Wednesday, May 17, 2017

FROM AN EX-TEACHER AT NAROPA UNIVERSITY IN BOULDER, CO

For three years, Dr. Don Matthews worked at Naropa University as an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and as the Coordinator of the Master's of Divinity Program. He is also the author of the book "Destroying Black Males", which also includes some of his experiences at Naropa.

These are the communications sent to us from Dr. Don Matthews (who retains full copyright status):

The students at Naropa were the most artistically gifted students I have had the privilege to teach. Their ability in the arts of dance, poetry and music were outstanding. However, many of them were emotionally fragile and vulnerable. Many of The students chose Naropa because they knew that they would not face the same challenges that are normally expected of students. Naropa's rate of admission were high, the academic curriculum did not reflect the normal expectations of colleges and they would have a haven from the realities of the real world. According to their own statistics their students were more likely to gain jobs as barista and lie paid service providers after accruing massive amounts of debt. Their fascination with being at an "alternative" university was stronger than their realistic hopes for a productive job after graduation.

During my first year of teaching at Naropa and coordinating the Master of Divinity Program several graduate students revealed that they were usually diagnosed with alcoholism and mental illness. Two of the told me that they were using a pseudo-Christian meditation practice called Centering Prayer. This was a technique that had been developed by Father Thomas Keating in imitation of Buddhist meditation practice. I later learned that this method was not approved by the Roman Catholic Church. The person who taught the Christian Mystical Tradition before I was hired was one of the leaders of this "non-dualistic" practice. The students were convinced that this technique would cure their mental illness as they also participated in approved 12 Step Programs. I warned them against believing the claims of Centering Prayer that it could cure mental illness that were made by Father Keating and I urged them to seek medical intervention. They and other Naropa community members were upset at my negative appraisal of this practice. I had actually attended a workshop regarding this practice and was further convinced of my assessment.
Later that year both students told me that they became suicidal and were forced to seek emergency medical treatment. They continued with their 12 Step Programs but were now also receiving medical treatment, including counseling and pharmacological remedies under medical and l mental health specialists. They both apologized to me for bringing student complaints against me and thanked me for my counseling and encouragement to seek help.

This was not the first or last time I had to deal did not with students who were being enabled to not getting the help they needed. I refused to allow several students to remain in the Master of Divinity Program program who refused to get help for substance abuse and other mental health issues. I was not going to certify that graduates of this program were capable of serving others when they refused to seek help for themselves and could endanger others. One faculty member told me that it was more important to keep enrollment up. Despite their fears the class that I shepherded in the program had the most number of graduates and postgraduate placements in the history of the program. I am very proud of the work we did together.

Since the school's inception it has struggled with racial diversity. Their only Black Administrators, including myself, were not offered renewal contracts for spurious reasons. One of the administrators received a settlement because the President of the university violated her civil rights. I know this because their attorney told my attorney that they were not going to offer me anywhere near the payment she received. However, this racial discrimination only applies t ethnic minorities who were not affiliated with the Shambhala organization. When I reported that one of the newly hired Asian American faculty members had falsified her credentials, the President responded that everyone has done so, including himself.

This is consistent with their Founder's "Crazy Wisdom" philosophy in which normal ethical expectations are not respected. In the department where I worked most of the men had violated sexual ethics policy with no recrimination because they were sympathetic to this "non-dualistic" worldview in which "dualistic" concepts like right vs. wrong, and good vs. evil did not apply. I was charged with violating sexual harassment policy on a trumped up charge as a way of encouraging me to resign. But, since sexual ethics has been an area of personal and professional concern I fought their attempts and was overwhelming supported by the student body at several called meetings, to the dismay of the President, who called for the meetings. These proceedings took a toll on me personally and professionally but I would do it again for the sake of being true to self and true to what a university should be.

They often remarked that Shambhala was no longer traditionally Buddhist, even though they claimed to be "Buddhist inspired" university with Buddhist programs. This was confirmed when some of their own members questioned whether their retreat center could properly be accepted as being a Buddhist retreat. I also spoke to several Tibetan and Asian Advanced Buddhist Teachers and they also confirmed this assessment. I met several adherents of their organization who left over the continued breaches of ethics by the Founder's appointed designer after his death. They still had a great respect for Trungpa despite his many failings and they earned me about the cultish like behavior of their leaders who would not hesitate to engage in legal and illegal retribution.

