Groups List: A
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Abortion. There is probably no greater danger to New Zealanders than abortion. The physical danger to babies is obvious – abortion stops a beating heart. Abortion claims the lives of almost one quarter of all New Zealand babies. The New Zealand rate has been as high as 248 abortions per 1,000 pregnancies (330 abortions for 1,000 live births) in 2003. There were 15,863 abortions in New Zealand in 2011. Some more figures are included in the Election Results PDF (69KB). Abortion also presents a physical risk to the mother – for example, abortion has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. Quite apart from the physical danger to babies and mothers, it is staggering the amount of deception involved with convincing young women that abortion is the answer to dealing with the life growing within them. Some examples include telling them that a baby is not really living until it is born, implying that the abortion will somehow solve all the mother's (and family's) problems, and omitting to mention that the mother will very likely live with huge guilt for killing her baby. Perhaps as many as 98% of abortions in New Zealand are illegal; the primary position of New Zealand law is that abortion is a serious crime and is unlawful.
Abraham, Justin. Justin Abraham is a New Age mystic, but claims to be Christian. He preaches a generous serving of pseudoscience gobbledegook, but one that undiscerning Christians might fall for, so gets a Danger rating. Based in Wales but has visited New Zealand, speaking at a conference along with Ian Clayton and Ian Johnson.
Abraham's Group. Submissions for this listing are now being accepted. Please see the Contact page.
Acupuncture. New Age practice. Fine stainless steel needles are inserted into a patient's body at particular supposedly significant points. Practitioners are divided into two groups – those utilising it as part of traditional Chinese medicine, and those who practice it purely for pain relief. The effects of acupuncture vary, and are often not reproducible – one NZ Cult List reader has pointed out "acupuncture seems to work on a case by case basis". For this and other reasons, the power of suggestion, the placebo effect and other mechanisms cannot be ruled out as possible causes if any pain-reducing effect or healing is actually produced by a particular acupuncture session. See Quackwatch's acupuncture feature for more information on acupuncture, including the medical dangers. The article quotes retired doctor Harriet Hall:
Acupuncture studies have shown that it makes no difference where you put the needles. Or whether you use needles or just pretend to use needles (as long as the subject believes you used them). Many acupuncture researchers are doing what I call Tooth Fairy science: measuring how much money is left under the pillow without bothering to ask if the Tooth Fairy is real.
Aetherius Society. Founded in 1955 by George King, a (deceased) London former taxi driver and very probable con man. The group was probably started as a con (Mr King quitting his taxi driving to start the Society) but is now self-sustaining, and has about 650 members worldwide. George King claimed to have communicated with space aliens, including physical contact with one who supposedly incarnated as Jesus and is now living on Venus (in the etheric plane), and another who was supposed to have incarnated as Buddha and is now living in a city floating over the Gobi Desert (in the etheric plane, where it has allegedly been for hundreds of thousands of years). As a religion it's a strange mix of Eastern (eg, chanting, karma, reincarnation, yoga) and science fiction (eg, extra-terrestrials, telepathy, UFOs). Main practices include praying into boxes – said to be "radionic devices" – which allow later release of hundreds of hours of "prayer power" all at once. Aetherious Society members believe this can stop wars and natural disasters. For another UFO religion see Raëlians (another group almost certainly started as a scam and is now self-sustaining). Submissions for this listing are now being accepted. Please see the Contact page.
Ageless Wisdom. A collection of strongly occult and esoteric teachings (a "system of esoteric philosophy") represented and taught in New Zealand by Christ College of Trans-Himalayan Wisdom and Seven Ray Institute. The teachings are partly based on the work of Helena Blavatsky, who started Theosophy. See also Masters of Wisdom.
Aglow International New Zealand. Formerly called Women's Aglow Fellowship. A Christian church-connected women's fellowship group, it is one of the largest women's associations in the world, and is present in over 170 countries. See Wikipedia's Aglow International article for more information. In New Zealand, Aglow seems to be have been developing an interest in the occult and New Age over a number of years, including entertaining prophecies from people like Graham Cooke. The Caution rating is under review and may be changed to Danger.
