Insanity of Cult Apologists

Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Insanity of Cult Apologists
From: (Rob Clark)
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 22:29:09 GMT

[This is a portion of an article by James R. Lewis, who, with J. Gordon Melton, started up a front group to defend the nerve-gas AUM terrorists, under the bogus name "AWARE" for Association of World Academics for Religious Education. This fake group, created solely for James Lewis to have a cover story for his cult apology that sounds official, has been listed by the Scientology-run so-called "NEW Cult Awareness Network" as a recommended resource. This habit of creating silly, fraudulent front-groups for a single person has been adopted by most cult apologists, such as Massimo Introvigne and of course J. Gordon Melton. Introvigne has his CESNUR and Melton his Institute for theStudy of American Religions, to cover the fact that he is not a professor at a university but merely a librarian. Amusingly, vampire-fetishism is a hobby of many cult apologists, there are available photos of both J. Gordon Melton and Massimo Introvigne cruising about in vampire drag. Their affinity for bloodsucking cults is, perhaps, reflected in this.]

Japan's Waco:

AUM Shinrikyo and the Eclipse of Freedom in the Land of the Rising Sun

by James R. Lewis

"Oh Shit," I said to myself, "Why did you have to say that!?" Standing in line at immigration in Narita Airport, my colleague, Gordon Melton, had just toldthe immigration officer that we were in Japan to research religions. He may as well have said we were in Japan to sell cocaine. While I was not the mostexperienced international traveler, I was aware enough to know that "religion" was a buzz word, the mere mention of which could cause one to be turned away at the gates of more than one nation. Luckily in Japan, the authorities were a little more discriminating than in some other countries. We were thus politely escorted toa different part of the airport and asked to explain our intentions in detail to another customs official.

Dragging our luggage through the terminal, the impact of having just flown halfway around the world weighed heavily on us. All we wanted was a hot shower and a comfortable bed. Neither of us was prepared to be grilled with probing questions. It also crossed our minds that there was a very real possibility we

[Any one stupid enough to travel halfway around the world to denounce authorities and attempt to help a deranged cult evade responsibility for its nerve-gas attack on a subway, and then who isn't "prepared" for "probing questions" is obviously too stupid to help.]

might be turned back and put on the next flight returning to the States. Wehad, after all, traveled to the Land of the Rising Sun at the request of AUM Shinrikyo, the controversial religious group accused of staging the March 20, 1995 poison gas attack in a Tokyo subway. And we had good reason to suspect that Japanese authorities would not take kindly to a group of nosey foreigners mounting an independent investigation, one that might reach conclusions significantly at odds with official police findings.

[Or perhaps Melton's reputation for blatant lying preceded him, and this disdain was rather similar to that which might be expected of a fool who follows around serial killers defending them as misunderstood victims, in return for handsome compensations and perks for so doing.]

Our interview with the customs official was the first of many experiences attempting to communicate with people whose grasp of English was minimal. As we were to discover, almost everyone in Japan knows at least a little English, but fluent speakers are few and far between. Thus most of our conversations took place in what I came to refer to as "baby English" speaking slowly in a vocabulary a pre-kindergartner might understand. And while our communications were often taxing, it was difficult to criticize the Japanese: They, after all, understood the basics of our language, while we were almost completely ignorant of theirs.

While Gordon struggled to communicate the purpose of our visit to the customs officer, I decided that I would try to dispel the official's suspicions by playing the role of tourist. Pulling out my camera, I began taking pictures of everyone and everything. I felt a bit silly, but at the time I thought my pretense of innocence might help convince the customs officer to let us pass.

[This sounds like a rather unusual way of distracting attention.]

Later I realized that he was just holding us until the police arrived. Gordon had let it be known that we were meeting with AUM Shinrikyo officials, and this item of information had attracted more than casual attention from the authorities. After about an hour, we were finally released from this first interview. We thought we were in the clear, and breathed a deep sigh of relief. I could almost taste that shower and warm bed. Our reprieve was, however, short-lived. As we walked down the stairs from customs, a young plainclothes policeman approached us politely and rather meekly requested that we come with him in order to "answer a few questions." "Of course," we replied, though more questioning was absolutely the last thing we were interested in.

