Cults Inside Out, written by American cult expert Rick Alan Ross, is recommended by many main-stream media, and also well received by other cult experts, scholars and professionals in press and legal circles. In 2005, Mr. Rick Alan Ross accepted the interview with Ms Mindy Bond, who was an editor, writer and journalist from Gothamist.com. In order to broaden our readers’ horizons and enrich their knowledge of the western counter-cult movement, Kaiwind.com (aka Facts.org.cn) has translated the interview record into Chinese. The interview record has been divided into seven parts, and Kaiwind.com added a subheading for every part in view of its relatively independent topic.
In this Part Three, Mr. Rick Alan Ross expresses his opinions on Kabbalah and those “celebrity-studded” groups.
What about Kabbalah? Radar Magazine recently ran a scathing expose on the Bergs, pretty much exposing them as taking an ancient form of Jewish mysticism and distorting it for personal gain. Do you agree with this assessment?
I cooperated with Radar on that series and have been tracking the Kabbalah Centre since 1997. In my opinion the Bergs are more about marketing than mysticism. And the Kabbalah Centre is run much like the Berg family business even though it is a nonprofit tax-exempted religious charity. I have received many complaints about the Bergs from former devotees, families and the partners and spouses of those involved. These complaints run from relentless financial exploitation to estrangement from a spouse, family or friends that don’t agree with and/or question the Bergs and their teachings. Madonna more than anyone is responsible for the fantastic growth of the Kabbalah Centre in recent years. And though she may also be a victim of undue influence, Madonna has enabled the Bergs to reach a wider audience and potentially harm an increasing number of people.
Why do you think people buy into this stuff?
Adherents buy into the Kabbalah Centre because they don’t know initially what it’s all about. Some are probably swept up by the cache of Madonna, Demi Moore, and Ashton Kutcher, which makes the Bergs appear credible. Add to this that the Kabbalah Centre offers easy enlightenment with an amulet or holy water to address almost any need or problem. Groups like this sell simple solutions to complex problems in a world that is becoming increasingly frightening and overwhelming for many people.
Where are the devoted Jews? Why don’t they protest?
The Bergs and the Kabbalah Centre have no meaningful credibility amongst the organized Jewish community. Berg has been ridiculed and dismissed by many leading rabbis and at times Jewish leaders have issued public warnings. But of course the Kabbalah Centre calls this “persecution” and encourages its members to see the controversy that has historically surrounded the Bergs as a jealous reaction to their accomplishments. And for people like Madonna, who seems to live within her own bubble much like Tom Cruise, such apologies are apparently convincing.
Is there anything redeeming about these “celebrity-studded” groups?
People such as Kirstie Alley say that Scientology got them off drugs. If this is true that’s a good thing. Others claim that Hubbard’s so-called “study technology” was helpful, though much of it comes across as common sense. Followers of the Kabbalah Centre say they are less negative and now look at life and people more positively as a result of that group’s teachings. But both these groups seem relentless in their pursuit of money from those that become involved.