Science of Identity Foundation

A spiritual movement rooted in Hindu teachings, embroiled in controversy and criticism.

The Science of Identity Foundation (SIF), established in 1977 by Chris Butler, also known as Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, is a religious organization based in Hawaii. It draws on the Hindu Gaudiya Vaishnavite tradition and aims to disseminate the teachings of yoga and Bhakti yoga, emphasizing a spiritual connection with God beyond the confines of specific religious labels. The organization asserts that its teachings are compatible with all bona fide religious systems, not limited to Hinduism but inclusive of Christianity, Islam, and others. SIF promotes a lifestyle adhering to principles such as vegetarianism, abstinence from alcohol and illicit sex, and avoidance of gambling​​.

However, SIF and its founder, Chris Butler, have been subjects of significant controversy and criticism. Former members and critics have accused the organization of being secretive, cult-like, and engaging in practices and teachings that are homophobic, anti-Islamic, and misogynistic. These allegations include claims that Butler has been deified by his followers, who are purportedly taught not to question his teachings or authority. Reports from ex-members suggest that Butler is viewed as having divine powers, including the ability to read thoughts, and that members are encouraged to sever ties with the outside world​​​​​​.

Despite these criticisms, SIF maintains that its core mission is to offer spiritual wisdom and practices that can lead to personal and societal well-being, distancing itself from the negative connotations associated with cults and religious fanaticism. The organization emphasizes teachings from the Bhagavad Gita and promotes the practice of Kirtan (chanting of holy names) as a path to spiritual fulfillment and love for God​​.

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