by Helen Simkins Bangalow NSW – local Tourist Attraction Manager (Macadamia Castle), Australia
On Friday 12th October, 2012 I attended what was scheduled as an informative talk on the subject of Esoteric Medicine which is generally held several times annually at our local Lennox Head community centre. I was joined by my 14 year old daughter and, for the first time for them, a close personal friend who works in health and her 12 year old son who had opted to come in with us instead of skating in the park next door.
Much to our dismay we discovered very quickly that this evening was not going to be the human health and wellbeing lecture we were expecting, but was hijacked. Instead we had a firsthand experience of the scurrilous operating methods of a National “News” programme – and this is how it all went.
Instead of the usual format, a guest speaker was introduced to us – a Dr David Millikan who, as Google informs me, holds a Ph.D. in Theology and is a filmmaker. Our presenter, Serge Benhayon, the director of the Goonellabah complementary medicine clinic Universal Medicine, tells the audience that David had expressed an interest in us as a group and has some questions to ask us.
In light of the recent misrepresentation by a few in the local community and a section of the media, I welcomed this opportunity being “offered” by David. Almost immediately I discover that this was no opportunity, but a plan by the National News station (who David admits to us that he is employed by) to create a sensationalist expose on us as a group.
After a brief personal introduction, David tells us that he is experienced in cult identification and is here to study us.
“Hold up” there is that word again AND David Millikan certainly did not study the group. No such opportunity existed. The only agenda was a smear campaign, and the bottom line of the audience dollar which needs big themes and exciting stuff to be won on television as we all know.
David groomed us initially by stating “I think people are at their best and at their worst in religion – sometimes… at the very same moment” and follows that by saying based on several facts, we display all the indicators of forming a cult! He includes mention that Serge Benhayon is “gathering a family” and other words including ‘authoritarian’ and ‘controlling’. In addition we are quickly told that due to the fact that (David) has determined that we are followers we are not able to self- determine.
He then launched into his first long and convoluted accusation posed as a question. Hang on a second, I think; is he actually attacking me here? Oh yes – it is my little group sitting right next to one of the carefully positioned camera persons and they are focussed on us….. as it turned out, our every word and move was being recorded on camera without informing us. I imagine that this behaviour is acceptable in the mind of someone who believes we need exposing or maybe even saving, but it was an unsavoury and an insulting experience.
Let me tell you that the conclusion was forgone – this was not investigative journalism, no voyage of discovery to the truth – we were merely present as fodder for a reporting piece. Very disappointing and very poor form on the part of a National News station and David Millikan – in the words of Derryn Hinch himself – SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.