported in any prominent newspapers (by press time), Craft maintained that the timing of the release of the journalists' stories was up to them. She said that of the 200 attending the conference with "Lord Maitreya," about 50 were reporters.
According to a Tara Center advertisement published in newspapers throughout the U.S. in early April announcing the "historic global conference," "Maitreya has come as a spiritual teacher, primarily to inspire humanity to rebuild the world justly and fairly...His stimulus already underlies the freedom movement in Europe and Asia."
The advertisement claims that "Maitreya's forecasts of world events, from the Armenian earthquake, the British Poll Tax revolt, to the freeing of Nelson Mandela, have been released over the past two years and are still being released to the public. The April conference is a prelude to Declaration Day [the date has not been revealed], when Maitreya will present His credentials to humanity itself."
Such proclamations are reminiscent of a previous advertisement (April 1982) which Creme's organization paid $200,000 to place in prominent newspapers worldwide. It boldly announced, "THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE." Creme followed that advertisement with a press conference in which he proclaimed that Maitreya would appear before the end of spring. (Creme's announcement created a sensation and alarm in some quarters of the church, with several authors claiming that the Antichrist of the Bible was about to be revealed.)
Since that time, Creme has been vague as to the identity of Maitreya and has urged reporters to try to find him for themselves. According to an August 18, 1986 interview published in the (Grand Rapids) Michigan Press, Creme claims that "for thousands of years Maitreya has lived in the Himalayas, in the mountain center which is about 17,500 feet up." On July 8, 1977 he allegedly descended in a "self-created body" and has been since living in the Asian-Indian community in the east end of London, in what's called the Brick Lane area.
In a telephone interview, Craft would not give the name Maitreya has assumed, but said it is the Asian equivalent of "Mr. Smith" in the English language, meaning that it was an ordinary-sounding name.
The Tara Center, through its publications -- the Network News and Share International -- has been tying in alleged appearances of Maitreya in Africa with alleged mysterious appearances of crosses of light in Louisiana and California. The organization has also been mailing out black and white photographs to reporters of a white-gowned man they claim is the Lord Maitreya as he has appeared in Africa.
But Craft said the man in those pictures (which have been published in the National Enquirer and other publications) does not necessarily look like the one who appeared in London. "He appears in a form that will inspire recognition immediately," she said.
Asked how she knows she is not being fooled by a man claiming to be Maitreya, Craft replied: "People either respond to it or they don't. It's not a dogmatic matter....If it has the ring of truth to it you may accept it, you may not have to."
End of document, CRJ0073A.TXT (original CRI file name),
release A, April 25, 1994
R. Poll, CRI
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