ISKCON Subjects Gurus' Sexual Peccadilloes to Public Scrutiny
The Indian Express
Monday, November 9, 1998
Nayee Dillee, Nov 8, 1998, United News of India - The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) sees itself as going through a purging process, by printing in its journal stories of child abuse and sexual misconduct involving some of its gurus, a top spokesman said today. Newspapers and other news organisations have picked up these stories. However, the spokesman said, even the New York Times said ISKCON handled the question of child abuse better than the Roman Catholic Church did.
"We (ISKCON) chose to print the articles and bring allegations out into the open as part of a multi-pronged response to address past problems as well as to help prevent future abuse of our children," the spokesman said.
"ISKCON has now set up a child-protection office staffed by professional social workers to safeguard children for the future," ISKCON said.
The spokesman admitted that a number of ISKCON members could not cope with the strict spiritual standards of "an increasingly diverse and dynamic organisation."
"When they fell away from the high standards set by Srila Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON, their resignation or removal by the governing body commission (GBC) became necessary," he said. For ISKCON, "The sometimes painful process of internal reflection and assessment," is an indication of greater achievements to come in the next millennium.
ISKCON had its beginnings in a small storefront in New York City and has now come to be a globe-spanning society serving millions of members, according to a spokesperson.
ISKCON's publication and distribution of Vedic literature, especially the Bhagvad Gita has now reached over 250 million books and magazines in more than 90 languages.
Using its network of 300 temples, 40 rural communities, 26 schools and 40 restaurants in 71 countries, ISKCON has fostered the concept of vegetarian food-relief. Every 30 seconds, someone in the world receives a hot vegetarian meal from a volunteer in extreme conditions like devastating earthquakes or victims of conflicts in war-torn Sarajevo or Chechnya, the spokesperson added.
Recently, the Russian Government accorded official recognition in 1997 to ISKCON as an authentic religious organisation with full rights. It is one of the few religious bodies to receive recognition in that country.
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