subject: AANEWS for January 2, 1996 A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nn nn AANEWS nn #226 u
from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS
subject: AANEWS for January 2, 1996
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#226 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 1/2/96
In This Issue...
* More on Involvement of Buddhist Groups in Soft Money Scandal
* Robertson -- Still Off Political Radar
* What is Renaissance Weekend?
* About This List
DID BUDDHIST GROUPS VIOLATE LAW IN DEMO SOFT-MONEY SCANDAL
But Pat Robertson Still Off "Political Radar Screen"
Two Buddhist religious groups continue to be in the focus of soft money
revelations linking the Clinton White House to a possible cash-for-favors
effort by foreign corporations and their domestic henchmen. Since October,
the Democratic National Committee has returned nearly $1,500,000 in donations
from non-U.S. citizens, some of whom are considered conduits from Indonesian
corporate conglomerates like the powerful Lippo Group. The money was part of
a larger effort by Democrats called the National Asian Pacific American
Campaign Plan which had the goal of raising $7 million; the plan was
developed by John Huang, a Democratic Party fund raiser. Part of the scheme
was to funnell contributions through two Buddhist groups, one of which
embraces so-called "humanistic Buddhism" and has a $30,000,000 temples in Los
Angeles. The other is a controversial "Supreme Master" sect centered around
an avatar named Ching Hai. The question now emerges -- Did the religious
groups violate their tax-exempt status as religious organizations? Some
suggest that the actions of these sects is comparable to plans by right-wing
mega-churches to engage in over political activity in the "Nehemiah Project."
In October, questions about contributions to the Democratic National
Committee began to emerge, specifically in connection with $425,000 in
donations attributed to Arife Miriadinata, a relative of a business partner
of Mochtar Riady. The Riady family runs the wealthy Lippo Group industrial
and real estate conglomerate in Indonesia. Lippo/Riady operatives on capitol
hill included men like John Huang (who also served as a former Commerce
Department official) and Charlie Trie, a Little Rock restaurant owner. Both
men were friends of the Clintons and active in DNC fund raising activities.
The religious aspect of the case involves two Buddhist sects; Mr. Trie is
identified as a member of the Taiwan-based "Supreme Master" cult centered
around a woman named Ching Hai. Hai reportedly urged sect members to
contribute to Mr. Clinton's Whitewater legal defense fund after having a
meeting with Charles Trie. Thus far, it is known that Hai's followers
kicked in over $600,000 in donations, but most of these have been returned
since they did not meet the fund guidelines. Trie also sits on the DNC's
national finance board, and raised about $100,000 during the 1996 elections.
His family has donated over $140,000 to campaigns, and his business a total
of $70,000 since July, 1974.
Trie has been identified as the "bag man" in delivering envelopes filled
with checks and money orders to the Clinton's legal fund. Press reports
mention a total of $640,000.
Another "Taiwan connection" figure is Mark Middleton, a former Clinton
aide; he is believed to have represented the DNC in accepting $15,000,000
from a wealthy Taiwanese official, Liu Tai-Ying, who has denied the charge.
The second religious group involved in the soft-money scandal is the Hsi
Lai Temple, site of a controversial April 29 fund raiser attended by Vice
President Al Gore. Even though religious groups are presumably barred from
partisan political activities, a total of $140,000 was raised. Remarkably,
there are reports of Buddhist nuns and temple underlings "doing as
instructed," taking cash from unidentified individuals and then writing a
check to the DNC under their own name. One statement about the contributions
came man a Buddhist nun named Man Ya Shih, who in early December contradicted
an October statement that a Democratic operative gave her cash and then asked
her to launder the money through her checking account.
The Hsi Lai Temple is the largest Buddhist monastery in the western
hemisphere, with a floor area of over 100,000 square feet and capacity for
several thousand worshippers. "Venerable Master" Hsing Yun is founder of the
Hsi Lai group, and has met at least once with then-Senator Albert Gore; the
sect describes itself as a religious movement teaching so-called "Humanistic
Buddhism." The Temple was completed in November, 1988 at a cost of over
$30,000,000. This particular Buddhist sect counts more than one million
devotees, and has 130 temples such as Hsi Lai operating in 100 countries.
Both Lippo operative John Huang and another Democratic fund raiser, Maria
L. Hsia, have links to the Temple group. Huang organized the fund raiser and
and arranged a meeting with Venerable Master Yun at the White House with Mr.
