Cult Exposed

Northern Star--Byron Bay, Australia/March 28, 2000
By Hannah Ross

A former leader of a Byron Bay group has branded it an insidious and destructive cult that is responsible for the mental breakdown of some of its members.

Master Hector, spiritual leader of the Miracle centre in Border St, denied the claims and said he did not even know what a cult was. But Ian Hamilton, a former member of the USA-based Endeavor Academy and ex-leader of its Byron Bay branch, has spoken out to warn other people about the group.

Mr. Hamilton said Master Hector was a skilled manipulator who used guilt and fear to indoctrinate group members.

"I have really seen the face of spiritual addiction. It is so insidious because there is no substance. I want to help the people even though they don't know they need help," he said. Mr. Hamilton said the Endeavor Acdemy was a "destructive cult." He said followers were required to attend session daily to seek direct communication with God. He said many people broke ties with their former lives and donated assts and money. Mr. Hamilton said he handed over $20,000 in assets to the group.

"It follows the model of classic cultism. By getting you to leave your job, family and friends, they create a void in your life that is then filled with that apparent society." Byron Bay psychologist Keiran Riordan, who has attended sessions at the Miracle Centre, said he would not recommend people go there. "It's a classic cult in the sense that no-one leaves legitimately. If you leave it's because you've failed to measure up." People within the group idolised Master Hector and avoided challenging him. "There is regular dressing down of people, it's part of the culture of the place. Ted Poppe (Master Hector) can be quite cruel, particularly when his authority is challenged," he said. Mr. Riordan said people at the Miracle Centre believed that attendance helped them to recover from an addiction to their "worldly identity" and therefore these ends justified the means.

He said the spiritual jargon used by people at the centre, and their inability to visualise a fulfilled life outside the group, were hallmarks of a cult. "I'd rather people pause for a moment and see what this reflects about themselves," he said. Mr. Hamilton's wife, Cassie bond, said the group exploited people who were insecure or at a low point in their lives. Mr. Hamilton said he joined the Endeavor Academy with his first wife and that its teachings caused their marriage to start falling apart after two weeks.

"Members are encouraged to reassess any relationships outside the group they feel dependent on," he said. Mr. Hamilton has written a novel based on his experiences with the Endeavor Academy called "Awake Among The Sleeping." He said he wanted to help because he recognised his role in getting the centre up and running in Byron Bay in 1996. He said he would ultimately like to see it disbanded.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.