Religious organization capitulates.
Today in a regular session of Zavodsky district court the local religious organization "Slovo Zhisnni" ("Word of Life") withdrew its complaint against the "Zemskoe obozrenie" newspaper. Church pastor Pavel Taranov explained this decision by unexpected litigation from the Russian Orthodox Church. The subject of the court's investigation was an article "Word of Life: unsuccessful ad campaign," published under the name N. E. Nikolotov, which is a pseudonym for a group of authors, staff of the department for religious education and catechization.
Specifically, the "Word of Life" disputed an opinion of the article's author about this organization basically being pseudo-Protestant and neo-Pentecostal, the "Word" said that no one had the right to use the word "sect" in reference to it or to criticize its activity.
Appearing for the eparchy in court was professor and chair of the sectology department of the Orthodox St. Tikhon humanities university, Alexander Dvorkin. He stated that the "Word of Life was a sect because it recognized itself as such, and today it capitulated without reservation."
Word of Life begins to tell the court it is not a sect.
Today a regular court hearing was held in the Zavodsky court to hear a legal complaint by the "Word of Life" religious organization against the "Zemskoe obozrenie" newspaper.
[... gives information from Saratov Eparchy web pages]
The Saratov eparchial administration participates in a court investigation of "sects against freedom of speech." On October 5 in Zavodsky district court of Saratov the complaint of a local religious organization, "Word of Life" is being heard against the "Zemskoe obozrenie" newspaper. The Saratov eparchial administration applied to participate in these proceedings in the capacity of third party. Appearing for the eparchy in court is Alexander Leonidovich Dvorkin, professor and chair of the sectology department at the Orthodox St. Tikhon humanities university and author of eight books, including three editions of the book, "Sectology. Totalitarian sects: a test of systematic research."
The position of the eparchial administration will be announced on October 5 in a press conference, which is being held at 11:30 a.m. at 36 Bolzhskaya Str.
The story of the conflict thus far is this: on 27 January 2004 an article "Word of Life: unsuccessful ad operation" was published in the "Zemskoe obozrenie" newspaper under the pseudonym of N. E. Nikolotiv. An expanded version of this text is found on the official web page of the Saratov diocese. A number of positions stated in this article evoked displeasure among the management of the religious organization "Word of Life" and became occasion for court proceedings against the newspaper.
In particular, the "Word of Life" disputed the opinion of the article's author on this organization being, in essence, pseudo-Protestant and neo-Pentecostal, and said that no one had the right to use the word "sect" in reference to it or to criticize its actions. Also evoking the displeasure of the plaintiffs were a number of facts introduced into the article about aggressive and unscrupulous informational policies of the sect in those districts where its offices operated (for example, about the use of an interview with the Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsky Philaret with the goal of distributing sectarian doctrine).
An individual item of complaint was the introduction into the journalistic text of statistical information on the results of the organization's actions in Sweden, according to which every fourth "Word of Life" adept either made an attempt to commit suicide or was extremely close to this. This example is from A.L. Dvorkin's book, "Sectology: Totalitarian sects -N. Novgorod, 2003."
Taking into consideration that the "Word of Life's" informational policies are directed in large part directly against the Russian Orthodox Church, the Saratov eparchial administration applied to the court to participate in these proceedings. Distribution of the article "Word of Life: unsuccessful ad operation" on the eparchial web pages became part of its work to inform people about the threat from different types of totalitarian sects and destructive cults. The position of the Russian Orthodox Church is such, that in order to prevent an increase in the number of sect victims, it is necessary to inform people about what they can expect from a sect beforehand, rather than find out afterward.
Professor A.L. Dvorkin has also expressed his readiness to participate in the court hearing in capacity of responding advocate's consultant. A similar court hearing (neo-Pentecostal sect against an Orthodox clergyman who personally called that organization a sect) was recently concluded in Novokuznetsk. After weighing the complaint, it was dismissed by the court.
The next hearing of the Zavodsky district court on the "Word of Life" case is October 5th at 2:30 p.m.
