Saturday, May 21, 2011

Megan C. Singer, ASW and John M. Knapp, LMSW

Exactly one month ago, Megan Carmel Singer, a former member of the Local Church of Witness Lee and Associate Social Worker (ASW) in California banned me from her then Cults group at Facebook which she just renamed to Cult Awareness & Recovery and unfriended me at Facebook. She did not inform me about banning me and did not explain her reasons for banning me. I never violated any group rules. In addition, since May 2008 until April 2011 when Megan banned me, I was a co-administrator of this group. I emailed her and asked why she did so. The only thing she let me know was that "one of the leading cult experts of the country" complained at me and this was why she immediately banned me, although she was still "exploring the issue." After I emailed her again, she replied that I should "sit tight" and "be patient." I asked her again what were the accusations against me. She did not reply. The day before yesterday, I emailed her again and asked what was the conclusion of her "investigation." She did not reply me. However, she changed the settings of her group after my email.

Well, I never saw such hostility as Megan has showed toward me. As far as I know, moderators and administrators usually let people know why they ban them and people who were banned have a right to know why they were banned. However, until now, Megan refused to let me know why she banned me. I did not expect such hostility from Megan because she and I cyber-met 4 years ago and, to my understanding, we never had any problems before she banned me.

Since Megan has not been very active in the anti-cult field, she probably does not know that there is no such an official title as "cult expert" because there is no organization that certifies people as cult experts. This title is usually self-assumed. Consequently, there are no "leading cult experts of the country."

Although Megan did not want to reveal me the name of this "cult expert," it was very easy for me to understand who this person is. His name is John M. Knapp. Of course, he is not a "leading cult expert of the country" and even not a leading professional in the anti-cult field in the USA, though he does have such ambitions and I think he may present himself as such.

Knapp has been a member of Megan's group for almost two years. He did not often post there. However, as soon as Megan banned me, he and another member began to promote his CHSCA. So, I think one of the reasons he had Megan ban me was to have a freedom to promote his non-profit there. Before Megan banned me, I was a co-administrator and could easily delete his posts.

Well, Knapp has quite a remarkable trait. When he has problems with people, he does not deal with them directly. Instead, he spreads various slanders about them. I know of some of his slanders regarding me and other people. However, he speaks them behind their backs. At the same time, he may try to have good relationships with these people. Ironically, just after Megan banned me, Knapp sent me two invitations to connect with him at LinkedIn, though he did not try to contact me since August 1, 2010 when we had a split. Also, I am well aware of Knapp's ability to separate people and break their friendships. In addition, I understand that he is unhappy at my blog posts about him. So, his behavior does not surprise me at all.

However, Knapp's behavior does not vindicate Megan's behavior toward me. I was a moderator and administrator of Knapp's forum for 5 months. I heard what he said about some people and organizations. However, I also used my mind and critically evaluated what he said. I also considered my own experience with these people. I have never behaved in such a hostile way toward people even when I believed Knapp.

Megan refused to let me know the accusations against me and did not want to name the person who accused me. She refused to let me an opportunity to speak in my defense. I never violated the rules of her group. The conflict between Knapp and me had to do with his forum and non-profit and had nothing to do with Megan's group. All this is unfair. In addition, her two replies were full of arrogance. BTW, Megan has been a member of my groups as well. Although she banned me, I did not ban her because she did not violate the group rules. I decided to be fair to her even though she is unfair to me.

In this situation, I can no longer endorse Megan's group which is currently called Cult Awareness & Recovery and which may soon become a branch of Knapp's CHSCA which I cannot endorse either.

Update. After I published this post and let Megan know about it, she emailed me. She wrote that I may rejoin her group and apologized to me. However, until now, she did not let me know what happened: she did not give me any names, any accusations against me, and so on. So, this situation still looks quite odd to me.

Update (08/18/2012). Since I had written this post, Megan left the Facebook group Cult Awareness & Recovery. Currently, its admins are other people. Knapp is no longer a member of this group either. Somebody added me to that group, so I am a member of this group now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Ordained Minister of the Church of Scientology Joins the CHSCA

John M. Knapp presents his new non-profit, the Center for Healing Spiritual and Cultic Abuse as a new anti-cult organization. However, he invited a lot of people who have nothing to do with anti-cult field. One of the people who joined CHSCA advisory board is an ordained minister of the Church of Scientology, though I am not sure if John Knapp knows about this.

On May 5, he announced that Dennis Erlich joined CHSCA advisory board. BTW, his last name is spelled Erlich, not Ehrlich as Knapp spells it. Although Knapp knows that Erlich has a Reverend title, he probably never considered how Erlich obtained it and what church ordained him.

In January 2009, when Dennis Erlich joined "freedomofmind" group (I was a member of that group), he was asked this question. There were long debates about it and Erlich actually answered this question two times. His first answer was:
I've been a registered minister in the state of California since 1969. In 1982 I walked away from the cult and began enlightening people on the subject. This became my new ministry. In the mid 90s inFormer Ministry incorporated in California as a non profit religious/educational corporation. In 1997 we registered with the IRS and received 501c3 non profit status.

The other ordination I got was a humorous one from the founder of the mock-cult of SubGenius. That's for-profit humor publishing group. I proudly display the "Dobbshead" on my site.

His second answer was more clear and detailed:

I thought it was clear that I was originally ordained as a minister in 1969 by scientology.

