We strive to stretch each contribution to its fullest. In so doing, we track use of the FACTNet web site use versus operating costs incurred by FACTNet. February was a successful month for FACTNet. Our February statistics:
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Timothy O. Stoen was a member of Jim Jones' People's Temple; then he left the group and opposed it; now he is running for the California state Senate. Stoen joined the People's Temple in its very ealy days in San Francisco, became Jones' right-hand man, and facilitated the creation of Jonestown in Guyana. After leaving Jonestown in 1976, Stoen became vocal about Jones' abuses and worked to regain custody of his son, John Victor, from Jones. Due to his and others' urgings, Congressman Leo Ryan (D-South San Francisco) went to Guyana on a fact-finding mission and was immediately killed by People's Temple members. This event sparked Jones' long-planned murder-suicide of the entire group. He ordered everyone to drink cyanide-laced Fla-Vor-Aid, killing 912 people, 276 of whom were children, including Stoen's 6-year-old son. According to the Associated Press, Stoen feels his history will not impair his election campaign, saying people "will recognize that I repented and then didn't run away, but fought Jim Jones for over a year." He is running as a Democrat (he left the Republican party in 1995) for California's 2nd Senate District seat which encompasses Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake and parts of Sonoma and Solano counties.
Cults Near and Far
Raymond Armin lives quietly with his wife in Stuart, Florida, and has been there since 1986. Unbeknownst to many in the community, Mr. Armin is founder and leader of a cult group he calls the Emin. Emin members number in hundreds, possibly thousands around the world. They refer to their 73 year-old leader reverently as "Leo" and invariable chain smoke just as he does, according to Joe Kelly, a cult expert and counselor in Philadelphia. Members are encouraged to take on Armin's views of the world and abandon all non-Emin ties, such as career and family. Lenore and Hollis Rinehart are the parents of a 25 year-old daughter who joined the Emin just over a year ago and has since cut off all contact from them. Mr. Rinehart explains succinctly, "The essence of this cult as far as we're concerned is that they practice a sort of mind control. We don't object to their beliefs, which are just silly, but it's the fact that an atmosphere's created where the person can't question any views from outside the cult, and where the cult becomes the judge of everything that comes to them." [The Stuart News, 11/9/97].
March 31, 1998 is the date Heng-ming Chen says God will enter his body. Chen lead 150 members of his God's Salvation Church from Taiwan to Garland, Texas, a town Chen chose because it sounds like "God's land." Members now live in 30 homes within 2 1/2 miles of one another. They dress all in white, including sneakers and white straw cowboy hats. Chen claims his sons are reincarnations of Jesus and Buddha, that he talks to God through his hand and that God will arrive on a flying saucer on the last day of this month. Despite waiting for a UFO, Chen says he does not condone suicide for himself or his group. According to the New York Times, Chen's guide to his religion states on page 176, "At 10 a.m. on March 31, 1998, God shall make His appearance in the Holy Land of the Kingdom of God: 3513 Ridgedale Dr., Garland, TX 75041 U.S.A."
Just weeks after Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon married thousands of couples at a mass wedding in Washington D.C. in late November, his own son's wife ended their 14-year marriage. Nonsook Hong Moon obtained a divorce from Hyo Jin Moon, oldest son of the self-proclaimed messiah, on grounds of cruel and abusive treatment. Hyo Jin Moon, heir to the Unification Church, is on probation in Massachusettes for sending his ex-wife a threatening note, violating a court order which banned him from contacting her, and on probation in New York for two drunk driving convictions. According to the Boston Globe [December 20, 1997], this comes at a time when Sun Myung Moon is trying to gain wider public acceptance by launching several civic organizations in the last few years said to be devoted to world peace, women's rights and conservative family values.
John Daly thought joining a white supremacist, skinhead group would be fun. But when the neo-Nazi group discovered he was Jewish, seven members tried to kill him. Beating him brutally and holding him underwater at Daytona Beach, they screamed "Die, Jew-boy, die!" and left him for dead. He was able to pull himself up and drive 80 miles home, where he was hospitalized. That was in 1990; Daly was 17 years old. Two members of the group were convicted of attempted murder, and two others of assault and battery. They threatened to kill him upon their release. When the last was let go last year, Daly moved to Israel and is currently undergoing an immigration program. According to the Miami Herald [March 2, 1998], Daly says, "This is the first time in many years I've met people without thinking they have an ulterior motive. I was always afraid that someone I met was sent to set me up." Now he is religious and keeps kosher "as a daily `thank you' to God for my life." next page