This is in response to Bob Pool's Nov. 29 article "Dismantling the Inner Sanctum of Guru Ma." Usually The Times' coverage of our church is so much in error that we do not even bother to comment, since all of our protests have gone unheeded. You have never taken an unbiased look at us and our religion.
However, enough is enough. My name is Erin Prophet, and I am Mark and Elizabeth Prophet's daughter. I know from personal experience that a large percentage of the facts Pool used to give the story the mysterious cult spin are inaccurate. Whether you believe it or not, here is the truth about just some of the errors Mr. Pool committed--rather inevitable errors since he did not even bother to call us and check.
"The mysterious Calabasas tower where God passed along messages to 'Guru Ma' is open now," Pool begins. Error No. 1. No one ever claimed that messages were dictated from the mansion's tower. Sermons and dictations were conducted from the altar of our main chapel. If we believe that the saints and sages of East and West (not Merlin the magician) have advice and counsel for us and that Elizabeth Clare Prophet communes with them and can deliver their word to us, who are you to judge? The Pilgrims came to America to have the freedom to commune with God in the manner in which they saw fit. Islam was founded because people believed Mohammed received messages from Archangel Gabriel. Who are you to judge?
Second: King Gillette's mansion was not and has never been the private residence of my mother. She had offices and an apartment on the second floor. She did not live in luxury but in fact in rather cramped quarters. Gillette's former clothes closet was converted into a kitchenette, his bedroom into a living room/dining room, etc. The ground floor of the mansion was used for church and secretarial offices. Gillette's dining room was a classroom for Summit University and his kitchen was used as legal offices.
Church members are not required to take enemas or colonics. This service was offered at Camelot as part of a health program that includes the best of alternative and holistic cures. Colonics and enemas are accepted means of cleansing the body and are used by church memberes voluntarily and only when they feel they need them--certainly not every day, every week or even every month! Some people never take them. The fact is, we had one colonic machine to serve a community of 500. It would have been impossible for daily colonics to have been administered.
"Church Universal members have temporarily moved into tents outside the Calabasas property next to Mulholland Highway," Pool wrote. None of us lives in tents. We have set up two tents. One is used as a gathering place and the other to keep the rain off of items being loaded onto semi-trailers. Neither do we live "outside the Calabasas property next to Mulholland highway." We're not some kind of unsanitary nomads. We retain a portion of the 218-acre campus until Dec. 15 which contains three houses and other buildings. Some of us do live in the houses, but the majority of church staff lives in normal apartments and normal houses in the Los Angeles area.
The reason the forbidding-looking gate you show in your picture is locked and guarded is that Soka University, the owners of that road and gate, have required us to keep it locked and guarded at all times. Before they purchased the property, the gate remained open all day, every day until midnight.
Pool made every effort to categorize us as manipulative and shady, especially in our building projects at the Royal Teton Ranch in Montana. "Church leaders unexpectedly labeled a proposed 33-building development . . . a 'work camp,' " he wrote. "Under Montana law, work camps are exempt from local county subdivision laws and regulations." The fact is, our proposed Montana development would never be subject to subdivision laws whether it were classified as a work camp or not, since it is not a subdivision. It was labeled a work camp because that is its legal definition, which incidentally categorizes it for regulation by the state of Montana. A work camp is housing built on an employer's own property for housing his employees. And that is just what we are attempting to do.
Pool also distorted our religious beliefs. I don't know where he found "gaudy purple carpeting placed at strategic places on the estate." A pastel violet carpet covered our altar. His use of the phrase strategic implies we planned something sinister. Yes, we do believe colors can be used to uplift consciousness. We do not believe that "ultraviolet rays" help focus our "cosmic energy." If you want to find out about the violet flame, just ask. The religious beliefs of every religion in the world sound wacky to people who have not studied them. A Buddhist would be puzzled at a Catholic's belief that, when he takes communion, he is eating the flesh and blood of a man who died 2,000 years ago.
Your efforts to portray us as a paranoid, secretive cult are entirely unjustified. Anyone is welcome to come over and see what we're all about. We will open wide the gate which we do not lock by choice.
I think the people of Los Angeles and especially our neighbors in the Valley deserve to know the truth about us. It's too bad that, in the eight years we have lived in Calabasas, you've never bothered to tell them.
ERIN LYNN PROPHET
The writer is a member of the board of directors of the Church Universal and Triumphant.