Sunday, September 29, 2019

Proposed Religious Freedoms legislation must grapple with the problem of cults

The opening question from host James Carleton on a recent episode of the ABC Radio National program "God Forbid" is a perennial one: "What is the difference between a religion and a cult?"

I was immediately reminded of the old and pithy observation:
"In a cult, there's a person at the top who knows it's all a scam. In a religion, that person is dead."

Sadly, the program, titled "Don't call it a Cult" disappointed and concerned me to the degree that the social harms of Cults... sorry, "New Religious Movements", were glossed over.

This question has new currency since Australia is debating the necessity of new Religious Freedom legislation. If Religions are about to secure new and legislated freedoms to practise, discriminate and operate tax-free, just how should we distinguish between benign or socially beneficial groups, and bad apples?

We live paradoxically in an age where new religious groups continue to arise, usually with taxation concessions, in Australian society. Unfortunately, the evidence is in: Courts and multiple regulatory bodies have determined that some of these groups abuse both Australian law and outrage moral norms in the way they are rapacious, abusive, or extremist.

So, I listened keenly for the views presented by Professor Susan Jean Palmer from McGill University in Canada, and Professor Carole Cusack, an expert in religious studies at the University of Sydney.

I was underwhelmed.

I should make it clear that I'm making allowances for the way academics approach their subject matter. Criminal psychologists, for example, seek to understand the motives of people who commit sometimes shocking and heinous acts. They leave the prosecution and collective social judgement of those acts to others, because academic study should be "dispassionate".

However, perfect objectivity is a fiction -- Any sociological study of religion, old or new, is itself (in the words frequently invoked by much post-modern cultural and social analysis), "Socially Constructed". This means it is a human enterprise, and one that cannot be divorced from real-world costs and consequences. There are value judgements that should be made, a-priori (or at least consequent to) study of cult groups.
Cults, like crimes, are frequently stories of tragedies, and tragedies have human victims.
If that truth extends to a belief that victims deserve to have some justice, they wouldn't have found much in this ABC program.

I took a role for some years as a member of the national committee of the Australian Cult Information and Family Support network (CIFS), after such a tragedy struck my own family. At CIFS, I lost count of the heart-breaking stories I heard of broken families, dignity lost, greed, abusive emotional domination, and sometimes examples of sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by cults.

While listening to the episode, my heart sank when I heard:
"Professor Palmer says it's not right to call all new religious leaders crazed.
'We don't really know what goes on in the brains of these talented people. I see them rather like creative artists who inspire other people,' she says.
'It's sort of like saying, 'All concert pianists are crazy. They have very different personalities. And they create these little cultures, and some of them take root and grow up to be major civilisations.'"
Professor Cusack added,
"There is nothing inherently crazier in believing in an alien messiah, than in believing in the virgin birth, which is a core doctrine of Christianity." 
Palmer even finds the word "cults" distasteful, referring to it as a derogatory word, saying
 "I like to call them baby religions", 
and claiming
"Most of them are entirely harmless."
This is naive, lazy thinking.

I understand if both these academic researchers feel some need to tread lightly when examining their subjects, lest they cease co-operating as objects for study. But James Carleton could have done more to contrast their academic approach with illustrations of the human wreckage that is frequently the real-world outcome of fringe religious belief.

Some forms of religious practice confer a deep sense of meaning, are conducive to human flourishing, encourage social engagement, provide practical charity and promote ethical norms. However, some beliefs cause people to become isolated, fearful, paranoid, deluded, physically ill and even suicidal.

These differences are not arguable in the sense that they are merely points of view that allow people to conclude either way based on their cultural conditioning, or the "mainstreamed" nature of the faith in question -- these are objective and repeatable consequences.

Similarly, focus is overdue on the way in which some people gain protection for predatory behaviours by claiming the protection of religious freedom.

One good point made in the story is that because religious belief is so diverse, one focus for imposing limits on acceptable practice is Australian Law -- where practice transgresses the law, people or organisations should be brought to book.

However, the observation of CIFS is that Australian Law, and various regulatory agencies which include the ACNC (Charities regulator) and various Health regulators (such as the HCCC) are profoundly ill-equipped to deal with bad apples in our midst. The Introduction of new Religious Freedoms legislation will be deeply problematic unless these distinctions can be made more clearly.
This is an element of the national debate where I have been active for many years both before and since I have taken a public role as an elected politician.

The program repeated the saw that "a religion is just a cult, plus time".
This a gross oversimplification, and one that this program should have avoided.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Alien: Covenant. A review and meditation on the grim view of humanities' future

"As a morality tale, the message is so well worn now as to be hackneyed: We are the monsters. Worse, we make the monsters. And we make the monsters that make the monsters. Right. We get it."

13 years ago, I blogged, asking the question “Is the remake of Battlestar Galactica merely the worst kind of crap, or does it actually represent the end of Western Civilisation?”

Today, I want to talk about the Alien movie franchise, having seen the latest instalment, Alien: Covenant last night (and yes, this essay contains spoilers). As you can see, I weigh in on such questions rarely, and the purpose of my musing is not merely to offer either just a review or fanboy speculation, but to ask a wider question about the way our civilisation regards itself. The entertainment of our age, be they movies, TV shows or books, reflect in some way self-esteem of late Western society. And by “late”, I presage the view of future historians who will see this time in our history as an ending of whatever it is that we are, before it is replaced by something else.

The Alien franchise has held a curious fascination for me since my teens. I remember going to the State Library and poring over a rare copy of H.R Giger’s Necronomicon as though it were every bit the “terrible and forbidden” grimoire its namesake, via H.P Lovecraft’s Abdul Alhazred, described. There was something genuinely original and disturbing about Giger’s vaguely pornographic, biomechanical nightmares.

After decades of science fiction depictions of aliens that were little more than men in rubber suits, the sense of otherness exuded from Giger's work; of the cadaverous and monstrous, was unsettling in the extreme. I pored over them with a mixture of horrified curiosity and revulsion. I wondered how such creatures would “work”, and I reflected on what it was that Giger tapped in our collective subconscious that made us so uneasy. Subverted motifs of sexual congress, and violent birth; of the mechanical infiltrating even the integrity of our bodies, borg-like; they all combined to made me shudder.

And then there was the Pilot, later depicted in the original Alien as the “Space Jockey”.

This strange creature and its lonely enthronement in an ancient, fossilised and ill-fortuned ship, struck me as sad, and deeply mysterious. What happened? What race did it represent? Was it even separate from the device it controlled, seemingly growing from its chair? The architecture of its ship, resembling the inside of a ribcage, suggested technologies so unfamiliar as to be beyond even our speculation.
The genius of any fiction lays in its ability to invoke our imagination, rather than laying everything out, pre-digested. And the 1979 Alien did that. The titular monster was far scarier because of how little we saw of it. And that was its appeal. We were meant to yearn for answers, and equally, never to have them. Like a magic trick that loses its appeal once it is explained; like Oz behind his curtain; like the Force before we were told about Midichlorians;  the riddle of the Engineers is perhaps better left unexplained.

Crucially, neither the Engineers or the Alien had anything to do with humans. We were just the hapless and recently spacefaring species that stumbled along to realise how scary outer space is. And here’s the parallel with the remake of Battlestar Galactica. Suddenly, we are responsible for the creation of the Cylons, and some of the mystery of their origins is dispelled. Plus, all of humanity become both Victor Frankenstein and Eldon Tyrell, rueing the return of our creations to wreak havoc among us, and to teach us the terrible price for our sin of Pride; of usurping the prerogative of God in creating life. Now, we have Peter Weyland to add to that dubious pantheon. In creating a synthetic life-form capable of better-than-human reasoning but possessing no empathy, he creates in David the monster that creates all other monsters. Considering Ridley Scott directed Bladerunner as well, it’s safe to say that this motif is deliberate. Expect the imminent Blade Runner sequel (also a Ridley Scott vehicle) to repeat the same mantra: the Creation is in some way better than the Creator, and the impulse of all created beings is to become disillusioned with, and then kill, their gods.

