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U.N. attempt to unite religions has link to Colorado New Age colony 

by Michael H. Brown

         It's nestled in the San Luis Valley below the splendiferous Sangre de Cristo Mountains near a busted mining town called Crestone. There, in southern Colorado, an hour from the closest city of Alamosa, a spiritual community has sprouted near what the Indians called the "Sacred Mountain of the East" and the "place of emergence." Known as "the Baca," it seeks to unite and harmonize the world's religions. There are Buddhists, psychics, crystals, Hindu masters, channelers, monks, priests, retired hippies, a shrine to the earth mother, astrologers, Indian ritualists, shamans, yogis, and a Carmelite monastery. They have all set up shop in a "global village."  

         If that was the extent of it, the matter would not be of more than passing interest -- a nearly whimsical attempt at one-world spirituality. But as it turns out, the Baca has a reach that goes far beyond Colorado. It was founded by Hanne Strong and her husband, Maurice, wealthy environmentalists from Canada. Maurice has been associated with the United Nations since 1947, has served as the Undersecretary-General of the U.N. six times, and is spearheading something many Christians fear: the move to global, one-world governance. Among the recent hats he has worn have been: chairman of the Earth Council, member of the Club of Rome, senior advisor to UN Secretary Kofi Annan, consultant to World Bank president James Wolfensohn,  and Secretary General of the 1992 Earth Summit -- which saw the largest gathering in history of world leaders for the cause of the environment. 

         While we believe that Strong and his wife may have good intentions -- and while their other causes of brotherhood, ecology, and religious harmony are noble -- the move toward creating a global religion and a single world government is misguided and worrisome to those concerned that the reigns of the world could be assumed by personages who might then direct the world in a direction that is pagan and anti-Christian. 

         We're not talking about "black helicopters." We're talking about a peril that is subtle, and Strong, who has close ties with both Al Gore and former President Bush, has been described as the "indispensable man" at the center of the U.N.'s growing global power. Often mentioned as a potential Secretary General of the U.N. himself, Strong has reportedly held meetings with the likes of David Rockefeller and Baron Edmond de Rothchild. Critics assert that programs he has pursued would allow a handful of international bankers to control huge tracts of land in the name of conservation, and their fears were hardly allayed when, during an interview with a Canadian reporter in 1990, Strong discussed the plot of a novel he wanted to write in which a group of world leaders, convinced the West would not clean up its environmental act, forms a secret cabal to bring about a financial panic.

         The attempt to unite the world -- often under the banner of saving the ecology -- also branches into religions and "eco-spirituality." The U.N. even had a program in the 1990s that planned to send suggestions for music and sermons to thousands of churches under what was called the Environmental Sabbath project. Hanne has traveled to 90 countries and has worked through U.N. funding networks such as its Development Program to teach "millions" of youth both spiritual and practical environmentalism. Last summer Maurice chaired the advisory board for a meeting at the U.N. of 2,000 people from a wide spectrum of faiths (including Israel's chief rabbi, an emissary of Iran's top ayatollah, the head of the World Council of Churches, a grand-daughter of Mahhatma Gandhi, Methodist Bishop Vashti Mckenzie, and Cardinal Francis Arinze from the Vatican). 

         That sounds fine, but the backdrop includes a spirituality that often veers toward earth worship (which brings up goddesses) and makes us nervous. The Strongs are steeped in Indian mysticism and the idea for the Baca, according to local lore, came when the Strongs stopped at a wayside cafe or diner during a trip through Colorado and ran into a scruffy-looking fellow (some say an Indian) who prophesied the spot where they should build.

         That they did, buying a 400-square-mile tract of land that now houses the Sri Aurobindo Learning Center, Zen Buddhists, and a Hindu ashram. Land in the area has also been purchased by New Age actress Shirley MacLaine. The goal, said one brochure, is not a massive pilgrimage center but an elite community to provide "renewal and training for teachers and leaders who in turn are able to carry their message to many others around the globe." The Strongs' own center at the Baca is known as the Manitou Foundation, which means "great spirit." 

         And it has a mysterious background. The Baca is located in the San Luis Valley, which 12 different tribes considered a sacred area for "vision-quests" and where strange phenomena have been reported for decades. Few spots in the United States are as bizarre. The modern history of unexplained occurrences began in the 1950s when green fireballs were reportedly seen by thousands and even before that were rashes of "UFOs" that sound like what Indians called "spirit lights."

         In other words, the valley seems like a place of deceiving spirits. So frequent are such reports in the valley that a UFO "watchtower" was erected. "From the fall of 1966 through the spring of 1970 there were hundreds of unidentified flying object sightings and many of the first documented cases of unusual animal deaths ever reported," notes one website dedicated to the valley. "During peak `UFO' sighting waves in the late 1960s dozens of cars would literally 'line the roads' watching the amazing aerial displays of unknown lights as they cavorted around the sky above the Great Sand Dunes/Dry Lakes area." 

         It is the place where there were the first reported livestock mutilations in the United States. Since November 1992 there have been about sixty reports of unusual cattle deaths in the great San Luis Valley area.

         One witness was no less than an Episcopal minister in Alamosa who established telepathic communication with the "aliens" that sounded like what the Indians called "ant people." In one recent case a mother and her son filed an official report in which they claimed to have encountered a "tall, dark, hairy creature with pointed ears and  large glowing eyes."

         Whatever the merits of such bizarre claims, there is little doubt that energies are afoot in this valley alongside the Sangre de Cristo -- which ironically means "Blood of Christ." And there is little doubt that the past pagan rituals of Indians can call forth deceiving spirits.

         There is nothing "sacred" in that. While we respect aspects of many religions, we're deeply troubled by those connected with earth religions that are pagan and may seek to replace traditional religions with ones that in fact have a demonic origin.

         That anyone connected with the U.N. and attempts to unite religions would apparently be unknowledgeable about the implications of this phenomena is troublesome. 

         The Strongs need an education. And the U.N. needs to be watched. 

         While the attempt to preserve God's creation is holy, and the abuse of God's creation condemned throughout the Old Testament, the situation has fallen into the hands of those who seek to unite religions in a way that could supersede Christianity and reinstitute paganism -- which is what Christ, through His blood, came to vanquish.   



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