“Religion is the biggest trust-based group that gets fleeced by their own flock.”
So says Brent Baker, an attorney at Clyde Snow & Sessions in Salt Lake City who specializes in fraud and securities law.
The paper — owned by the Mormon Church — writes, that “[w]hile investment fraud is occurring in communities across the country, Utah has a reputation for being home to a high concentration of these schemes,” and notes that in 2010 “the FBI ranked Salt Lake City in the top five “hot spots” for Ponzi scheme-related fraud.”
Examples of affinity fraud (articles)
You Won, Now Give It Back: How Ponzi schemes work (article)
Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend (book)
What is a Ponzi Scheme? (article)
You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man: How Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Frauds Work… and Why They’re More Common Than Ever (book)
Religion-based scams take Lord’s name in gain (article)
Affinity Fraud: How To Avoid Investment Scams That Target Groups U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (article)
Missionary kids speak out about abuse
“In recent years, dozens of adults, known in evangelical Christian circles as “MKs,” or missionary kids, have come forward to report decades-old abuse at the hands of other missionary families or boarding school staff,” writes the Chicago Tribune.
Evangelical mission agencies have only recently taken action, prompted by victims who started speaking up in greater numbers after Roman Catholic Church leaders began addressing their scandal more than a decade ago.
The paper says that Rev. Rich Darr, a Methodist pastor who endured severe beatings as a child at a Guinea boarding school, has founded the victim-advocacy group MK Safety Net.
Since 2006, about 50 of the more than 200 evangelical mission agencies around the world have worked with an umbrella group to collectively address abuse. Member agencies receive training in child safety and how to keep potential predators from joining their ranks.
But Darr and others say the efforts of that group, the Child Safety and Protection Network, aren’t enough. Victims and advocates want to see even more reforms and accountability from the evangelical mission agencies that sent their families overseas in the first place.
Among other resources the article mentions “Fanda Eagles, a blog run by a Chicago woman under a pseudonym to expose the abuse she said she suffered at a boarding school in Fanda, Senegal, miles from her parents’ mission,” saying that the blog has become a forum and source of encouragement for missionary kids who are abuse victims.
Also mentioned are the dangers of so-called Recovered Memory Therapy.
Prayer in Schools
The Christian Science Monitor says nobody has yet studied the phenomenon, but offers some examples to illustrate its case.
Meanwhile, the Deseret News has an interesting, long-read story on what led up to the Court’s decision.
Losing her religion – and her children
Here’s a sad and disturbing story from Ha’aretz, which happens to be Israel’s oldest daily newspaper: A rabbinical court granted ‘Ayala’s’ husband custody when she lost her faith, and now she’s fighting to get her children back.
Having been raised in an Haredi family, at the age of 18 she entered an arranged marriage. Haredi is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox.
She lost her faith largely as a result of her insatiable curiosity for knowledge. In Haredim households women are told it is forbidden to ask questions. But she did anyway, and in the process slowly “lost God.”
Two years ago she started reading a Hebrew-language Internet forum called “Haredim against their will.” Ha’aretz explains, “The writers are religiously observant people who have lost their faith, but do not want to break up the home. The result is that they live as Haredim against their will.”
A while later she received a scholarship and started studying sociology. But her husband and the community were leery, and a neighborhood functionary offered her money to stop studying.
She refused, and was subsequently ostracized by the community. Then, when her husband discovered she was in touch with the internet forum, he demanded a divorce.
This was the start of Ayala’s still-ongoing legal saga…
The article goes on to describe the woman’s ordeal, and serves as a good warning against religion-based courts — rabbinical courts, in this case — particularly when it involves a high-control movement.
To read the entire article you can register (and read 10 stories a month for free) or subscribe to Ha’aretz.