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
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
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
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
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.