T here’s a recurring rumor that Elizabeth Clare Prophet siphoned off money from her Church Universal and Triumphant and stashed it away in secret Swiss bank accounts.It first appeared in Kenneth Paolini’s 400 Years of Imaginary Friends. Paolini claimed to have seen the “bank books.” It was one of the only inaccuracies in an otherwise excellent (and unfortunately now out-of-print) book. Recently, commenter Legh W. repeated the charge. I responded, but since it’s in the comment section of an old thread, I’m promoting the discussion to a full post.
I’d like to lay these rumors to rest.
As a two-time member of the Church board, from 1982-1984 and 1987-1993, I would have been in a position to know if there were any such shenanigans. Plenty of money was spent on questionable projects and the gray area of Prophet’s personal expenses, to be sure. As the head of the Church, she lived by the theological equivalent of L’etat c’est Moi (Louis XIV’s infamous quote “the state is me”).
Though contributions kept CUT going, Prophet saw herself as its chief rainmaker/breadwinner. She therefore told herself that her personal needs and extravagant expenses were justified. While still totally unforgivable, this seems to be the rule rather than the exception for many modern religious leaders, and we have only to look at some of the “prosperity gospel” evangelicals to find private jets and all manner of ridiculous financial abuses. All of these are conducted at the margins of the law under a church’s non-profit umbrella.
But it’s a whole other criminal matter to embezzle funds. The technical term is inurement, and it’s harshly punished by the IRS. An organization can lose it’s tax-exempt status, as CUT nearly did on two occasions. But it made changes to its operations and satisfied the IRS. If there had been any missing funds, the IRS would have found them in its audits which covered many years of CUT operations. There were funds sequestered at times in T-bills (Capital Preservation Fund). They were being held for future Church needs. But the idea that Swiss bank accounts existed or that money was embezzled for later personal use is pure fantasy.
I often wonder why it’s necessary to gild the lily, so to speak. Isn’t the saga lurid enough already? There’s enough trauma which resulted from CUT to fill volumes. Making up a story about Swiss accounts just confuses the issue and detracts from the more important truth that the “Ascended Master” pantheon is fanciful nonsense, as is the idea of a monotheistic personal “God.”
My parents collected money which they often squandered. What difference would it make to the donors whether they spent it on themselves or convinced other people to spend it on well-appointed but useless subterranean survival chambers? Point is, the money’s gone, and with it the illusions of many former true believers. But neither I nor any member of my family has ever profited or received any previously diverted funds from CUT after we resigned.
As of early 2008, my mother is slowly dying and losing function, her mind is gone, and she couldn’t enjoy any illicit money even if she did have it stashed away, which she most certainly does not. Her care is paid for by a combination of private contributions, church salary/royalties, and her retirement plan.
Below is my comment in response to the erroneous accusations:
You seem to come to a lot of conclusions based on your subjective feelings rather than evidence. I normally don’t post comments that are mostly witnessing as yours is. But I wanted to pointedly address a couple of your misconceptions:
I profoundly began to know that there was something evil about Claire Prophet, not just misguided, or deluded, but genuinely intentionally evil – especially after I met her in person.
Many forms of evil are well-intentioned. I agree with you that the effects of my parents teachings are largely negative. But you are incorrect that they were motivated by anything other than true belief. I was around them for 30 years, so I would be in a position to know.
It’s sad that her son Sean was so scarred by growing up in the bizarre cult of CUT, that he has forsaken all faith in Diety.
Sad for who? I feel fine. I don’t need an imaginary friend to make me feel whole. This is the typical hostile and condescending position from believers: expressing their “concern” about how atheists have no hope and must be so “damaged.” You can keep your pity, thanks.
I have not a doubt in my mind that millions are stashed somewhere – I do not believe for one minute that she took little for herself. That is hogwash.
Sorry, wrong again. You give them too much credit. They were not cynical or greedy enough to stash money for themselves. Sure, they got hold of other people’s money, and that was inexcusable. But they spent it on Church projects. The Church bought vast quantities of land. At one point in the late 1980s to early 1990s the organization had a net worth of $50 million or more from its land holdings alone. A good deal of that land has now been sold off by CUT’s management to pay expenses. Also, north of $25 million went into CUT’s bomb shelters, food and supplies.
Yes, there were disparities in lifestyles. Big disparities. I am in no way defending the way ECP ran her organization. It was corrupt and whimsical, and capricious, and not spiritual, and ultimately highly unjust. But there is no stash of money, OK? I would know if there was, and would have no problem admitting it. It is just simply untrue.
Watch between 2011 and 2017. ECP crossed paths with the world for a reason. It just happens not to have one thing to do with being a real spiritual leader. It has everything to do with being a false apostate in a female form. The male form to come will be much worse. Learn the lesson now, to avoid being pulled in again later in this new millenium.
This kind of conjectural nonsense is exactly why the whole new age movement is spiritually and intellectually bankrupt. The “everything happens for a reason” mentality, the paranoid predictions of doom (always in the next 5-10 years), all of it concocted out of the whole cloth. An “apostate” is one who has renounced their beliefs. A “false apostate” would be what? You’re not even making sense. Maybe you meant to say “impostor.”
Legh W., You bash Elizabeth Clare Prophet and then come up with your own equally baseless nonsense. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! I think if you could collect money for your loony prophecies, you’d have no problem doing it yourself. Your accusations against my mom seem to be at their core a projection of your own ambitions. It’s why you need to perpetuate the “god” charade.
My parents were entertainers. They spun a dramatic yarn that got people to pay their attention and money. It was a yarn they believed themselves. Period. We’ve seen it before, and will no doubt see it again. Check out what wacky Tom Cruise is doing right now. Maybe he is your male “apostate.”
The whole of religion and the “new age”–a bunch of witting or unwitting con artists. No exceptions.