Groups List: S
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Sai Baba of Shirdi. He was a figure regarded - and worshipped - as a saint by some Hindus and Muslims. Born ~1835, died 15 October 1918. "Sai Baba" translates as "holy father" (or "saintly old man"). He has a small following in New Zealand, Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan. Sai Baba of Shirdi is not to be confused with Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011), a Hindu guru.
Sanitarium. Breakfast cereal company founded and owned by the Seventh Day Adventist church.
Sansthan. See Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan
Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Perhaps best described as an urban legend, mostly arising from bad therapy leading to Recovered Memory Syndrome. Please note that many "victims" of SRA really are victims, but are victims of bad therapy rather than the extreme ritual abuse they claim to now remember. (Of course, there's another group of people who make such claims just for the attention.) Also please note, we are not saying that satanic rituals and practices do not take place. See the Occult Closeup for more info. For more information on SRA see Apologetics Index's SRA page.
Sathya Sai Baba. Hindu guru and New Age leader. Born 23 November 1926, died 24 April 2011 - which is rather ironic considering that he said "I am God" and millions of his followers considered him a living god (NZ Herald article). "Sai Baba" translates as "holy father" (or "saintly old man"), a title he adopted after he claimed to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi (1835-1918), a figure regarded as a saint by some Hindus and Muslims.
Sathya Sai Pre-school Rongomai. A preschool run by Institute of Sathya Sai Education NZ Inc.
Sathya Sai Spiritual Education. Classes for children run by Sathya Sai Service Organisation NZ with the basic aim of teaching them they are God.
Scamwatch. A web site run by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and highly recommended. "The aim of Scamwatch is to provide you with information you need to protect yourself from scams, so you can recognise a setup and avoid the hook and the inevitable sting of a scam."
School of Economic Science. See School of Philosophy.
School of Philosophy. Also known in England and other countries as School of Economic Science, or School of Philosophy and Economic Science. It is a New Age cult with Vedic/Hindu teachings, such as reincarnation and meditation. Gives lip-service to Christianity only in as much as it serves their purposes. Arrived from London in 1961. Branches in Auckland, Hamilton, Masterton and Wellington. Founded Ficino School in 1997 for primary and intermediate aged children. For more information on their actual teachings - which have nothing to do with real philosophy - read The School of Philosophy (Auckland) article.
School of Spiritual Science. Cult. See Anthroposophical Society.
School of the New Zealand Training Schools for Prophets and Intercessors. See School of the Prophets.
School of the Prophets. Cult, featuring bad doctrine, a charismatic authoritarian leader (since deceased) and mind control. Founded by Walter Simpson Ballantyne (deceased) in 1997, with branches reported in Auckland, Tauranga, Gisbourne, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as Australia and South Africa. Also known as New Zealand Training School for Prophets and Intercessors. It appears that people leaving School of the Prophets are deemed to be lost, with no hope of salvation. The mind control technique thought stopping is used to protect members from the almost inevitable rejection of their message by outsiders, while jargon and loaded language is used to obfuscate true beliefs from outsiders (for example, Mr Ballantyne states "the Gospel of the Kingdom" is not the same as "the Gospel"). The School of the Prophets is given a Danger rating because of its bad theology, mind control, and reports of marriage breakups in Tauranga, Gisborne, Australia and South Africa as a direct result of the work of Walter Ballantyne and this group. This listing is under review. Submissions for this listing are now being accepted. Please see the Contact page.
Similarly-named groups: The idea of a school for prophets (ignoring for the moment the biblically-sound notion that prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, not something taught) apparently came to New Zealand from Australia (in recent times, at least), where a Brisbane School of the Prophets was (at that time) led by Chris and Debbie Gaborit, and from America before that. However, Walter Ballantyne does not acknowledge this chain of descent, and claims originality of concept - the school was supposedly revealed directly to him by God in a vision. (He needn't bother trying to emphasise the originality of the idea, as the concept was raised as early as 1860.) Functionally speaking the Tauranga-based School of the Prophets is unrelated to the American and Australian groups of the same name.
