Jailed ‘Home Bible Study’ pastor faces felony charges

Religion News Briefs is a collection of links and blurbs highlighting religion news, cult stories — and anything else we think you might like. May include a dash of opinion and perhaps a touch of humor. Comes with links to the original sources plus additional research resources.

Remember Michael Salman, the Phoenix, Arizona pastor alledgely who was jailed for holding Bible study meetings in his own home?

Salman’s supporters claim this is a case about religious freedom, but a few weeks ago we shared some facts that put this story in a different light.

Now Arizona newspaper The Republic says Salman

has been indicted on a series of felony allegations including fraud, theft and forgery for allegedly lying on applications for Arizona health insurance benefits. […]

The allegations revealed Wednesday are not related to Salman’s worship services or the zoning violations that landed him in jail.

Instead, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office got an eight-count indictment against Salman and his wife, Suzanne, related to statements they made about their income and employment when they applied for benefits through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Salman’s brother, Frank, was also the subject of a nine-count indictment handed up earlier this month that centers around similar allegations.

Salman has been jailed since July, serving a 60-day sentence following his convicted for violating Phoenix residential zoning codes.

Woman says Amish sect leader father-in-law coerced her into sex A witness in the hate-crimes trial of Samuel Mullet Sr. told a jury today that she gave in to his sexual demands after repeated approaches.

Mullet is the leader of a breakaway Amish group ex-members and law enforcement officials have described as a cult.

Earlier this month a judge ruled that prosecutors could not describe Mullet’s group with words such cult, sect, clan, band, schism, faction, off-shoot, breakaway, renegade, rogue or splinter group.

However, he did allow them to question witnesses about Mullet’s sexual activities — and witnesses are free to call the group anything they want.

Prosecutors say that addressing Mullet’s sexual activities demonstrates the level of control he had over his followers, 15 of whom are also on trial over beard- and hair cutting attacks on fellow Amish men and women.

The Plain Dealer says

A daughter-in-law of Sam Mullet Sr. testified today that she and other women in the Bergholz community gave in to Mullet’s demands that they have sex with him.

Nancy Mullet, who lives in Greenville, Pa., said Sam Mullet started out wanting hugs and kisses and then expected them to sit on his lap.

He would tell her she had to do it in order to help her husband Eli — who had suffered a mental breakdown — get better.

Nancy Mullet said she stayed in Samuel Mullet’s house while her husband was hospitalized on two occasions.

The second hospital stay was prompted by Eli Mullet learning that his father had asked his wife to sit on his lap, she said.

Nancy Mullet said she was told she couldn’t go home because the devil would get her. […]

Nancy Mullet testified that before Sam Mullet made his sexual advances on her that she and her husband were planning to leave Bergholz. But when Sam discovered their plans, she said he warned her that Eli might harm them or leave the Amish faith.

The Plain Dealer also writes that Barbara Miller, Samuel Mullet’s sister, consider his group to be a cult:

“A cult to me is a group of people that is ruled by one person that is the whole group’s God,” she said. […]

Barbara Miller testified that Mullet had become a dictator, living under Old Testament laws such as “eye-for-an-eye” rather than the New Testament teachings of Jesus.

Reuters points out that

Before her testimony, Judge Dan Polster told the jury Mullet was not charged with any sex crimes and the testimony of the daughter-in-law was to be considered only in relation to the charges he does face.

Unification Church plans to move founder Moon to its own hospital after his condition worsens: The health condition of cult leader Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, has worsened, prompting church officials to movie him to a church-owned hospital near his home.

According to the Korea Herald, doctors say that Moon’s illness is “irreversible.” The paper quotes Moon’s church as saying Moon has gone into critical organ failure and is on life support.

The Associated Press says

Moon, 92, is a self-proclaimed messiah whose church runs a worldwide multibillion-dollar religious and business empire that includes The Washington Times newspaper, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, Bridgeport University in Connecticut and hospitals in South Korea and Japan.

Moon believes God told him to fulfil what (according to Moon) Jesus failed to do: start the ‘perfect family.’ He claims to have the support of, among others, Jesus, Satan, Buddha, and Muhammad.

Oh, and he is King of America.

Israeli embarrassment over officials’ warm welcome for Scientology When the Scientology cult makes the news it is usually portrayed in a negative sense.

We’re talking legitimate news — not the barrage of press reports the ‘church’ published in the hope, sporadically fulfilled, that some small-time newspaper will actually publish a story or two.

The Church of Scientology is desperate for recognition, which — observers believe — is the primary reason it’s front groups latch on to such popular issues as drug abuse education, human rights, or literacy campaigns.

Another way the cult attempts to gain some legitimacy is by inviting various type of officials to its events. Invariably, some bigger or smaller names show up — either because they don’t know any better or because they;ve actually bought into Scientology’s philosophy.

According to the cult’s press release, when Scientology opened a new center in Jaffa earlier this week, “national and city dignitaries” attended the opening.

The Jewish Chronicle reports

The Israeli government has distanced itself from a new Scientology centre in Jaffa, insisting that its employees who attended the opening event last week did so in a strictly personal capacity. [….]

The “national” figures were two employees of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mohammad Kaabia and Rania Pharyra, who are respectively Director for the Bedouin Sector and Senior Coordinator on the Status of Minority Women.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said that the two employees attended “solely as private citizens who are deeply involved in promoting social issues in their sectors”, on the invitation of an anti-drugs organisation. Scientology’s mentioning of their place of employment “was done without their knowledge [and] without their consent.”

By the way, the ‘Church’ of Scientology refers to its new center as an ‘Ideal Org.’ We ourselves prefer the term ‘money pit,’ and suggest you to read Scientology’s Secret Behind “Ideal Orgs” Revealed At Last

People Merge Supernatural and Scientific Beliefs When Reasoning With the Unknown, Study Showsoffsite A press release from The University of Texas at Austin regarding a study whose authors say the common assumption that natural and supernatural explanations are incompatible is psychologically inaccurate.

Reliance on supernatural explanations for major life events, such as death and illness, often increases rather than declines with age, according to a new psychology study from The University of Texas at Austin.

The study, published in the June issue of Child Development, offers new insight into developmental learning.

“As children assimilate cultural concepts into their intuitive belief systems — from God to atoms to evolution — they engage in coexistence thinking,” said Cristine Legare, assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “When they merge supernatural and scientific explanations, they integrate them in a variety of predictable and universal ways.”

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The latest issues of ICSA Today — published by the International Cultic Studies Association — is now available to supporting members.

It’s not just for cult experts, but for anyone interested in the topic.

The organization says

ICSA Today (IT) serves ICSA members by providing information that enhances understanding of all aspects of the cult phenomenon, including how groups function, how they affect members, techniques of influence, dealing with harmful effects, educational and legal implications, and other subjects.

Among many other things the current issue includes an in-depth look at the history of the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center .

Wellspring is a non-profit residential treatment facility that provides a program of counseling and instruction to victims of cultic abuse, religious abuse and/or mind control.


Religion News Blog (RNB) provides an almost-daily selection of religion news — selected by religion- and cult experts.

RNB has a particular focus on issues dealing with groups and movements often referred to as ‘cults,’ ‘sects,’ or ‘abusive churches.’ We also cover related issues — including religious persecution and human rights.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 31, 2012.
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