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Ramtha School of Enlightenment


Thurston County, Washington Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor ordered a permanent injunction prohibiting Virginia Coverdale from releasing videos of Ramtha School of Enlightenment head JZ Knight. Coverdale, a former follower, violated a contract she had signed by posting on YouTube a video in which Knight, allegedly channeling the 35,000-year-old Ramtha, disparaged Catholics, gays, and Jews. Knight’s JZK, Inc. wants Coverdale to pay more than $750,000 in compensation. Coverdale says, When you send private investigators around the country to dig up dirt on a defendant, and when you subpoena dozens of people in an attempt to intimidate them into silence, and when you depose people that had nothing to do with the case at all, the bill can ring up... They’re not getting anything from me. (Nisqually Valley News, 7/13/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Louis J. Soteriou, who attended the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in a quest to transport himself through time and space, pleaded guilty in US District Court in Rutland, Vermont, to defrauding hundreds of people who invested in the unfinished movie, Birth of Innocence. Mac Parker, Soteriou’s partner, whom he met at the Ramtha School, had earlier entered a guilty plea to similar charges for what is described as perhaps the largest fraud scheme in Vermont history. Parker agreed to raise money for the film, which was aimed to get people to embrace their “inner, innocent selves.” Parker, a well-known Vermont story teller, also agreed to provide $4.3 million over 10 years to support Soteriou’s quest to transcend his earthly body. Parker raised $28 million between 1999 and 2009 by promising to pay investors double-digit interest rates. By the terms of his plea deal, Soteriou faces up to 7 years in prison and Parker 6 years. (Burlington Free Press, 4/18/13). JZ Knight, the head of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, says, “I send my condolences to those who were victimized by the misleading actions of the two men behind the film project.” (Burlington Free Press, 3/28/13) [IT 4.3 2013] 

JZ Knight, head of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE), is suing former student Virginia Coverdale for posting videos on YouTube that show Knight making derogatory remarks about Catholics, gays, Jews, Mexicans, and organic farmers. Knight calls the postings a breach of the contract Coverdale signed promising she wouldn’t disseminate material she received while studying at the school. Coverdale has counterclaimed, accusing RSE of misrepresentation and fraud while she was a student there. Knight’s attorneys say, “The First Amendment prohibits courts from judging the truth or falsity of one’s beliefs.” Coverdale maintains that her claims concern conduct rather than religion, and that Ramtha’s teachings—Knight channels the spirit Ramtha—“do not constitute a religion.” (Nisqually Valley News, 2/8/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

New Age guru J.Z. Knight, whose 80-acre school sits just beyond the Yelm, Washington, city line, contin­ues her legal battle with the city— population 6,848—to stop develop­ment of five housing subdivisions just inside the border, the nearest one within 1,300 feet of her proper­ty. The new subdivisions would cre­ate 568 residential units, increasing the city’s housing stock by about 20 percent. Knight argues that the sub­division will drain water from sources where she owns senior water rights—a “constitutionally protected property interest,” her lawyer told the Washington State Supreme Court in May. (News Tribune, 6/4/11) [IT 2.2 2011] 

A French couple reportedly associated with the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, and said to be paranoid about the end of the world, allegedly shot and killed a policeman, wounded another, and chased a third through the bush in January on a South African farm from which they were being evicted. Phillipe and Agnis Neniere, thought to be survival experts, had lived on the farm, near Sutherland, for 12 years but had been told to leave by the owner because of their bizarre behavior. After a decade of friendly visiting with the owner’s family, the couple became reclusive, saying, according to one of the owner’s sons, that “they wanted to drop off the grid and study quantum physics.” He said the Nenieres “believed that they would have to fend for themselves and survive [the world’s end] in the bush.” Police are said to have found medical supplies, emergency packs, survival field guides, and notes on the Ramtha School of Enlightenment when they searched the house after the shootings. J. Z. Knight, the school’s founder, has visited South Africa. Her teachings involve “end times,” which are linked to a belief that the Mayans predicted that 2112 would see the end of the world. Some of the cult’s students believe they can gain the power to raise the dead, freeze a rocket in mid-air, make gold appear out of thin air, and predict the future. (Independent Online, 1/16/11) [IT 2.1 2011] 

The Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE) in January denied that it’s a survivalist cult and distanced itself from a French couple who killed a policeman and wound­ed another in rural South Africa before they themselves were shot dead by authorities. Ramtha head JZ Knight said that the couple had taken several RSE courses between 1999 and 2004. RSE, which has made predictions of earth changes for decades, teaches students, called “sovereignists,” to be prepared for anything and to be able to care for themselves and their families. RSE says, “The emphasis is not on the end of the world, but rather on becoming self-reliant so that in any emergency you can be an asset to your family and community rather than a liability.” (Times Live, 1/21/11) [IT 2.2 2011]

As the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, in Yelm, WA, has drawn attention to its economic contributions to the county — 6,000 students pass through annually — criticism of the gated community has also risen. Former Ramtha students in the area have founded the Life After Ramtha School of Enlightenment, charging the establishment, through the stories of aggrieved former followers, with “fear-generating teachings and wild predictions designed to foster obedience at the school,” as well as “brainwashing” and cult-like activities. A Ramtha spokesman called the accusers “a few disgruntled people.” A judge in the late 1980s did not accept the argument of Knight’s husband in their divorce case that she had brainwashed him, and a witness at the trial, J. Gordon Melton, head of the Institute for the Study of Religion, testified that Ramtha school dynamics did not distinguish it from any other large church or spiritual group. Recently, Ramtha founder JZ Knight — who claims to channel an ancient spiritual warrior — has sued another spiritual teacher in the county for stealing her personal improvement ideas and teachings. [csr 7.1 2008)