Chakra Discussions

Will ISKCON ever get the lead out?

by Nori Muster

Posted August 16, 2004

Hare Krishna. Do you remember back in the mid-1990s when everybody was repeating slogans about how much ISKCON had changed? I wrote a song about it called, "Things are so much better now!" It was a silly song, because I saw absolutely no evidence that anything had changed. The attitudes, leaders, policies, and practices were still the same as the day I left.

Will ISKCON ever get the lead out? Lead was a poisonous ingredient that petroleum companies used to put in gasoline. In ISKCON, the "lead" refers to the old boys' network that tolerated abuse.

I'm not even in ISKCON anymore but everybody complains to me. They allege that the GBCs who oversee child protection now don't like children. They tell me Mayapur Chandrodoya Mandir still harbors a culture of homosexual pedophilia, and numerous abusers are still welcomed in ISKCON. Recently, the Boston temple advertised that an alleged child abuser would be on hand for a festival next month. They didn't name him as a child abuser in the ad, but just as a "senior devotee." After consulting with the Boston temple, Chakra editors took the alleged perp's name off the ad. However, the attitude remains: the organization loves its child abusers.

Thanks to the perpetrators and the alleged cover-up, ISKCON faces a $400 million lawsuit. Some of its temples are in Chapter 11 and the rest must contribute money toward the suit. You would think that these consequences would make the GBC want to get rid of the accused child abusers. Nope! They seem to cherish them more than ever!

As it stands, ISKCON reeks of insensitivity. It makes me wonder, does the leadership have any inkling of the suffering that child abuse caused for hundreds of victims and their families? Do they realize how they look to the rest of the world? How about the suffering of the sincere devotees who only wanted to worship Krishna? The leaders are letting the organization fall apart, all because they don't want to hurt the child abusers' feelings.

Child abusers are criminals who belong in jail. Keeping them around will inevitably lead to more abuse. ISKCON can go bankrupt now, but future victims will file new complaints against newly-reorganized temples. Does that prospect make the organization want to change? No, no, a thousand times no!

ISKCON's negligence in this matter makes it look like the leaders prefer the alleged child abusers to honest members. It's easier to blame the victims for all the problems and let the child abusers go free - even honor them as gurus. This is the same old leadership style that made thousands of honest devotees leave ISKCON in the 1980s. Support ISKCON if you must, but don't live in denial about the leaded old boys' club at the helm. If they have CPO findings on who abused the children, call on them to make that information public. Either that, or ask them to turn over the evidence and let the courts decide.