As a kid I remember news coverage of Bert Potter's Centrepoint commune. There's a Wikipedia entry on it that gives a fair overview. Key points:
The commune was created in the model of the therapeutic encounter groups popularised in the 1960s in California... sexual relations with children as young as 10 had occurred with regularity, with parents either neglecting to protect their children from the assaults, or actively abetting them.The Centrepoint community was highly educated. They relished freedom of sexuality. They were "enlightened".
Or not. The childhood survivors of Centrepoint might have another opinion.
It was the first thing I thought of when listening to John Shuck's latest Religion for Life podcast. Martin Winiecki scored free publicity for Dieter Duhm's Institute for Global Peace Work in Tamera, Portugal; largely run by German nationals.
Martin is on a nationwide tour to promote this vision of holistic “system change – environmental stewardship; establishing new paradigms for love, sexuality, and partnership; inner peace work; and global peace work”... (RFL notes)
The work on the issue of sex-love-partnership is at the center of the project. Since the beginning we wanted to create a societal environment in which a solution for this issue could arise. The principle of free sexuality is part of the ethical and social foundation of Tamera. This is why many people come to Tamera; they want to get out of the old bondages and make up for what they have missed out on so far. (Tamera website)I've a lot of respect for John Shuck's progressive approach to Christianity, but this would have to be the exception that proves the rule. The Tamera initiative gives the impression of being grounded in psychobabble, with an apocalyptic recruitment edge.
We live in apocalyptic times. We see the miracles of technology, the high gloss of urban façades, the wealth of the elites; and we see the beaten and starving human beings, the destroyed nature and the war machine that has gotten out of control. (Duhm)The closest John got to asking any hard questions of Winiecki was an enquiry about decision making in the commune. The answer given ("a consent model") was anything but reassuring, amounting to, if I understood Winiecki correctly, something between oligarchy and peer pressure. Winiecki is part of the twelve "core group" members under founding gurus Duhm and his wife.
The statement on children and youth on the Tamera website shows no awareness of the need to protect children from sexual manipulation or exploitation.
Fundamentalist cults are one thing, New Age cults another, but both share common characteristics such as top down leadership models, no matter how much the latter groups might ballyhoo about 'autonomy'. Tamera may not be another version of Centrepoint, nor Dr Dieter Duhm a cult leader in the mold of Bert Potter, but given the Winiecki interview, neither could you discount that possibility.