Christ Embassy’s false gospel; Bill Gothard quits; Ultraman banned

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HBO’s fictional True Detective TV series may well have been inspired by the Hosanna Church child abuse case.

Nic Pizzolatto, the Louisiana-reared creator of the series, last week told Entertainment Weekly:

You know, you can Google “Satanism” “preschool” and “Louisiana” and you’ll be surprised at what you get. But instead of having our Satan worshippers worship Satan, they worship The Yellow King.

See if you think it fits.

The church’s former pastor, Louis D. Lamonica, is serving four concurrent life sentences.

Ex-Aum Shinrykio cult member Makoto Hirata, who in January 2011 turned himself in to police after nearly 17 years on the run, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for his involvement in three AUM cult-related crimes.

Hirata was found guilty in the kidnapping and imprisonment of Kiyoshi Kariya, a notary clerk who eventually died after being injected with an anesthetic drug by another member of Aum Shinrikyo.

Kariya was abducted to get him to reveal he whereabouts of his sister who had been in hiding after she tried to leave the cult.

Hirata was also found guilty in the the bombing of a Tokyo condominium and the firebombing of an AUM facility the following month, both of which were aimed at impeding the police investigation.

After having been placed on leave earlier this month by his Board of Directors, Bill Gothard — founder of the Institute of Basic Life Principles — has resigned.

Gothard’s resignation comes amid claims that he engaged in sexual harassment and other misconduct.

The website Recovering Grace has published stories of some of the 34 women who have come forward with complaints.

Christian apologetics and counter-cult ministry Midwest Christian Outreach has been highlighting the problems surrounding Gothard and his ministry for years.

The leader of a religious group in rural Pine Country, Minnesota, is being investigated over claims of sexual abuse.

Victor Barnard heads up the River Road Fellowship, a group of about 150 people. His followers view him as their spiritual leader, but the Pine County sheriff calls him a pedophile. Authorities and former members refer to the group as a cult.

Barnard was reported to the police four years ago, but the Pine County district attorney allegedly wanted the case to go away. It is said he did not believe the case would stick.

At the time, the attorney wrote: “The sad truth is: These individuals admit that they were essentially ‘brainwashed‘ by Barnard and readily and willingly did what he wanted them to do.”

Here are two reports from Minneapolis-St.Paul station KMSP. First the original story, broadcast last week:

Then the follow-up report:

Meanwhile, Barnard is missing. Investigators believe he and his followers have left for Washington state.

Japanese comic superhero Ultraman has been slain by Malaysian censors.

The book “Ultraman: The Ultra Power” was reportedly banned because it contained the sentence, “Ultraman is seen and respected as Allah or an elder of all Ultra warriors.”

“Allah” is the Malay and Arabic word for God. The authorities foresee ‘public disorder’ if Ultaman is allowed to compare himself to Allah (largely, of course, since many of the latter’s followers tend to create havoc whenever they feel, rightly or wrongly, that their faith has been slighted).

By the way, last October, a Malaysia court ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word ‘Allah’ — even though Christians have used it for centuries.1

Christ Embassy’s false gospel

The Prosperity Gospel — the notion that God wants to shower people with money, but only after they demonstrate their faith by donating lots of money to whomever advertises the scam — does make some people rich.

Predictably it works like a charm for those preacher$ who use the gospel as a means for personal gain. Like Nigerian pastor, televangelist and faith healer(?) Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy International (actual name: Believers LoveWorld Incorporated).

Nigerian media refer to him as a billionaire, although that refers to Nigerian Naira, which works out to about 6,067,000 US Dollars. Still a nice figure.

Enconium magazine says his private residence has now been revealed: a four-storey building with a penthouse.

The magazine says the palatial structure, known as ‘The White House’ (which it mimics) “stands out from the other buildings in the over N2 billion-worth Believers Love World International headquarters.”

So yes, the Prosperity Gospel works if you’re on the right side of the scam.

But wait! There’s more. Former Charisma Magazine2 editor Lee Grady points out that many Nigerian Christians, theologians and ‘cult-monitoring groups’ consider Christ Embassy to be a cult — due to its un-biblical teachings and practices.

In other words, Christ Embassy is theologically a cult of Christianity. And if, as Grady says, members are indeed “forced to give money in offerings and are pressured to marry only within their church” than sociologically it has certain cult-like elements as well. 3

Yet millions of Christians — unable or unwilling to apply biblical principles of discernment — follow Oyakhilome.

Fortunately, not everyone falls for his teachings:

Religion News Blog brings you expert-selected, hand-picked religion news articles with a focus (though not always exclusively so) on cults, religious sects, world religions, and related issues.


Notes:

  1. The word was, and is, not used to support the false notion that the God worshipped by Christians and the one followed by Muslims are one and the same.
  2. Interestingly, Charisma Magazine itself has long promoted — and benefited from the advertising budgets of — false teachers, including Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, and the late Paul Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network — a constant source of false teachings ranging from aberrant to heretical
  3. Grady should have explained in which context he used the term ‘cult’ since it means different things in different contexts.

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This post was last updated: Nov. 26, 2014