Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: August 12, 2013 03:18AM


No accountablity to anyone. No way for an outside attorney, Red Cross, Amnesty International or the UN to come in and at least visit and see whether someone is alive and being treated well.
Exactly! Exactly! THIS is why religion needs to be filed under "corporation" the same way other business entities are.

Have we learned *nothing* from the Catholic Church's notorious child sexual abuse scandals - and their even more notorious coverup by higherups?? The whole "We handle church affairs within the church - everybody else move along" attitude demonstrates why we can no longer afford special treatment to religious entities simply because of their religious status. Let them be subject to proper scrutiny like every other business that employs people and/or works with the public.

At least if a nation fields an army and police force, and prison/detention, these are supposed to operate according to guidelines.
Ha ha ha (<- humorless cynical fake laughter)

Look what happened with Bradley Manning. He released, among other things, videos showing US military helicopters shooting down unarmed civilians, women, children, Reuters journalists, and personnel attempting to retrieve their side's corpses. All in violation of the Geneva Convention - these are INTERNATIONAL crimes. Also, evidence showing military deliberately running tanks over dead bodies - another Geneva Convention violation. These are the most felonious of felonies, people! So who gets prosecuted? Bradley Manning. Who DOESN'T get prosecuted? The military personnel who committed the atrocities. Connect the dots.

The fact that, in the US, the military operates extrajudicially is likewise problematic - the military has its own police, court systems, and prisons, and we on the outside can't examine their operations or influence their proceedings - by law. This is particularly egregious in the case of Guatanamo Bay, the military prison located on our worst enemy's shores (explain THAT one to me if you can), where our own fellow citizens, in the military, claim that the laws of the US and the requirements of the Constitution do not apply. Neither do the Geneva Conventions! It's heinous and abominable.

But there seems no way to negotiate an exit from the worst of our modern cultic groups.

And what adds insult to this injury is when said entities call themselves churches or spiritual non profits and dont even pay tax.

That gives tax paying non members every right to feel interested--and concerned.
Why should we be concerned about predators like the Bernie Madoffs and Lou Pearlmans, yet wink at the televangelists and other cult leaders who are likewise bilking the gullible? So what if, instead of a financial reward, these religion-based shuysters are promising a spiritual reward?? They should be required to demonstrate that their investors are, indeed, MEASURABLY getting their investment returns or face criminal charges!

If religious corporations did not enjoy such a privileged and advantaged operating environment, we would see fewer of them. Let them pay their fair share of taxes. One analyst estimated that churches' tax-exempt status is robbing our economy out of $71 BILLION in tax revenues. More:

During the 19th Century, opposition to churches retaining property tax exemptions was expressed by at least three US presidents: James Madison, James Garfield, and Ulysses S. Grant. President Grant submitted a 900-foot long petition containing 35,000 signatures to Congress in 1875, demanding "that churches and other ecclesiastical property shall be no longer exempt from taxation." Grant told Congress that "in 1850, the church properties in the U.S. which paid no taxes, municipal or state, amounted to about $83 million. In 1860, the amount had doubled; in 1875, it is about $1 billion. By 1900, without check, it is safe to say this property will reach a sum exceeding $3 vast a sum, receiving all the protection and benefits of government without bearing its portion of the burdens and expenses of the same, will not be looked upon acquiescently by those who have to pay the taxes." Humanist Society of Gainesville, "Religion on Welfare: The Case for Taxing Churches in Alachua County,” [], 1993 []

In his 2011 article, “The Church of America,” Jeff Schweitzer, PhD and former White House senior policy analyst, notes that not only was there no mention of God in any of the documents or policies of our country, nor on its currency or coinage, for its first 180 years. “In God We Trust” was placed on our coinage during the Civil War. Teddy Roosevelt’s effort to remove this verbiage in 1907 was “shouted down.” Dr. Schweitzer has noted that churches in the US own $300-$500 billion in untaxed property.


Not everyone has expressed tacit approval for this arrangement:

"(N)o church property is taxed and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income thus caused." – Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Notebook, 1935

So how much money are we talking about here? Shouldn’t that be the starting point for our discussion, to determine just how much of a burden everyone else in society is being forced to shoulder to support these churches in our midst – the same churches few of us even attend and fewer still get any charitable assistance from?

University of Tampa professor Ryan T. Cragun along with students Stephanie Yeager and Desmond Vega ran some calculations and figured out a number:
While some people may be bothered by the fact that there are pastors who live in multimillion dollar homes, this is old news to most. But here is what should bother you about these expensive homes: You are helping to pay for them! You pay for them indirectly, the same way local, state, and federal governments in the United States subsidize religion — to the tune of about $71 billion every year. []

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 12, 2013 09:42AM

I cannot remember whom he quoted, but Geoffrey Falk, author of Stripping the Gurus quoted a law professor who suggested that intead of taking issue with a cultic groups belief system, that that a far more effective strategy by which to set limits on abusive cults would be to invoke or do the following:

1) Laws that prohibit slavery

2) Investigate them in terms of violations of labor law, fair wage, pension, workmen's compensation

3) Workplace safety and local ordinances against hostile workplace practices (bullying shunning, harassment, etc

4) Ordinances against stalking and cyberstalking

5) False imprisonment/(confiscation of passports, ID papers, credit cards, witholding letters and telephone calls, forbidding access to internet, keeping people under survaillance or guarding their rooms if they express a desire to leave--this has been reported at Andrew Cohen's joint)

And, where applicable:

5) Immigration fraud, smuggling contraband

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 12, 2013 09:50AM

And..follow Taiten and Proud's advice to consider groups as corporations, rather than privilege them as churches or spiritual projects.