School of the Prophets Charitable Trust. See School of the Prophets.
Science of the Soul Study Centre. A group with a building in Mt Roskill, Auckland. They meet on Sunday mornings at "normal church time" and are said to have lots of pictures of an Indian guru on their walls, but they expect us to believe their claims they aren't religious. Sure. It's actually very religious; apparently a local branch of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB, aka "Sant Mat"), which includes the teachings of Surat Shabd Yoga. It is a New Age mix of typical Eastern beliefs including meditation. RSSB is also the umbrella organisation for the Science of the Soul Research Centre in Delhi, India, another mystic group which publishes books teaching relativism and that the world's religions are really the same. Freedom of Mind calls RSSB "a super secret organization" and lists Eckankar as being a spin off from it. The Mt Roskill building used to be owned by the Exclusive Brethren and required alterations to their car park due to a motorway extension built nearby.
Scientology. Full name Church of Scientology, this is a very dangerous cult group. Extreme mind control practices. Founder L Ron Hubbard (a pulp science fiction writer). Head PR person/Secretary in New Zealand is Mike Ferriss. Chairperson is Marion Moffat (who is possibly married to Claude Moffat). Ian H Gillott is another long-time member. Recently granted charity status by the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (on the basis that Scientology is a religion - even though its religious writings bear a strange resemblance to cheap science fiction). In December 2003 and January 2004 they attempted to suppress the information in this listing by contacting the company which hosts this site. Their first letter can be read under the listing for Marion Moffat. (It should be noted that all the information on this site is completely legal.) Scientology has rather a lot of detractors on the Internet - for example WhyAreTheyDead.net and ExposingSatanism.org. The online book The Scandal of Scientology by Paulette Cooper makes for a good, well, actually slightly sickening read. For more juicy information on Scientology have a look at the Closeup on Scientology or click the graphic below to visit Operation Clambake. (It should be noted that linking to another web site is completely legal.)
Googlism has its own ideas about what Scientology is (satire).
ScienTOMogy. ScienTOMogy was a satirical web site detailing some of the crazy antics of renowned Scientologist Tom Cruise. Thanks to the crazy antics of some not very Clear Minded Scientologists who threatened to sue it for breach of copyright (or something), the site made headlines around the word and grew from obscurity to widespread fame - a great example of the Streisand effect. Of course ScienTOMogy also quickly listed their crazy legal threats too. (Well, what did they expect?) The link from ScienTOMogy to the New Zealand Cult List also resulted in October 2005 being the busiest month ever for our own site, with lots more people getting to read the information we have about Scientology - all due to Scientology's free advertising. The ScienTOMogy site no longer exists in the same format, although the basic idea was continued under different management with a slightly different domain name.
Scotland, John. Leader of the Drunken Revival Movement, which is itself part of the False Revival Movement. His web site is headed "Blissful Spiritual Intoxication" - see the Drunken Revival Movement entry for a quote from Lee Grady regarding biblical injunctions for sobriety. Has visited New Zealand more than once (the latest in Feb 2011) and is shown near the beginning of Part 3 of Andrew Strom's Kundalini documentary. John Scotland is supported in New Zealand by Gaye Stradwick.
SDA. See Seventh Day Adventist.
Seatoun School, Wellington - Board of Trustees. The board of trustees at this Wellington primary school banned a religious group that met during their Wednesday lunch break. The Caution rating is assigned here for suppression of religious freedom. From the New Zealand Herald:
In a written opinion, Sir Geoffrey [Palmer] said the ban breached the Bill of Rights Act's guarantee of freedom of religion. The lunchtime "KidsKlub" meetings were not in school time, were voluntary and were allowed under the Education Act.
