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Home arrow Eastern Cults & Isms arrow Soka Gakkai arrow Former SGI-USA Leader Denounces Money Collecting Style

Former SGI-USA Leader Denounces Money Collecting Style


Shukan Shincho, 8/4/94

"The Soka Gakkai is the world's largest cult." Scathing flames of denunciation blaze up from a former leader who engaged in activities in the U.S. for 20 years. Until three years ago, Mr. Frank Ross (46), who resides in Chicago, served as the Lake Shore Headquarters Chief in the American SGI (Soka Gakkai International). The money gathering style in the U.S. he speaks of is pernicious, the same as in Japan. He says Honorary President Ikeda is a "money-sucking vampire."

Mr. Frank Ross was born in 1948 in a rural town on the outskirts of Chicago. His father is Polish and his mother is German. Mr. Ross himself was originally a Catholic, as are both his parents. He currently is employed as a manager (assistant manager) for a major company in the retail trade. He is married and has a ten year old son.

"It was 1968 when I first came into contact with the SGI. At that time it was known as NSA or Nichiren Shoshu Academy. The Cold War was in full swing, and the war in Viet Nam was going strong. President Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King had been assassinated. Young people in America were horrified at the world into which they were just beginning to emerge as adults. And I was 20 years old."

He left his home town and went to work in San Francisco. The first person who approached him about Buddhism was a certain Japanese woman. "A woman I happened to meet invited me to a Buddhist discussion meeting. I declined at first, but I ended up going with her. We removed our shoes outside the meeting site, and when we went inside, there were many people gathered. One woman was speaking about world peace. Since then, I had been pulled into this religion which chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, with the belief that whatever I prayed for would be realized."

He was told that the Soka Gakkai began its propagation activities in the U.S. around 1960. At that time, activities centered around so-called "war-brides," Japanese women who had gone to the U.S. after marrying American servicemen who had served in Japan during the Occupation.

However, most of the credit must be given to George Williams, a.k.a. Masayasu Sadanaga, the current SGI-USA General Director Emeritus. He was originally a full-fledged Japanese, but he changed his name and his citizenship for the sake of propagation. This man built the foundation of activities in the U-S. The basic style of activities at that time was to hold stage shows in the streets, do street shakubuku, and solicit hippies and such. Mr. Ross was one of the Americans who was swallowed up by the Gakkai.

"I thought that by serving the Gakkai, I would achieve magical, mystical or supernatural results. I was convinced that benefits lay only in attending meetings, buying Gakkai publications and receiving guidance from leaders. Afterwards I repeatedly changed jobs, and spent several months in New York, but the Gakkai members always helped me. I joined in 1969. After that, I was a Gakkai slave for more than 20 years."

In 1991, because he followed up on the dishonest way the money collected from believers was being spent, Mr. Ross was instructed that he was excommunicated. However, Mr. Ross, as a leader, experienced the Gakkai's cruel money gathering activities.

He further relates, "Several years ago, an SGI Headquarters Chief in Chicago contracted AIDS and subsequently died, even though hundreds of SGI followers were summoned to the Kaikan to chant for his recovery. He was called enlightened and with Buddha. On the other hand, if I get so much as a pimple on my nose, the Gakkai would now tell me, 'You received punishment from the Gohonzon' That is how much they employ brain-washing and mind-control. However, they clearly are nothing more than a business which borrows the title of religion to use as 'bait.' l truly regret doing the activities I did."

The SGI-USA organization is comprised of 4 major regions under the current General Director Fred Zaitsu Eastern (New York, Florida, etc.), Midwestern (Chicago, New Orleans, etc.), Southeast and West (California). It is then further divided into smaller regions. Responsible positions range from two people responsible for the smallest organizational unit up to 15 Vice- General Directors. The person responsible for Chicago, including its surrounding environs, is Vice-General Director Guy McCloskey. It is said that in the entire country, he is in the number two position behind Mr. Zaitsu.

Mr. Ross began engaging in activities of the World Tribune, the U.S. version of the Seikyo Shinbun, as a staff member in the 1970's. For 18 years he participated in this work in a non-salaried position.

"The World Inbune is exactly like Pravda of the old Soviet Union. I wrote nearly one article a day, but the contents were entirely favorable to the Gakkai. Their only goal was to brain-wash existing Gakkai members and to acquire new members. I had my choice of which meetings to cover, but I was told by the leaders to falsely report the number of attendees. A camera angle from one shot could make a few hundred participants seem like several thousand, and that's what we reported."

However, Mr. Ross says that aside from acquiring subscription charges for that kind of periodical, the contrivances to coerce donations from believers are the same in the U.S. as they are in Japan.

"Donations are all made by check. A representative would then gather them together and remit them to the Los Angeles Headquarters. When I was doing activities, the minimum a person could give every month was $20, but there were many people who donated $100 a month. This would be either inserted into a box at the Headquarters, or placed in previously distributed envelopes. Among those giving donations, there are some Japanese women who married wealthy Americans and who give $500 a month, but of course there are also many people who are struggling financially in their daily lives. I too, collected money from such people, and I truly regret it."

At that time Mr. Ross, as well, threw himself into propagation activities, including donating to the Gakkai one-third of his $20,000 a year salary. "I naturally was often asked by believers, 'What's this money used for?' However, I had no authority over how the money was spent, so I could only answer, 'It's used for world peace.'"

In addition, the infamous money gathering activities in Japan known as zaimu [financial affairs] are also designated as zairnu in the U.S.