As far as the "sanctioning agency" back in those days ministers were required to register with the State of California, which I did. After I walked away I didn't withdrawn my registration, so I am still on file in Sacramento that way.

Throughout the 80's and 90's I ministered to hundreds of people who had left cults. I am credited with talking a bunch of recovering cultists who were seriously contemplating suicide, "down from the ledge." I ran dozens and dozens of cult recovery focus sessions in Los Angeles and published inFormer Newsletter for ex-members.

In 1997 I incorporated inFormer Ministry in California as a non profit religious/educational corporation (#2011733) and it was awarded Federal 501(c)3 status a year later.

The ministry with the help of its volunteers has produced public events for the City of Los Angeles Mayors Office and Cultural Affairs Dept. For a number of years we wrote and helped produce the Hollywood Christmas Parade on behalf of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

I have filed my taxes as a minister every year since 1969.

Since the State of California and Federal Government has "officially recognized me" as a minister, I have no problem continuing with that title. I guess those would be the "sanctioning bodies" if there is one.

InFormer Ministry is now its own "sanctioning body" and non-denominational religious order.

So, officially, Dennis Erlich is still a registered minister of the Church of Scientology. He was ordained by the Church of Scientology and this is how he obtained his Reverend title. In addition, as Erlich made clear, his inFormer Ministry is actually based on his Scientology ministerial credentials. Also, ministerial ordination usually requires a formal training and it is obvious that the only formal training Erlich had for his ministry was the training in the Church of Scientology. For more information, you may read this article.

Well, he left Scientology a long time ago and since then has been an anti-Scientologist and anti-cult activist. He even created his own apparently anti-cult inFormer Ministry. However, this is still a serious question how a person can be an anti-Scientology activist and a registered minister of the Church of Scientology at the same time and how he can use his cult ministerial credentials for anti-cult activity.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Roman Road" to Salvation

I am completely for any person's freedom to profess any religion or to be an atheist or agnostic. A half of my life I was an atheist and the other half of my life I was a believer. Comparing religion with atheism and agnosticism, I think that atheism and agnosticism are appealing to intellectual people because they appear to be very logical, scientific, and thoughtful. However, atheism and agnosticism have a very serious shortage. They are completely powerless before death. They are unable to give hope and comfort to dying people. Neither can they give hope and comfort to people who lost their loved ones. This is why atheists and agnostics prefer not to think about death at all. I heard and read many stories of agnostics and atheists who began to pray to God when they were in a dangerous situation or when their loved ones were very sick. However, they forgot about God as soon as the dangerous situation was over.

When atheists and agnostics lose their loved ones, they are able only to grieve because they do not have any hope. It was my experience when my grandmother died many years ago. She was an atheist and I was an atheist at that time. To me, her death was the end. I experienced a very strong grief and sadness after she died.

However, for born-again Christians, the situation is completely different. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul wrote (NKJV):

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Unlike atheists and agnostics, born-again Christians believe that they will meet their dead born-again loved ones and that they are with Christ now. This has been my experience after my mother's recent death. I am a born-again Christian and she was too. I believe that she is with Christ now and that I will meet her again. So, I grieve much less than I grieved after my grandmother's death.

I entitled this post "Roman Road" to Salvation. "Roman road" to salvation is a method of evangelism when all the biblical verses are taken from the New Testament epistle to Romans. There are many variants of "the Roman road". Below, I am posting one of them. Please notice that I post it only for the people who have questions: "How can I be saved? How can I go to heaven? How can I be born again?" I do not encourage anyone to join any church. I am not a member of any church or religious group myself. I do not ask you to receive Christ if you do not want to. This is completely your choice.

The first verse of "Roman road" to salvation is Romans 3:23 (NKJV):
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
We all have sinned. There is no one who is without sin. We all have done something unpleasant to God in our life. Romans 3:10-18 (NKJV) describe some of the sins people do in their life:
10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one."
13 "Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips";
14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."
15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 and the way of peace they have not known."
18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
The second verse of "the Roman road", Romans 6:23 (NKJV) reveals the result of sin:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The wages of sin is death: both physical and spiritual.

The third verse is Romans 5:8 (NKJV):

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus Christ died for us. His death paid for our sins. His resurrection confirms that God received His death as redemption for our sins.

The fourth "station" at "the Roman road" is Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV):

9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Due to Christ's death, all we need to do for salvation is just to believe in Him and His redeeming sacrifice. In Romans 10:13 (NKJV), it is said:
For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Jesus died in order to bear the punishment for our sins and to save us from the eternal death. Salvation and forgiveness of sins are available for everyone who believes in Christ as their Savior and Lord.

The fifth verse of "the Roman road", Romans 5:1 (NKJV) says about the result of salvation:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through Jesus Christ we may receive peace with God. In Romans 8:1 (NKJV), it is written:
There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Due to Christ's death for us, we will never be condemned for our sins.

The last point is the promise in Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV):

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, not any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you want to take "the Roman road" to salvation, you can pray to receive Christ as your Savior. In order to be saved, you need not only to pray, but also to believe in Christ as your Savior in your heart. The prayer may be like this:
God, I know that I am a sinner and deserve punishment. However, Jesus bore punishment for me so that I may be saved through my faith in Him. I receive Jesus Christ as my Savior who died for my sins. Thank you for Your mercy and forgiveness. Thank you for Your gift of the eternal life. Amen.