Anke Richter—Two Faced or Just Naive?

Journalism or politics; it can be difficult to realize the difference. This disparity can be unearthed in the recent work of a New Zealand reporter, Anke Richter, who wrote several cult-related articles. Richter has over the last few years joined a special niche of “cult bashers.” She’s not a remarkable or famous journalist but exhibits some notable writing talents. Looking her up online, I was immediately greeted with her smiling profile picture that successfully offered up an approachable aura of friendliness. Although, profiled next to her rests the scowl-faced picture of Be Scofield. I enjoyed reading several of Richter’s articles, but was disturbed by her blind fascination and support for Scofield. Who I believe is the most distinguishable sham journalist in the US, at least when it comes to spiritual intolerance. In fact, it was that cult connection between the two of them that first goaded me to research Richter’s work.

Like Scofield, she’s written several articles on religious cults. But unlike Scofield’s fact-less debaucheries of ethical journalism, Richter’s are relatively well researched, and mostly, exhibit an evenhanded approach. My initial feelings when I first lit up her website on my laptop screen was that I’d find another bigot. Honestly, I couldn’t find much to criticize in her articles. Instead, I read her work with real interest. But there is also something else there, that nagging indicator of something more going on; her unquestionable, almost pet-like dutiful support for Scofield. As a result, my admiration for Richter’s work aversely transitioned into future-visions of her journalistic career going down in flames. Which is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time before Scofield’s debauchery and manipulated hit pieces are exposed for what they are. When that happens, any associated praise-writers like Richter will most certainly go down the drain with her. When the sagacious and long-awaited critical voice of reason comes forward to set things right, which in the long run, it always does, we’ll unfortunately not remember Richter as a promising social journalist, but as someone who was on the wrong side of the tracks.

I read one of Richter’s articles, where she commendably criticized an uncomfortable indifference of NZ citizens who allowed a Neo-Nazi group to briefly participate in an anti-supremacy-oriented public symposium. I certainly understand indifference. I encounter it frequently in my line of work. I agreed wholeheartedly with Richter’s professed anti-Nazi perspectives. She began her article by announcing herself as German born. As an expert on intolerance movements because she’s someone who carries subliminal cultural residuals left over from a horrible era when her country fell under the spell of Hitler’s Nazi hate and prejudice campaign. The irony of that only came to the fore when I realized just how hypocritical that article was in the greater context of her work. There it was, in plain sight, Richter’s claim to be defending our world against intolerant haters, posted alongside her obedient support for a known hate instigator, Be Scofield. Who like Hitler, uses lies and manipulations to inspire angry emotions to get her audience to hate with her. Here was a talented journalist, professing to be an advocate for acceptance and racial equality, blindly voicing support for that age-old monster of fact-less propaganda. How does that not mask a secret agenda of spiritual bigotry. Is racial bigotry so dissimilar from spiritual or religious bigotry? Wasn’t the Jewish religion a vital part of Hitler’s campaign of hate? How is trading one form of hate for another okay? I say that confidently because there is a profound difference between supporting factually reported wrongs committed by real cult leaders, juxtaposed to blindly supporting a charlatan fake news blogger who regularly cooks up deceptions and assassination pieces on any spiritual leader she can find to gain fame and recognition.

In order to write this piece objectively, I had to get past an uneasy impression haunting my mind, planted there by an international colleague, a professional corporate crime investigator, Herr Fromm, who stated emphatically, “Anke Richter is not who she claims to be, there’s something deceptively surreal living beneath her public persona.”” Rifling through his collection of comments, I found that his research was revealing, but inconclusive. Without more irrefutable evidence that specified exactly what that deceptiveness is, I defaulted to a wait-and-see approach. He may be right, but my topical impression is that Richter is a genuinely decent reporter. But one question remained with me all the same; why would Richter, who knows how to do investigative research, repeatedly support a disreputable “guru basher,” without first reconnoitering to determine if her articles are based on fact or illusion? It rarely takes me more than a few minutes to see through Scofield’s smoke and mirrors and fake cult scenarios, and merely a few hours more to catalogue all the falsification of facts she deliberately uses to sell her agenda.