For this next round of questioning, Gordon and I were placed in separate rooms and grilled a second time. Japan has many more police per capita than we have in the U.S., and our group of approximately a dozen interrogators seemed to have been drawn from customs, the airport police, the national police, and the Japanese FBI/CIA. As we were being frisked, our luggage was meticulously searched. I worried that my interrogators might notice that I carried several publications authored by Master Asahara, the founder/leader of AUM Shinrikyo. However, while every single book was handled, no one seemed to take notice of Asahara's very distinctive picture on the cover of these particular volumes.

[Cops everywhere are too busy scrounging through your underwear to notice what's on your T-Shirt.]

The only item I was questioned about was my antihistamines. When one officer held them up and pointed to them with a questioning look on his face, I replied "antihistamines." No response. (Hmmm, what might this guy understand?) So then I said "allergy." Once again, an uncomprehending look. Not knowing quite where to go, I finally told a little story in baby-English: "Springtime," I said. Everyone in the room looked at me intently. "Flowers bloom," I went on, pantomiming a flower unfolding. "Ah-choo!" I concluded. My interrogators' faces all relaxed into smiles and "ah-ha!" expressions. Successful communication!

In the final analysis, I found it difficult to be upset with these fellows. The Japanese are the most polite people on the planet, and at every stage of the questioning process I was treated with the utmost politeness and respect. I think what helped me most was pointing out to them that the name on the cover of several of the books I had with me corresponded with the name on my passport. This caused no little stir, especially when I explained that one of the books was on the "Branch Davidians," a group they obviously had heard of through the news media. As they examined my Waco volume, From the Ashes, I could see a wave of understanding pass across their faces: "Oh," they must have thought, "this guy writes books about weird religious groups like the Branch Davidians and AUM Shinrikyo!" They now grasped the purpose of our visit in its lucid simplicity, and no further explanation was required. After many more smiles and bows, we were released.

Our other two colleagues, Barry Fisher, a human rights lawyer, and Thomas Banigan, an organic chemist, had slipped quietly through customs without being caught in the same web of interrogations, presumably because they could explain why they were in Japan without mentioning any buzz words that made red lights go on in the minds of our customs officers. We finally caught up with them in the front lobby of the airport. Two members of AUM Shinrikyo were also there to greet us and escort us to our hotel.

As we proceeded to the train station, a half-dozen or so plainclothes policemen followed us. We had to laugh at their clumsy efforts: Some of the very same officers who had interrogated Gordon and myself were now engaged in the pretense of being travelers who just happened to be going in the same direction. We boarded the train without incident, and our police escort took up a position in the car immediately behind us. A couple of times during the trip I looked back at them, and they met my eyes with a scowl. Either they were trying to intimidate us or they were pissed off that we'd interrupted their routine. Perhaps our arrival had created a police problem that required some of them to work overtime, and they were angry at missing home-cooked meals.

During the long ride into Tokyo I reflected on the events that had brought our team to Japan. On March 20th, a poison gas attack had taken place in a Tokyo subway, killing 12 people and injuring many others. AUM Shinrikyo, a small but highly controversial Japanese religious movement, was subsequently declared the prime suspect, and the group became the object of intense police investigation. The circumstantial evidence surrounding AUM was strong:

The group had been highly critical of Japanese society in general and of the police in specific, leading many citizens to regard it as anti-social.

Master Asahara, the group's prophetic leader, had predicted that sarin gas attacks by terrorists would occur in the not-too-distant future.

Most importantly, the group had its own chemical plant and chemical laboratory, at which, it was claimed, sarin could be manufactured.

The police subsequently raided AUM centers and arrested AUM members on a variety of unrelated charges. Due to a high level of negative publicity generated by the mass media, a majority of Japanese were quickly convinced of AUM's guilt.