FYI - Seatoun School also hit the headlines in 1989 when it announced it was adding two more school years (to include intermediate age children), a decision which resulted in significant controversy since it affected other local primary schools and the local intermediate school. (Competition in education?)
Self Knowledge Foundation. See Foundation for Self Knowledge Inc.
Sensé. A range of USANA Health Sciences products.
Service for Peace scheme. A Moonie front group/campaign.
Seven Ray Foundation. A former charitable trust, now closed but replaced by Christ College of Trans-Himalayan Wisdom.
Seventh Day Adventist. Generally but some branches Christian denomination which believes strongly in Sabbath worship (Saturday) rather than Sunday. That's fine in itself but some branches in New Zealand (believed to be a minority of SDAs in this country) go overboard in this and proclaim that only they are saved because other denominations do not do this - a cultic claim. Founded by Ellen G White - their Prophetess. It varies on a branch-by-branch basis, but any particular branch that practices or teaches that Ellen G White's teachings are more important than the Bible qualifies itself as a cult. Most New Zealand branches do not hold strongly to that, whereas in other countries the tendency is in the other direction. Publishing company Patriotic Christian Distributors. Robert K Sanders has written a testimony of how he left the SDAs after 37 years.
SGI, SGINZ. See Soka Gakkai International New Zealand.
Shiatsu massage. A type of alternative medicine involving various massage techniques based on acupuncture channels in the arms and legs. Practitioners make claims about the benefits that are not supported by scientific evidence. See Wikipedia's Shiatsu entry for more information, which says "There is no scientific evidence proving that shiatsu is effective at treating any disease."
Show Us Your Glory Conference. False revival movement conference held in 2007.
Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan. An Eastern group that follows the teachings of Shri Saibaba, otherwise known as Sai Baba of Shirdi. They say he preached religious tolerance, although Wikipedia points out "He was an opponent of religious orthodoxy – Christian, Hindu and Muslim" and "He criticized atheism" (which is also a religious worldview). As of early 2012 they are spending $5 million converting an Onehunga, Auckland warehouse into a temple and community hall.
Shunning. A mind control mechanism. Involves shunning, or completely ignoring, former members, even to the point of crossing the street to avoid them.
SkyBiz, SkyBiz 2000. Internet-based con scheme, multi-level marketing scheme, possibly illegal in New Zealand. Reportedly most effective at conning those aged over 40 who do not own a computer... which is almost funny since the scheme is to sell web sites. We haven't heard anything of it for the last five years, but if it is still operating, stay clear of it.
Smith, Barry. and Barry R Smith 1933-2002, end-times proclaimer, traveling preacher, now deceased. Author of the books Warning, Second Warning, and Final Warning. While his gospel message was described as "solid" and the evangelism work he did (especially in the Solomon Islands) was excellent, the books are a different matter. He had an annoying tendency in those books to not back up wild claims (of which he made many) with solid evidence; they should certainly be read with caution.
Smith, Dr Ed. Developer of TheoPhostic Counseling (aka Theophostic Prayer Ministry).
Soka Gakkai International New Zealand (SGINZ). A Buddhist group.
Solution. Youth ministry of Destiny Church in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Somatic Education. Posture and movement exercises and techniques which are supposed to reverse or reduce various effects of aging. One set of such exercises and techniques is the Feldenkrais Method.
Soul Destiny. A New Age/occult instructional group and probable cult led by Wayne Morgan. Members are reported to typically stay in the group about a year before most "figure it out and then get out". Several aspects of the group sound very similar to the Gentle Wind Project New Age cult/business cult/scam, in particular the pseudo-scientific babble used to promote ideas, courses and products. Products sold include colloidal silver. Soul Dynamics is rated Danger because of its New Age and occult teachings, its promotion of colloidal silver for ingestion, and for alleged use of mind control techniques in leading the group.