The decision to declare that Giger’s otherworldly vision of the Pilot should give way to the revelation that its form was merely a spacesuit and that the inhabitants were basically ancient giant humans, right down to our DNA (and now living in "space Rome", rather than a biomechanical city), was the biggest cop-out ever, and one that the writers of Prometheus like Damon Lindelof should be ashamed of. The whole point of the Pilot and the Juggernaut, and the Xenomorphs were that they weren’t human. That’s what “Alien” means. Now, courtesy of the latest installment, we learn that even the lifecycle of the egg/facehugger/xenomorph we considered "original" is because of a human-made android tinkering in solitude and madness.
Implication? Somehow, we deserve our fate. We brought it upon ourselves in our pride and cruelty. In fact, the Engineers saw how bad we were, and were about to wipe us out, until we got to them first. And ethically, the Engineers were far from benign themselves. Was it a shared failing, that they seemed capable of indiscriminate genocide? Were we more alike than either thought?

This is nothing if not a post-modernist conceit, an increasingly popular trope not just in entertainment, but in history, to regard humanity as irredeemable, despite our miraculous advances of technology.
James Cameron’s films do the same thing:
Titanic: Build a boat, a wonder of the technological age. Sunk by pride. People behave ignobly in the aftermath.
Avatar: Develop a spacefaring civilisation. Rape innocent worlds for their resources. Cue heavy-handed metaphors between westerners and native americans.
Terminator: Develop A.I. Watch it immediately conclude that all humans should be wiped out.

I could say that this is entirely the wrong emphasis, and that the outlook of our speculative fiction should be less bleak. But then I realised that the genre of the Alien films is less Sci-Fi than Horror. One of the purposes of horror stories are to reveal not only the darkness under the bed, but within the human heart as well. As we contemplate the (quite genuine) horror of the situation in the final twist of the Alien: Covenant movie, we realise that, in part, we have created that situation.
As a morality tale, the message is so well worn now as to be hackneyed: We are the monsters. Worse, we make the monsters. And we make the monsters that make the monsters. Right. We get it.

Worse, the implication is that space is not a majestic tabula rasa for us to paint our future on, but a darkness concealing uncountable horrors beyond imagination, and that humanity is presumptious to the point of folly to even seek to tread there. H.P Lovecraft would be proud. Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!

But here’s the flipside: We’ve created faster-than-light drives. We’re colonising the galaxy. We’ve built artificial intelligences, which (in every alternate model, at least) can be noble and good. The good ship Covenant is peopled by crew we could like; who want a better life, a cabin by the lake, and clean air to raise a new generation in. The future does not yet seem to be ruled by the questionable ethics of the Weyland-Yutani corporation. And much of the ill-fortune we seem to experience “out there” arises from bad luck, plus supposedly smart people doing really dumb things. This is a mandatory requirement for any horror film, when you think about it… Don’t go alone into the dark place. Ignore even the most basic rules about safety or quarantine. Don’t wake up the dude who runs the facility making the goo intended to wipe out humanity and ask him for immortality before he’s had his coffee. That kind of thing. Despite this, there's a lot to like about this vision of humanity's future, and that perhaps explains the enduring popularity of Star Trek.

The conclusion I reach is that Ridley Scott must have a really low opinion of both humanity, and of his audiences.  We shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that these movies are all luxuriantly produced and visually stunning. (I found myself in New Zealand last year and arrived at Milford Sound smack-bang in the middle of filming for the movie – all the scenes where the landing craft arrive at the fjord and land in the water).
Holiday photos from Milford Sound, 2016. The set for the spaceship-lander is in the distance.

The production design of Arthur Max and Chris Seagers are first rate and just jaw-dropping, as are the (very faint) echoes of Giger, where they let it leak in around the edges. In terms of the hardware, it’s a vision of a future in space that’s completely compelling. But, even withstanding the genre of film into which these films fit, Ridley Scott’s laziness and shallowness ruin the opportunities to tell more genuinely interesting stories based on the premises they start with. It’s like what someone has said recently of the vacuity of President Trump: “We try to analyse what we see for deeper motivations or meanings, but what if there’s no ‘there’, there?” And that’s the key. Even in 1979, Scott had no idea what to make of the Pilot, referring to it merely as the “big dental patient” while the mad genius Giger did his work. When returning to the franchise and seeking a hook for his plot, Scott speculated that Jesus Christ was an Engineer sent to Earth and our treatment of Jesus was ultimately what made then Engineers mad at us. WTF? What kind of brain fart is that?
What this tells me is that there's no real philosophy going on here, and no actual overarching meaning. Don't look for it. It's merely a bunch of hack writers spitballing inane ideas with no idea of what "canon" ought to mean, at least in the sense of avoiding simple errors that prevent you from telling a story that's coherent to the broader fictional universe in which it's set. Attempts like mine to remonstrate with Ridley Scott are like arguing over pareidolia; people are just going to see what they're going to see.

It’s vexing that Ridley Scott can make films that are beautiful to look at, and even films with an important message (last year’s “the Martian” was outstanding, but that was exclusively because of Andy Weir’s brilliant source-novel), but then treats so contemptuously the opportunity to tell a good story with glib ideas like “Jesus was an alien” or “humans are indirectly responsible for the variety of Xenomorph that will be found on a thousand-year-old crashed ship only 18 years later”, or “Xenomorphs can grow from chestburster to full-adult in five minutes”. Retconning is one thing, but Alien: Covenant does very little to correct the egregious sins of its predecessor: namely, making smart characters do dumb things, and invoking plot twists so illogical as to lift us out of the narrative.

How hard can it be to make films that don’t insult the intelligence of their audiences? Obviously, in Hollywood, no one can hear us screaming.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Sovereign Citizens, and the pathetic disintegration of Kent Hovind

Kent Hovind: "Not subject to  any authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ" (He was mistaken)

First, a recap

I've written about the American wacko Kent Hovind before, eight years ago. He was in prison for fraud then, and still is now. Over the years I've spared him a thought only occasionally,  vexed with the dilemma of whether he was worthy of my contempt, or merely beneath it. But here I am, strangely compelled to revisit him because he's as loony as ever.
A renewal of the warning he serves as to us all is timely.

Most of you have seen this cartoon on the left (or a variation).
I confess, I find it all too easy to be this person. So I want to spend a moment explaining why this matters. 80 generations ago, the Church Father Augustine of Hippo said
"...It is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on any topic; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn... Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task ... they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertions"   (here for the full quote).
We should all be concerned when anyone on the fringe arrogates authority and brings those with more considered and grounded views into disrepute by their association. When we hear arguments presented that are palpably wrong, cause for fremdscham, or gibberingly nonsensical -- then we have a solemn responsibility to speak up, to contend. Civilisation is at stake.
Kent Hovind boasts he has a doctorate, and styles himself "Dr Hovind", or "Dr Dino". In actual fact his doctorate is a fake, from a diploma mill traced to a suburban house.
If people purport to speak with authority, whether it be on a scriptural matter in the name of Jesus Christ ("God demands that we..."), or by saying "the science shows..." when the science most definitely does not say, or to say "the law means..." when one is not a lawyer, legislator or even an educated layman, then we are right to exercise discernment over whether that authority is valid. 1 Peter 2:15 says that "silencing the ignorant talk of foolish people" is good, and is accomplished by doing good.

