PREMIER Richard Court and his wife Jo have cut themselves off from a controversial Japanese religious cult which Mrs Court followed for more than 10 years. In the early 1980s Jo Court joined the Sukyo Mahikari organization since found to be dangerous by the Belgian Parliament and under investigation in several other European countries, but left some time this year. Mr Court says he has never been a member of the cult, but has made many visits to the cult's Perth headquarters in Mount Lawley. This week he defended the sect, saying his wife had very good experiences with it.
Cult members believe that they can radiate the creator god's light from their hands with the help of a divine pendant, called omitama. They claim that holding their hands towards another persons body can heal cancers and other illnesses, improve marriage, mental faculties and financial well being. They also believe that this light can be used to fix inanimate objects such as cars.
Disgruntled ex-members of the cult say Mr Court received the light in visits to the center. Ex-members say about 60 of the cults 300 estimated Perth members have abandoned the group this year following the discovery that the group which preaches unity of all world religions, is a break away from an earlier Mahikari cult.
The West Australian has been told that Mrs Court defended the sect at a meeting about its future in January. Informants say Mr Court attended.
Sukyo Mahikari former Australian second-in-command, Garry Greenwood, a friend of Mrs Court in the early 1980s when they were both members in Canberra, said last week he had failed to persuade Mrs Court to leave the cult in 1994.
Mr Greenwood said that after writing to Mrs Court to ask her to leave the sect, she had told him that she was fine. He believed Mr and Mrs Court had been conned.
"She (Mrs Court) is a nice person. I see Richard and Jo as victims of this sect like myself and all these others that are in there," he said.
He believed the cult used respectable middle-class people such as the Courts to give itself credibility. He has published a damning book on his 10 years within the organization.
Another cult opponent, Steve Allerton, also friendly with Mrs Court in the early 1980s said he had spoken to ex-members who said Mr Court had received light at the centre.
Mr Court said his wife's religious beliefs were her private business. "She is a devout practising Christian, as am I," he said.
Asked about reports that he had attended the centre with Mrs Court, the Premier said, "Of course I attend things with my wife and I am proud of that. " Mr Court said he had never belonged to the organization. "I am a member of another church and that is something that I have been publicly and proudly involved with for many many years."
"So quite frankly I don't see why you should start questioning me ... I've told you what sort of church I belong to, if you want me to answer questions about that I will."
Asked if he had seen the practice of radiating light and believed it, he said: "Do you want to know what time I have a shower? I mean you are starting to ask questions about...next you will want to ask questions about my private life behind closed doors or whatever." His wife was sensitive because so much nonsense had been written about the sect.
A Belgian parliamentary commission aiming to develop ways to protect people against cults found that Sukyo Mahikari was one of the most dangerous sects in Belgium, according to the office of the commission's vice chairman Antoine Duquesne.
This article obtained from Mahikari Under investigation In Europe