Sozo. Also called Sozo Healing and Sozo Ministry. It is very similar to Theophostic Ministry but is mixed with teachings from the Toronto Movement. In other words, yet another repackaged Inner Healing, but with some big name backers like Bill Johnson, at whose church it was started. Sozo and the other practices from the Inner Healing Movement are strongly New Age. For more information see these pages:
Spiritism. According to Elliot Miller "the practice of attempting communication with departed human or extrahuman intelligences (usually nonphysical) through the agency of a human medium, with the intent of receiving paranormal information and/or having direct experience of metaphysical realities" which is a complicated way of saying "they speak to dead people." This is what King Saul did in the Bible in 1 Samuel 28, although modern television spiritists (and "platform mediums") are better described as con artists.
Spiritualism. Spiritualism is a religion incompatible with Christianity, as it involves occult activities forbidden in the Bible. Swedenborgianism is a Spiritualist group present in New Zealand. See Wikipedia's Spiritualism article for more information. Please see the Contact page.
Splendour of Truth, The. A Roman Catholic bookshop, Milford, Auckland.
Springbank Christian Community. The name of a former commune home of the Cooperites, also at that time known as Cust Christian Community and Christian Community Church. It was a 100 hectare property near Cust in North Canterbury. In 1991 the Cooperites outgrew the property and moved to Gloriavale Christian Community on the South Island's West Coast.
Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi. See Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Started the Art of Living Foundation.
Star's Edge International. Trademark of Avatar Masters Training.
Steiner School. See Rudolf Steiner School.
Stop Suffering. Name sometimes used for the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
Stradwick, Jack and Gaye. Jack and Gaye Stradwick are the pastors of Auckland "church" Fusion and as of June 2008 have recently returned from Lakeland, Florida. They support Todd Bentley, Joshua and Janet Mills, Bill Johnson, John Scotland, Jason Westerfield, Extreme Prophetic, and false prophet Bob Jones, and - as is typical for those in the False Revival Movement - actively teach against discernment (one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit). For example, Gaye Stradwick, regarding false prophet Todd Bentley's false revival: "Please please please - if there is nothing good in your heart to say about this wonderful out-pouring of the Spirit of God, at least say nothing." The possibility that Todd Bentley and his false revival were not of God at all was sadly not an option for her. The Stradwicks are assigned a Danger rating because of their ongoing encouraging and teaching of unbiblical experiences and practices including the endorsement of fallacious miracles, misquoting of and misuse of the Bible, connections with and support of false prophets, and spiritual danger they pose in deceiving both the wider Christian church and their own young and impressionable congregation. As of May 2012 this rating is unchanged.
Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, in "LIFE AFTER LAKELAND: Sorting Out the Confusion" writes about the false Lakeland revival led by Todd Bentley (with emphasis added):
Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?
To put it bluntly, we're just plain gullible.
From the first week of the Lakeland revival, many discerning Christians raised questions about Bentley's beliefs and practices. They felt uneasy when he said he talked to an angel in his hotel room. They sensed something amiss when he wore a T-shirt with a skeleton on it. They wondered why a man of God would cover himself with tattoos. They were horrified when they heard him describe how he tackled a man and knocked his tooth out during prayer.
But among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: "This is God. Don't question." So before we could all say, "Sheeka Boomba" (as Bentley often prayed from his pulpit), many people went home, prayed for people and shoved them to the floor with reckless abandon, Bentley-style.
I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We're spiritual hungry - which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.
Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It's way past time for us to grow up.
FWIW Lee Grady has apparently learned from the Todd Bentley saga. On 27 October 2009 he wrote about John Crowder, saying "Let's put the childish things behind us. It's time for us to grow up and sober up." (More of his article is quoted in the Drunken Revival Movement listing.)
Sadly, since Todd Bentley's fall from grace the Stradwicks have continued to support the false revival he started and the false miracles Todd Bentley claimed to perform, continue to support other False Revival Movement teachers and Extreme Prophetic, and continue to encourage a lack of discernment.