Gore in March, 1996; and Ms. Hsia has "advised the Temple on immigration
matters" according to Politics Now.
Master Yun also gave $5,000 of his own money at the April Buddhist fund
event; other individuals contributing between $2,000 and $5,000 gave the
Temple as their own addresses.
Democratic National Committee officials, to their credit, became worried
about the propriety of the contributions, and the entire fund raiser. On
October 18, DNC announced that it was paying Hsi Lai Temple $15,000 to cover
the cost of the event.
Incredibly, Temple officials and followers have made statements denying
interest in politics, or even an awareness that their money was being used
for political purposes. Buddhist nun Hsiao Pi-hsia told a Taiwanese
newspaper that she contributed thousands of dollars "as a gesture of good
Laundered Money, Foreign Links, Domestic Influence
On the lips of many investigators is the wider question: Are campaign
contributions from foreign financial interests buying influence in the United
States? The activities of the Lippo Group conglomerate raise this, and
other, concerns; Huang and Trie appear to have used their status in White
House circles to invite a number of foreign businessmen into proximity with
U.S. movers and shakers, including the head of a Chinese weapons firm who has
ties to that country's Politboro and intelligence service.
Both Huang and Trie appear to the main connection linking the Buddhist
groups with other circles of donors. And there are other bizarre aspects to
the fund raisers as well.
* At a May event organized in Washington by Mr. Huang, a woman named Aiwah
Qi was photographed while promoting a phoney aspirin "cancer cure" that she
peddles for up to $160 a bottle. In June, Qi was the subject of an expose by
the New York Daily news which highlighted her false claims of being a
physician, and advertising her "cures" in Chinese-language papers. Qi is
known to have contributed $12,500 to the DNC, which is now reportedly
reviewing the donation.
* Buddhist "Supreme Master" cult figure Ching Hai openly asked her
followers to contribute money to the Clinton campaign following a meeting
with cultist member Charlie Trie. It has now been learned that most of the
checks delivered to the Presidential Legal Expense Trust were in Hai's name.
Hai has told the New York Times that "He is the President of the United
States, the biggest country in the world, and yet he is dragged into the
material world by something so trivial."
Hai's "Supreme Master" sect counts some 100,000 worldwide, and operates
dozens of vegetarian restaurants throughout the country.
Sect is Anti-Abortion
Ching Hai may have her own social and political agenda, even if it does
involve partisan political activity which could jeopardize her group's tax
exempt status. One such organization is the International Supreme Master
Ching Hai Meditation Associations, which in March released a letter to the
United Nations putting forth Hai's view on population and abortion. Along
with calls to "balance the population of the world," Hai suggested population
transfers through adoption, and an end to "the vice of killing" (abortion).
In addition, Ching Hai's magazine which focuses mostly on the wonderful deeds
and qualities of the "Supreme Master" gushes with statements like one which
admonished legislators: "All the sins due to the abortions in society or the
world may falls (sic) on your shoulders, as it may not be the fault of the
people who commit the sins because it is permitted by you...it is also the
government's responsibility, assigned by God, to guide their people to avoid
killing (abortion) as much as possible."
Robertson -- Still Off The Political Radar
While news media has focused on the Lippo-Riady-Clinton nexus, it has all
but ignored another area which ties the interests of Mochtar and James Riady
to an American political power-broker, namely, televangelist Pat Robertson.
There has been no mention in major papers or wire services of this
connection, only a piece in the Virginia Beach Pilot. Robertson's Christian
Broadcasting Network is a partner with the Riadys in a "no sex, no news, no
violence"TV venture known as China Entertainment Television Broadcast, Ltd.
AANEWS has discussed this business venture in depth, noting in our December
20 dispatch that Robertson's International Family Entertainment, Inc. now has
access to 28,000,000 viewers in China alone. "Pat Robertson has some cache
in mainland China," mused one financial analyst, adding that the
televangelist also had made "high level Chinese government contacts."
Ironically, it was Robertson's Christian Coalition which, reacting to a
suit filed by the Federal Elections Commission charging partisan political
activity, waded into the Buddhist temple controversy by complaining about the
Buddhist fund raiser.