Source: Saratov Eparchy.Ru
Saratov eparchy sectology section: "Word of Life"
"Word of Life": unsuccessful ad operation
On November 25 2003 in the regional edition of "Komsomolskaya Pravda - Saratov," in the "Specifics" column there appeared an open letter from pseudo-Protestants, members of the "Word of Life" neo-Pentecostal organization, to the head of the Saratov eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, to the bishop of Saratov and Volsky Longin.
The appeal contained a statement of joy on the occasion of the arrival of Archbishop Longin to Saratov, and assurances of readiness to cooperate with the eparchial administration on good terms. But was this really the case? We turn to the facts.
According to the assessments of well-known religious scholar and journalist Alexander Leonidovich Dvorkin, with the unprecedented expansion of neo-Pentecostal sects, the number of their adherents in Russia has already exceeded 200,000. As with many other religious organizations, the "Word of Life" prefers to recruit young people: minors are more suggestible. A great number of young people arrive from the provinces and literally drown in the whirlpool of the big city; sectarians fish them out and bring them into the sect without particular difficulty.
Neo-Pentecostals have brought a lawsuit against Orthodox clergymen who are trying to withstand this frightful misfortune. Neo-Pentecostals assert that no one has the right to use the word "sect" in reference to them or to criticize their activity because they are recognized as a "traditional Protestant confession." Why are they nonetheless called a "sect"? A.L. Dvorkin gives the following definition of the word "sect": "A classic sect is a relatively small culturally closed religious group (not a religion!), which places itself in opposition to the religions of the country that make up part of the culture." It is considered that neo-Pentecostal organizations have qualified under this definition on more than one occasion.
On the other hand, realizing the shakiness of this position in claims to belong to Bible-Christian, traditional confessions, leaders of the neo-Pentecostals are striving to get recognition from the Russian Orthodox Church so as to further exploit that for advertising, growth and expansion. Here is part of the text of the open letter from "Word of Life" leaders to Archbishop Longin: "As you know, three equivalent branches of Christianity exist: Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism. We, as Protestants, are aware that there are certain differences between us and the Orthodox Church...." How can one compare the Orthodox Church with the subject religious organization? I note that even if representatives of the neo-charismatic current, which "Word of Life" is regarded as, do consistently call themselves Protestants, or simply "Christians," they do this in spite of the fact that traditional Protestant representatives have repeatedly stated that the "Word of Life" church not only has no relationship to Protestantism, but to Christianity on the whole. Why is there such a vast difference between the views of traditional Protestant and of this religious association as to what is right?
In this day and age, the central neo-Pentecostal organization in Russia is headed by Sergei Ryakhovsky of the Russian Amalgamated Union of Christian Evangelical Faith, which the local Saratov religious organization of Christian evangelical faith, the "Word of Life" church, is a part of. Ryakhovsky chose for himself the role of "chief Protestant" of Russia and the role of advocate for the interests of all domestic Protestants and advertises himself in this capacity in the mass media. Persevering attempts were made to show the Russian traditionality of this organization, which recently came into existence. One example can be cited: on the year 2000 anniversary of the eparchy, the cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church delivered a "Framework of the social concept of the Russian Orthodox Church" - after this Sergei Ryakhovskiy issued his document with the same corresponding name and with practically identical content, the difference was only that his concept had added the neo-Pentecostals. Most interesting was that Sergei Ryakhovsky introduced a "consultative council of heads of Protestant churches", which did not contain one traditional Protestant confession, but only two pseudo-Christian groups: Baptists and Adventists. Meanwhile, in the opinion of representatives of traditional Protestant confessions, organizations united around the newly appeared "pseudo-Protestant bishop" are representatives of the so-called charismatic "third wave" and do not have any relationship to Protestantism at all. In other words, neo-Pentecostals calling themselves Protestants, both Sergei Ryakhovsky and the leaders of the Saratov offices of the "Word of Life," are deliberately faking it and are trying to create a reputation for themselves as a legitimate, respectable, traditional religious organization, as was said above.