"Zaimu campaigns are conducted once a year. In September of both 1988 and 1989, large scale zaimu campaigns were conducted for a one month period. At that time, I was the Lake Shore Headquarters Chief with over 300 members. At that time, $3,500,000 was collected, and the purpose of the money was to construct a completely new Ikeda Auditorium on the site of the existing Chicago Culture Center. However, though it's now 1994, not a single structure has been built."

Lying behind the Soka Gakkai's slipshod money gathering activities are pathetic believers. It could be said that this is something all nations share in common.

"The zaimu related to the building of this Ikeda Auditorium caused suffering for many people. For example, a young man named Jon Samos donated the entire inheritance, $40,000, he had received from his father who had just passed away. He told his leaders that it was too much to give, but a leader told him to give it to him, and the leader walked away with the check. In addition, a man and a woman sold their engagement rings and donated $5,000. Another young couple, despite having trouble buying milk for their child, somehow managed to donate $1,000. I myself took two mortgages out on my house, and in 1989 donated $2,500. I eventually went bankrupt with over $20,000 worth of debts. In spite of that, I still continued doing activities, because the Gakkai always taught that no matter what happens, it's your karma. When something bad happens, their explanation is that it happened because you don't have enough enthusiasm."

A Women's Division Chapter Chief under Mr. Ross continued to donate $100 a month, despite having no heat in her residence and her refrigerator being broken. In the end, she declared bankruptcy just like Mr. Ross, but currently she has yet to extract herself from Gakkai activities.

Mr. Ross repeatedly questioned the organization's upper echelon about how the money was spent, but what he received in reply was a notice that he was excommunicated.

"Since I joined, the total amount I paid out for the Gakkai exceeds $100,000. However, that is a trifle compared to the total of donations the Gakkai takes in, and they have never made public how that moneymoney was being spent, and they ultimately told me to resign my Headquarters Chief position. I've sent 15 letters to Mr. Daisaku Ikeda requesting that donations be returned, but I've never received even a single reply." is spent. Despite hiring a high-priced accountant, cash, checks and receipts frequently were lost. However, the Vice-General Directors and others are paid a salary, and when there is even a single conference in Los Angeles, they use high- class hotels, and they purposely hold some conferences in Hawaii. I demanded to know how the

Incidentally, Mr. Ross twice came to Japan, once in 1970 and once in 1973. He says that he met Mr. Daisaku Ikeda at Taisekiji, where Mr. Ikeda happened to be.

"I was completely immersed in the Gakkai, so at the time, all I could say about meeting him was that it was wonderful. However, now I'm convinced that Ikeda's a money-sucking vampire. The Soka Gakkai is the world's largest cult. Not only are they dishonoring Japan, but in America as well, their existence is inhuman and causes trouble to people. Currently, Vice-General Director McCloskey took the previously mentioned zaimu and arbitrarily purchased a separate plot of land than the one for which the auditorium was previously planned, and says that they will build the auditorium there. However, even by Chicago standards, that location is famous for being in a high crime area overrun with drug dealers and prostitutes. Any religious group which continues such activities will only end up being disbanded."

Journalist Kunio Naito says, "No one will stay in an organization which exhibits objections and suspicions. This applies equally to Japan and the U.S., and is a sickness which is characteristic of the Gakkai. In the same way, it is unwholesome for the flow of money to be extremely cloudy. Unlike the Japanese, American Gakkai members abound with discernment and if they do not agree with something, they will steadily resign. I've heard that in America, there are not a few believers who joined amid the background of a heightened interest in Buddhism which occurred in conjunction with the advancement of the hippie movement, which itself occurred in response to the intensification of the Viet Nam War. However, regardless of the particulars of how they joined, veterans like Mr. Ross who have worked for 20 years or more of course become business-like and devoid of sentiment. If they were to disagree, they would be discharged, or they would be given the option to resign."

Mr. Toshimitsu Ryu, a former Komeito Party member of the Tokyo Diet, makes the following observation about the American Soka Gakkai of late. "In the U.S. they are saying that if money is paid to the SGI, benefit will result. This is worse than an 'Inspiration Business.' At any rate, in that country, they are stressing the adoration of Ikeda as a sage, and are teaching that kosen-rufu means spreading Ikeda's name, but Ikeda has been excommunicated from the sect, so to do such things cannot be justified. Originally, U.S. believers knew nothing about such things, but now the facts are coming to light. Last year during a speech at the SGI-USA General Meeting, Ikeda called Clinton an idiot. His true image is becoming completely clear to U.S. Gakkai members. For that reason, Gakkai members are quitting one after another. In order to locally maintain the organization and paid staff, they have no choice but ignore appearances and collect money under the pretext of constructing buildings."

Of course, Mr. Ross himself is aware of such circumstances. He says that in the U.S. they are playing a "numbers game." "Just how many Gakkai members currently exist throughout the entire country presents a very interesting problem. In the 1980's, the current SGI-USA General Director Emeritus George Williams claimed a membership of 500,000 and a World Tribune subscription base of 100,000. However, it is a certainty that today in 1994, there are 20,000 World Tribune subscriptions. This is a surprising decrease. Furthermore, Vice-General Director McCloskey tells the mass media that the SGI-USA has 350,000 believers, but recently, he admitted to a certain group of people that the actual number of members is close to 20,000, the same number as World Tribune subscriptions." No matter how much they bluff, the Soka Gakkai International-United States of America is certainly walking down a path toward destruction.

Translated by: Michael Bowman; E-mail address: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it