I am a high school teacher, and am mindful that Aristotle said in the Nicomachean Ethics that although moral virtues are learned by habit, intellectual virtues are learned through teaching. The purpose of education is to cultivate the intellectual virtues and these virtues include curiosity, open mindedness and critical thinking. This was the subject of my Masters thesis. So particularly when it comes to young people, I have a passion about giving this generation the right 'thinking toolkit' to look at the world and weigh evidence. To be able to identify and then reject nonsense when they hear it.

In other words: We should care about whether what people purport to teach is true. And we should care all the more when those people insist that their views are the views that other Christians should have, if they are "proper Christians". Why we believe what we believe is important. 

Kent Hovind came to my attention because he represents the execrable end of the spectrum of loud, know-nothing Young Earth Creationists. Disgracefully for a former science teacher, he preached that  dinosaurs are alive and well in Borneo (if only people would send him money to prove it). And that feathered dinosaur fossils are forged by low-paid workers in China.  And that AIDS was developed in a Maryland laboratory. And that Sonar is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. He told cancer sufferers that 'Big Pharma' were covering up a cure and that they should stop their chemotherapy because it was shortening their lives. He tells parents not to vaccinate their kids. He told listeners that water fluoridation was an attempt at Government mind control. He promoted the anti-Semitic, hate-filled Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There is no conspiracy theory so crazy that he wouldn't peddle it.

Finally, he didn't pay the tax he ought to have, because he declared all his money 'belonged to God'. This drew the attention of the IRS. In 2007 he was convicted for 58 Federal crimes, including tax fraud and given ten years. He was due out this year. Was.

It always concerns me that nutty beliefs seem to occur in clusters; what has been termed "Crank magnetism"The same defects in critical thinking are arguably at the centre of many different errors. Certainly, our friends Dunning and Kruger are at work. But some of these beliefs aren't just idiosyncratic, towards which we should have an irenic 'to-each-his-own' attitude.  Some beliefs are indicators of mindsets that that bring Christianity into disrepute, damage faith, or destroy lives. Many ex-fundamentalists recognise this problem.

As I noted 8 years ago, if you support Kent Hovind then you are far more likely to be the kind of person who believes that 9-11 was a conspiracy, that Obama was born in Kenya, or that the moon landings were faked. Several supporters have even reproved him for equivocating on the question of Geocentrism. Seriously. Kent gladly enabled each and every one of these theories, and regularly went further in church talks, videos and radio appearances than even his followers, with hapless wife Jo (also sent to prison for tax fraud) and arrogant son Eric (still running the family business) close at heel.

In 2007, I wrote that Hovind was telling people that UFO's were real and were being piloted by demons. Little did I realise that I would lose my wife to a cult two years later by people here in Australia who believed that too, and more besides (for example, that the British Royal Family are reptilian shape-shifting demons in disguise).
Permit me to suggest that perhaps I speak with some authority of my own concerning the real-world damage these beliefs cause.

After eight years in gaol, you would think that Kent Hovind would have learned his lesson and would have expressed some contrition, both so he could get back to his family sooner, and to mend the 'vast ignorance' Augustine warned of, ignorance which causes people to scorn Christianity. Instead, he has doubled-down on the crazy, and has become a figure of parody, which will almost certainly extend his prison time considerably.

Sovereign Citizens

To explain, we need to talk about the Sovereign Citizen movement, or SovCit.

Writing from here in Australia, the paradox that is America is stark. America, the cleverest nation in the history of the world that put a man on the Moon, and also the nation who produced a song whose lyrics go "Ass ass ass ass ass / Ass ass ass ass ass / Ass ass ass ass ass".
From this distance, it seems inconceivable that the American ferment that produced Sagan, Salk, Mencken, Jefferson, Paine and Whitman, has also birthed or nurtured truly awful human beings like Nicki Minaj, Peter Popoff, Ken Ham* or Kent Hovind. For shame, America. For shame!
(* I am well aware and apologise abjectly for the fact that Ken Ham was Australian).

In my political life (for I am a man of Conservative political hue and membership), I have contended that the greatest threat to Western Civilisation and to Enlightenment values does not come from outside the West, but rather from within. Contempt for the separation of Church and State, rejection of tolerance and pluralism, disdain for the rule of law, derision for respect and tradition, and mockery for the value of evidence-based policy will end our civilisation far sooner than Muslim bombs.

As it happens, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism agrees with me. They conclude that the gravest domestic terrorist threat to America in this decade is the so-called Sovereign Citizen movement.

So what is it? The early 21st century has seen a rise in the number of people who have effectively given up on the very idea that politics can improve the lives of average people. A choice between two major party candidates is Tweedledee and Tweedledum. A logical extension of this then is to regard the political process itself as illegitimate; to conclude that the reason the country is broken is because a kind of illegal zombie government, no longer true to the principles of its founders or its Constitution is unlawfully enforcing taxes, privileging banking cartels, and ceding sovereignty to multinationals and international NGOs. SovCits claim they are exempt from any law they do not like by claiming that they are not a citizen within that jurisdiction, that the law was never ratified correctly, or that the enforcing agency simply does not exist. SovCits are serial nuisance litigants, tax protestors, armchair commentators and promoters of sham financial schemes aimed at shirking tax. Further, more often that not SovCits are militantly religious and extremely conservative on social issues. They regard themselves as patriots, rather than the defacto anarchists they really are. They are completely disconnected from reality. A Canadian judge has made an exhaustive study dissecting their standard arguments.

They engage in bizarre legal activism where they stuff the courts with spurious lawsuits full of nonsensical legal jargon and painful casuistry. These filings have something of a spell-like quality to them, in the always mistaken belief that the right incantation will cause the Federal government to glow, split open, and reveal its withered Satanic heart.

Standard SovCit shenanigans include declaring that any legal summons issued to a person's name written in ALL CAPS must be referring to a fictitious legal doppelgänger and can be safely ignored. 

Enter, Kent Hovind

Although far from the first SovCit star, ol' Kent has become something of a poster boy for them, with his long incarceration for tax-crimes a badge of honour for 'standing up for his principles'. Kent disobeyed a court order to not impede the sale of his real estate, authorised to clear some of his tax debts, by filing vexatious lis pendens against the liens, and now faces multiple new counts of criminal activity, along with another SovCit all-star, Paul J Hansen.

Again, for my American readers, I can only remind you how surreal and baffling this seems from my vantage point here Down Under. Our BS detectors (an Aussie and more pejorative term for 'baloney detector') would be off the scale if this were tried here. Even the most rabid Australian right wing fruitcake (and again, I'm right-of-centre myself) concedes that the Government exists and that you should Pay Your Taxes if you want nice things like, say, roads and hospitals.

Kent Hovind and his co-accused's court filings - a surreal parade of crazy

I'd like to shout out to a few people who have taken a more thorough interest in the Hovinds and their criminal behaviour. First is Robert Baty, who maintains the Facebook page "Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind v USA - IRS". Another is Peter J Reilly, a correspondent for the Forbes business magazine, whose many articles on Hovind have cast an impartial and forensic eye over his unbelievable claims. Reilly also writes at his personal blog on the same subject and is always compelling.

Both have referenced various court transcripts and filings as source documents for their articles, but these source files have been hard to come by.

I'd like to post and analyse here publicly a few of those documents for the public record. Click the thumbnail for the full file.

 Kent Hovind's early 2015 court filing
 I am led to believe that Kent Hovind's has made this filing to the court in an attempt to "withdraw his consent" for the current criminal proceedings against him. Analysis below.

 Kent Hovind's 2006 trial transcript

The original transcript of Kent and Jo Hovind's 2006 trial for tax fraud. All 1853 pages of it (that's over 440,000 words). However, the only bit you need to read is the prosecution's closing argument to the jury, which only runs from pp.1797-1809 in the attached PDF.