One such former member, a psychiatrist about how he felt about Trungpa's behavior. He said that "Trungpa Rinpoche was the best person and the worst person he had ever known, but that he was always honest about displaying his true self." That about sums up the way I view Naropa. It was the best of times and the worst of times.

——

The lack of student services is a real problem at Naropa. There was no Student Health Cliic, no on call medical doctor or Psychiatrist who could assess and prescribe medication. No psychiatric social worker or nurse who could attend to the many needs of the students. Food insecurity was a big problem. I arranged for several students to receive aid from social welfare agencies when they were on the brink of hunger. Their resources were depleted due to the exorbitant tuition and living expenses.

I attended one meeting for undergraduate residence hall members where the topic was on sexuality. What was not advertised was that the leaders of the discussion were advocates of polyandry who were clear in expressing the advantages of having multiple relationships rather than having a single committed partnership. I later objected to the presenters being chosen for this topic because of the youth of the students and the lack of more traditional viewpoints.

One woman freshman, a JewBu (Jewish-Buddhist) student who had gone to the counseling center for help wound up being arrested and being sent to a mental health ward because the student intern she was seeing did not know how to react appropriately to her crisis situation.
Another freshman student, a Black woman, was arrested after having an altercation with a white male student. She was not allowed to return to the dorm and was left homeless. The Provost at that time, a Black woman, was called by her frantic mother to help her daughter until she could get to the school and withdraw her from Naropa.

The lack of adequately trained student professionals was appalling. The most important characteristic for their employment seemed to be membership in Shambhala or a willingness to not make waves with the administration.

A White female student asked to meet with me the year after my not being rehired. She told me about her experience of being subjected to sexual harassment in a psychology class that consisted of female students with a male professor who continually asked the students to share their sexual experiences in class. She refused, but was afraid to report his behavior for fear of retribution.

Many undergraduate students major in psychology with the hope that they will become therapists, hoping that they would be admitted into Naropa’s graduate counseling program. However, they discovered that the undergraduate and graduate programs were separate entities and the graduate program accepted very few of the school’s undergraduate students. Since their undergraduate preparation paled in comparison to undergraduates at other institutions, they found it difficult to be accepted at other graduate programs. Grades didn’t mean very much since almost every student had a B+ to A grade point average. This was shocking to me since in my teaching at other undergraduate colleges if a class received higher than a C+/B- average, the instructor was called on the carpet by the Chairperson and Dean for contributing to grade inflation.
The school needs overall reform. When they advertised for a Director of Diversity Programs they received over 100 applicants. However two of the candidates on their short list backed out and they were left with only one applicant, whom the hired. He became ill and left after a year and so they promoted a Black Counseling Graduate of Naropa whom they had previously rejected due to her lack of experience.

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I am writing this as a person who is ready to deal with a nightmare on which evil had shocked him into silence. What shook me out of my silence was the news that one of my former students at Naropa University had committed suicide. This student had exhibited symptoms of serious mental illness including delusional speech and extreme withdrawal. The person who caught the class with me was a Naropa Masters trained Counselor who also worked as an undergrad advisor. We both agreed that he needed some serious psychological help. Whether he received it when he was there I don't know since that was the last undergraduate class I taught at Naropa. When I read that he had graduated in 2015 and committed suicide in 2016, it didn't surprise me more than it made me sad. In the undergraduate classes I taught at least two-thirds of the students has revealed past diagnoses of mental disorders including clinical depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism and schizophrenia. What they had in common was that being at Naropa would provide them with the magic bullet that would allow them to overcome their disorders through meditation and unorthodox psychological perspective.

Their situation was not unusual. Many of the graduate students came to Naropa seeking this same magic bullet. But instead of the faculty recommending psychiatric medical care, including the use of appropriate drug regimens I found myself arguing with the faculty members despite their acknowledgement that many of the students had severe mental disorders. Finally, the need for training to address this issue was recognized and the faculty was given a one hour session on suicide prevention. During the meeting one of the senior faculty members who was also a therapist argued that we did not have the right to take an anti-suicidal posture and that we should not automatically counsel against suicide. Another professor who now teaches counseling courses stated that she was not able to counsel students who came to her if they were suicidal.

I had encountered several students who were suicidal and I insisted that they receive appropriate treatment. One parent told me that I had saved her son's life. Other students resisted, but thankfully no students in my watch committed suicide and turned to get the appropriate medical treatment.

