Well, maybe not as new as one would imagine, but certainly new claims and the power to plug you in with God so that you do not miss the Rapture and are one of the special one million.
Mali Elfman gives the story:
LA Cult Watch - The Maitreyans
For those of you who lived in LA through the late 60's and into the 70's, you may remember what is affectionately known to some as "The Cult Explosion." During this time there were a myriad of new age religions, belief systems and sectarian groups. Some gave out hugs while others gave out super potent batches of LSD made in various university labs around California.
The days of free love and Utopian ideals are long gone for the general populace of LA. Now it seems that rather than embracing free spirited and open minded existence, the cults of today's Los Angeles are waist deep in pseudo-Christian, apocalyptic fear. It would appear that today's cults are also a lot more technology savvy.
Take the Maitreyans for example: An advertisement in last week's copy of LA WEEKLY (page 56) and ultra high tech website (www.thefriendsway) complete with looping midi soundtrack! Not to be confused with the actual definition of Maitreya, the future Buddha. One thing that does however remain the same, is the absolute devotion that these groups require of their followers. After seeing the ad in LA WEEKLY, I knew I simply had to call the Matreyans and discover the "one true way to divine critical mass." I decided to do some research and clicked onto their website, which is filled with extremely vague, ambiguous promises and rhetoric. Apparently the religion is some bizarre offshoot of Christianity, created to find the one million special souls who are now and always have been Maitreyans. The select group who are promised entry into heaven and salvation from the rapture.
How does one know that they are a member of the one million?
"When you have accepted Maitreya and his Holy Initiation into your heart and life, Maitreya will come to you in the Spirit and Consecrate you to God and give you a new Holy Name from God. When you hear Maitreya say your Holy Name within you, you will know that he has Consecrated you to God and you have become a Maitreyian and a New Person In Spirit who has God's Supreme Promise and is assured of Perfect Final Union at the end of this life."(Maitreya, [http://www.thefriendsways.com])
I called the number on the site and spoke to a man who knew a lot about the religion. He told me that he could tell already that I was one of the million and that it was only a matter of time until I received my new name. After a little bit of chit chat with my new friend on the phone, he informed me that he himself was Maitreya! Wow, its not every day you get to speak an actual saviour...
Maitreya was a likable guy, full of compliments and insight. He did insinuate that there was an impending event (perhaps the apocalypse) and that it is a very... hands on religion.
LA is filled with interesting little factions, seeking attention, money and devotion. I'm sure the Maitreyans are just one of many. It just so happens that these guys advertise in LA WEEKLY.
YOU CAN READ MY THREE PART SERIES ON MAITREYA HERE.