It completely debunks Kent's claim that he broke no law, never obstructed officials in the execution of their duties, and never had adequately explained to him what it was he was supposed to have done wrong.
The jury returned unanimous verdicts of "Guilty" on all 57 counts in the indictment.


    A recent court filing listing the demands of Paul J Hansen, Kent Hovind's co-accused in new criminal charges that are the subject of the upcoming (February 2015) trial.


The situation: You've been convicted of 57 separate Federal crimes and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. You weren't a young man when you went in.
There was no doubt about your guilt... you were accorded due process and convicted unanimously. Every appeal you lodged was dismissed as frivolous, embarassingly clumsy and irrelevant, full of basic errors of spelling and grammar, salted with random latin phrases to make it sound more profound, as well as declared as being lodged in bad faith, merely to impede the justice process.
You've dragged your poor wife into the mire and she's spent a year in prison too, away from her children and grandchildren, exclusively because she did her husband's bidding.
You've strayed a long, long way from your putative mission, which is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and instead you are now known exclusively for crank tax avoidance escapades, sinister end-times conspiracy theories about One World Government, denying the existence of the United States as a legal entity, renouncing your citizenship and saying "Democracy is evil and contrary to God's Law".
You're eight years in, and there's a chance that through an early release scheme, you'll go home soon.

What would the sensible man do? He would express contrition, do his time, and seek to live a quiet life.

What does Kent Hovind do? Let's have a look. Kent's submission is verbatim in red.

1.  "WITHDRAW YOUR CONSENT" for the proceedings. Not just withdrawal of consent from the criminal trial, but withdrawal of consent to the "current fraudulent de facto STATE OF FLORIDA, and United States". This apparently renders "unlawful and fraudulent" all "Commander in Chief presidential Executive Orders". Thus, despite being in prison for eight years, "I am not the property of the Court. Under no circumstances may I be detained in any way whatsoever, nor at any time, past, present or future."
Ta-da! America doesn't exist! Now let me go home!

2. CLAIM THAT NO COURT HAS JURISDICTION because he is, quote "A shipowner who sends his vessel into a foreign port", and is "In Uniform, with a fully marked vessel flying flags claiming dual citizenship status."

3. RENOUNCE YOUR U.S CITIZENSHIP (again): "I have never been, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a 14th Amendment UNITED STATES or Article XIV citizen".

4. DEMAND COMPENSATION FROM A FICTITIOUS BANK ACCOUNT held in every citizen's name that has millions of dollars in it, but which the U.S Government doesn't want you to know about: "You may use the negotiable instrument, certified funds, drawn against Drawers Private Treasury UCC Contract Trust Account established in the U.S. Treasury, for set-off of any said debts on your statements of the account of KENT E HOVIND, as ascribed in the banknote birth certificate origin registration form"
And yes, that's a demand of the same United States that is illegal, has no jurisdiction, and which Kent is categorically not a citizen of.

By declaring that no public official has immunity from personal consequences in the execution of their public duties:
  • "Any person acting as an agent for a nameless, faceless corporation is wholly personally responsible for their actions on behalf of the corporation.  All actions incurring any degree of injury will incur Notice of Injury, including severe financial penalty"
  • "The Law is under scrutiny for it’s (sic) contribution to the current state of the planet, the distribution of rights and resources and the obstruction of Divine Law"
  • "We the People have been providentially provided legal recourse to address the criminal conduct of
  • persons, themselves entrusted to dispense justice (when) ...public officials, including judges go rogue, act in bad behavior and criminally violate the law."
  • "Judges rest upon fraudulent appellate court rulings and statutes that are repugnant to the Constitution
  • while they convince themselves that by following such statutes they are immune from penalties should the People become aware of their fraud"
  • "Once we the People ordained common law the law of the land no man can abrogate it; to claim to do so is an act of war against the People and their God. Unconstitutional acts are not law and no one is bound to obey them. Judges are expected to maintain a high standard of judicial performance and when they violate the Constitution they cease to represent the government, become liable for damages and lose any immunity they may think they have"
  • "Failure to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution for the United States Article II Section 1 is to war against the People".

  • "Subject: NOTICE OF COUNTERFEIT SECURITIES ... Dear Eric Holder, You are hereby put on NOTICE pursuant to Title 18 USC § 4 of the commission of crimes cognizable by a court of the United States under Title 18 USC §513 to wit: '513(a) Whoever makes, utters or possesses a counterfeited security of a State or a political subdivision thereof or of an organization, or whoever makes, utters or possesses a forged security of a State or political subdivision thereof or of  an organization, with intent to deceive another person, organization,  or government shall be fined not more than $250,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both'"
  • "The Order of Contempt by alleged Judge M. CASEY RODGERS is a counterfeit security and constructive fraud"
  • "DEMAND is hereby made upon the, United States Attorney General, to investigate the above named government officials, employees, agents, and public officers for creating, using and promoting fraudulent and counterfeit securities in a fraudulent scheme"
  • "Eric Holder, a man, and Alleged Attorney General !!   I hereby DEMAND that you honor your oath of office to defend and support the Constitution for the de jure united States of America (if you still are loyal to that entity). In so doing, I DEMAND that you investigate the illegal acts of the above named United States officials"
"If you are unwilling or unable to investigate into this case ... identify the lawful reasons why and relate said reasons to me in writing within 15 days from receipt of this filing. When you need longer than 15 days to respond, send me a written request for an extension of time within the 15 days and it will be given to you."

What are we to make of this sad, rambling, pathetic farrago?

One conclusion some have reached is that Kent Hovind is seriously mentally ill. He had spent a good deal of his eight year incarceration publishing "knee mails" where he likens himself to St Paul, and describes his talks directly with God, who unfailingly approves of Kent and agrees that he's not guilty of anything, and that those nasty government types would be all getting their come-uppance any day now. Others have suggested that the right diagnosis is a bad case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I can't speak to the likelihood of either, but this talk makes me uneasy if it is used as an excuse rather than an explanation for Kent Hovind's crimes.

Internet sleuth Deana Holmes has done good work in tracing the various forms of words used in Hovind's filing and has identified them as an aggregation of a number of standard SovCit boilerplates, most of which have been used in earlier legal actions and all of which have been spectacularly unsuccessful. I look forward to her publication of her research as the new Hovind trial draws closer in early February.

Obviously, the predicament Hovind finds himself in (and the new charges of fraud relating to the lis pendens liens on his forfeited property) have everything to do with the legal counsel he's received over the years. The Lionel Hutz role used to be played by secessionist Glen Stoll, but is currently played by Paul J Hansen, whose calibre is in evidence in that he is now Hovind's co-accused and has been denied bail before his co-appearance before Judge Rodgers. For an example of Hansen's towering intellect, cast your eye over the crayon daubings he has made by way of a legal submission, which has been so incomprehensible, his own lawyer has petitioned for clarification over his role in Hansen's defence.

As this train wreck moves closer to trial, I suggest that interested readers follow along on Robert Baty's Facebook group.

The author is an office holder in the conservative Australian political party presently in government, the Liberal Party, and has worked in both State and Federal Parliamentarian's offices. He sits on the committee of a national organisation, CIFS, which monitors the harmful effects of cults. He holds a degree in Philosophy, a Masters degree in Education, and has worked in Christian Schooling since 1998.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

In which Nathan is interviewed on the radio about cults

For the last few years, I've taken up a committee role in the CIFS organisation. CIFS is the Cult Information and Family Support network, a support and advocacy organisation. My role is to encourage people who feel any sense of injustice at the predatory behaviours of cults to do something. I gave a presentation to CIFS recently that summarised the avenues of complaint one might choose to pursue, and I'll put that up as a separate post in the future.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a Sydney community radio station about cults and they've graciously provided the audio. If what I'm saying strikes a chord, please get in touch.