Ahnsahnghong, Ahn Sahng-Hong. Deceased Korean founder of the Church of God, World Mission Society. He qualifies as a false prophet, since he "predicted the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in both 1967 and 1988." (Apologetics Index.)
Aikido. A Japanese martial art specialising in using an aggressor's momentum against him (or her!). Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in Japan on 14 December 1883. He received certificates of mastery in several styles of jujitsu, fencing, and spear fighting. Combining his martial training with his religious and political ideologies, he created the modern martial art of Aikido, naming it "Aikido" in 1942 (before that it was called "aikibudo" and "aikinomichi"). The religious side of Aikido is particularly important. However, from the Aikido FAQ history page we have the following comment:
"Despite what many people think or claim, there is no unified philosophy of Aikido. What there is, instead, is a disorganized and only partially coherent collection of religious, ethical, and metaphysical beliefs which are only more or less shared by Aikidoists, and which are either transmitted by word of mouth or found in scattered publications about Aikido. ... At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of Aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads: (1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible. (2) A commitment to self-improvement through Aikido training."
The commitment to peaceful resolution has been suggested (slightly tongue in cheek) as the reason why there are no Aikido competitions – both competitors in a round would simply wait for the other to start something. Good on them, too. Aikido is rated Caution here because of the importance of its religious side. That possibly strong religious aspect (dependent on branch?) is something for Christians to be wary of if getting involved, but does not necessarily mean Aikido is something to be avoided by all Christians. However, for some Christians it may be something best completely avoided.
Al-Anon. "To help families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with the problem drinking of a relative or friend, ... adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and is based upon the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts of Service." For more information, visit the Al-Anon web site.
Alateen. A version of Al-Anon for teenagers.
"Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety."
For more information visit the Alcoholics Anonymous New Zealand web site.
Alkaline diet. The alkaline diet is based on the alleged – but false – idea that different foods cause the body to become more acid or more alkaline. The diet is claimed to be beneficial by excluding any food that allegedly causes the body to become more acid, which is supposely a bad thing. There are many foods that would need to be excluded by this diet, so it has a high inconvenience factor. The Wikipedia article on the alkaline diet addresses the central claim very clearly:
This proposed mechanism, in which the diet can significantly change the acidity of the blood, goes against "everything we know about the chemistry of the human body" and has been called a "myth" in a statement by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Unlike the pH level in the urine, a selectively alkaline diet has not been shown to elicit a sustained change in blood pH levels, nor to provide the clinical benefits claimed by its proponents. Because of the body's natural regulatory mechanisms, which do not require a special diet to work, eating an alkaline diet can, at most, change the blood pH minimally and transiently.
Many claims are made about the diet that are not substantiated with evidence. Wikipedia again (emphasis added):
A similar proposal by those advocating this diet suggests that cancer grows in an acidic environment, and that a proper alkaline diet can change the environment of the body to treat cancer. This proposal ignores the fact that while cancer tissue does grow in acidic environment, it is the cancer that creates the acidity. The rapid growth of cancer cells creates the acidic environment; the acidic environment does not create cancer. The proposal also neglects to recognize that it is "virtually impossible" to create a less acidic environment in the body. "Extreme" dietary plans such as this diet have more risks than benefits for patients with cancer.
Other proposed benefits from eating an alkaline diet are likewise not supported by scientific evidence. Although it has been proposed that this diet will increase "energy" or treat cardiovascular disease, there is no evidence to support these assertions.
The alkaline diet is rated Danger because it may pose real danger to unwell people, for whom excluding whole food groups may also exclude important nutrients which may have a genuine beneficial effect on diseases such as cancer. Robert O Young, an American author, was arrested in January 2014 after treating Kim Tinkham, who rejected conventional treatment in favour of the alkaline diet. She died, after both she and Mr Young claimed she was healed.
Allah. Supreme deity of Islam. The name literally means "the God".