State-Church Separation Threatened By All
Religious groups are enjoined from partisan political activity if they
wish to maintain their privileged, tax-exempt status. The Christian
Coalition has been criticized for its role in distributing tens of millions
of so-called "voters guides"; and giant "mega-churches" such as Houston's
Second Baptist Church have made their own forays into the political arena as
well. Evidence surfaced in March that Second Baptist may have violated
provisions of the Internal Revenue Service Code by instituting its political
ministry known as The Nehemiah Project, and urging members to vote for a
specific slate of precinct delegates in the Texas primary.
There is growing evidence that religious organizations across the
political spectrum are using their mantle of god-belief to promote specific
political ideologies. In the case of the Buddhist groups, though, there may
be clear violations of election laws which could -- and should -- remove tax
MORE ''SPIRITUALITY'' AS CLINTONS SCHMOOZE AT NEW AGE FEST
"Spiritual Life In A Secular Society" was just one of the workshop topics
in a Renaissance Weekend attended by President Clinton, wife Hillary, and
nearly 1500 other "super achievers who aren't too sophisticated to walk
around sporting oversized name tags," according to CNN. The Clintons spent
last weekend at the invitation-only mystical retreat , making it their 13th
What is "Renaissance Weekend"?
Some conservative and fundamentalist religious critics see the
tightly-controlled, exclusive shindig as epitomizing everything from an evil
French Enlightenment agenda to something smacking of false religion and the
Anti Christ. But that may be giving Renaissance Weekend far more credit
than it deserves. Religious-right direct mail king Richard Vigueri is "right
at home" as a participant, and so are a handful of other
fundamentalist-evangelical types. In truth, the event is a chaotic blending
of 70's-era psychobabble, pop-religion, and the self-improvement,
motivational philosophies which have long appealed to the Clintons.
Former Presidents would take off to the relative seclusion of Camp David,
although a few like Richard Nixon were known to join elite fraternities such
as The Bohemian Grove, which allegedly involved weekends "in the buff," hard
bouts of drinking and opera-farce theatrical productions for a kindred
audience. The Clintons, though, are not heirs to that particular tradition;
the couple manage to fuse their Baptist religious roots with a fascination
for ersazt-mysticism, a fact that attracted the curiosity of reporter Bob
Woodward. In his book "The Choice" published last July, Woodward revealed
the friendship linking Hillary Clinton with Jean Houston of the Foundation
for Mind Research, an organization that studies psychic experiences,
consciousness expanding techniques and other mystical themes. Some compared
"gurugate" to Nancy Reagan's use of astrological forecasts made by horoscope
caster Joan Quigley.
Renaissance Weekend involves some of the same themes and language repleat
in the writings of Jean Houston, or anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson
(daughter of Margaret Mead) who supposedly joined the first lady for
"conversations" with dead luminaries like Eleanor Roosevelt. The Weekend
events were founded by Philip Lader, head administrator of the U.S. Small
Business Administrator; Lader's own resume seems to reflect a penchant for
the straight, narrow and politically successfull; Phi Beat Kappa at Duke,
advanced degrees from Oxford and Harvard Law, membership in the D.C., South
Carolina and Florida Bars, licensed Real Estate Broker, and former President
and Professor of Business of Public Policy at Winthrop University. Lader
joined the influx of Clinton cronies into Washington in 1992, serving as
White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Director for the Office of
Management and Budget.
Lader is married to Linda LeSourd, whose father Leonard was editor of the
religious Guideposts magazine, and whose stepmother Catherine Marshall
LeSourd was author of the inspirational books "A Man Called Peter," and
"Christy." She serves as President of the Renaissance Institute.
The Weekends, which now take place up to four times a year and can cost up
to $550 for couples (lodging not included) are described by Lader as a
commitment "to the premise of the incredible transforming power of ideas and
relationships." The latest gathering included Rabbi Harold S. Kushner ("When
Bad Things Happen to Good People"), Sister Charlotte Rose Kerr who according
to the N.Y. Times is a "Catholic nun-acupuncturist," Tony Campolo of the
Evangelical Association for Promotion of Education and "peak performance
coach" Anthony Robbins, a personal favorite of the Clintons who has also
spent time at Camp David. That get-together also involved Marianne
Williamson, dubbed "Guru to the Glitterati", and was described by the
Washington post as "something of a gathering of New Age guru authors."
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