What was yet unresolved for me was how banally Richter rushed in to aid Scofield by publishing Scofield praise pieces, as if she’s secretly bound to an unseen agreement to jump to her aid whenever her real agenda-hiding defenses fail. Scofield nauseatingly brags about herself and recurrently praises herself on her websites, which she likewise does at the beginning of each of her articles. She laughably promotes herself as star-studded and famous, as if someone else is applauding her, and reliably posts that tired out self-branding statement, “Scofield is the most prominent cult Journalist in the world.” She works that brand ongoing, along with her half-true and half-fake placement of credentials. Entering her website, or reading any of her shoddily written articles, is like driving down a road to a land of make-believe, with a long row of Scofield-aggrandizing billboards lining the way. Where the wise refuse to go, Richter shows up loyally, like an eager dog carrying her praise in its mouth. Why would Richter, who has talent, and a promising journalistic career, do that?

Scofield is about to release a new book, that she titles “Toxic Spirituality.” No reputable publishing house would touch it. Scofield will have to self-publish. The reason those publishing houses gave for not accepting her work as publishable, wasn’t her shoddy writing skills, it was because they were unwilling to be sued for her libelous content. Every publishing house that Scofield contacted understood that. Is that so hard for Richter to understand? Doing my best to make sense of that fact, I started to surmise, there’s something else going on. I decided to take another look at Fromm’s research on Richter, and mix it up with a warning given to me by a private New York based investigator. He offered me the following information after I asked him if he could provide some insight on Scofield’s secret life. He did so because we agreed to exchange gathered notes.

“He answered, “It appears Scofield’s crowd funding may just be a clever cover that supports her carefully strategized underdog championing profile. There might be a stealth company of wealthy religious fanatics, and possibly a few foreign entities, who are secretly funding her unique needs that are committed to the downfall of any newly emerging or highly influential spiritual groups. Subsidizing her travel fees, housing and food costs, digital expenses, and if ever needed, any legal costs. If true, her crowd funding effectively serves as a laundering scam that explains her ability to always have the required funds to do what she intends.”

While this above statement sounds fantastical. I assure you, it isn’t. Since I wrote that article, I received a few emails from Scofield’s fed up ex-followers who confirmed the same. You might well ask, what does this have to do with Richter? Possibly nothing, or possibly everything! A genuine investigative journalist is compelled by ethics to always do his or her best to get all the facts right before publishing a piece. Richter does a fairly good job of that in her usual pieces. But when it comes to praising Scofield, oddly, facts don’t seem to matter. Her praise pieces reek of a political agenda. On closer examination, it appears notably strange that a NZ reporter would be monitoring the activities of someone like Scofield. There is this, — The common denominator between them is they are both pushing the same agenda. The difference is Richter is doing her work somewhat responsibly, Scofield is doing her work deceitfully. Though their portrayed motivating agenda is identical, linking them to a common thread.

We’re all too familiar with politically motivated news. We suitably call it “fake news.” The goal in publishing fake news is to promote agenda over facts. Fake news is reliably funded or promoted by unseen agents. Is the shared, almost identical, theme that exists between Richter and Scofield evidence of a common clandestine connection? Does Richter’s lack of concern for facts, when offered in praise of specific Scofield articles, reveal a political schema? Does this suggest a shared involvement with concealed agents, and possibly stealth funders? Is there a support source of elite funders backing Scofield, and possibly also Richter, who hope to eradicate or destroy all newly forming and influential spiritual groups? First through branding them as cults, and then through using one blogger-journalist as their do-anything-say-anything attack dog, and another as her public exonerator?

The Misdeeds of Be Scofield and the Mysterious Orcas Island Death of Carla Shaffer

We ordinarily associate ethical journalism with an earnest effort to bring a deserving story of social value into public awareness. As a writer, for me real journalism represents an honorable profession, something that might at times require real sacrifices and hard work that in the end, leads to honest, principled reporting. I quickly take issue with anyone who would dare abuse this noble profession, for any reason, but in particular for personal glory or recognition. Ethical journalism should never be about the journalist, like it so evidently is for Be Scofield. I’ve singled out Be Scofield and her website Gurumag.com because she not only represents the antithesis to what I believe true journalism is all about, Be Scofield’s writings indicate that she genuinely delights in misleading her unsuspecting readers into believing her wildly concocted Gurumag.com tabloid fantasies. I have not in one of her articles found anything resembling fair or ethical reporting. be Scofield promotes all her Gurumag.com articles with an outright, take-no-prisoners arrogance that often leads to flat out defamation.

