Open Letter to Madonna
Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc.
Steven Alan Hassan M.Ed, LMHC, NCC
PO Box 45223 Somerville, Massachusetts 02145
May 27, 2004
In this post 9/11 world we live in, it is especially important to make intelligent, responsible distinctions between healthy and unhealthy religious groups. It seems to me that the three major Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam each have individuals who are perverting them to their own political, financial, and egotistical needs.* The great commandments of LOVE- “Love God with all your heart mind and strength” and “love your neighbor as you love yourself” - have become twisted to focus on fear, hatred, guilt, greed and fame. The essence of these religious traditions teach us to exercise our free will, that we were intentionally created by God to have choices, and not made to be merely programmed robots. I believe that any group that uses deception and methods of mental and physical manipulation to turn people into dependent and obedient slaves is not following the essence of these great faiths.
When I saw a news photo of you wearing a tee-shirt that said “Cult Member” as you left the Kabbalah Learning Centre (KLC) in Los Angeles, I decided to write this open letter to you. It saddens me to see you mock the suffering of countless numbers of people who have unwittingly been recruited into destructive cults. I am one of those people who dropped out of college, donated my bank account and thought that I was following God’s chosen representative on earth, Sun Myung Moon. In the 1970’s, I too mocked and made fun of my family and friends as well as the media! How could they ever think that I was in a cult? I “knew” that I was following God’s Will. The group turned me into a clone of its leader and I became arrogant and elitist. I was indoctrinated to think from only within the narrow confines of Moon’s messianic delusion called the “Divine Principle.” I was taught thought-stopping to eradicate “negativity” which included doubts and questions about many things. I was programmed with phobias that if I ever left the group, I would be possessed by evil spirits, like in the Exorcist movie. Do you really believe that paying KLC $26 for a piece of red string to put on your wrist will protect you from the “Evil Eye?”
I want you to understand that I am not criticizing Kabbalah. I belong to a Temple that regularly holds kabbalat Shabbat services (http://tbzbrookline.org) I am expressing my specific concerns about the Kabbalah Learning Centre’s leaders and its policies. I am concerned that the public is getting wrong ideas about Jewish mysticism if they rely solely on the KLC. There are many credible rabbis to learn from if you sincerely wish to study Kabbalah. Start by reading books about Kabbalah written by scholars Gershom Scholem, Daniel Matt, or Rabbi Arthur Green, dean at Hebrew College (http://hebrewcollege.edu).
Don’t you realize that you have a large responsibility to your fans and to the general public? Why don’t you take the time to sit down and read the many articles written about Berg and his group? Why not speak with former member to hear about their experiences? I have counseled two individuals from the LA group and talked with many more who have contacted me. Why don’t you read about cults? Mind control? I have a lot of material online at my freedomofmind.com web site.
Please. Madonna. Wake up and think about the controversies that have followed Berg since he morphed from an insurance salesman to the self proclaimed title of “World’s Foremost Kabbalist.” Just this claim would be a tip off that he has a huge ego–the opposite of the humility that true teachers of Jewish mysticism exude. Investigate the source of his Kabbalah knowledge. I have been told that Kabbalists in Israel (and around the world) scoff at Berg’s claims.
As you begin your new world tour, please reconsider endorsing the Kabbalah Learning Centre and direct people who are interested in Kabbalah to legitimate sources of study and practice.
Steven Alan Hassan M.Ed., LMHC, NCC
*Of course, other religions have people perverting their teachings too.