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Sects and the city

Melbourne Express 30 March, 2001, pp 1-2
By David Wroe with photography by Vince Caligiuri

Drew SintonMeet the spiritual leaders of Melbourne.

This week it was announced that controversial Roman Catholic leader Dr George Pell would be the next archbishop of "sin city" itself - Sydney.

But the absence of his hellfire and brimstone opinions will not leave Melbourne spiritually-bereft.

David Wroe went in search of our religious guides and gurus, some well known, others cloaked in mystery.

SATANISM: Drew Sinton. Age: 39. Sinton lives in the city, is unmarried and has no children. He is the owner of the Haunted Bookshop, runs ghost tours and is the author of The Antichrist's Bible. He says he's the closest thing Melbourne has to a Satanic leader. He describes Christianity as "an illusion", despite having once studied theology in preparation for the priesthood.

ANGLICAN: Archbishop Peter Watson. Age: 65. Watson lives in East Melbourne, is married and has three children. The Sydney-born archbishop says: "Church leaders are often perceived as what they're against. I'd like to be seen as what I'm for." During his nine months as Melbourne's archbishop, he has been an advocate for fair employment, drug programs and reconciliation.

CATHOLICISM: Dr George Pell. Age 59. The new Archbishop of Sydney almost made his career as a footballer. The former Ballarat boy has been a Tigers supporter since he signed as a ruckman for Richmond in 1959. Despite this promising career, he chose the seminary instead, rising to become Melbourne's archbishop in 1996. Some see him as conservative, others as a staunch defender of Catholic doctrine.

SCIENTOLOGY: Cheryl Wickens. Age: 46. Wickens lives in Seaford, is married and has two children. The executive director of the Church of Scientology in Melbourne, she oversees the finances and administration while ensuring the ministers are best teaching the philosophies of church founder L Ron Hubbard. She was born in Melbourne and became interested in Scientology while studying philosophy.

ISLAM: Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam. Age: 74. Sheikh Femi's work as general secretary of the board of Imams of Victoria has earned him many honours including the Order of Australia. He was born in Lebanon and came to Australia in 1951. He became Victoria's first Imam. A widely respected spokesperson for the Muslim community, he has also been outspoken on racism and refugee rights.

HARE KRISHNA: Aniruddha-das. Age: 45. Aniruddha-das lives at Albert Park and is married with no children. He is president of Melbourne's Hare Krishna community and describes his work as "very much a traditional pastoral role" - teaching and counselling. He was born in Ardrossan, South Australia, but moved to Melbourne after becoming a Hare Krishna in 1978. He was appointed president by the national council in 1989. He feels the most important thing he can do as a spiritual leader is to set a good example to others.

BUDDHISM: Ajahn Brahmavamso. Age: 49. Ajahn lives at the Bodhinyana Monastery, Perth, is unmarried and, although he lives in Perth, he is the head monk and spiritual adviser for Melbourne's Theravada Buddhists (as distinct from Zen Buddhists). He was born in London and earned a degree in theoretical physics but decided to go to Thailand to become a monk in 1974. He spent nine years in a jungle monastery before coming to Australia.

ORTHODOX JUDAISM: Rabbi Chaim Gutnick. Age: 80. Gutnick lives in Elwood and is married with six children. He was born in the Ukraine and arrived in Melbourne in 1956, becoming the minister for the Elwood synagogue. He became president of the Rabbinical Council in 1959.

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST: Dr Denis Hankinson. Age: 47. Hankinson lives in Glen Waverley, is married with three children. As president of the Victorian Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists he overseas almost l00 churches and companies. He grew up in an Adventist household before "the typical rebellion". He has a Master's degree in archaeology and a doctorate in group development and community building. He has been a pastor for 25 years. His hobbies include archaeology and surfing.


Other Haunted Bookshop offerings you might enjoy ...

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- Citysearch

"Melbourne's hidden treasure"
- Herald Sun

"A gothic Black Books"
- Chelsea Kwok, Adelaide


Drew Sinton
Witches Bible
Goetia
Vampires
Satanic Bible
Gothic Grimoire
Haunted
Real MIB
Ancient
Psychic's Handbook
Rider Waite
Angels
Jewellery
Nosferatu
Haunted DVD

"When you have bought your fill of paranormal books, tarot cards and occult jewellery, you can come back at 8.30 pm on a Saturday for one of Sinton's very popular ghost walk tours of Melbourne" - Narrelle Harris, author Witch Honour

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