I arrived at Naropa in the Summer of 2011. I had already experienced a failure in ethics in the way I was treated by the Religious Studies faculty during my interview, but that is another matter. Unfortunately, I had not fully vetted Naropa and did not about the history of sexual abuse of power by its Founder and other officials who eventually originated the school. I had done much teaching and research in this area and assumed that I was going to an institution with the highest ethical standards since it touted itself as a Buddhist University. I had and still have respect for Buddhism but what I found at Naropa when it came to matters of sexual misconduct was shocking to say the least.

My first week at Naropa I met various members of the staff as introduced by the Department Chair, Phil Stanley. One of the person's he introduced me to was Giovaninni Jobson, the undergraduate Religious Studies advisor. Phil invited me to dinner later that evening. When I arrived I was confused by the person who had greeted me. I then realized that this was Ms. Jobson. I slowly became aware that they were living together with her developmentally disabled son, whom I also met. I later discovered that they had been living together for several years. This an obvious breach of ethics to have an intimate relationship with a subordinate but this did not stop this relationship from being public and accepted.

My second exposure came in the orientation for new faculty members by the Human Resources department. Among the many documents we were shown was a report that stated that there had been no incidents of sexual violence on the campus during the past year. I voiced my skepticism regarding that report since I knew that undergraduate institutions were loathe to report the actual number of incidents in order not to scare away any potential parents who would not allow their children to attend a university with this problem. Later that first year I was visited by a consultant that was hired by the university to speak to all staff who were to be mandatory reporters of such instances in why and what they should do when students came to them with these issues. The consultant confirmed my initial observations and he was hired to satisfy the demands of the Department of Education that Naropa comply with federal guidelines in reporting instances of sexual violence.

There is so much more to say but I have to stop at this point.

——

By Rev. Dr. Donald H. Matthews, M.A., MDIV, PhD. ACPE

Thursday, May 11, 2017

THE FAMILY: A CULT REVEALED

For those who missed the CBS News 48 Hours special program about 'The Family'.

Allegations of stolen children, drugs, abuse and a leader who claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ -- "48 Hours" follows the trail of a cult that began in Australia and led the FBI to New York.

Watch it now here: http://ow.ly/akeL30bDzpc

Monday, May 8, 2017

'FIRST CHURCH OF GOD' INVESTIGATION CLOSED

Location: Red Bluff, CA

As a non-profit organization helping cult victims and suffering families, we need to initiate a preliminary investigation into every complaint we receive. Unfortunately for most complaints sent in to our office, we find them to be legitimate and typically substantiated by additional corroborating complaints / evidence that come in as a result of our fact-finding outreach efforts.

In this case however, we did not receive any other complaints against the First Church of God and/or its leadership, and could also not find any negative corroborating information online to support the allegations made against them. We also called First Church of God and spoke with the head of the church, Pastor Sean Story, who was very open and forthcoming with answering all questions. Since no more complaints or evidence have come in to substantiate the complaint filer’s allegation, at this point our investigation is closed.
We have removed our previous post on all social media platforms. We thank the First Church of God for their cooperation with our investigation.

Sincerely,

The FACT Team
Families Against Cult Teachings, Inc.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST 'ROY ROMINE MINISTRIES'

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST 'ROY ROMINE MINISTRIES'
LOCATION: Spring, TX
WEBSITE: N/A

We are investigating a complaint which states that Pastor Roy Romine is using phobia indoctrination and other methods of manipulation and control, including member isolation. According to the allegations, we believe Pastor Romine is misusing his position of authority as a spiritual leader to exert undue influence over church members.

If you have any relevant information to share about this church and/or its leadership, please contact us immediately

ISIS Social Media Platform in development

ISIS is building its own secret dark web social media platform where fanatics can recruit new jihadis and share vile beheading videos.

Europol Director Rob Wainwright said the move is a response to pressure from cops and tech companies.

https://www.rt.com/news/387024-isis-social-media-platform/

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

THE 'COMMUNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS'

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST THE 'COMMUNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS'
LOCATION: Indianapolis, IN
WEBSITE: N/A

As per the complaint received, the leaders of this group are physically abusing children, sexually abusing / taking advantage of members, and separating families. They are said to be using the guise of paganism to recruit people into the group.

We are currently investigating these allegations. If you have any relevant information to share about this church and/or its leadership, please contact us immediately at: http://ow.ly/JaeQ30bcE0x