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September 4, 2006

Gentle Wind still blowing

Well, what a surprise. Barely two weeks after being shut down by Maine’s attorney general—and just days after being dumped by its own lawyers for having “deliberately disregarded” fees—the Gentle Wind Project is back:

The disbanded Gentle Wind Project is back in business with a new Web site and reorganized leadership.

The group [last] month settled a lawsuit brought by Maine’s attorney general, agreeing to disband their Kittery [ME] operation and losing their nonprofit status in Maine.
Gentle Wind, which describes itself as a spiritual healing group, was based in Kittery. Several of its leaders live in Durham, and the group also is registered in New Hampshire.
Gentle Wind’s leaders vowed to continue operating elsewhere even as they agreed to dissolve. Mary Miller, the group’s past president, this week confirmed the group still offers the “healing instruments” central to Maine’s suit.
“There’s a lot of people involved in keeping it going,” she said.
Gentle Wind said the instruments — principally hand-held laminated cards and plastic pucks — improve emotional, mental, and physical functioning. Maine’s AG argued there was no scientific proof to back such claims, calling them fraudulent.
Longtime member Mary Ann Hale, of Bass Harbor, Maine, who signed as Gentle Wind’s president on the settlement’s consent decree, issued in York County Superior Court on Aug. 10., said she had “no comment.”

Understandable, given that Gentle Wind’s new Web site breaks the terms of the consent decree that prohibit the cult from making false claims about its “healing instruments” (one of which is shown above). In a bid to get round that, Gentle Wind’s site now states that:

In our personal observations (as independent volunteers with no financial interests in the project), many people have found the use of these instruments to be effective in alleviating mental and emotional distress.

Strange, then, that as part of the consent decree:

[T]he directors of the Gentle Wind Project admitted that they made false claims about their products, which they said could cure anything from alcoholism to paralysis. They admitted making false claims on their Web site, at public appearances and in written literature that the instruments had been scien-
tifically proven to be effective.

To make amends, the cult now claims to have discovered altruism as part of its “New Beginning:”

Today, The Gentle Wind Project® is an all new, all volunteer organization. We are not a non-profit nor are we a profit making company. We do not accept donations or payment in any form. We are a group of people who want to make the world a better, easier place.

Which is of course total BS: Gentle Wind’s entire 23-year existence has revolved around parting the rash from their cash (at $600+ per healing instrument). In recent years, the cult’s declared income has topped $1m annually—most of which has been offset by “research expenses.” One of those expenses was a $67,000 sail boat.

More sinister are Gentle Wind’s mind-control practices, which allegedly have included forcing female cult members to take part in sexual rituals that apparently helped co-founder John “Tubby” Miller create his healing instruments. All this has been cata-
logued by former members Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey, whose Wind of Changes Web site details more than 15 years spent as part of the cult.

Much more on the Gentle Wind Project here, here and here.

Posted by Stephen at 5:57 PM in Religion + cults | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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