(on the audio page, you can stream directly from the website, or download the MP3 by clicking the VBR MP3 link)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spirited Away - A Sydney Morning Herald investigative article

Our family's story appeared over the weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. Many thanks are due to Fairfax journalist Tim Elliot (who has written about the "12 tribes" cult in the past) for his exhaustive investigatory work. He tells me he ended up interviewing over 30 people to draw this story together.

The online version is now available, for those who didn't get the paper over the weekend. Click this link to be taken to the Sydney Morning Herald article, and don't forget that a more detailed account of our family's story is on this website:

Part 1: Who are the Shepherd's Heart and what to they believe?

Part 2: In which Nathan's wife is stolen away by a cult.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In which Nathan's wife is stolen away by a cult

The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli, 1781

Newcomers to this page may wish to note my December 2019 update to this story. Scroll to the bottom.

     This story is the second of a three part series. You are encouraged to read the first part, also at this site.
      I am telling this story in the sincere belief that I am speaking for the voiceless. For all the victims of cult abuse. For the victims of when any religious belief, even an originally well-intentioned one, turns sinister.
      I am also writing in the conviction that if no one speaks out, other people will inevitably suffer at the hands of the same group. Where I make an assertion that is coupled with a quote written by the cult, I claim the defence of fact. All other statements in this article are presented as the honest opinion of the author, speaking out on a matter of public importance.

      I feel the need to impress on readers the ordinariness of our lives before this tragedy befell us; we were an average, happy family, with community interests and good jobs. This did not happen because we were into some "weird stuff" ourselves; quite the opposite. My skeptical streak is a mile wide and always has been (evident if you see the other articles on this website).

   Telling this story will not bring Kylie back. We are divorced and our son and I have moved on with our lives. We are fortunately, amazingly happily, but the pain of our loss will endure.

-------- ~~~ --------
      I have a sad story to tell. Friends and family have shared this journey with me for the last three years, but the time has come to speak publicly. The telling of this tale has put me  on TV twice over the last two months. It has also placed me at a lectern speaking to an international conference hosted at Parliament House in Canberra in front of a room full of MPs and dignitaries. My dual intents are to lay out a fuller version of this story, and to provide a warning. Perhaps telling my story will prevent another family from having to endure what mine has.

"If I run I die
If I talk I die
If I disobey I die"
      I lost my wife, Kylie, to a cult. I believe their influence ruined her health, her career, and robbed a 6 year old boy of his mother. That they unpicked the threads of her life and of her mind. That she cast aside her home, her wider family, even her name for the sake of a pseudo-Christian group that she had never met six months previously. She now goes by a name given to her by the cult, Hope,  after she was told that the person named Kylie had never existed. At a point where she was mentally unwell and exceptionally vulnerable, this cult misdirected her therapy, providing instead what a psychologist identified as a "treatment program" written by a group who believe Nazi-built, demonically piloted UFOs kidnap women and impregnate them to create a race of half-demon super soldiers. They took the most febrile delusions occasioned by her illness and convinced her they were real; that she was the victim of Satanic abuse; that she could speak to Jesus Christ and had a gift of prophecy; that her multiple personalities were evidence of demons that had to be exorcised; that she was involved in spiritual warfare against "astral travellers" from local covens who psychically bombarded her and the group; that her real family were evil. Crazy, evil stuff.

What Kylie wrote...

      But, as this horror-story unfolded, I found people placed in my path through the most extraordinary coincidences imaginable. People who added pieces to the puzzle; people who were worried enough to implicate members of their own family if it meant a little light could be cast into some dark recesses. People who came forward, prepared to stand by me on TV, as it happened, to say "my family were damaged by the same group." Slowly, what the cult wrote, what they said, and what they believe was, amazingly, dropped into my lap. Often accompanied by a hand on my arm, an earnest look, and the charge; "Nathan, do something." I've been joined by eminent university lecturers, members of Parliament, cult experts, and support groups. I've joined a crusade to have laws against cults improved. I've made lifelong friends, and one or two enemies.

I name the people responsible.
         Oderint dum metuant, I say.
              This is our story. It's a corker.

-------- ~~~ --------

Here, I name the people in question. They are members of the cult operating in the Blue Mountains: 

Virginnia Donges (who now goes by the name "Gina Donges", or by her maiden name, "Doran".)
Jenny Buckingham-Jones 
...and her husband David Buckingham
Annette Wotherspoon who runs Rose Lindsay cottage
Danny Wotherspoon, also known as Adrian Wotherspoon, of Abel Ecology

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling    and Liz Lees.

All live in the Warrimoo / Springwood/ Faulconbridge area of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and their group have collectively gone by the name the "Springwood Faulconbridge Home Church" for over 15 years. If you or loved ones have had a harmful encounter with this group, please contact me or one of the anti-cult support groups mentioned in my other article about John Darnell and his wife Glenys Darnell of the Shepherds Heart Church in Canberra.

Let me take you back three years. Kylie, a beautiful, vivacious lady, was working odd shifts at the reception desk at the private school that I had worked at for ten years. She was doing that because our son had started Kindy at the same school, and after years of being a stay-at-home mum. She was grateful for the distraction while she waited to get back to her "dream job", which was working as an E.N in the emergency department of Nepean hospital. So, the three of us often travelled to school together as a family. It was awesome. I ticked all the boxes. Beautiful wife, great job, own home, station wagon, a raft of civic engagements. The good life.

      But there was a cloud on our horizon. Hear me: Mental illness will affect half the population over a lifetime, and 20% of the population in any given year. This means mental illness will either affect you or someone you love. Yes, mental illness 
costs over $20 billion to the economy, but it's far more important for me to take this time to say this: "It's not their fault".  Mental illness shouldn't be stigmatised, and there is support out there (despite some bad apples). For us, it was just one of those challenges that lay on our journey. Kylie was occasionally unwell, but she was loved and always brought back to health with the support of her family. Every time she recovered, we were so proud of her, and we felt we had a stronger empathy for those in the same situation. People with mental illnesses deserve our love and support.

      Now this school we worked at, Wycliffe Christian School at Warrimoo west of Sydney, is a non-denominational Christian school, pretty enlightened in most respects. I loved working there, but you know how it is. There are always the crazies that take up the outer orbit in any community, especially in the Blue Mountains, where crazy seems to be in the water. Except these crazies weren't in the outer orbit. Two of them were on the school board, at different times. And a third worked at reception, alongside my wife. There were stories; they'd stick their head up and say something... heterodox, that would make those within earshot blush, or cringe. The board president and the Principal were cautioned about letting them have any influence. Shoulders were shrugged. We had to be "ecumenical".

      Soon, Kylie was being sucked in. It was "Hey, come to our Bible study group". I kick myself now, because that's when the trouble started. No one recruits you to a cult by saying "Hey, join our group and we'll ruin your life." But at the time... I just had no idea. So off she went on odd evenings to socialise with this group. I even felt pleased that she had made new friends.

      No sooner had Kylie struck up this friendship that I started to see her change. Some of these outings had her coming back later and later. Midnight would come and go. I had a sleeping child in his bed. Her phone was off. Was she dead on the side of the road? I could tell she was at the cusp of becoming unwell again. And unwell meant... vulnerable. What were these people doing to her? The explanations, when they were offered at all, was Kylie was going through some pretty heavy "counselling". But hey, these were respectable people, right? On the School board and all?

On the 4th of January 2009, she told our son and I that she was going to her Bible study, and she would be back for dinner. We waved her off.
She never came home.

Kylie, when she was descending into an episode of mental illness, had the misfortune to fall into this sinister and manipulative group at precisely the worst moment.

