"Cult" with criminal history recruiting kids in Australia

A news summary/December 18, 2003
By Rick Ross

Allegations have arisen in Australia that the sill devoted followers of of a dead guru named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh are attempting to recruit minor children.

The Rajneesh sect, often called a "cult," was linked to an infamous 1984 criminal case in which salmonella bacteria was used to contaminate a US restaurant's salad bars, 750 fell ill. American authorities later deported Rajneesh on immigration fraud charges. He died in Pune India on January 19, 1990.

But despite the guru's death he lives on through thousands of recorded lectures sold as "Osho" tapes and books.

And his still devoted Rajneeshies are also known as the Sannyasins or "Orange People," due to their color choice for group clothing.

There are reportedly 5,000 Sannyasins in the Byron Bay area.

According to an Australian news report children as young as 14 were encouraged to attend a weekend retreat sponsored by the group in the area of Byron Bay on Australia's NSW north coast. The sect circulated pamphlets to promote its youth retreat last December.

There were reports from local residents that some pamphlets were distributed at schools. And they specifically advised that the weekend was for "teenagers between 14 and 19."

"The aim of the camp is (for people) to support each other, to be unique and real, get high on being alive, express ourselves with intensity and sensitivity, and enjoy creativity," the hand outs read.

The Federal Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Larry Anthony, who is a local MP, warned parents about the event.

Later the Rajneeshies said the weekend was cancelled due to the lack of interest, but they are planning another such retreat.

"Our values are not anything I would consider inappropriate," a Sannyasin said. The Osho spokesperson also denied that pamphlets had been distributed at schools.

The Rajneesh devotees maintain a communal compound called Mevlana, near Mullumbimby. The Australian Sannyasins offer so-called "alternative health" and "personal development" programs.

Note: This summary was based upon the article "Concern Over 'Love' Cult," by Simon Kearney published within the Sunday Telegraph/March 9, 2003

Copyright © 2003 Rick Ross.

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