October 16, 2009

Oprah promoted sweat lodge killer

Oprah Winfrey Should Apologize for Promoting Dangerous Fraud James Arthur Ray

by Dr. Al CarrollSpiritual exploiters like James Arthur Ray should be ashamed of themselves, but rarely are. After all, they get rich and have cult followings of the naïve or lost. Ray may belong in prison for negligent homicide, along with others who conduct extremely dangerous false versions of a sweatlodge. Ray's operation likely knew that a sweatlodge, when run by anyone other than an extensively trained Native traditionalist, routinely results in deaths or injuries. There are deaths from phony New Age sweatlodges in Texas, Britain, Australia, and in California multiple times. The Australian Medical Association issued a warning about phony sweatlodges, something that American and European medical associations should do.

A sweatlodge that is not properly run can result in death from asphyxiation, heart attack, or dehydration. Hapless New Agers routinely get burned or scalded. There are also many cases of psychological damage. You can relive traumas in a sweatlodge, such as child molestation or rape, as well as manic episodes. The rocks heated in a sweatlodge, if not properly chosen, can explode. Finally, many of the worst exploiters sexually abuse their followers. It's easy to pass out in the heat of a sweatlodge. Many women (and men) are molested or raped. No one should trust any operator who insists on a sweatlodge alone or in the nude.

Don't trust anyone who advertises or charges for ceremony. There's a simple standard that non-Natives should use when thinking about going to an alleged "Native" ceremony: If the operators seek out non-Native peoples, they are frauds looking to take your money. Actual Native traditionalists neither seek nor want converts. Native ceremonies are intended for Native communities, always. They lose their power and meaning once taken outside that context.

For her part in promoting the dangerous fraud James Arthur Ray, Oprah Winfrey should publicly apologize and vow to be more careful about who she endorses in the future. How many of the victims in Sedona would never have gone there had they not seen Winfrey's program? How wealthy did Ray become off of his victims because of Winfrey's repeated endorsement of Ray, both on her show and online? Why didn't her show's researchers take the time to look carefully and see what they should have known, that Ray was potentially dangerous to his followers?
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Sweat Lodge Victims Chose to Die?! and Ray Investigated for Homicides.


Anonymous said...

The author of this article speaks of Native Traditionalists being the only ones who should do the Sweat Lodges. Vernon Foster is a Native American who makes monies off of doing Sweats on land outside Sedona, Arizona. He is a former Director of Arizona AIM. He is known locally as a con and scam artist. Check the website for NLP Training. There is a series planned for April 22-25, 2010 by Bill THomason who labels himself NLP Success Coach. He is charging $695.00;calling it a Recession Buster because the original fee was $895.00. He charges couples $1200.00 Shaman training/NLP Shaman Training. Vernon Foster is scheduled to "conduct" the Sweats on "his" property outside Sedona and Cottonwood. NLP SHAMAN TRAINING; excuse me, what????!!! Nope, being a scam is NOT confined to non-Native peoples. Vernon is a Klamath Indian who uses his past association with AIM to line his pockets....he is known for this in Sedona. Your article has unfortunately excluded a very imperative bit of knowledge: just because one dresses the part and knows what to say does NOT mean his "Way" is for real.

Anonymous said...

Sweat loges should only be used by Native Americans cause its the way its been done for generations and its our culture! However, if other ethnic people want to attend sweat loges; then they would have to be accompanied by an Native American.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why the attacks it seems someone is personally disgruntled sorry vf

Anonymous said...

Non-Indins need to stick to their own religious beliefs, especially these "New Age" scammers/cons. This is an example of what can happen to those who don't respect our ways. Leave us alone!!

Rob said...

I don't particularly care about Vernon Foster's case. One exception to the rule doesn't disprove the rule. Unless you can come up with a large number of "Native traditionalists" who are scamming people, Al Carroll's point stands.

You made your point about Foster. Now cut it out. We're not turning these sweat-lodge postings into a referendum on him. His case isn't relevant to James Arthur Ray's case.