Alexander Dvorkin has cited the given Swedish statistics, according to which every fourth adept of the "Word of Life" either attempted to commit suicide or was on the verge of doing so. We are not able to work with this sort of organization, the renowned sectologist stressed. Besides that, the fact is well-known that unscrupulous religious groups use fortuitous meetings with Orthodox clergy to advertise themselves. Take, for example, the notorious "Aum Shinrikyo" religious organization's widely distributed photograph of Metropolitan of Volokolamsky and Yurevsky Pitiram standing in a line with Seko Asahari, who holds this up as recognition of "Aum Shinrikyo" by the Russian Orthodox Church, and approval of its actions. Along the same lines there is also a little known Japanese guru who went to the Orthodox hierarch at some kind of social reception and asked permission to be photographed with him.
I'll give another example of similar self-advertisement, used directly by "Word of Life." In October 2003, under the grandiloquent, colorful slogan, "National Russian philanthropic 'There is Hope' project" was launched a whole series of tele-broadcasts on the NST-Ren TV channel under a single name. Well-known Russian political figures, athletes, actors, writers were invited to this program, in which a discussion about the Bible and about God was conducted. All this was put across as a most ordinary service with the pastor's sermon, which many saw repeatedly on different channels. And suddenly the Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsky Philaret, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belorussia, also spoke about faith and about service to God... To me it seems strange, the presence and appearance in a broadcast like this, all by himself, of a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church; what needs to be understood is this: was the archbishop filmed for this broadcast or not? After repeated viewings of the recording, everything became intelligible: the segment with the appearance of the Metropolitan Philaret was taken from a different interview and plugged into this broadcast. To definitively dispel any doubt I called the Minsk eparchy. I had a telephone conversation with Metropolitan Philaret secretary Father Nikolai Korzhich, who explained to me that the archbishop had never taken part in a broadcast like that, it was none other than an advertising trick. From this it was obvious that it was extremely essential for the neo-Pentecostals that they create the appearance of friendly relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and to obtain recognition for their structure to appear as partners, on an equal level, in dialogue.
Besides that, "Word of Life" often resorts to confessional anonymity, which means not stating the religious affiliation of their preachers on advertising posters, which is a blatant violation of the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations." Enticing people to their gatherings, they promise the new arrivals mass cures and all possible miracles, speculating in such a way on people's problems and misfortunes. Naturally, nobody has responsibility for unfulfilled promises and for the obviously negligent advertising.
Christian motives are stretched and profoundly distorted by the neo-Pentecostals to the point of unrecognizability. Again we return to the open letter, addressed to Bishop Longin: "In the main things, we are unanimous, but in particular we, same as you, love the Lord Jesus Christ with our whole heart and soul. We believe that the Bible is the living Word of God. We and you both use the Nikeo-Tsaregradsky Symbol of Faith. And finally, both you and we are convinced that every person is in need of Salvation, reconciliation from God and deliverance from sin, which is possible only through the deed of Jesus Christ on the cross." I am not able to find anything of unanimity: "Word of Life" doctrines, like the teachings about the Holy Spirit and His fruits or the teachings of "Jesus died spiritually," JDS for short, are downright blasphemous and offend the religious sensibilities of any Christian.
The preachers of neo-Pentecostalism teach that the presence of God can be felt through anomalous physical manifestation and sensorial shock. For them, all these so-called "contacts with God" come down to physical sensations that lead to emotional agitation and a psychic ecstatic state, where people are not in control of themselves and do not recall what happened to them. Neo-Pentecostal practices as widespread and as often inevitably experienced, like "speaking in tongues," the "Toronto blessing," "Steeped in the spirit," "prayer in the throes of birth" and others, are various means of exerting a destructive effect upon the mind. In which of these things is there a similarity between the "Word of Life" and the Orthodox Church, as is presented in the letter?
We take another excerpt from the letter to Archbishop Longin: "Our confessions combine similar views on many problems of society, and it's essential for us to work together to change the situation for the better. Both you and we are in agreement in praying for Saratov province to be rid of alcoholism, drug addiction..." In this connection, particular attention needs to be directed to the danger that in the near future, centers will sprout up in Saratov to rehabilitate people suffering from drug and alcohol dependency, but which in the same case also serve as points from which the sect recruits new members.
