Homophobia: a truly interfaith phenomenon

4 08 2008

A homophobic yogic cult, claiming to be able to “cure” homosexuality through chanting, has infiltrated the Gold Coast City Council, according to Religion News Blog. Through its front organisation the Australian School of Meditation and Yoga, the Science of Identity movement is running yoga and meditation courses in collaboration with the Gold Coast council (as part of the latter’s “Active and Healthy” program). The leader, one Chris Butler a.k.a. Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa Jagad Guru, claims to be a “living yoga master” as well as (according to a critical site) “teacher of the entire world, a direct link to God and the only true follower of Jesus Christ.” Ex-members have some interesting stories to tell:

Former member, “Justin”, 30, told SX he was “born into” the cult because his parents had been members since the 1970s. When he came out to his parents at the age of 16, he was disowned.

“They kicked me out and told me the house would need to be sterilised because being gay was dirty, and my father said he hoped I died in hospital of AIDS,” Justin said.

“They have interesting ‘facts’ they put out about homosexuality. I was told that AIDS can live on warm surfaces for 48 hours, so that you can pick it up from toilet seats, and that kids can pick it up by putting fingers in their mouths.

“They tell stories that gays eat faeces and have up to 2,000 sexual partners a year.”

The faeces libel against gay people is not unique to Butler’s group: for example, a Polish Catholic group in 2004 issued a pamphlet to thousands of school principals making claims about homosexuals “crawling in faeces” and being “blood-suckers.” The notion that there exists a “gay agenda” is also not unique to Science of Identity:

Another former cult member, Cara James, told SX Guru Chris Butler was convinced there is a “gay agenda”.

“Once, he started talking about Jesus at Christmas and went into a complete tirade against gay people, claiming that gays were trying to get rid of Christmas,” James said.

She said the cult was “very guarded” about who they allow to hear Butler’s lectures because “they are very much aware of the fact that they would breach vilification laws” if the speeches were made public.

In a pamphlet, Homosexuality: The Identity Crisis, Butler wrote: “The homosexuals are trying to convince themselves and others that their perverted sexual dealings are very satisfying, that’s why they call themselves gay, as if they are in perpetual bliss and are free”. (Religion News Blog)

Others claim that Science of Identity advocates polygamy and arranged marriages, and (like many other cults) the group appears to be in sync with Luke 14:26 on how members should dispose themselves towards their families.

The Gold Coast Council is currently investigating the matter.

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13 responses

4 08 2008
CASE

My group – the Brisbane Atheist Meetup Group have sent a few letters to the GCCC requesting that the yoga classes be removed from the ‘Healthy and Active’ program being run by the Council. We are particularly worried about providing the class to children as several ex-members claim to have been persuaded to leave school from the age of 15 to join the cult.

http://atheists.meetup.com/501/messages/boards/thread/5073949

The cult runs several businesses including the “Vege Chips” brand – which are manufactured using “cult” labour.

Information is also available at http://www.cultofbutler.com

Essentially, these guys are nuts and we should pressure the GCCC to stop promoting their activities.

4 08 2008
Bruce

Vege Chips? Oh, no. I liked them. 😦

As for homophobia, it’s a virulent little nasty isn’t it? No social group seems immune.

4 08 2008
AV

If soy makes you gay, will Vege Chips cure you of your homosexuality?

5 08 2008
Karen

I’ve noticed when looking for more information on this cult leader and ‘Science of Identity’ they have pages and pages of websites with the same contact details and almost identical content. The about us consists of two lines introducing the guru.

Obviously they are trying to cover up this critical information about them and what better way to convince people that you are not crazy fanatics than to manically and fanatically spam everywhere?

Gold Coast Council should be ashamed of being so ignorant. I am going to send them a letter too. http://www.cultofbutler.com has a sister site to encourage people to do something about this http://www.australianschoolofmeditationandyoga.com with contact details.

5 08 2008
arthurvandelay

Karen: I also found it difficult to find information on the multitudinous SOI sites corroborating the allegations regarding Butler’s claims about himself and his pronouncements on homosexuality, arranged marriages, and so on. This doesn’t render said allegations untrue, given that cults have been known to be secretive about the wackier/more controversial aspects of their doctrine in the past. (Scientology, anyone?) But it should be acknowledged nonetheless.

BTW: WordPress placed your comment in moderation, given the multiple hyperlinks it contains.

5 08 2008
Oz Atheist

Vege Chips! Damn that’s another product I’ll have to cross off my list.

Nice investigative work AV and CASE

5 08 2008
Karen

I take your point Arthur. But that doesn’t mean corroborating information can’t be found. Scientology is a good example but even they have not created a multitude of sites to make sure they get the top x-number of google slots on ALL relevant searches. That is extremist behavior and set off major alarm bells in my mind.

Looking further down the list I found news articles about a senator Rick Reed of Hawaii, also a Butler adherent, saying that HIV patients should be sent to concerntration camps over 20 years ago. More recently a Fred Phelps-like senator Mike Gabbard accused all homosexuals of being child-molestors. (I’d post links but that seems to be a wordpress faux pas)

I’d suggest that there is more to this cult than the sickly sweet sites that plant those seeds of doubt. I’m not buying it for a second.

5 08 2008
AV

(I’d post links but that seems to be a wordpress faux pas)

It’s a spam-prevention measure, I think, though it unfortunately targets genuine comments as well.

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