Alpha Course. An introductory course for Christianity started by Rev Charles Marnham of Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican church in London, England, as a course for church members on the basics of Christianity. In 1990 Nicky Gumbel took over running it, and he revised and expanded the course. The course has spread around the world and is quite popular, no doubt because food is an important part. The name comes from alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Concern has been raised about the course due to the close association of Holy Trinity Brompton with the Holy Laughter Movement. Some argue that the Alpha Course teaches experiential Christianity at the expense of repentance or at the expense of biblical revelation, and that it gives undue prominence to the Holy Spirit while relegating the Father and Jesus Christ to the background. For these reasons it may not suit all churches – apparently the course Christianity Explored attempts to deal with these perceived failings in the Alpha Course so may suit some churches better. Please see the Contact page.
Ambrotose. Scam, pure and simple. Main product of the American-based Mannatech company. For nutritional value the New Zealand Herald compared the product to Coca Cola. (All sweetened soft drinks contain sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup, which the human body absorbs as glucose and fructose, of which glucose is a glyconutrient. Also, lactose in milk is broken down into glucose and galactose, both of which are glyconutrients. The human body can make the other glyconutrients from those it has available.) Ambrotose is given a Caution rating here because it is only likely to serious harm your wallet. However, cancer sufferers are given false hope by the ridiculous claims made by many of those who sell the stuff.
Amway. Considered by many to be a business cult due to practices such as deceptive recruitment. Many of Amway's products are supposed to be quite good, although not necessarily good value for money – it still pays to shop around.
Anchor Stone International. Represented in New Zealand by Ross Patterson, Anchor Stone International is an organisation promoting the false discoveries of Ron Wyatt, including the claim for a particular site in Turkey being Noah's Ark. In 1992 Answers in Genesis investigated the evidence and thoroughly refuted any idea that the site is or ever was Noah's Ark. See Ross Patterson's listing for details. With evidence so readily available disproving that the site is Noah's Ark, it is the position of the New Zealand Cult List that anyone who still promotes the false Ron Wyatt Ark site and its associated false evidence is either willfully ignorant or is deliberately deceiving. Like Ron Wyatt, Anchor Stone International hasn't been given a Danger rating because their claims are not likely to do any damage other than to people's wallets.
Anderson, Sally. Sally Anderson is a self-improvement guru who featured in a four part series on Stuff in April 2018: part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4. There was a follow-up in May 2018. Some of the people who took her courses say it felt like being in a cult. From the first article:
Her fans say she's inspirational, but our investigation has found some who think quite the opposite. In almost two dozen interviews with her former business partners, staff and coaches, a picture formed of an all-controlling guru who doesn't tolerate dissent and has left some people traumatised and indebted. Business partners have been left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket as her various ventures hit the rocks amid profligate spending. She is accused of a bullying coaching style — breaking people down in order to build them up — and some of her ideas are described as dangerous: she believes, for instance, that she can get people off depression medication.
Sally Anderson says she's alive because of Landmark Education, and has incorporated much of what she learned from it into her own seminars. Jargon she uses includes "sustainable transformation" and "Default Disempowered Blueprint". Her business name is Evolve By Choice (formerly Evolved Leadership).
Anthony, Tony. Tony Anthony is a British evangelist, author of Taming the Tiger, his alleged autobiography which has been shown to contain much fiction. Most of his Wikipedia listing is regarding the false claims in the book (and investigation into them), and other false claims.
Anthroposophy. Cult. See Anthroposophical Society.
Anthroposophical Society. Cult. Also called Anthroposophy. Founded by Rudolf Steiner in 1912 as an alternative to Theosophy (from which he started to split around 1907). Teaches New Age concepts including karma and reincarnation.
Antitheism. A form of atheism which rises to the level of a false religion, rather than just a religious worldview. It takes the form of actively attacking any belief in God, and is inherently hypocritical in nature, because it is founded on religious belief itself. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and science educator Bill Nye are notable adherants of this false religion.