In some circumstances, a corporation may operate in a fiduciary capacity -- that is, it owes care and protection to persons participating in events or are on its premises.

So this would enable us to ask whether a group meets these requirments:

Fire prevention and public health ordinances (no more than X number of persons in a residence

Vans and buses to be driven by persons licensed and insured and said vehicles to be in good condition. (vs sleep deprived people put in charge of driving a bus)

Hallways to be kept clear and exits marked, alarms and fire fighting equipment or personnel on hand and no excess of heat or cold and adequate supplies of potable water (Am thinking of how easily people can become overheated and dehydrated if chanting and dancing for hours at a rally or retreat)

Care taken to ensure adequate and sanitary living and working conditions

Timely access to licensed health care providers and transit to an emergency room in event of injury -- no cover up of injuries inflicted by abusive or neglectful behavior on part of group personnel

People free to refuse tasks they deem themselves untrained to do or too hazardous.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 12, 2013 09:57AM

Taiten and Proud has shown us the way.

Instead of 'spiritual' or 'church' these things should be classified legally and socially as corporations or educational facilities.

And considered job sites and or residences.

To use an example, rats and cockroaches are not supposed to be found in a restaurant kitchen. Their presence is as unhealthy and unacceptable in the kitchen of a church, sangha center or ashram.

If it were considered illegal or a violation of good manners for a corporation or school to treat people a particular way, its just as illegal or immoral for a church or spiritual project to treat its subjects those ways.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: August 12, 2013 02:21PM

Thanks, corboy, for that clarification. Right on, maaan!! With regard to this observation of yours:

Timely access to licensed health care providers and transit to an emergency room in event of injury -- no cover up of injuries inflicted by abusive or neglectful behavior on part of group personnel
I remember one of my YWD back in MN telling me about the time she went on a road trip to the Jt Terr, which was Chicago. This was back when we still did the long morning gongyo - 5 recitations w/prayers. Anyhow, during the first recitation, she experienced excruciating abdominal pain - and the other YWD there would not allow her to leave the room! They told her it was "sansho shima" and she simply needed to "chant through it"! So she was screaming daimoku because she was in agony, and somehow, by the end, the pain had passed. This little anecdote alarmed me - here we have a young woman, in a strange place, before the advent of cell phones, who didn't know who to call, who probably didn't have health insurance, who was being told to NOT seek medical attention for severe pain! SOOO wrong!

I'm also thinking of the diaper incident(s) - like when the members take perverse pride in wearing diapers to an activity because there will not be any provision for bathroom breaks or when the Sokas don't get a chance to go to the restroom and must relieve themselves in the bushes. Soooo wrong and abusive!

Those incidents, rather than being cause for pride, should be reported to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration) or whatever and OSHA should have the authority to conduct investigations into religious corporations the same as other corporations and levy charges and fines for abuses.

People free to refuse tasks they deem themselves untrained to do or too hazardous.
Oh ha ha ha. I remember while I was still in YWD that there was tremendous focus on the "No Matter What Spirit". That meant doing whatever you were told. No matter what. I'm sure I've mentioned before, but I'll mention again - when I was a brand new YWD, I decided I wanted to go on the Philadelphia 200th Anniversary of the Liberty Bell parade/bus trip. It was important to me because I was having trouble with my sponsor/boyfriend, and I had a feeling that, if I went, he would want to dump the woman he had started stepping out with and be with me again. It worked, BTW. I got him back. That was the problem - I got HIM back :D

Anyhow, we were driving down to Chicago every weekend or so to practice with the YWD there for playing/marching in the parade. Now, keep in mind - I came from a marching band background. I could play my instrument, and I had marching experience. In fact, they were considering me for drum majorette at one point, but ended up putting me on banner because I marched really well (and they wanted more experienced YWD in the majorette positions). Okay. So the week before our first practice in Chicago, I burned the inside of my elbow ironing a shirt. It was a blistery burn about 1.5 inches long. I went on the trip, and got all sweaty and sunscreeny, and by the time I got back, it was infected. So when we were supposed to go the next weekend, I said that, because my arm was infected, I wasn't going to go, because I didn't really need the practice in the first place, due to my ability to play the music already and my marching experience. So my YWD HQ leader sighed and said, "Maybe someday you'll develop the 'No Matter What Spirit'." I then told her I thought that was really insulting, as I stood to benefit very little from the trip, I'd already gone the weekend before, and I needed to take care of my health in order to be able to participate later (as getting a worse infection might sideline me). She then apologized and said she realized that sounded kind of snarky. At least she apologized O_O