In conclusion, I would like to cite a text from the findings of the International Conference on "Totalitarian sects - threat of the 21st century," which was held in Nizhny Novogord in 2001: "Neo-Pentecostalism can in no event be called either Christianity or a Bible system. This false doctrine, which makes possible the personal enrichment of its "ministers" and the spread of sectarian theory and practices, is rooted in mystic-heathen cults. An organization professing neo-Pentecostalism inherently carries with it a store of serious social and public dangers, and all sound people in our society need to realize this."
Source: Saratov Eparchy.Ru
Sect leader arrested in Novosibirsk.
Konstantin Rudnev, founder of the "Ashram-Shambala" sect had $10 million for the short term. He was arrested the end of last week in Novosibirsk region. This is not the first year Rudnev was the target of a federal investigation, he's wanted all over the country, but it seems that he's been living comfortably in a village, surrounded by his current harem of nine followers, the youngest of which is not yet 18 years old. Very soon, Rudnev, author of a book with the promising name "Put Duraka" ("Fool's path"), will have his day in court, reported the NTV telecommunications company.
The Siberian guru has been detained by the police twice before. The great shaman, "Shri Avatara Muni" himself, whose passport just says Konstantin Rudnev, is the founder of the "Ashram-Shambala" sect. Back in 1999 a court sent him to a psychiatric hospital, but he ran away a month after that.
Konstantin Rudnev organized his sect in the early 1990s, after he was drummed out of the Army, diagnosed as a psychopath. First he headed the Siberian association of Yoga, the Academy of occult science, and only then did he become the founder of the "Ashram Shambala" sect.
For 10 years the Great Shaman drew up his association according to strict hierarchical principles. He himself was at the top. He could be accessed only by close assistants, the middle level consisted of instructors who taught the doctrines at seminars. According to the state prosecutor's information, he had succeeded in recruiting nearly 10,000 fierce supporters of the sect, or, as they called themselves, "sadkhaki."
Before they joined, many sadkhaki had to sacrifice their apartments to the teachers, and they lived in communal dwelling. There they slept for 3-4 hours a day, went to the bathroom only when authorized by the instructor, and learned to drink pure energy. All this was supposed to help them change into people of the sixth race. A report appeared on the sect's web page that people in the Ukraine, in Kazakstan and in Belorussia were interested in the doctrine.
Police found Great Shaman Konstantin Rudnev in a village near Novosibirsk. Now the state prosecutor is accusing the guru of violating personality and civil rights, and is also getting him ready for a new psychiatric check-up.
Over a fool, you need not rant:
Just talk 19 to a dozen with him
and do with him what you want.
It's been over 10 years since an article appeared in one of the Novosibirsk newspapers about a 22-year-old who "reached integral Yoga, a trend that also includes ... a profound, philosophical study of the meaning of life," and in "searching for the path to salvation," along with two of his instructors, arranged to give lessons in the "Karavan" health company. This young person was called Konstantin Rudnev. The young company manager lamented that people in the majority "were steeped in commercialism and lusted for material goods," and asserted that "Yoga was supposed to help people rid themselves of filth and get closer to the Absolute. In a sequel to the article-advertisement, the newspaper invited all those who were interested to get acquainted with the world "of high endeavors and spiritual freedom." As event subsequently showed, those interested were to get acquainted with more than that.
For a short time the innovative youth and several people from his company organized a series of seminars, for which a charge was made, on the study of "Yoga," the "teachings of Shambala," "healing with Reiki" and "astral karate," which were held in the cultural center, in movie theaters, and even in children's summer camps. Sometimes a massive seminar was given in a theatrical performance using many methods of active influence on the psyche of those present. Among those were K. Rudnev's widely advertised and distributed motivational book "Fool's Path," how to use secret superspiritual instructions, which were accessible only through initiation. To the eye of ignoramuses, the idiotic wisdom hidden behind bluntly pornographic stories about the lecherous escapades of the protagonist (with uncensored vocabulary and pictures to match). The "bestseller" was at first the principle, but not the sole source of the group's income. With the growth of the number of adepts, a number of various "magical" objects appeared: an "unchangeable five-kopeck coin" that guaranteed financial success; a "little bell" that "charged" its possessor with "positive energy"; a "pencil of beauty"; a "pendulum" and much more. It's amazing, but those interested in acquiring all these attributes of a fairy tale hero could do it for a very affordable prince (from 250 to 1,200 rubles.) To replenish finances, gullible adepts could receive a letter of "encouragement": "Brother! You have an open mind and heart which are correctly turning to the true knowledge of Shambala. Send a contribution for a receipt. May the glorious force of light be with you!" And they would send it.