Aotearoa Ploughshares. A Christian group, possibly a sect, that focuses on peace. Came to notoriety in April 2008 when three of their members (apparently acting on their own behalf) ironically mounted an attack on the Waihopai Spy Base, resulting in a deflated dome over one of the two satellite dishes. In March 2010 they were found not guilty by a jury because they claimed that their actions were for the greater good, saving lives in Iraq. They did not have to pay the approximately $1 million in damages they caused. In October 2010 the government brought a civil case against them for a total approaching one and a quarter million dollars. The case has resulted in a law change, so it shouldn't happen again.
Apostolic Movement. See New Apostolic Reformation.
Applied Kinesiology. Alternative pseudo-medical practice, associated with chiropractic. A 1993 survey showed 72% of New Zealand chiropractors used applied kinesiology. See this Applied Kinesiology article on the Quackwatch web site for more information.
Applied Scholastics. Front group for the dangerous Scientology cult.
Argyria. A side effect of colloidal silver ingestion where a person's skin turns a blue-black colour.
Armstrong, Garner Ted. Garner Ted Armstrong died on 15 September 2003 age 73. Youngest child of Herbert W Armstrong, father of Mark, David, and Matthew. Expected to succeed his father as leader of the Worldwide Church of God, Garner Armstrong fell from grace ("accused of improprieties"), being disfellowshipped several times from 1966 to 1978. In 1978 he formed the Church of God International, which in turn had many breakaway groups, especially in the early 1990s when the Worldwide Church of God was reforming. In 1995 Garner Ted Armstrong quit the CoGI after he was accused of sexually harassing a female nurse – a charge he denied. He went on to organize the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelical Association (GTAEA). From this sprung the Intercontinental Church of God in 1998. Mr Armstrong has been assigned a Danger rating because of his teachings, not because of any danger he personally posed to anyone.
Armstrong, Herbert W. Herbert W Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God (a former cult, originally named the Radio Church of God). Born in Des Moines, Iowa on 31 July, 1892. Dropped out of high school supposedly following his uncle's advice that only people without ambition needed education (things were very different back then). In Oregon in the 1920s he accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour and in the 1930s started a radio show and a magazine – The Plain Truth. In 1947 he moved to southern California and started training leaders and led the Worldwide Church of God through rapid expansion in the 1950s and 1960s. Said to have visited Auckland around 1980. Herbert Armstrong died in 1986 aged 93, opening the path for God to work to reform the group. He is assigned a Danger rating for his teachings, and for founding and encouraging a cult.
Arnott, John. Pastor of Toronto Airport Vineyard Fellowship, a branch which was expelled from the Vineyard Movement for its Holy Laughter Movement activities, which John Arnott was instrumental for introducing. (Hence why HLM is sometimes called the Toronto Movement.) Quote John Arnott, referring to his methodology for spreading HLM:
Another thing that hinders is people pray all the time. Praying in English or even praying in tongues. Mention the Holy Spirit and they start praying in tongues, you know. Our experience is that that will hinder substantially your ability to receive. And so I say to people, `Look don't pray.'
Compare this to 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – "pray continually".
Aromatherapy. A basically New Age practice with some scientific support for a few practical aspects; for example, lemon oil has been shown to reduce stress in mice, lavender and tea tree oils have anti-bacterial properties. However, many scientifically unsupported New Age claims are made for the healing power of aromatherapy, which earn it a Caution rating. Wikipedia also lists some safety concerns; for example, phototoxic reactions with lemon oil, lavender and tea tree oils are oestrogen mimics, some oils can interfere with prescription medications.
Art of Living Coalition. New Age group (and possible cult) founded by [Ms] Frankie Lee Slater. It is not thought to be in New Zealand at present. Also see Art of Living Foundation (immediately below).
