Friday, June 20, 2008

The Grail Movement Cult in the US

Members of the Grail Movement in the Czech Republic ate the flesh of an 8-year-old boy after his mother kept him locked in a cage. Perhaps they thought Jesus was recommending cannibalism when he said "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life."

Earlier this month, Czech police arrested Grail Movement leader Jiri Adam for using slave laborers for nearly 20 years. Another leader of the cult in the Czech Republic distanced his group from Adam.

The Grail Movement traces its origin to a book called In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message, written by Oskar Ernst Bernhardt. This book contains the "Grail Message." Supposedly there are about 20,000 members worldwide, with most residing in Europe. How many are in the United States?

A company profile of the Grail Foundation of America Inc. (Binghamton, NY--the contact address at the group's website) lists 1 employee (Alfred Lewis) and annual sales of $32,000. The Grail Movement of America (Port Chester, NY) lists 2 employees with Gene Ceccarelli as the principal. The Grail Foundation Press (Mount Vernon, OH) lists 2 employees with Micah Rubenstein as the principal. It seems there are few people involved in the US and sales revolve around the previously mentioned book, as well as others in their catalog. The first center in the US was formed about 1939 in Mt. Morris, IL (or in Mt. Morris, MI, according to other sources).

Richard Gehl was apparently the US leader for years until his death in 2003. He was accused of being a "false disciple" and responsible for a schism between two factions of the cult. Alfred Lewis seems to have taken over the US group after Gehl's demise.

The group has published books with its own interpretation of the lives of Jesus, Mohammad, Zoroaster, and Buddha. It seems to be a New Age religion based on Christianity and it's unclear
to me (since I haven't Bernhardt's book) how much it relates to other religions that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Great White Brotherhood, Ascended Masters, Rosicrucians, etc. (someone has written a book on that topic).

Bernhardt wrote under the pen name Abd-ru-shin. His theory is that God sent man in search of self-awareness and maturity. Physical bodies were fashioned for our true selves to function within while on Earth. The purpose of man is to live in harmony with the divine laws that maintain creation. Then man will return to life eternal in the spiritual realm as a self-aware spirit. The Holy Grail is considered the power center of creation. From the description, it seems hardly worth the effort of creating a new religion around it.

The International Grail Movement reported 400 active adherents in the United States (as of 2002), and 1,000 in Canada. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions (2001) gives the number of US adherents at 330, but these numbers seem to originate from the cult itself and are likely inflated. Even at these numbers, it's a small group and there seems no reason to believe it will gain any significant increase in members, ever.

Cults like this one notoriously prey on individuals with low self-esteem who have problems integrating themselves into the mainstream of society.

There is another Grail movement associated with the Catholic Church that is an entirely separate group from this one. The Catholic movement was begun in the Netherlands in 1921 by a Dutch Jesuit priest, Jacques van Ginneken. It was created to give women a stronger role and voice in church and society.


oruno said...


Anonymous said...

One word...cult. Deal with it!

Anonymous said...

I agree totally - this is a CULT!!!

The sooner you extricate yourself, the better

Anonymous said...

I have two sisters and a brother in-law who go along with this nonsense. To follow it you must throw away critical thinking and reason. They harder something is to be believed, the easier it passes with them; UFO's, crashing comets into the Earth, Homeopathy, astrology, alternative medicines of ALL kinds. It's a freakin mess.

OLUFEMI said...

Having been familiar with The Grail Message for almost thirty years I am afriad I have no choice but to respectfully disagree with your comments which appear not to be based on any malevolence or to harbour any animosity.You appear to be perhaps a fair minded person albeit superficial.If you take the time to read The Grail Message yourself, you will find that your initial comments are unfounded and based on cursory observation.There are indeed people who purport to be adherents of The Grail Message but who sadly for various reasons are indeed misguided folk.Such types exist in all organisatins,again the fact that such people sadly exist should not denigrate from the supreme value of The Grail Message.Again The Grail Message is distinct from the Grail Movement.They are not one and the same.Some cults which might perhaps purport to derive from The Grail Message might indeed harbour people and carry on practices which are questionabe or even downright evil.But then human beings have always harboured strange individuals !

bright said...

I'm a young man who founded the grail message about 4 years ago and having read it carefully, i think you are just trying to scare away people who are in search of real truth. I'm Bright in Ghana.

Anonymous said...

I knew Richard Gehl, and was a member of the Grail Movement in the US for many years. He was a good man.
Most of what is written here about this topic is pure nonsense.
At one time, the Grail Movement was a good endeavor, but like anything involving human beings, became infested with vermin, exactly like all the other religions.
While I no longer am a member, the Grail Movement did absolutely nothing to coerce me, get money from me, or otherwise ask me to do anything. PERIOD. What it is like today, I have no idea, but at one time, it was good.

Anonymous said...

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."
-Matthew 7:15
AKA Oskar Ernst Bernhardt

Anonymous said...

Why is it that all grail members always tell you to read the book if you want to know anything about their religion\cult??!!!! Why can't you people just explain what you're all about without asking someone to read the whole book? Seems kind of fishy to me. I don't have to tell someone who is curious about Christanity to read the whole bible before I explain to them what christanity is about.