In late April, AUM officials requested that AWARE (the Association of World Academics for Religious Education) investigate charges that AUM was being unfairly persecuted by Japanese authorities. AWARE had been formed to serve as a kind of religious Amnesty International, and it was thus fitting that our

[A kind of religious Amnesty International my ass. More like a terrorist apologist group. Amnesty International usually intervenes *against* the slimy bastards running reeducation torture camps and abusing human rights, rather than telling blatant lies to help them.]

four-man team embarked under AWARE's auspices. AWARE originally offered to send a team to Japan during the summer. However, because time was of the essence, AUM offered to help move up our timetable by paying the team's expenses, an offer that was accepted only after AUM further arranged to provide all expenses ahead of time, so that financial considerations would not be attached to our final report.

[Since it was already known well in advance that their "final report" would be a complete whitewash, as are all of Melton's "reports," this weaselly little evasion does not wash as an excuse for taking money from the cult they are "reporting" on. Free airfare and lodging in Japan. That is not a cheapie and Eileen Barker had her reputation trashed for far more minor irregularities.]

As an expert on world religions, I was already dismayed by much of the press coverage I had seen. AUM Shinrikyo was being relentlessly demonized by the media as an "evil cult," a portrayal that could, as in the case of the Branch

[I can't imagine why people would think of a bunch of apocalyptic bunch who waged germ warfare on Japanese society, nerve-gassed subways and spent significant time in Russia trolling for nuclear weapons were an "evil cult."

I suppose nuclear, biological and chemical attacks on the infrastructure of society is just one of those mildly eccentric behaviors that only a bigot could possibly complain about. Jeez, launch a little itty-bitty nerve-gas attack on a subway and them damn bigots come out of the woodwork and for some reason think your harmless organization is an "evil cult."

The fact that these loons are acting with a response of hurt innocence shows a complete break with reality.]

Davidians, be used to legitimize the worst kind of persecution. From what I had learned prior to our arrival in Japan, I tended to doubt AUM's involvement in the incident. I had found, for example, that AUM was a Buddhist group with links to non-AUM Buddhist leaders, and it was difficult for me to believe that any sincere Buddhist would willingly kill innocent human beings. There were also certain other items of data that made me suspicious:

The police received some 5,000 or so gas masks from the Self-Defense Force (the Japanese military) on the Friday before the attack. This indicates that authorities knew such an attack was imminent but that they failed to warn the general public beforehand.

[The police were, indeed, woefully slow in reporting the dangers of the AUM cult, having been nearly inundated with complaints and objections from distraught parents reporting cult abductions, murders and missing people resulting from this cult's insane campaign of crime.]

As reported in the American media, but apparently not in the Japanese media, stock market trading involving the only company in Japan manufacturing gas masks was unusually heavy on the business day prior to the subway incident. This suggests that one or more people knew about the attack beforehand and sought to profit from the impending tragedy as well as subsequent nerve-gas hysteria.

[Without details, I can not speculate. However, the cult itself had stocked up on gas masks, as even an insane cult will do when planning to launch nerve-gas attacks. Even a complete bloody idiot knows to buy gas masks before unleashing gas.]

Despite repeated assertions that the gas released on March 20 was sarin, the characteristics of that gas and its reported effects on victims do not conform to the known traits of sarin gas. Sarin is, for example, odorless, and the subway gas was said to have had a distinct odor.

[It is fairly obvious and evident that these fools did not bother even looking into the well-known public record facts about the impure sarin used in the subway attacks. Properly-manufactured sarin does, indeed, have no odor. However, AUM had disposed of their earlier stashes of sarin, as the Japanese police had pre-announced earlier raids on AUM compounds, which located materials used for manufacture of explosives and biolab equipment perfectly suited for the production of botulin toxin, anthrax, Q fever, and perhaps even Ebola virus. AUM had previously attempted to launch a botulin attack on the Diet, which failed due to an imperfect delivery mechanism.

The sarin used for the attacks was created from a cache of a sarin precursor which was hidden by the cult, and the ad hoc manufacturing process created an impure sarin with a strong odor and choking fumes.]

Independent of one another, none of these items of information necessarily indicate anything suspicious. However, when taken together, these bits of data seem to add up to some kind of official involvement in the tragedy or, at the very least, some kind of withholding of relevant information from the general public by Japanese authorities. In particular, it seems clear to me that someone with government connections knew about the attack beforehand and sought to profit from that foreknowledge.

[this sample was quoted from]

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