Art of Living Foundation. New Age group (and possible cult) started by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It is present in New Zealand. A former member says "AoL people act like any other cult, and spiritual, emotional and mental abuse is rife!" and has recommended artoflivingfree.blogspot.com as being very helpful in their recovery from being in the group. It is described thus:
This blog was created with the sole purpose of providing former Art of Living members and currently doubting ones a space for healing, finding answers, understanding processes that we went through as active members and as "drop-outs", sharing, supporting each other, with understanding, compassion, and above all, freedom and forgiveness.
Ascension of the Bright Path Ishayas. See Ascension Meditation.
Ascension meditation. A particular form of Eastern/New Age meditation claimed by some practitioners/teachers (monks) to be non-religious. Also called Ascension of the Bright Path Ishayas and Ishayas' Ascension. Ascension meditation was highlighted in a New Zealand Listener article in November 2018 about Ishaya monk Sally Lewis in which she said it's being taught in six New Zealand prisons by herself and partner and fellow monk Greg Hopkinson, largely due to the influence of A Mindful Choice, a 2016 movie they produced purporting to show its "calming and transformative effects" in a particularly violent Mexican prison.
Astrology. The occult belief system that the position and motion of the stars and planets – especially when we were born – affect our daily lives. Something for Christians to completely avoid. MM Outreach Inc has a useful article: Astrology: A Christian Analysis. Also see horoscopes.
Therefore atheism is a belief ultimately based on a philosophical viewpoint, not on any conclusive evidence that God does not exist. Because of the faith required to hold that philosophical viewpoint, atheism has belief at its core, and atheists absolutely require faith to hold their belief. Atheists generally don't like to have it pointed out to them that their atheism is faith based and will often strongly deny it, even when it's clearly explained. This is reflected in the book title You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think. Atheism takes more misguided faith than they care to admit, and more faith than it takes to believe that God does exist, as is made clear in the book I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Quite simply, Christianity is far more rational than atheism. The book Christianity for Skeptics puts atheism in perspective:
Atheism is a journey without a destiny, a body without a soul, a religion without reason, life without meaning, a faith without hope, and a universe without God.
Apart from just being a false religious worldview, atheism can also at times be considered a false religion, especially when it takes the form of vehement antitheism. See Is Atheism a Religion? (It also explains why atheism is a blind faith but Christianity is not.) There are several varieties or degrees of atheism, which lie outside the scope of this listing. Atheism is also listed in the Glossary. See CARM's Atheism section for more information, including several videos, or Randy Bailey's story of abandoning atheism to accept Jesus Christ as his saviour. He writes:
The greatest truth that I have learned since I have "come home" again, is that all of the arguments and debates in defense of an atheistic worldview exist for one sole purpose: justification of sin. The reality is that, although I wanted to present my atheism as the result of learned, intellectual inquiry, the reality was that I – just as all atheists do – was defending my choice of refusing God and living a sinful lifestyle.
Auriculotherapy. New Age practice. A form of acupuncture where needles are stuck into the outer ear.
Austen, Jill. Jill Austen (deceased 9 January 2009) was a false prophet (false prophetess?) and was part of the False Revival Movement. She claimed to speak with the angel Gabriel and other spiritual beings.
Avatar Masters Training. Described as "a New Age re-spawning of Scientology using the same methods of mind control, but the guru is prevented from using the copyright terms. Founder Harry Palmer is ex-Scientology." Runs introductory mini-workshops for which they charge a small fee. They are quite keen on getting their training used in large NZ companies. As well as Avatar, registered trademarks include ReSurfacing, Thoughtstorm, and Star's Edge International.
Awaken Internship. Course offered by Tauranga House of Prayer.
Awakenings Life Skills Centre. Probable Swedenborg related group.
Ayurveda, ayurvedic medicine. "An ancient system of healthcare" from India. Unfortunately some treatments are toxic. For example, ayurvedic pills have been found to contain as much as 10mg of lead in each pill, and lead poisoning from ayurvedic treatments can occur. Note that the heavy metals in such pills are not listed in the ingredients, so partakers are not aware they are poisoning themselves. Also, some of the herbs used contain toxic compounds. See Wikipedia's Ayurveda article for more information.