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Jewish World Review June 4, 2001 / 14 Sivan, 5761

David Limbaugh

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Consumer Reports

It depends on what the meaning of 'religion' is ... -- TWO recent news stories provide valuable insight into the contrasting worldviews of liberals and conservatives, and how those views affect public policy. Let's take a look:

The New York Post reported that the Bush administration has canceled an $860,000 federal program launched by Clinton's Housing Secretary, Andrew Cuomo, to teach "creative wellness" in public-housing centers in 26 American cities. The money was to come from HUD's drug-fighting budget – not that liberal Democrats ever feel the need to justify any proper nexus between the Constitution and federal expenditures. But wait 'til you hear what this program involved.

Cuomo, who greatly aspires to follow in his father's footsteps as governor of New York, is wisely trying to distance himself from this bizarre program. His spokesmen insist the project was a "rogue action by a lone civil servant" and that Cuomo was completely unaware of it.

This "rogue" bureaucrat was Gloria Cousar, who apparently arranged for the grant to be given to fund this program spearheaded by her friend, Michelle Lusson. At one time the two women were leaders in the Center for Holistic Healing, a New Age church located in Herndon, Va.

The Creative Wellness program includes a process whereby individuals, based on their glandular points (adrenal, thyroid and pancreas), are identified as one of 14 different personality types. But beneath the surface of this personality typing is the program's spiritually oriented "goddess typing."

Last October the Washington Post ran a feature story on this phenomenon, billing it as "How one federal contractor uses 'goddess typing,' gemstones and other methods to help public housing residents manage stress, cope with illness and stop self-destructive behavior." The story described how Michelle Lusson goes about identifying her subject's "personality" type.

In one example, Lusson asked an elderly woman whose left arm is outstretched if she may touch her. Lusson placed her palm on the lady's wrist and gently touched her throat with her other hand. She then commanded the lady to resist as she pressed down on her arm. The woman's arm remained straight.

The same result occurred when Lusson attempted to press the resistant arm downward after first touching the woman's navel. But when Lusson preceded the exercise by touching the small of the woman's back, the arm lost its resistance and dropped to her side.

Lusson's diagnosis? The lady had an adrenal gland weakness. Lusson's conclusion? The woman had the personality of Venus, a goddess of beauty and laughter. Lusson's remedy? She prescribed a bag of incense and an informational package explaining how a "Venus" should go about improving her mind, body and soul.

Each individual in the program is given a wellness plan, which includes a set of "healing affirmations." Each is required to pledge to see herself as a "perfect image of the Divine Creator." The individuals are also taught to reduce stress by various techniques such as meditation and candle burning. They are given "natural supports" with "inherent healing powers," among which are gemstones, colors (such as the feel-good apricot) and incense.

One public-housing resident living in Alabama was counseled to avoid the color green. She brags that she's been sleeping like a baby since she "cleaned out (her) closet and removed the dark-green bedding."

I wonder if this "goddess" has a similar aversion to government greenbacks? It certainly wouldn't seem so. Records reveal that the federal program's expenditures include $3,240 for color charts, $6,270 for gem bags (note: that's not "gym" bags), $3,174 for incense packs, $6,255 for aroma kits, $1,201 for aroma oils and $624 for nutrition kits that contain sugar, salt, candy and whiskey.

Major kudos go to President Bush for nixing this 100 percent federally-funded program. Does anyone believe the program would have died had Albert Gore Jr. won the presidency?

Is it not reasonable for us to ask our liberal friends (who now claim to be fiscal conservatives) why they are not outraged at this colossal waste of federal tax dollars? Or, better yet, at this egregious violation by HUD of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause?

This brings us to the other recent news story: It seems that the only religions that are off limits for any government involvement are those of the Judeo-Christian persuasion. Thus, the Supreme Court's refusal even to hear an appeal by the city of Elkhart, Ind., of an appellate court's refusal to permit a six-foot-tall granite pillar engraved with the Ten Commandments to remain on the lawn of its town hall.

We are living in strange times.

David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney apracticing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposé about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.