Krishna group in Hawaii
Date: May 19, 2006 03:02PM
This post is in response to a private request concerning some children in the group.
I have read the whole thread. I did notice those posts concerning the children. I don’t know if I or any other “ex” can help you. I can only speak of my experiences during a certain time period. I can’t speak for what may be happening in the group now. History is usually a good indicator for the future though. I stand firmly by what I said about parents and it is backed up by a lot of experience with a cult rescuer who also has a PhD in Psychology. It’s all about taking responsibility. Sorry if this makes people uncomfortable, but it is the truth. My point was how to raise your children to have a good B.S. meter. If you have not done that, you may have to deal with the reality of cults. Then there are other strategies of which this website is full.
You seem to be looking for someone to reveal secret techniques of mind control and nefarious coercion rituals. It just never existed during my tenure in the group. The “spiritual” practices themselves are neither dangerous nor damaging (i.e., mantra meditation, vegetarianism, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, abstaining from sex outside of marriage, abstaining from gambling). What is harmful is giving over all your power, skills, ambition, creativity, independence (called surrendering to the pure devotee) and letting him separate you from your money! (Tithes were required of people who had jobs, as with most churchs.) Are you going to bank your life on a man who believes himself to be a Christ-like and infallible figure? It’s not a new phenomenon. Joseph Smith (Mormons), Mohammed, and others have started new religions so long ago they have become mainstream. (Until 9-11 Islam was considered one of the five great religions, but it was once a new religion too). Who knows, maybe Jagad Guru will start his own disciplic succession. The onus is ultimately on the parents to teach their children well and for every individual adult to build their own discernment detectors.
As for under-aged children, it is a legal issue. You have not given enough information. Are they involved in a custody battle with a non-participant of the group? Are the children with a parent or legal guardian that is a member of the group? If that is the case, there is not much you can do. Unless the non-custodial parent can prove child abuse and the court recognizes parent alienation (rare), you’ll have to wait for the child to grow up. The courts recognize freedom of religion. They never rule against a parent because of any religious affiliation unless abuse has occurred. The other option is mediation with parents agreeing to respect each other’s differences so visitation can occur. Even without a religious component, these things can be nasty.
A parent can always take the other parent to court and try to get an evaluation done to prove the environment is unsafe. As long as the child’s minimum legal needs are being met, courts do not consider religion. It is a costly and grueling experience that can take many years to settle with no guarantee of success.
You ask, “Why the children are sworn to secrecy by the group”. I never experienced anyone in the group making the children swear to be secret. As with any insular religious groups such as Orthodox or Chassidic Jews or the Amish, the children grow up knowing that the rest of society thinks them odd and different and are hesitant to be open with strangers. The parents I knew were as concerned about the welfare of their children as anyone else. They wanted the children to be protected from outside influences they felt would be harmful. They didn’t want their children to eat meat anymore than an Orthodox Jew wants their children to eat non-kosher food. They wanted to raise their children according to their own beliefs. Like it or not, it’s called freedom of religion and is protected by law. The courts always recognize the rights of the parents to practice and teach religion to their children as they see fit. The only thing that we were required to keep secret was the whereabouts of Chris Butler (if we knew) or things in the nature of protecting people’s privacy or businesses. There were no secret teachings, nor a disparity between public teaching and private practice.
You ask, “Why there is so much pressure to retain an underage child in the group?” There is no more pressure here than a Christian parent or a Jewish parent wanting to raise their children according to their own beliefs. I never saw under-age children targeted by this group. A parent is always involved. Unfortunately, for all isolationist religious groups, fear of the world is the currency used to keep them believers. So parents were hesitant to let their children play with regular kids. This is also why they started their own schools, why many Christians home school, why Chassidic Jews run their own yeshivahs, why Muslims open madrassas.
You ask, “and why they violate a parents wishes and refuse to leave the child alone? “ I have no idea what you are referring to here. I have never seen this. If this has happened, then parents can get a restraining order against the perpetrators, get therapy for the child, and move locations if need be. If strangers have such influence on two of their children overiding both parents, someone is not guarding the gates!
It was never a policy to tell other people’s kids they love them more or are their real family. If this happened it was some dumb follower. Chris Butler is not stupid. There is no way he would jeopardize his empire over some idiot neophyte. He was not one to micro-manage his students, but, in the past, if he got wind of this, he’d drive this person out.
The only realistic thing I can advise in cases involving two parents, outside of consulting a lawyer, is to try to build bridges of communication and trust with the group participant who has the child(ren). You don’t have to agree with vegetarianism or chanting, but you still can keep in contact and build positive experiences and model respect with the child(ren). If a parent remains hostile and angry over beliefs, this will only drive the children away and confirm their fears. Learn as much as you can about what they are being taught so you can help them build their own guages in the future.