Monday, September 20, 2010

The Palmdale Cult

by Stacy Dittrich

I’d like to clarify. They are not “cult-like.” They are a cult. Reyna Marisol Chicas, 32, (left) is not normal, despite what her neighbors say. They also say she was devout and not a fanatic. Fact check, people: If she is leading her flock of followers to a prophetic mass suicide not only is she a fanatic, she is completely insane.

On Saturday, September 18, 2010, Chicas led a group of five adults and eight children from their homes in Palmdale, California, to an unknown location. Chicas left behind a purse filled with cell phones, property deeds, good-bye letters, and identifications. The letters clearly explained that the group had left to await the Rapture -- a Christian term for the second coming of Christ. The letters also said they would be reunited with dead relatives soon (there’s a clue). Similar events in history have proven fatal with horrific results, and law enforcement officials have been extremely concerned about the fate of these individuals.

Coincidentally, my fourth book in the CeeCee Gallagher series, “The Rapture of Omega,” (debuts May 2011) became available as an e-book this month. The plot revolves around an apocalyptic doomsday cult led by a self-proclaimed female prophet, Illeana Barron. Illeana believes that the biblical character Eve is the true God -- the Omega -- and that the hysteria of global warming is punishment by her. With each catastrophic weather event, Barron delves deeper into her beliefs, bringing her hundreds of followers down with her. They believe that they will only be saved when they offer themselves to Eve. Illeana Barron follows the two-seed line doctrine, a biblical justification for hatred:

Eve was seduced by the snake (Satan) and gave birth to two seed lines: Cain, the direct descendent of Satan and Eve, and Abel, who was of good Aryan stock through Adam. Cain became the progenitor of the Jews in his subsequent matings with non-Adamic races.
The two-seed line doctrine is explained extensively in the FBI report, Project Meggido. Project Megiddo is a comprehensive and detailed report that looks at potential threats against the United States—including apocalyptic cults. The report begins with this:

For over four thousand years, MEGIDDO, a hill in northern Israel, has been the site of many battles. Ancient cities were established there to serve as a fortress on the plain of Jezreel to guard a mountain pass. As Megiddo was built and rebuilt, one city upon the other, a mound or hill was formed. The Hebrew word 'Armageddon' means 'hill of Megiddo.' In English, the word has come to represent battle itself. The last book in the New Testament of the Bible designates Armageddon as the assembly point in the apocalyptic setting of God's final and conclusive battle against evil. The name 'Megiddo' is an apt title for a project that analyzes those who believe the year 2000 will usher in the end of the world and who are willing to perpetrate acts of violence to bring that end about.
The project was aimed at those Y2K doomsday people, but it really pinpoints the danger of the thousand or so active cults currently in the US. Not to mention, with the upcoming “2012” hype, people better start paying attention.

I’ll explain why Chicas is a bona fide cult leader in every sense of the word. In Project Meggido, the report distinctly lays out the components that must be met to form “The Lethal Triad.” If the cult or its leader meets all three components, they are considered extremely dangerous. The components are isolation, projection, and anger.
... isolation causes a reduction of critical thinking on the part of group members who become entrenched in the belief proposed by the group leadership. As a result, group members relinquish all responsibility for group decision making to their leader and blame the cause of all group grievances on some outside entity or force, a process known as projection. Finally, isolation and projection combine to produce pathological anger, the final component of the triad.
Maybe I’m missing the boat here, but leading five adults and eight innocent children to, by all indications, commit mass suicide and and murder -- the children clearly aren’t going to kill themselves — nails all three components of the Lethal Triad. Frankly, I thought I was ahead of the game making the cult leader female in my book. Throughout my research I couldn’t find any. Leave it to society to one-up me on the horrors of crime and disturbing behavior.

I can’t begin to know why Chicas believes the Rapture is going to occur soon. Even the Doomsday Clock has been turned back one minute, placing us further away from destruction (although, with the state of the world today, I have to admit I don’t understand the clock keeper’s logic). In fact, according to the Doomsday Clock, the closest to the end of humanity was 1953. It didn’t even move for 9/11 -- another decision by the clock keepers that I don’t understand. Furthermore, I can’t begin to know why some media outlets are stopping short of calling Chicas’ group a cult and her the leader.

Some sources close to Chicas claim that she was normal and got overly religious after her divorce. I got overly religious after my divorce too -- I danced, celebrated and drank a lot of wine -- just like Jesus told me to when he whispered in my ear at the liquor store.

Now, before I get eviscerated for cracking a joke about a serious issue, I am merely making a point. I’m Catholic, and I’m waiting to hear the perpetual, “See! Them Christians are crazy!” But the point is this: No religion calls for murder or suicide (Jihaddists not included). Clearly, Chicas is using religion as a cover for her own deep rooted insanity like many others has before her -- David Koresh, Charles Manson, Tom Cruise. People of all religions need to pay attention when someone like Chicas pops up. She is volatile, she is dangerous, and most importantly, she took young, innocent children with her.

Good news. As I was writing this, I had to frequently check back to the news to see if there were any updates. The cult has been found alive in a Los Angeles County park praying against school violence and premarital sex. The massive media exposure and search clearly helped. Regardless, law enforcement better hone in on Chicas (I think a criminal charge of inducing panic would fit), because, if they don’t, she will most likely try again. I don't believe the letters and personal items were left for giggles.

And she just might succeed.

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