Virginnia had taken over Kylie.

      Now, I know better. Now, I know this group have form. That they have damaged other people, other families. Years ago, they prophesied their group's pre-eminent role in the return of Jesus Christ. They went through spiritual passions when a member of their group was seriously ill, engaging in a prayer life that crossed a line into the bizarre. Their spiritual warfare centred on a belief that organised Satanic covens were attacking them, spiritually, all the time. Others, like my wife, had been taken in and "counselled" that they had repressed the memories of Satanic abuse by Dissociating the memories.

One former member who escaped from the group with her children 12 years ago has been happy to speak out, and was interviewed for Channel Nine's A Current Affair. Here's what she said:

"We were attracted to them at first. But their beliefs changed. They became more extreme. Certain members of that group were prophesying about end times. They predicted the return of Christ, at a particular time, and ascribed certain roles for members of the group in relation to it. One of the group would lay on the ground and speak with what he said was the voice of God.
I became increasingly uncomfortable. We left because it became damaging to my family. I went to a friend I trusted, I went to a couple of Pastors I knew, and they all thought it was too strange, and dangerous, and that our family shouldn't be involved in it any more.
When I hear about the stuff this group are doing now, I'm very glad I'm no longer involved. It's contrary to my own experience of God, of prayer, and of reading the Bible. What it has to do with is peoples' egos; their unwillingness to stand back from their behaviour and examine it critically.
I think what they are doing now is dangerous, because they seem to have power in these relationships. Power that's quite negative. It brings discredit to God.
I don't know if these people are Christians, but I don't believe they are displaying Christian behaviour.
I hope they are called to account for their behaviour."

      Within a year, I found Kylie now went by the name the cult provided for her; "Hope Hopie". Hope had a Facebook page. It's Kylie's face, but gaunt... haunted. She had lost maybe 25 kilos. As one of the cult members, Virginnia (Gina) Donges, explained to her own family, "There was no Kylie, ever." The smiling, vivacious, grounded women I courted, married, bought a house with... That person was gone. Erased. "Hope" was encouraged to refer to her own mother as "Filth", and to have nothing to do with her family. 

      She missed her sister's wedding. She missed the birth of three nieces and nephews. Contact with her family, including our son, progressively diminished.

"Hope Hopie"'s Facebook page (since deleted). A suffering woman,

who bears my wife's face, stripped of her identity.

(click for larger)

The first Christmas she was gone, I called her.
"There's an empty chair here, and you're missed terribly. Where are you?"
"I'm with my real family now."

I was gutted.
What happened?
This is what happened:

"My family is the cult"... What Kylie was taught.
      Kylie's natural affections for her family, which were so loyal; her maternal bond with our son, which was so fierce, were pared away. She was persuaded that they were evil; that she had spent her childhood exposed to satanic torture (Necessary interjection: Kylie's family are good, kind, civically engaged people, and their support has been indispensable). Her illness, the presentation of alternate personalities, was perverted into some kind of spiritual attunement, a conduit to hear messages from Jesus springing from Kylie's lips; her altered states the channel to a prophetic gift, to foretell the future; to detect and oppose "astrals", which were satanists purportedly making psychic out of body attacks on the group. These ecstatic spiritual experiences often caused Kylie to lapse into a catatonic state. At the time, Kylie wrote:

"God just told me the next one will be different, it will be like the
other night when I couldn't fall unconscious or stare too long
'cause of the risk of catatonia. He said trap the astrals, get rid of them,
then keep me awake for half an hour. I'm sorry!"

      What the cult believe is that Kylie has a condition known as "Dissociative Identity Disorder", and that the person I knew as Kylie was merely a suffering community of "alters" who had "split" in order to protect her from the traumatic memories of satanic abuse as a adolescent. This was controversial enough as a medical diagnosis; equally as many people in the psychiatric community believe this condition does not exist. "Why," they legitimately ask, "did Holocaust survivors preserve relatively whole memories of their trauma, and yet you say that this abuse forces multiple amnesias and the fragmentation of a person's entire personality?"

      One personality could supposedly speak  directly to Jesus Christ, and that one must have been useful. However, Virginnia (Gina) Donges gave an account of the terrible toll this "gift" was having on Kylie, saying
 "She has the gift of prophecy... But some (of these alters) wanted to hurt her, so they would go and drink bleach, they would eat firelighters, they would try and get her hand in the fire, they would run in front of trucks, all that sort of thing. So we kept the doors locked to keep her safe." Some alters were infantile and mute. They were put to bed with a sucked thumb and a teddy. And others... well, there's no polite way to put it. They were demons, and the only remedy for demonic possession is exorcism. Virginnia boasted the group cast out 88 of them in a single evening.

So Kylie was subjected to exorcism. In Australia, in the twenty first century.

      Within months, Kylie wrote a suicide note, addressed to our son. I can't repeat that. But these notes made about Kylie's ongoing treatment at around that time are disturbing:

"The only way out is death"

"Watching death makes me stronger"

"I will obey at all costs"

My blood ran cold.
Local ministers, former colleagues, people of better sense, did what they could to intervene. They were told to "butt out".

My wife... my boy's mummy, was gone.

Fade to black.

-------- ~~~ --------

      A year later, I sit with a man, his face creased with worry, He has lost his wife to the same cult. We're at his kitchen table.

      He pushes a binder of papers three inches thick across the table at me.

"These were laying about the house, before my wife left. I collected them. They were..." (he searches for a word) "treating Kylie. I can't believe it, but they kept notes on everything. Go on, look."

What I read shocks me to the core.

      And it's what you have been reading, scattered through this article. Just a small sample from these documents. It represents a rare insight into the inner workings of a religious group, turned toxic. I am not aware of many people fighting cults who have had such incriminating material dropped in their lap. I've thought long and hard about what to do with it, and my decision to publish has not come easily.

Most assuredly, this group are... unhappy that I have this material.
Actually, that's something of an understatement.

For example, witness this death decree against myself, written by Virginnia (Gina) Donges on behalf of the group:

The Death Decree written by the cult against myself. Similar threats of
calamity were made against Kylie's mother.

      "They are going to hang themselves". That this was not meant to be taken figuratively was underlined by Virginnia (Gina) on one occasion she spoke to me. It meant just that, and they were praying for it to happen.

"Pray that the wombs are closed of all women.
Pray that the leaders come down first - taken out.
Pray them out - Death or Conversion."
      I'm pretty sure they didn't want me to have that. Or that it would be published. Or that I gave it to Channel Nine. Or that I presented it at Parliament House to a conference where our Federal member of Parliament took time out of her schedule to be in the audience as a support to me (which was greatly appreciated).

      The man gestures. He points to some smudges above his doors and windows.
 "Do you see those greasy marks,  Nathan? They met here. That's where they made little crucifix marks with holy oil. To keep the demons out. They thought that there were coven people hiding in the bushes outside this house, every night. They thought they saw objects moving by themselves in the house. My wife said I brought demons in to the house, on my back."

"Jesus revealed 1 person in back of yard in bush every night 4
last 2 weeks keeping surveillance of coming and going and
keeping notes on lights off. He said pray, link angels around
boundary every night. Man ran away"

      I leaf through hundreds of pages of handwritten and typed documents, some in Kylie's writing, and some in the hand of various cult members. Pronouncements, curses, abjurations. Notes made by cult members as they guided my wife's therapy, encouraging her to verbalise ever more lurid accounts of satanic murder and torture, with no evidence that they ever stopped to ask if it was true, but ecstatically wishing it to be true; insisting, surely it must be still worse, and pray, go further? Crudely drawn pictures of stick figures having indignities performed on them with bombs, torture devices, even a helicopter suspending victims over a mine field. Kindergarten scrawls of obscenities, ostensibly written by Kylie as she "regressed" to infantile alters to re-live her traumas. Crayon daubings of rainbows, roughly done.
Immediately, my thoughts turned to Kylie, working in the emergency ward; competent and vibrant. A loving mother. A homemaker. My best friend.
I feel sick.

