Didn't the People's Temple try to open a retreat or something in or near Trinidad a few years ago? I'm talking maybe in the late 90's?
I'm pretty sure what you are referring to is... Adi Da, whose "Adidam" organization owns land in Trinidad, was given the name "Franklin Jones" upon his birth in Long Island, N.Y., in 1939. During the `60s, he gained some notoriety as "Da Free John," an author of spiritual books. Today, the Adidam Web site bills him as the "promised God-man" who has the power to "perfectly fulfill the deepest longings of the human heart." (see "Adidam comes to the North Coast," North Coast Journal, Jan. 14, 1999)
That is to say, no relation to People's Temple. But, you know, Dan Hamburg doesn't think it is a cult: "As a practicing devotee, Hamburg said that he does daily meditation sessions and sends about 10 percent of his income to Adi Da. Despite the apparent similarities, Hamburg said that he didn't think it was fair to compare Adidam to a cult. For one thing, people are free to come and go from the organization without fear of anything worse than griping from former co-worshippers.
"When I quit the Democratic party, a lot of people dumped shit on my head," he said. "If you break the code, there's a price to pay. But in Adidam, the only price is maybe some people think you're a quitter, or that you don't get it. That's it."
Then again: During a New Year's Eve day interview, Calladine said the religious group was closing escrow on a Stagecoach Road home and had just had its offer accepted to purchase the Shadow Lodge. Prior to September, few area residents had heard of the religion known as Adidam or its leader, Adi Da.
News of the religious group's arrival has led some residents to question if the organization is a cult, while others are concerned about increased traffic in their quiet neighborhood. Calladine emphatically argues against the notion Adidam is anything like a cult, and says traffic concerns are being addressed.
But in 1985 Adi Da was the target of a lawsuit accusing him of leading a cult marked by sexual abuse, humiliation and greed. The accusations were false, church leaders contend, and the lawsuit was later dropped.
In a series of articles in April 1985, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Adi Da's alleged exploits during the 1970s in the San Francisco Bay area and in a "hermitage" on the remote Fijian island of Naitauba, quoting former members, one of whom sued leaders of the religious group on charges of sexual abuse. At the same time, a half dozen angry defectors accused the religious group of false imprisonment, brainwashing, sexual abuse, assault and involuntary servitude. High-ranking members of Adidam, then known as Johannine Daist Communion, responded with a lawsuit of their own, accusing the disgruntled former followers of extortion.
At the time, Adi Da was known as Da Free John and his commune was based in the Marin County city of San Rafael. Thirteen years ago, the Chronicle wrote, Free John's empire built primarily on the earnings of followers was worth an estimated $5 million....
All denied: Both of the lawsuits were eventually dropped, said Michael Wood, Adidam's attorney and a member since 1973. He recalled 1985 as a difficult time for the church and said the accusations all stemmed from a bitter divorce between a member and former member.
More on Adidam
From the Rick A. Ross Institute
A database of information about cults, destructive cults, controversial groups and movements.
From the Cult Awareness and Information Centre
Brand New Development:
From Hank Sims Dandy: "Blast the trumpets to announce the arrival of Beloved Adi Da Samraj, the gregarious guru who maintains an ashram and sometime residence in Trinidad! The Da's already been through a number of incarnations..." "Adi Da" is now an international artiste... "You have to wonder, don't you -- how does a guy go from cheesy holy man to international art celeb in zero time?