Founder of controversial spiritualist group MSIA, Roger Delano Hinkins, dies at age 80

Mail, UK/October 22, 2014

Roger Delano Hinkins the founder of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness has died at the age of 80, it was announced on Wednesday.

Known as the 'Mystical Traveler' by his followers, who include Arianna Huffington and Carol Wilson of the Beach Boys before his death, the news of Hinkins' passing was published on his organizations website.

There was no cause of death given for the spiritualist who was living in Los Angeles at the time of his passing.

A brief statement was posted online early this morning saying that 'Our beloved John-Roger made his transition today from the physical body into the spirit.'

'While we are, of course, greatly saddened by this loss we are also aware that this a particularly sensitive and sacred time to use what we have learned to go within and connect with John-Roger, and the Christ, in Spirit.

'J-R's loving spiritual presence is with us, perhaps more than ever, and will comfort and guide us as we allow it.'

The controversial group is known for its aversion to garlic, publishing specialist cook-books of garlic free Italian and French recipes for its followers.

Hinkins most prominent follower is the Huffington Post founder, who is reportedly an ordained 'Minister of Light' in the group and who once described the spiritualist as her 'way-shower'.

Born in 1934 and raised a Mormon in Rains, Utah, Hinkins claimed that despite having a normal childhood, he was able to discern auras - colorful fields around the human body - that some believe surround us.

Graduating the Universtiy of Utah with a degree in psychology in 1958, Hinkins moved to Los Angeles and it was there in 1963 that he had a near-death experience during surgery for kidney stones and fell into a coma.

During this time unconscious he came to realize there was a higher consciousness, he dubbed the 'Mystical Traveler' and claimed he now understood the universe better.

Given the keys to 'anchor' the Mystical Traveler on earth after his coma experience, Hinkins founded the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness in 1971.

In its almost 45-years of existence, the MSIA has faced accusations of being cult and of Hinkins making unwanted sexual advances toward male members.

Specifically claims were made that in the early 1980s, Hinkins would threaten young men at MSIA with spiritual exclusion from the group if they didn't have sex with him.

Susan and Wendell Whitmore spoke out in 1988 to claim that MSIA members were told that Hinkins had taken a vow of celibacy, which meant they did not question the young men who stayed in his house.

'He always had someone sleeping in his bedroom at night, supposedly to protect his body while he was out of it,' said Whitmore to People Magazine more than 25 years ago.

This circle of attractive young male ministers was known as 'the Guys' according to an LA Times series of articles dating from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

Wendell Whitmore's twin brother Wesley, alleged that Hinkin would act odd in behind closed doors, describing him as 'often angry, vindictive and bizarre, occasionally shouting that he was under attack from negative forces.'

The Whitmore's all left the MSIA and claimed in the aftermath they had their cars vandalized by persons unknown and letters sent to them accusing them of being gay, eventually culminating in threats on their lives.

[Licensed mental health professional] Steven Hassan took part in an interview in the 1980s for ABC News Nightline's hosted by Ted Koppel and was asked if MSIA qualified as a cult and replied:

'In my professional opinion it does. It's a pyramid-structured authoritarian regime that uses deception in recruitment and mind control techniques to keep people dependent and obedient. People are instilled with phobias that if they ever question John-Roger or if they ever leave the group terrible things will happen to them.'

Hinkins also faced accusations that he stole the central core beliefs of MSIA from another spiritualist group.

These claims center on the close similarity between Hinkins writings and those of Paul Twitcehll's book, Echankar.

In 2008, Arianna Huffington was questioned by the New Yorker for a profile piece about what role MSIA had in Huffington Post's development.

Barbara Walters told the magazine about being introduced to John-Roger by Huffington in the eighties.

'I did not take to him the same way that she had,' she told the reporter. 'That caused a pause in our relationship, and, I think, of some others.'

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