Getting Out : Media Reports
CultNews.com "“Cult” payoff for “scholar”?
from sarafina - Wednesday, January 26, 2005
accessed 2335 times
Regarding J. Gordon Melton
“Cult” payoff for “scholar”?
J. Gordon Melton, a somewhat specious “scholar” of what he refers to as “new religious movements” received a rather questionable gift from a foundation linked to a purported “cult,” reports Moving On.org.
Moving On.org is a Web site created by and for young adults with parents who joined the notorious “Children of God” (COG).
The Web site recently made public a portion of a 2000 IRS disclosure document that lists a $10,000.00 gift given to the so-called “International Religious Directory,” which is a pet project of Mr. Melton.
The gift-giver is the Family Care Foundation, an organization founded by COG leaders.
Infamous sexual predator “Moses” David Berg who died in 1994 once defined COG as its absolute leader.
The group taught members to sexualize their minor children and encouraged its women to become “hookers for Christ.”
COG is now known as “The Family” and has been in the news lately due to a grizzly murder-suicide.
Ricky Rodriquez the son of its current leader Karen Zerby, Berg’s widow known as “Mama Maria” to her followers, committed suicide after murdering his former nanny Angela Smith. The young man who left COG about five years ago claimed she had molested him as a child.
Ms. Smith at the time of her death was listed as a director of the Family Care Foundation, which is reportedly “an arm of The Family.”
J. Gordon Melton has often been labeled a “cult apologist” because of his friendly relationships with such groups, but until now no one knew exactly how lucrative his COG connection through the Family Care Foundation could be.
Mr. Melton seems to have made something of a career out of selling his scholarly services to various fringe groups, often called “cults.” His list of sponsors and/or clients has included JZ Knight or “Ramtha,” a new age guru that funded a Melton book project. And also Aum the terrorist Japanese cult, which paid the peripatetic apologist’s expenses to come to Tokyo after they gassed that city’s subways sending thousands to hospitals.
Mr. Melton’s motto seems to be, “have apologies will travel,” apparently that is when some substantial funding is made available.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 10:18
All research takes place in a socio-political context, and no area of research is more influenced by that context than sociological investigation. In other words, there is no such thing as completely unbiased social science research. The basic questions the researchers are choose to ask, the theoretical frameworks in through which they process their investigation, and the methods they choose or have at their disposal to answer the research questions all reflect significant biases. A good academic researcher is trained to discuss and account for the socio-political constraints on his or her work.
Dr. Kent has done a fairly good job, imo, at addressing the biases in his work. Dr. Melton doesn't appear to know what a "limitations of study" statement is or that credible research requires it. Many thanks to Sarafina for posting this "Melton payoff" article. It provides excellent documentation for the context in which Melton's "research" is situated.
Dr. Chancellor has taken an honest stab at a limitations of study statement, but still needs to do some additional defense of his research conclusions. In a limitations of study statement published in Cornerstone Magazine (see http://www.cornerstonemag.com/pages/show_page.asp?641), Chancellor went way beyond the scope of his expertise as a theology scholar with comments about staking his professional reputation on the safety of children currently living in Family homes.
Unfortunately, I've seen this particular academic continuing to speak outside the scope of his expertise when he goes on television as an "expert on The Family" and responds to a question about Ricky Rodgriguez' childhood abuse by talking about how many other second generation adults have come to terms with their abuse histories and resolved it in a healthy way. It's quite obvious the concept of risk adjustment wasn't covered in Chancellor's general exam for a theology PhD. There's only a very small handful of children raised in TF whose abuse histories are comparable to Ricky's.
To my knowledge, no credible researcher with expertise in child abuse has done a study on second generation adults. The Family likes to cite Drs. Lillistan & Shepherd's work--recent official statements from Smith even referenced Shepherd's psychological evaluation of Ricky (David) as a "well adjusted" adolescent--yet neither Lillistan or Shepherd has ever responded to challenges regarding very serious limitations in their study, particularly their assessment tools and measurement period.
(reply to this comment)
| From right|
Thursday, January 27, 2005, 11:35
And the fact that Lilliston's evaluation was funded by The Family.
And if what you say about Chancellor is true, isn't that putting the onus on the victims to "get over it?"
IMO, many of these academics are whores.
Melton took $10,000 from FCF. The Family funded and edited the book, Sex Sin and Salvation.