Update May 2012: Gaye Stradwick has contacted us with a promising-sounding claim.
Over the past year, our focus at Fusion has shifted and is now totally on the finished work of the cross. [...] Could you please remove these references to us on your site as the information there is no longer applicable.
We had been aware she had been making a similar claim for at least a couple of months, and were encouraged by the prospect of this change. However, the NZ Cult List has been unable to verify any genuine change. We asked her for clarification about the information we list and Gaye's response made it clear that her change in focus would be better described as a change in emphasis. There is no change in belief evident. She still believes the things mentioned in this listing all grew out of genuine moves of God. Compare the Bible with Gaye Stradwick's teaching:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
- Ephesians 4:14.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.
This [Todd Bentley] revival was 100% God ordained and birthed. The salvations, healings and miracles were real, [...] This is God’s revival. It will therefore continue, and spread around the world.
- Jack and Gaye Stradwick, Sep 2008.
But when a new season is here, you move with it, [...] To camp around an experience once the cloud has moved on is denial. [...] While we have shifted focus, it is obvious you are as stuck as ever in your role as the error police.
- Gaye Stradwick, Apr 2012.
As Christians we should not be camping around an experience; we should be camping around the truth. The Todd Bentley revival claimed at least 21 resurrections. Not one has been verified. We should test everything. People make mistakes, but acknowledging our mistakes is the first step of truly moving forward. Gaye Stradwick has not admitted that any of her very public and very enthusiastic endorsements of Todd Bentley were wrong. In public statements and in correspondence received from her it doesn't appear that Gaye Stradwick has learned anything.
Strom, Andrew. Andrew Strom is an advocate for the "coming street revival" He points out that the early church mostly ministered in the open-air and met house to house, and believes that reaching the masses will happen when the body of Christ moves in unity in the community. Andrew Strom also teaches about "true revival" as opposed to "false revival" and in May 2008 published a book on that topic. [Editor's note: I see that the first two reviews posted were from people who have not read the book. One includes the classic line "Books like this are published for the self-righteous to enjoy judging what they don't understand." Could it equally be said reviews like that are posted by the really self-righteous to enjoy judging what they don't understand?] In the middle of 2008 Andrew posted five videos on YouTube expressing his concern with the Lakeland Revival. Part Three contains graphic examples which show the similarities between false revival manifestations and occult Kundalini manifestations. The videos made him the 7th most subscribed YouTube user in New Zealand for July 2008 and the 19th most viewed. In mid-2010 he posted another documentary - False spirits invade the church, part 1 and part 2 - which include graphic examples of the extreme behaviour (some say demon possession) of the False Revival Movement. Part 3 from October 2010 is said to be the most revealing yet, and is recommended watching.
Structural Integration. See Rolfing.
Subritzky, Bill. Faith healer and pentecostal leader. Gets a bit carried away sometimes, but has done a great deal of good evangelism in New Zealand. His web site is www.doveministries.com.
Subud. Once a very secretive New Age cult, Subud is now expanding and becoming more open, and no longer hides its teachings behind password-protected web sites. (A cynic would say they've realised they don't need to - people will fall for anything.) Subud was founded in the 1920s in Java, Indonesia by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (b. 1901, d. 1987), who is normally called Bapak ("Father") by Subud members. There are a little over 200 members in NZ (as of mid 2007), with about 90 in Christchurch, led by Hammond Peek, and most of the rest in Auckland. There are perhaps 10,000 members worldwide.
The name Subud comes from the three words Susila ("the good character of man in accordance with the will of God"), Budhi ("the force of the inner self within man"), and Dharma ("surrender, trust and sincerity towards God"), and is not related to Subuh ("dawn"). The founder expected members to pay 3-5% of their income to the cult (but they can also have many supposed financial crises to respond to each year) and expected members' enterprises (businesses) to pay 25%. These are not enforced - indeed, most Subud members have not heard of those figures, perhaps indicating that Subud's teaching that Subud has no teaching is working - the members have never been taught what their founder said. (Hiding of origins is actually a big problem in many cults, but most don't have self-contradiction at their core.)