I recently came across an article written by Alexander Vera on medium.com. It discloses the previously untold story behind an attempted take-down piece Scofield wrote on Bentinho Massaro. Massaro is a 30-year-old Netherland born, modern-day guru who describes himself as a proponent of enlightenment and empowerment teachings drawn from a variety of sources, contemporary and historic. In his article, Alexander Vera does a brilliant job of taking apart Scofield’s sinister style of distorting the simplest of truths into insinuations and morphing her charily disguised accusations into emotionally driven catalysts for inciting outrage and contempt. You can read Vera’s article yourself @ https://medium.com/@avera.media/cult-mania-inside-the-attack-on-bentinho-massaro-part-1-881b5628b89a. Though I caution you as well. Every time you give online time to a defaming article like hers you refresh the crime that wronged Massaro in the public eye.

In my own assessment, I feel Massaro is a brilliant young man with some genuinely insightful ideas and concepts. Whatever the reader might personally feel about him, Scofield’s piece on him had only one goal in mind. To misdirect you into believing she is your hero, and Massaro is your enemy. She not only trod so far beyond anything resembling ethical journalism, she pushed her craft of misinformation into tangible criminal defamation. But hey! To her limited audience, that’s entertainment. Irrefutably, medium.com did the right thing in banning her from their host site.

Scofield presently appears to be in a fatal down trend in her deceitful storytelling freedom. Her work is now restricted to her self-hosted offshore website Gurumag.com, and Facebook, that predictably doesn’t seem to care if they’re hosting a prosecutable defamatory writer.

After assaulting Bentinho Massaro she concocted one of the most unethical pieces I have yet to see her write. Her focus fell on an American born spiritual teacher, known as Aaravindha Himadra. In her assault on Aaravindha Himadra, she scandalously pushes the boundaries of reason and rationality into a field of unethical storytelling that is nothing short of nauseating. No doubt emboldened by her on and off, on the lam status, hiding from any legal prosecution for her former articles, she pushes the limits between fiction and preposterous further than ever before, twisting obvious facts into seeming lies, and the non-threatening into sinister insinuations. All in an effort to disfigure the official details and lawful conclusions that relate to the untimely death of a woman named Carla Shaffer, who Himadra and his wife once valued as a dear friend.

Once the astute reader catches on to her methods in this latest article, it’s going to be all too obvious that she desperately needed a new guru-smashing focus after her medium.com loss. She needed to douse her burning tailfeathers with an invented new win and more entertainment to prop up her flailing cult-killer reputation. Once she discovered Himadra’s book, Immortal Self, published by Sounds True, and carefully premeditated on his picture, she decided she found her new target.

Aaravindha Himadra is not as well known in the US as he is in central Europe, where his book, “Das Tal der Unsterblichen Meister”, has been a spiritual bestseller for years. According to his website, Himadra is the originator of Sambodha, an international organization that’s dedicated to raising consciousness worldwide. He provides an evolving array of seminars and lectures wherein he teaches extensive technique on beginning and advanced meditation, along with a variety of other skills on how to awaken and advance one’s sleeping potential and inner power. The testimonials on his personal website aaravindha.com might give you a small glimpse into his expansive breadth of knowledge, his humor in teaching, and his willingness to be fully available to everyone he encounters.

How Be Scofield creates unethical journalism

When I first read Scofield’s article, I attempted to call Himadra to get more information on the way this all came down. After a few times receiving automated answering services I got through. Unlike so many other well-known spiritual teachers today, who require you to pass through a litany of layers to talk to them, he actually answered the phone himself. I asked him about the article Scofield released, imagining he’d respond with a long list of defenses. After assuring him I wasn’t a follow-up attack writer sent by the likes of Scofield, he calmly stated, “It’s in the hands of our legal defamation lawyer now, so I’m not at liberty to comment on some aspects of the process in motion.” After sharing a brief synopsis of his personal experience, he suggested I should attempt to summon the official public records on Carla’s death and possibly also speak directly with the investigators and the district attorney who oversaw the investigations. He told me anyone can do that, to go find out for themselves if anything Scofield asserted in her article had any semblance of truth. He suggested that I might also talk to anyone who knew him and his wife thirteen years ago when Carla died.”

