I guess we could call this one a third generation Scientology clone.
Lifespring was founded in 1974, was a private, for-profit, New Age/Human Potential training company by John Hanley Sr., Robert White, Randy Revell, and Charlene Afremow. These four had previously worked with and studied under Werner Erhard, the founder of EST, which became the basis for Landmark Education. Before founding EST, Erhard had been a Scientologist and had worked with and studied directly under L. Ron Hubbard.
In its 40 year history, Lifespring boasts over 40,000 graduates. In that same amount of time, at least 30 lawsuits have sought to hold Lifespring responsible for participants’ deaths or their mental damages. The company paid to settle some of the suits before trial and in other cases lost jury decisions.
More evidence that Lifespring is a business type cult is that all members are “strongly encouraged” to bring in their families and friends for courses.
Although courses are no longer being delivered under the Lifespring name, Mastery in Transformational Training is under the corporate umbrella of Lifespring. The basic course is $695.00 for five days of evening programs. The second part of the program, Advanced Training, is five 12-hour days, and costs $995 and the final “Legacy” program is $1,295. There are also many various self improvement courses that members are encouraged to take at $495 each. Where does all this money go? Here is a hint. The staff who deliver these services are all “unpaid volunteers”
Persons who have decided to leave the organization are hounded by phone and personal visits to encourage them to come back into the fold. One prominent critic of Lifespring is Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Mrs. Thomas asserted in an interview with The Washington Post that she chose to seek counseling after her decision to stop participating in Lifespring. In order to avoid phone calls from fellow Lifespring members, urging her to remain in the course, she chose to hide in another part of the United States.
Yeah. Lifespring qualifies as a cult.