Vedic Perspective Editorial Commentary 5-28-87 What does it mean when a big religious lead

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Vedic Perspective Editorial Commentary 5-28-87 What does it mean when a big religious leader creates a big following and it turns out that he is a big crook or cheater? We'll talk about this in tonight's Vedic Perspective. Talk about religious leaders who bilk the public out of millions of dollars and exploit their followers and a few names might pop immediately in your head. You might think: "Jim and Tammy Bakker" or maybe even "Oral Roberts". Let's be really fair and say that many may think that the cults like the "Moonies", the "Hare Krishnas", the "Rajneeshees" are also cheating the public. Let's talk for a moment about the Hare Krishnas. Last week on Dr. Milt Rosenberg's "Extension 720" program on WGN AM radio, Reg Allen, a spokesperson for the "Cult Awareness Group" faced off in a debate with Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, the spiritual leader of the Hare Krishna West Virginia New Vrindaban community. At the present moment, there is a tremendous amount of media attention focused on Kirtanananda Swami alledging that the Swami may have had some connection with various illegal activities involving former New Vrindaban devotees. Many specific allegations against the Swami were brought up in the WGN talk show by the Cult Awareness spokesperson. However, he went on to allege that the entire Krishna conscious movement is simply out to cheat the public. Such blatant charges, combined with general negative media sentiment along with the controversy surrounding the New Vrindaban Swami makes it difficult for our devotees to spread the Hare Krishna movement. So we are trying on this program to address this issue. Because of other controversial activities surrounding Swami Bhaktipada, the regular Krishna consciousness society had excommunicated him in March and this action created a split in the Hare Krishna movement. Now, for the first time since the founder and spiritual master, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada left this world in 1977, there are two Hare Krishna societies: the regular ISKCON movement and the movement following Swami Bhaktipada. Whatever differences there might exist within the Krishna movement, Swami Bhaktipada rightly stated to the Cult Awareness spokesman that no Hare Krishna devotee or leader supports or condones illegal activity and that if there is any illegal activity, the Swami wants to see that it be stopped. Concerning the pending allegations surrounding the New Vrindaban community, the Swami mentioned that he would like to resolve the entire matter in a court of law rather than to have all types of motivated critics simply repeating negative allegations against him, his community and the Krishna consciousness movement. The Swami will get that chance to clear his and his community's name on September 15 when a grand jury will investigate the various charges against the West Virginia New Vrindaban society. Our request is to remind the people in general that a whole religion cannot be condemned for the questionable activities of individuals. For example, some people may say that Jim and Tammy Bakker were bilking their religious community for millions. If this is found out to be true, that does not give anyone the right to condemn Jesus Christ. Can anyone condemn Jesus Christ because of what Jim and Tammy Bakker does in the name of Jesus Christ? But there is one more thing to consider. Jim and Tammy were not recluses but they lived in almost disgusting extravagance for religious ministers. Their devoted followers sent them millions upon millions of dollars. If Jim and Tammy's followers did not know about their extreme wealth, why did they not know? And if they did know, why did they remain silent and condoning? There is another crime being committed here in the big religious leader scams that occur everywhere. That crime is that many people remain foolish enough to get taken by big religious leaders who simply exploit the public yet cannot actually deliver a religious idea. If a con man can sell you a piece of glass and calls it a diamond, what does it say about you? It says you are so foolish as to trust a cheater. Then the result is just like a blind man leading another blind man. When a blind man leads another blind man, they simply fall into a ditch. Our humble advise is that you do not avoid religion but don't be so foolish as to get cheated by anyone and everyone who poses as big religious leaders. --Vaishnava dasa

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