I’m not easily fooled by the shell game Scofield plays with her audience. I decided to follow up and collected a few facts of my own that I included in this article. What I found had absolutely no resemblance to the falsified and twisted facts Scofield posted in her online article “Aaravindha Himadra and the Mysterious death of Carla Jean Shaffer.”

Frequently abroad in Europe, Aaravindha Himadra and his wife primarily use their home on Orcas Island as a go-to hideaway when taking time to rest or write. This inconvenience limited Scofield in her practiced tactic of secretly infiltrating spiritual organizations using one of her many fake names like she did with the Bentinho Massaro community, Ashvillage and the California Institute of Integral studies. And who knows if Be Scofield is even her real name?

Scofield previously claimed, “I would end up spending a month infiltrating his group and writing about it”. She admits purposely and deceptively infiltrating Bentinho Massaro’s group, “The resulting story went viral, getting 200,000 views in a few weeks.” She claimed 18 days after she published, the cult leader fled Sedona and went into hiding. Be Scofield likes to brag about her many readers. The truth is, she only managed to get those views because the several hundred thousand followers who visited her article came from Massaro’s following.

Otherwise jobless, Be Scofield regularly asks for donations via her Facebook. An expensive trip to Europe to infiltrate Himadra’s community was out of reach. Instead, in October 2018, she opted to come to Orcas Island. She came with a readied plan to do her damage, but to her dismay couldn’t find any traction. No doubt frustrated, she shifted gears resorting to digging around for anything she might be able use in Himadra’s island life history. It wasn’t long before her ears caught wind of the story of a woman who had tragically taken her life thirteen years ago, Carla Shaffer. She learned Carla Schaffer was an island friend of Himadra and his wife. Scofield then decided to manufacture a new plan that outlined how she’d ruin this guru she’d never met. Meeting him was never the point. All that mattered was that she managed to somehow bring more glory to herself as the “guru-killer.” She determined to accomplish that task by associating Himadra to Carla Schafer’s demise in a way that made it appear as if he had killed her. Try not to sneer, this isn’t a cheap fiction.

Here are the parts that I believe are the most grievous and heinous in her article. She clearly premeditated the crime of extreme libel, knowing full well that she would have to rework the facts to serve her purpose. After Scofield learned that there was a death that was fully investigated and concluded in an officially closed case of drowning suicide, she decided to blatantly ignore the facts and conclusions. She made it sound in her article that the investigators were considering reopening the case. They weren’t! She fabricated that lie as a primary seed of doubt she hoped to plant in the minds of her reader’s.

She also learned that the Himadra’s were out of the country teaching in Europe when the most telling and dominant share of the tragic events that took Carla Shaffer’s life occurred. The Himadra’s have in their possession passports with stamped dates that show they were out of the country. But that vital inconvenience in her plan was merely a minor hurdle that could be dismissed by a simple omission in her article. Be Scofield knew the Himadras were never persons of interest but were instead, reliably Carla Shaffer’s friends. Scofield had been informed through numerous sources that Ms. Shaffer was a devout Baha’i, specifying that she wasn’t even enrolled in any of Himadra’s previous European meditation seminars. She had attended only one informal gathering on the subject of developing the intuitive heart. Hardly a cult-like event like Scofield repeatedly asserts. Carla Shaffer followed the Baha’i path of prayer rather than meditation. Knowing all these facts, Scofield, all the same, worked with great zest and enthusiasm to invent a theater of illusions that would hide all these truths, and that Himadra and his wife’s friendship was enough reason to make him appear like a murderer. If she could just twist a few of those facts far enough to discredit him in the eyes of her eagerly awaiting audience. The way she attempts to do that in her article is to the astute reader almost laughable, were it not so tragic.