How can anything he says about the group be considered ethical or credible?(reply to this comment)
| From anovagrrrl|
Thursday, January 27, 2005, 14:26
Chancellor appears to belong to a that school of naive religious thinkers who place great stock on avowals of repentence as evidence of behavioral change. In other words, because the Family has written official policies that prohibit child/adult sexual contact, he assumes that this form of abuse no longer occurs within the Family at any greater prevalence than it does in the general population. I've heard that statement made by many people, but there is absolutely no evidence to support it. Although the Family no longer actively promotes pedophilia, the risk factors for kids growing up in that environment are much higher than many places out in the system.
Chancellor even went so far (in his Cornerstone article) to say children being raised in the Family are probably safer than those being raised in the Roman Catholic Church. It made me wonder if Chancellor is a protestant evangelical with an anti-Catholic bias. The child protection policies implemented by the RC Church are much more stringent than anything the Family has in place. For one thing, Roman Catholic officials recognize that pedophiles can confess & repent their sins until the Second Coming of Christ, but they will continue to have an incurable (at this time) brain disease that makes them a serious risk to the health and well-being of children. Individuals with a history of pedophilia should never be placed in positions of authority where there is unsupervised contact with children. To me, repenting the "sin" of pedophilia implies staying away from all near occasions of sin, i.e., any unsupervised contact with kids or positions of spiritual authority over families with children. I see no evidence in written Family policy that its leadership understands this basic approach to protecting children from sexual exploitation by predators.
There's also a problem with assuming that because the Family has a stated policy of excommunicating adults who engage in sexual contact with minors, the leadership actually enforces this policy on a consistent basis. What if it's one of the leaders who has engaged in inappropriate activity? There's at least one abuse testimony on this board to that effect. Is it logical to assume that corrupt leaders will enforce child protection policies by excommunicating one of their own?
Well, I got a bit off topic. When ethical researchers take money from an organization to do a study of that organization (such as the psychological outcome of its child-rearing practices), they call their work an evaluation (not research). Correctly identifying a study as an evaluation automatically signals the reader about a major limitation of the work. Lilliston & Shepherd's work is widely referenced as research, which it is not. (reply to this comment)
|from interested academic|
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 13:28
Not sure if you have also seen these documents. 'When scholars know Sin ' by Kent and Krebs http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c25.html
and an interesting response by Lewis.
He begins by dismissing the above paper as an ad hominen argument and then very swiftly illustrates his own deftness in this department, by launching an outrageous ad hominen attack of his own... branding Kent and Krebs as
' Poor losers, Kent and his cronies--like hollow-earth enthusiasts, big foot believers, and other advocates of the irrational..'
(My comment....how academic is that? Is Steven Kent a 'big foot believer? and if so ..what has it got to do with the issue under discussion? Is James Lewis so prejudiced against 'big foot believers' that he uses the term so negatively? Is he 'out to get' big foot believers? :) )
He does however then go on to mention an interesting message sent by a Prof Charlotte Hardman to a family representative in the UK. Lewis says
'The sense, if not the exact wording, of Prof. Hardman's message was that Kent was "out to get" The Family'
(My comment... how academic is that? Are academics supposed to do that? ... )
He then rambles on through a very hazy argument which you can read for yourselves.
This paper may also prove to be of interest to your readers here , especially at this time .
It points out that academics, like religious groups, can sometimes be so zealous about their cause that they compromise their integrity......)
No doubt numerous academics will contact this board or people who post here for purely academic reasons. But academics who go running back to groups with 'out to get you' stories...? What is all that really about? Mmmmm?)
(reply to this comment)
| From interested academic|
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 17:03
Extract from a review of Hardman and Palmer's book 'Children in New Religions' found on the Cesnur site
' the state can and should intervene in order to protect the best interest of the child. Above this level, claims by the authorities that children are "abused" are simply, as most chapters of the book conclude, another strategy to curb religious liberty through what Richardson calls "a new social control tactic".'
Palmer and Hardman along with Massimo Introveigne (Cesnur), Bromley, Richardson, Wright and Saliba are connected to publications, that many regard as PR work, or propoganda for a number of groups, including the Family.
Dr Hardman was Deputy Director /Research at INFORM (funded by Home Office) from 1990 - 1993. Here is a link to the paper written by Prof Kent of the University of Alberta alluded to in my post above which prompted the alleged 'out to get' them message being sent to a Family representative in the UK.
(My Comment /Question Does that mean Dr Hardman was working with INFORM (funded by Home Office!) when the 'out to get' message was sent? Who cares? Small world here in academia. )
In any case here is that 'out to get' them paper
BTW this is my second post at this site (both on this thread) and i have just noticed a little message under my submission box which read 'that nicname is reserved by another site participant'. Have i done something wrong here? (reply to this comment)