With an increase of those "getting closer to the Absolute," the number of K. Rudnev's adepts grew as well. He declared himself the guru Shri Jnan Avatar Muni, the guru Sotitanandan, in which connection he was the only one who was truly initiated. The number of different signs under which the rascal operated also grew: the "Siberian association of Yoga" (the officially registered name), "Ashram Shambala," society "Olirna," "Sotitanandana-Yoga center and the Academy of Occult Science" were branches in the various cities of Russia and the CIS, not counting the "Esoteric basics of business," the "School and Avitsen" and even its own periodical, the "Tselitel" newspaper, which was published in Kiev. For the nearly ten years the "academies" of this sect were in operation, the number of adepts reached 10,000 people, over which rule a group of about 10 instructors and the "guru." The sect's popularity grew, and for many it came as a total surprise that the Novosibirsk regional prosecutor had initiated a criminal case against K. Rudnev and other sect managers. The case was filed under article 2 39 of the RF criminal code, "Organization of an association that infringes on the personality and rights of citizens." The basis for initiating a criminal case were statements by grieving parents whose children became easy prey for the scoundrel's "initiations." "I ask you to take action in the search for my son, T.D., born 1977," "I request a search for my daughter, A.T., born 1971 and to take measure with regard to the sect's "Shambala School" or the "Ashram" spiritual center. So it was started by only two of them.
The results of the inquiry stunned even the investigators. No one today would be surprised to learn that hiding behind the "Academy of Occult Science" was a fanatical sect that operated a publishing house which employed minors, used sexual coercion and perversion, and engaged in extortion. It's been explained that the director, K. Rudnev, while publicly declaring aversion to material good, had a fabulous income from the "voluntary contributions" of the people he bamboozled (the donations were prudently transferred to the name of Rudnev, Konstantin Shudnev, whose sect name was Shiva Achari). Besides that, the sect leader owned dozens of apartments in prestigious districts of the city which used to belong to sect members who had transferred their real estate to the guru. By what manner did this happen: voluntarily or under the influence of physical and psychological pressure is to be determined, but it's already become clear through testimony from relatives of the "donors" that it was not clear to the people who filled out gift statements (as a rule, after completing course in various schools of the type "Sotitanandana Yoga Center") what they were doing. There were instructors and their harem of adepts, who they mocked relentlessly. They were exhausted from hunger, beaten severely and had cigarette burns on their bodies. They called the sadistic orgy that only the specially initiated went to "tantric" rituals.
Many of the sect's practices were reminiscent of shamanism, but they borrowed individual rituals, like the "black mass." Their participants dress in "eastern" style clothing (sari, etc.) as well as in "shaman" and "Indian" garb. People also wear jewelry the way Indians do.
At the start of the investigation, the sect decreased activity in Novosibirsk and relocated the primary centers to Moscow and Saratov, but their directors disappeared. K. Rudnev, who declared himself, spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, after which he left the city. Whether he's insane or not will be clarified by an appropriate commission. But from the viewpoint of Orthodoxy, not only is he insane, but so are those people who saw the undisguised absurdity, lies, and frequent violence, but could still convince themselves of the "high spirituality" of his leadership, crave fabulous sums to purchase an "unchangeable five-kopeck coin" or a "wizard bell," who sent the gurus letters with photographs of their loved ones to be "charged" for a happy life, and even pled him to take their young daughters for training in the "Altai Ashram" (all actual events). Insanity is the illness of our century, an illness at the foundation of which lies the godlessness, superstition and dense ignorance of the "initiated" contemporary person.
Protopriest Alexander Novopashin, Novosibirsk
Source: Religious Research Center