She couldn’t find or formulate a motive or intent to do Carla Shaffer harm, so instead, she set out to create a slight-of-hand diversion. Be Scofield contacted one of Himadra’s students telling him the lie that she was a journalist interested in doing an article of Carla Shaffer’s life. She offered him one of her many false aliases. At the time, he was immersed in an Arizona desert meditation retreat. He did his best to answer her questions but wasn’t entirely clear on some things she had asked him. The questions initially seemed inoffensive and simple: Was Ms. Shaffer close to Himadra? Was she involved in any of his group gatherings? Did she meditate? Did she show any mental decline before she died? Pretty straightforward stuff, right? The phone connection was poor quality, the student resorted to texting his last few answers.

Either just before or after, she contacted Himadra using the same fictitious story that she was a journalist who hoped to do a piece on Ms. Shaffer’s life. She immediately broke Washington State law by recording their conversation without first informing Himadra. She called him on a static-filled or poorly connected phone, which reportedly caused Himadra to speak a bit more loudly than he normally would. She later cut her recording into very short carefully selected sound clips, omitting anything that might be construed as a simple honest answer. She then uploaded those clips into selected segments of her article, aside his student’s texts. It’s quite obvious the texts she chose were manipulated to appear as if clashing with Himadra’s answers, propping up her planned purpose of making Himadra appear as if he wasn’t being honest. She constructed the ridiculous conclusion: if Himadra didn’t answer her questions truthfully than he must have something to do with Ms. Shaffer’s death.

Right now, I can only imagine you’re shaking your head with eyes stretched wide in disbelief. Once Himadra’s student read Scofield’s article and viewed his erroneous out-of-place texts, he left his meditation retreat, drove to the closest notary, and filled out a legal affidavit declaring what he’d truly said. All of which was precisely as Himadra had answered. Need I say more?

How Gurumag.com gets away with it

I am now more interested in understanding how anyone could be so mindless in reading a defamatory article that is so easily dismantled for what it is and would still choose to believe it. It seems that most of her followers, like many of today’s online readers in general, seem to believe every kind of slander without checking the facts. The reasons for this are a mystery to me, my best guess is that it is some kind of mob mentality that takes over. For a while, I went over and over in my sympathetic emotionally torn thoughts, how could it be legal to do what Scofield did in writing that article. She openly accused an honest spiritual teacher, a good man and his wife who have dedicated their lives to raising global consciousness, of a heinous crime through omitting facts, insinuations and stating fictional anonymous sources. How is that legal in a sensible society today? Then suddenly I remembered, it isn’t! It’s against the Law!

Journalists have an ethical and legal obligation to stay in the confines of factual reporting, lest they do unwarranted harm through defamation and libel. Scofield is not a journalist! She’s something else! You might ask, why is her stuff still online? Because she’s posting offshore, hosted in a digital field that’s out of US jurisdiction! And because she’s on Facebook, an online network that has no legal morals. She is doing what she predictably always does after releasing a libelous story. You can still send her an email. She has almost as many emails as she does aliases. But her physical body is now crouched in hiding in a home with an address that’s not hers, hoping as she has before the papers she will be served will simply fall away over time. She no doubt continues to hope people won’t find out she still has a few other unanswered crimes to face in N. Carolina.

Ethical Journalism must in ideal and content always support the high art of truthful reporting. It’s our humanity’s vital ageless information craft that should persistently support its laboring writers for the sole purpose of presenting intelligent unbiased knowledge. It can only survive as a reliable craft and service to humanity if it strives steadfastly to attain the highest standards of ethical commitment to truth, exactitude, objectivity, fairmindedness, balance, and reliable accountability.

On 12/3/19, Be Scofield has found her latest target, the spiritual teacher Mooji …

The Sudden and Freakish Rise of Cyber Hate Groups

An introspective examination of the unprecedented rise of spiritual intolerance in our online communities

As a published journalist and writer, I’ve spent thousands of hours researching and doing follow-up work on countless subjects that demanded I find the most heart-rending ways of imparting reasoning with an intelligent choice. My belief is that simply reading an article without experiencing an evolution in emotional growth or change, to whatever degree, is a useless waste of time for the reader. Unless the reader is emotionally called to invest in the promise of a redemptive or morally driven storyline, or to some degree to move toward a genuine level of heart altering arousal, the resulting natural retention will most likely turn that read into a short-term memory moment. I tend to research story material that inspires emotional substance while also promising change. And always, to some measure generates actionable hope for a better world.

Read more on Medium: The Sudden and Freakish Rise of Cyber Hate Groups