The founder's daughter took over leadership when her father died. From Indonesia she picks names for many children and some adults, which helps reinforce group identity (another sign Subud is a cult). This leader is considered to have all the power of her father, who proclaimed himself to be a Christ-like/Muhammad-like figure and was believed by some to be the second coming of Christ. [Can anyone see anything wrong with that belief? Hint: He's now dead. - Editor.]
Central to Subud practice is the latihan - an occult activity like transcendental meditation which according to Dr Stephen Urlich, a Christchurch scientist who wrote an article published in a journal of the American Psychological Association, involves “uninhibited weeping, shouting, writhing, moaning and speaking in tongues” and that “Laughing, jumping and dancing can occur”. Compare this with Kundalini. A Christian perspective is that this activity involves channeling demons that masqerade as either angels of light, the Holy Spirit, or even Christ himself to reveal supposed truth to the Subud member. Nasty. Some Subud members call the latihan "getting opened" which is appropriate for an activity that involves opening oneself to demonic manipulation. Subud has been known to practice strong relationship control, and in a 1964 study cited by Dr Urlich, 24 cases linked Subud to "schizophrenic episodes requiring hospitalisation". This has been referred to as "Subud Syndrome" by a Subud supporting correspondent, who attempted to play it down by implying it was nothing special because "all religious experience can become traumatic for vulnerable people". This is not true of most religious experience and is strong evidence of cultic practice when it occurs.
Like many New Age groups and practices, Subud in particular appears to primarily appeal to those for whom rational thought is not a high priority, meaning that feelings are far more important to them than clear logical thought is. (For example, one Subud member has emailed us claiming black and white can be the same thing because they're both colours.) This combined with the experiences of the Latihan means that it can be very hard to convince a Subud member just how bad it is - they feel it is right, therefore as far as they are concerned it is. Subud is here rated Danger for its heavily New Age theology, its very occult practices, its strongly self-contradictory teachings, and its risk of psychological damage.
Sudarshanaloka Trust. A Buddhist organisation.
Sullivan, David. Leading Feldenkrais Method practitioner in New Zealand. (FYI listing.)
Sunny Day Homeschool. Homeschool run on principles from L Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Based in Papatoetoe, Auckland, and run by the same person who leads Applied Scholastics New Zealand. Rated Danger because quite simply Scientology screws people up for life; there is no way that children should be exposed to Scientology teachings.
Super Apostle. A term used by Cultwatch and others to refer to a Christian leader who sets themselves up as being specially chosen or appointed by God to control a number of churches. The New Apostolic Reformation is the ideal platform for Super Apostles. Read Cultwatch's Super Apostle article for more information, or their article How Pastors Get Rich for typical money-making techniques used.
Swart, Leon. Leon Swart, also known as Leo Swart, heads FANZA in New Zealand.
Swedenborg/Swedenborgianism. Spiritualist cult founded by Emanuel Swedenborg. Claims to be "True Christian Religion" but denies all the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Present in New Zealand as the New Church in New Zealand. For more information see CARM's Swedenborg article or Watchman Fellowship's Swedenborg profile. Or read how one man left Swedenborg and came to know Christ as his saviour on the CARM site. Swedenborgianism is rated Danger for its seriously bad misrepresentation of Christianity.
Swedenborg, Emanuel. Founder of Swedenborg. Lived 1688 - 1772.
Synergetic Medicine Ltd. Possible scam. A company founded by Lonnian Lee based on a combination of Chinese traditional medicine and western medicine. Sells expensive products with creative names like "Alimentation System (Spleen Energy)". While Lonnian Lee is marketed as a doctor, it should be emphasised that he has a PhD, not a medical degree, and it's in Asian Studies, not medicine or physiology.