Thirty-year-old Bentinho Massaro has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, supporters that the spiritual guru gained through his teachings about self-realization, enlightenment, and the idea of upgrading civilization.
While some of Massaro’s ideas are pretty standard, like the importance of silent meditation, others are controversial: he’s said that 9/11 was an inside job, that he can control the weather, and that human beings might one day join forces with extraterrestrials.
For an inside look at Massaro’s teachings, VICE went to one of his retreats in the Netherlands, speaking with his colleagues, followers, and Massaro himself to try to understand exactly what the appeal is—and what he makes of the accusations against him.
Let’s get a few things out of the way about The Satanic Temple, the religious/activist group at the center of “Hail Satan,” which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Members of The Satanic Temple say they don’t actually worship Satan or even believe in him. They want nothing to do with the murders and child abuse attributed to Satanism during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, and their only human sacrifices are the tremendous sacrifices of their own time, in the name of humanity.
The temple’s core belief — that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion — isn’t some kooky commandment they invented during a black mass. It’s the first line of the First Amendment.
The group’s modus operandi is to present Satanism as a religion that deserves equal time with Christianity, in order to call attention to the un-Constitutionality of Christianity in public spaces.
They never win their fights to erect Satanic statues alongside displays of the Ten Commandments outside Bible Belt state buildings.
But that’s never the goal: The goal is to help people realize that the Ten Commandments have no business on government grounds either.
Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups within Islam in the United States.
VICE’s Lee Adams traveled to Houston Texas, the home of America’s first Islam in Spanish center, to investigate what’s behind this phenomenon and how America’s current political climate might be related.
As a former gang leader, Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher claims that Islam saved his life, inspiring him to found the Islam in Spanish center. He’s dedicating himself to translating Muslim texts for a Spanish-speaking audience.
VICE spoke to Jaime and other recent Latino Muslim converts to find out why two of America’s most discriminated groups are coming together.
“Sacred: Milestones of a Spiritual Life” explores faith as a primary human experience, revealing how people across the world turn to ritual and prayer to navigate the milestones and crises of private life.
The film takes viewers on a global journey of spirituality, tracing religious ritual at birth, adolescence, marriage, death, and other key moments of human life.
Academy Award-winning director Thomas Lennon commissioned or sourced footage from independent filmmakers from more than 25 countries—and a wide range of religious traditions—each team contributing a single scene.
The film unifies the scenes into a single work, told without narration, without experts, and, for long stretches, without words at all.
“Sacred: Milestones of a Spiritual Life” premieres December 10 on PBS and will be available to stream the following day at pbs.org/sacred and on PBS apps.