Saturday, September 30, 2023

Religious Fraud- Or a Cultist

In Acts 7:32 (ESV) of the New Testament, Stephen explains that at the burning bush, God notified Moses "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look."

Sad (not surprising) to say, Tulsi Gabbard's followers on Twitter/X seem unaware this probably is not who the former US Representative from Hawaii, now a political Independent, is referring to:


The first Samoan and Hindu member of the United States Congress was raised in an offshoot, headed by a Chris Butler, of the Hare Krishna movement.  The Science in Identity Foundation appears to hold Hindu beliefs with a dose of extreme anti-gay, anti-Muslim sentiment. Raised by a Catholic father and Hindu mother

Gabbard has described her experience growing up in the group as one that was seemingly positive, some other ex-members have described themselves as survivors of a cult.

"I was raised to believe Chris Butler was God's voice on earth, and if you questioned him or offended him in any way, you were effectively offending God," someone who identifies as a former member of the SIF wrote in a 2017 Medium post. "Questioning the leader was spiritual suicide, which was seen as worse than death."

Another former member told New York Magazine that Butler was vulgar and vindictive, excoriating people for small slip-ups like driving poorly or failing to clean water cups properly.

The congresswoman has cited  "my gratitude to (Butler), for the gift of this wonderful spiritual practice that he has given to me and to so many people." However

Gabbard has often downplayed the influence of Butler, telling the New Yorker that she has "had many different spiritual teachers, and continue[s] to." But she acknowledged that he had shaped her Hindu identity, referring to him as her "guru dev," or spiritual guide. Gabbard also told the New York Times in 2019 that Butler and his work still guide her.

The guru dev brooks no criticism and is described by former members as controlling the members of a cult but

Butler has denied these claims, and Gabbard told the New Yorker that these experiences didn't chalk up to her own: "I've never heard him say anything hateful, or say anything mean about anybody," Gabbard said. "I can speak to my own personal experience and, frankly, my gratitude to him, for the gift of this wonderful spiritual practice that he has given to me, and to so many people."

A year ago, Tulsi's aunt, a retired University of Hawaii English professor, told The Independent 

Once again I find my niece’s apparent penchant for parroting extremist toadies such as Tucker Carlson and vile ‘strongmen’ such as Vladimir Putin, to be problematic and deeply troubling.... It gives me no pleasure to ​note that Tulsi’s single governing principle seems to be expedience, which is in effect no principle at all.

The snide smile sported by Gabbard at the 1:00 mark of the tweeted video supports Caroline Sinavaiana Gabbard's opinion that her niece is guided by expedience rather than faith. Or perhaps Gabbard, as a Hindu, believes in the religion's many deities, a theological belief contrasting sharply with the monotheism of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. 

We may never know, though.  All a public figure needs to do to get a free pass is to say "God" (or perhaps "god") as the media shrinks from its responsibility to ask for clarification. But Tulsi Gabbard, who once substituted for Tucker Carlson on Fox News and is a critic of the Democratic Party she once belonged to, is still a player, slightly diminished. When an individual cites God in promoting a political agenda, especially one legitimately considered hateful, her remarks should not be taken at face value.


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