      I see Kylie, systematically persuaded that her youthful life was in thrall to a satanic coven, and that only now can she be free, with the cult, her new family.

This is where it gets confusing:
Where the material I am showing you uses the word "cult", it is the Springwood Faulconbridge Home Church referring to basically the whole world. Everyone is compromised. You might be a satanist. The minister of your church might lead a coven on odd numbered Wednesdays. (Virginnia (Gina) Donges: "The higher up they are in the coven, the higher up they are placed in the Church")

They are referring to Kylie's supposed abuse at the hands of a satanic cult in her youth, and of satanic cult activity they believe is presently rife in the community.

When I use the word cult, I am referring to the group Kylie is with now.
Yes, you're allowed to be confused.
I do not believe Kylie was either subjected to, nor witnessed, any of the indignities described.
Ten years of marriage to her, and all the testimony of her friends and family who knew her long before I did, convinces me that Kylie has been schooled into this bizarre, sinister vein of end-times spiritual warfare at a point where she was seriously mentally ill, and uniquely vulnerable to their depredations.

Keep this question in mind; what catastrophic harm befalls a seriously mentally ill person when they are encouraged to believe such things, in lieu of proper psychiatric care?

Every page I turn to reveals a new horror. The cult believe they were engaged in invisible war with satanists operating up and down the Blue Mountains. That my family had satanists as well:
The cult believe they are involved in spiritual warfare against
covens in the Sydney area, whom they identify "in the spirit" by
name, age, vocation, location, seniority, and the nature
of the attack these "astral travellers" visit upon the group.

Psychically identifying cult members: "10:45pm   Blackheath:
Jason  27  car salesman (level 2)
Brad   24   labourer (level 1 - highest)

Psychically identifying cult members:
"Katoomba youth coven - higher rank than shane
Chad - Uni   22,   Jake - unemployed   19."

Psychically identifying cult members: "Seth - 24  Lithgow, stray astral
hit later and set off catatonic", to which is added the strange
warning "From Joy: Kylie is so close they are pulling
out all stops". (Strange, because "Joy" may be an one of the alternate
personality of Kylie's)

"For those who hurt big Kylie, Prayer: Dear Jesus in your authority of your mighty name we decree that Matt and Jan that just astralled in and brought pain to Kylie we decree in Jesus' name that pain be thrown back on to you and that you will be subjected to it three times worse. (?) power until judgement day."

As I read, I see evidence of Kylie being encouraged to believe that she witnessed and participated in shocking acts. Torture and mass murder:

"I am invincible because I defeat death...
In a hole, tarp over, dirt over"

"If I disobey, I die.
Lite stick, pushed down throat. Eyes burned with flaming stick"

"If I talk, I die. Man chair/ tongue cut
out, stapled. (head cut off)"

"I will kill for the cult... baby out of mother"

"small baby- head cut off, put in hole"

"I am invincible because I beat death.
Heated faeces up on fire in large
barrel and tried to drown in hole."

"If I talk I die
Very angry - cut tongue out stapled mouth shut and died."

"Young guy - stick on fire down throat and then put in fire.
Acids put in throat and other places"

My womb belongs to the cult - Anything from it is theirs
Watched baby being extracted (woman died)

Kill or be killed - thought she killed a girl - but already dead

"(explosives on women)"

"I will obey at all costs. Cut throat - layed all night in body bag."

"body - intestine"

"I'm nothing but a burden. Dead body overnight"

"Pig - explosives - sex X2"

"9 year old murder"

"body bag. Cult killed with bats and spike straps,
made to orgasm before death - seed gives power"

"My only way out is death
Witness murder - she held head of man, chopped off, stick."

"Purification ritual - bleach and paintstripper"

"Man dragged out, hit with bats till dead & broken,
then hit with metal ball with spikes. Covered K with bits of flesh"

"cut out tongue - stapled lips & nose - hung him from a tree"

"I will kill for the cult when instructed...
made to kill 20+ old then lay in body bag all night"

"Man made to put hand x2 in large blender
powered by generator. Then poured over Kylie all night"

One obvious question is; if these people believed that any of this was true, why did they not go to the police? Surely this represents first hand testimony of a survivor who has witnessed torture and mass murder on an unprecedented scale! Why, it's because the police were infiltrated by satanists as well!

Psychically identifying cult members:
"Justin - Policeman   32,  Phillip - Uni student   28."

I begin to understand why Kylie is not getting better. Why she has cast aside her family. Her head was being filled with bile:
"I'm nothing but shit"

"My life belongs to Satan... body chainsaw / put in bag with parts (blood oath)"

"I am a bad girl and I deserve this"

"I'm fat I'm fat I'm fat - dog pooh eat"

"Blood makes me stronger. Put in a hole - buckets
of body parts and blood tipped over her"

"I'm ugly, I am nothing. I only matter to the cult"

"I decree all humanity of Kylie will leave"

"I will kill when instructed. I am Satan's little whore"

"I am a bad girl and I deserve this"

"hang from tree (dog). Dead over top all night"

"I will kill for the cult"

"I am a bad girl and I have a bad heart"

"Seeing death makes me stronger"

"I can trust no one but the cult" (Family) Code word
The cult are my family. (people not in the cult are called non family).
Pray a covering every time he speaks to her"
(this may be in relation to my efforts to speak
to Kylie to express my concern).

      The "Repressed Memory Therapy" which Kylie was buckling under was taking a terrible toll. A Psychologist named Sue Bartho who was being duped into approving this therapy provided the confirmation:

See the first part of this story for more commentary on this point.      

      While her contact with us, her real family, tapered off, I noted with concern on rare occasions we saw her, how thin she looked, and that she always had a thousand-yard stare. Meanwhile, Virginnia (Gina) Donges was boasting to her own children:

      "Absolutely. We have written a new textbook about psychology, and that's what we are in the process of doing. To deal with this particular type of D.I.D that no one knows about, how to deal with it... We have rewritten it, and we've been told that we've rewritten it, and it will change mental health care, when the time comes"

This was what that therapy was producing:
"threted (sp) to give me a needle/ Hurt me in my special place.
Held my nose and made me swallow. If I didn't the needle would kill me."

"Kill coz I told u"

"Killed dog... Can't move or cry or will push button, blow up"

One note suggests. "Kylie has chosen this road". Like fuck she has.
And on, and on, in notebook after notebook. 

Lastly, I read: "If I talk, I die."

At that moment, I decide to speak for the speechless.

      Kylie had been brainwashed, poisoned against her own family, persuaded at a point of utter vulnerability (and certainly at a point where she needed professional psychiatric care), that members of her own family were Satanists, and that she lived a tortured life of oppression and terror. When they changed her name, Virginnia Donges came to a decision with Jenny Buckingham-Jones:
"The name Kylie became sickening to us. She was cursed with that name, it wasn't a name that was an honouring name to her. It had the word 'Lie' in it, and right from the time she was born, everyone was told that she was a liar, and she was herself told 'no one will believe you'.  This little one that came…  I really believe that it had to be Hope, so I called her Hope. Hope then became Hopey. Because “little Hope” didn't sound very good. So the one that I live with today, with no other parts, her name is Hope. She has the emotional level of a five year old."