And I remember another YWD telling me that this YWD from her previous HQ had turned down a promotion to Chapter because she wanted to prove she could say "No" to the SGI. I thought that was insane at the time, because I had believed it when I'd been told that the more leadership you take on, the more benefit you get, so being offered a promotion was sort of the equivalent of being offered a winning lottery ticket. I know - stupid, huh? But anyhow, that's what they told people, and that's why I never turned down the leadership offers. Plus, my on-again-off-again thang with my sponsor/boyfriend continued for a coupla years, and it got his interest when I got promoted above him ha ha ha. *eye roll* at my own gullibility and stupidity!

But the idea is that there is something wrong with your "faith" or your "commitment" if you refuse an assignment from the SGI. And that's abusive.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 12, 2013 10:16PM


This 'no matter what' stance seems to be part of Japanese culture. SGI takes it to an extreme.

In his memoir, Angry White Pyjamas, the author spent a year at an Aikido dojo, and described how they were expected to practice despite permanent wounds, often infected, on their knees, due to prolonged knee walking drills.

And an old timer at our Zen center told me about one of the members who went to practice at a Zen monastery in Japan decades ago.

The woman injured her foot or leg doing some task in the monastery work team. She persisted in doing all the sitting meditations despite the pain she felt.

Finally, someone did arrange to take her to a nearby clinic where her leg was x rayed and found to be fractured.

She returned to the monastery in a cast, determined to keep practicing.

No one expressed sympathy.

But...her cushion, which had formerly been placed in the low ranker section of the zendo (meditation hall) had been moved. Moved to the senior monk's section as a sign of promotion.

Her 'reward' for sitting through the pain of a leg later found to be broken.

And the lady who taught Zen sewing at several American Zen Centers decided to change her teacher. In her day, you were expected to keep the same teacher no matter what.

This woman, a traditional Japanese, chopped off one of her own finger joints to demonstrate how determined she was in her desire to change teachers, that this was not a passing whim.

This is the dark side of those traditional cultures in which leaders are unquestionable and that the clan, tribe or group matters and the individual has no recognition or importance--unless the individual heroically demonstrates the social values such that the individual becomes a culture bearer for the clan or tribe--or the nation based on such values.

SGI takes this to an extreme, but this can do spirit was there, long before Ikeda.

However, Ikeda, the individual is considered important. Oh, the irony.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 12, 2013 10:24PM

Those used adult diapers - that is biohazard material. How are those disposed of?

People in Haiti could tell us what the consequences can be when large numbers of people are forced to live together without adequate sanitation. A cholera epidemic broke out there.

And because of the wonders of sanitation and civil engineering, few remember the days when water and fecal borne diseases killed large numbers of people.

Cities could not grow beyond a certain point because so many people in cities became sick and died, due to waterborne and rodent borne disease.

And that is why we have all these pesky workplace and health regulations today.

(For more, read Plagues and Peoples, by McNeill)

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: August 12, 2013 11:03PM

I certainly agree that "religious" orgs could be called to some accountability if their non-profit status was eliminated, but there's less chance of that in the US as there is legislating and enforcing gun laws. Religion is a sacred cow (not sure if the pun is intended), and it would be absolute political suicide to even suggest such a thing. By and large, politicians have no moral courage and are loathe to alienate potential voters and removing that tax exemption would be considered an unspeakable crime against religious freedom. Even given the dire financial circumstances we see here, I don't think that there has ever even been a whisper of looking at that possibility.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 13, 2013 05:10AM

American citizens died at Jonestown and a US Congressman was killed when he went there to investigate.

And here we are in the US, snoring away.

Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: meh ()
Date: August 13, 2013 11:11PM

I recently saw a documentary on the whole Jonestown scenario - sad and really frightening. The primary reason that the congressman went in the first place was because there were reports that members were not being allowed to leave; maybe that needs to be the first criteria for the legal definition of a cult - the org making it difficult for an individual to leave.

There are anecdotes about how loose the definition of religion is here in the US; there's one story about a prisoner (an in-jail person) making a big hoop-de-do about the system not providing him with a chicken to sacrifice every so often - I think he was a santaria or something like that. He won the case.

By the way, I had a super-important job interview yesterday, and it was only with great effort that I didn't start the chanting machine up. I actually started to have nmrk bubble up in my consciousness, and I had to forcibly shut it out. Feedback on the interview was extremely positive, and I may have an offer by the end of the week (fingers, toes and eyes crossed, which is only slightly less superstitious than chanting). The point is, that this is my little victory here . . . I am free to recognize it as my own, and don't feel obligated to throw myself in front of the gohonzon babbling thank-you's to the mystic law!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2013 11:17PM by meh.

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