      And at the time this happened, Virginnia (Gina) Donges, was working at Wycliffe Christian School, where I worked. Where my son was enrolled. Jenny Buckingham-Jones was on the board of the school. Her husband David Buckingham-Jones was a former board member. It was absolutely intolerable. And at the point I needed the support of that community more than ever; after I had given a decade of my working life to that community, it failed me. I took the material I am presenting here to the Board and leadership of this school. The board flatly refused to repudiate these practices, or to apologise for the treatment Kylie and I had experienced, even though the wider school community was now well aware of what had happened and expressed their support for me along with their disappointment with the spinelessness of the board.

-------- ~~~ --------

      Throughout the notes I had been provided, there was the repeated reference to two names: "John and Glenys Darnell" and "The Shepherd's Heart Church", based in Canberra. Who were they?

      I have covered the beliefs and practices of the Darnells in the first part of my story, however, all I need to note here is that the Blue Mountains cult had consulted John Darnell on at least one previous occasion when they were helping another woman named Elizabeth, and then quote Virginnia's words concerning the Darnell's role in Kylie's "treatment program":

"So I started to talk to John, I started to read his material, I started to see what caused D.I.D...  John came from Canberra to give us the techniques... One of the first 'parts', the first time out of all of them (there had been hundreds and hundreds up until then, which came out), and he recognised that one and said 'I think you're going to be asked to stay, and not to not be taken out'. And as it turned out, it did, but this one was our first one and she was 10. And he said to me, 'Gin, can you name her?' So I called her 'Hope'."

So Kylie didn't change her name. She had it changed for her. Kylie had "never existed", and yet was apparently sufficiently competent to sign  a power of enduring guardianship over her medical care to members of the cult.

I did some digging. John Darnell believes demons walk the earth in human guise, called "Nephilim". They breed with women, creating half demon-half human hybrids. They fly around in Nazi-built, demonically piloted UFOs. They kidnap women and take them to a secret underground base where the half demon embryos are removed. Oh, and the British Royal Family may be reptilians. All of this wackiness is recorded in the church's own materials, or in a series of radio interviews John Darnell gave to some fringe U.S based Christian radio stations over the last 2 years. In one interview, John Darnell talks specifically about the "help" he gave Kylie and the fact it came under official investigation by the Health Services Commissioner. His response?
"Well, so what? I'm prepared to go to gaol, I'm prepared to die, to help these people who don't have a voice." (Radio interview, 17-10-2010)
Yeah, thanks so much for all your help, John.
"11/5/09 - Monday of John's visit... Will bring out the big ones tonight. A "system". How big Kylie's system is and how complicated it is. Tell us about codes. Be really careful because what you see in there is hidden setups. Go really slowly." (See my other article for Darnell's beliefs on "systems")

I suspect this template, used in the example above, was provided by
John Darnell as part of Kylie's "treatment plan"

Examples of the strange abjurations Kylie and the group participated in.

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      January 2012 Update: Three remarkable years of trying to understand what went wrong. Kylie has divorced me, but a magistrate granted me sole custody of our son, not seeking even to impose any schedule for contact between our boy and his mother. I've joined several organisations to try to do what I can to help others who are going through similar situations. One is the Australian False Memory Association (AFMA). The other is the Cult Information and Family Support Network (CIFS). I am now aware that there are others out there who are doing the same thing, who believe in Ritual Satanic Abuse and Repressed Memory Therapy, and the shattered victims and their families need help. People like me, who have had the fortune to arrive at compelling proofs of the phenomenon, must speak out, or others will suffer. As I said, I've been on TV and I've spoken at Parliament House to tell a part of this story. I've met with the NSW Attorney General, and various other MPs to try and push for stronger laws against this kind of psychological abuse, but this will be the subject of the third part of this series of articles.

      Now, I'm back at Uni completing my Masters in teaching with a near High Distinction average. My boy is thriving. I'm actively engaged in various civic pursuits.  I would like to think that I inspire both the esteem of my colleagues and friends, and perhaps a modicum of dread among my enemies.

      I freely admit that telling this story, and especially in naming those whom I believe are responsible, carries some risk. But there's no malice in me telling you this tale. I'm no Ahab, nor is this blog my Pequod. You see, someone will die if these kinds of therapies are allowed to persist without censure or restraint. I'm doing what I feel I must to raise the profile of this issue, in which, I assure you, I had neither knowledge nor interest before it fell like a flaming airliner on my house.

      Lastly, a legitimate question is "What of Kylie?" It is enough to say that she is a victim, who has not been able to speak this truth for herself. She is loved still, and missed always. When she escapes (not if, when) then she is entitled to a narrative which will grant her back some modicum of dignity, and which will let her hold her head back up. She is more sinned against, than sinning.

      Your feedback regarding this story, especially if you or a loved one have endured something similar, is welcomed.
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      December 2019 Update: These events have caused trauma that will never entirely heal. In one sense there will never be a 'happy ending' because what has been lost can never be returned. At least, not to Kylie.

     But for what it's worth, you should know that my son and I are flourishing. He was six when his mother left, never to return. And I have raised him nearly to manhood, now over a decade has elapsed. At time of writing, he's in his last year of high school. I couldn't be prouder of him.
The events in this piece I wrote eight years ago feel like a geological age ago. They only ache on anniversaries, like Frodo's wound from the Witch-King in Lord of the Rings.

     As for me? I completed my Masters and was pursuing a teaching career until politics called me. I have been an elected city Councillor for three years, and presently sit as the Chair of another County Council -- a civic vocation I find tremendously satisfying. I've directed and acted on the stage. I've travelled internationally. I look back on the imprecations spoken against me with a overwhelming sense of vindication. They said I would founder. Instead, for the last decade, I have prospered: I am involved in my community. I am surrounded by family. I feel like I'm living the advice in Raymond Carver’s poem, Late Fragment:

“And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.”

     Sometimes, I still wonder if these people ever ask themselves if they were wrong. To use the way they would frame it: Whom has God favoured? They prayed I would die. Instead, it is they who now have ruined reputations and shrunken lives, with their children and siblings rejecting them, and caught in a slow downward spiral of mental illness and co-dependence.

     For several years, I have received reports that Kylie continues to be increasingly unwell. In 2015, bizarrely, I saw a photo of her submitted to a photographic competition at our local fair. She looked sick. Haunted. Utterly joyless.

     Although it made me sad, it didn't have the kick it might have had in earlier years, when I still had a heart to fight for her. Now I realise, in a sense, Kylie died when the cult captured her and hollowed her out. I'm reconciled to that now. She no longer even sends cards or gifts to our son on birthdays or Christmases.

     The cult group, I hear, has splintered, as I knew it would. Many figures have abandoned Virginnia/Gina Donges/Doran (or whatever alias she's using these days to cover up her past). Some people close to what happened have sought contact with me to say they now see things differently. I still get unsolicited emails from people who knew the Darnells, usually along the lines of "I was damaged by them too", or "we always knew they were crazy!"  I take comfort from that. 

     Virginnia's online presence these days is full of anti-vaccination BS, or other tinfoil-hat conspiracy-theory woo, such as advocating that the Port Arthur massacre was a false-flag operation -- confirming my long-held theory that the constellation of credulity, stupidity and a lack of critical thinking faculties are the things that all pseudoscience and cultery have in common. If you believe Satanic covens have infiltrated mainstream churches and fly around in UFO's, then of course you're also going to believe every other quack theory that lands in your inbox. Our friends Dunning and Kruger are at work here.

What has not changed is my conviction that someone will die some day as a result of these practices or these beliefs. I gave a warning, many years ago, to that group. Kylie was their burden now, and she is a ticking bomb. One that will inevitably go off. And I'll be waiting.

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      I'll include here the videos of the two TV pieces and my Parliament House speech that went to air in early November 2011 where I begin to tell my story.

Video of second "A Current Affair" piece:

Video of Parliament House speech:

Video of first "A Current Affair" piece: