Former shoemaker and fundamentalist Christian preacher John de Ruiter is a Canadian author and philosopher considered by some to be a cult gury. His new-age philosphies are marketed by his company, Oasis Edmonton Inc. The company is constructing
John de Ruiter used to be a shoemaker in Edmonton. Now people come from all over the world to hear him preach his New Age gospel or just to be near him. Some even call him the Second Coming of Christ. Native groups call him the “lost white brother.”
“I’ve seen a lot of spiritual teachers,” says Benita von Sass, a follower, “but . . . he’s the one.”
Stephen Kent, a University of Alberta professor who specializes in cults and new religions, accompanied a National Post reporter to a weekend session with Mr. De Ruiter. “This is the beginning of a new religion,” Prof. Kent says. “This is how they start.”
– Source: Shoemaker to Messiah? National Post, Canada, Dec. 7, 1998
Only five years ago, John de Ruiter was still preaching the Christian Gospel to a handful of friends inside a small bungalow he shared with his wife and three children in Edmonton’s east end. But, gradually, his message changed. His references to Jesus stopped as he developed his own peculiar religion, a confusing mix of mysticism, empty rhetoric, and group therapy. He now dismisses critical thought and, aside from his own authority, leaves everything open to question. “If you were to follow me,” he teaches, “all I would teach you and show you is how to be compassionate. . . . You would learn to lay your head down inside, warmly, in the midst of anything. . . . You would always acquiesce. You would never, under any kind of pressure, kick or fuss. . . . Then I would be able to teach you more. Then I could take you to deeper places.” He touts this elusive, self-promoting message in a book, called Unveiling Reality, a series of edited transcripts from his meetings.
De Ruiter claims to want nothing from his acolytes, but he charges money for his lectures, and sells an ever-expanding line of merchandise — his own book, flattering portraits of himself, audio and video tapes. He has managed to cultivate a broad following and is a rising star in the international guru circuit. Several times a year, he flies to cities in Europe, India, and Australia, where he fills auditoriums with hundreds of seekers, most of whom are white, middle-aged, and affluent. Some will leave their lives behind and move to Edmonton, joining approximately 250 full-time devotees from around the planet. Most board with other members. All of them accept that de Ruiter is, as he claims, “the living embodiment of truth.”
It’s difficult to estimate how much de Ruiter is earning from this outlandish claim. His company, Oasis Edmonton Inc., is private, its books closed to public scrutiny. But no matter, his followers adore him. They cook his meals, do his laundry, and buy him gifts. They lie at his feet and kiss his toes. They believe he possesses supernatural powers, that his face transforms into different shapes, that he visits people in their dreams. They even claim he practises “bilocation,” the supposed ability to exist physically in two different places at once.
One place de Ruiter is seldom seen any more is at home. Last year, he left his family. Apart from visits with his children, he now divides his time between his two most attractive apostles, a pair of sisters named Benita and Katrina von Sass. Introduced to de Ruiter by their parents, the sisters take turns accompanying the guru on his travels. When de Ruiter visited Amsterdam, Katrina, a twenty-nine-year-old former star of Canada’s Olympic volleyball team, was on his arm. She was the tall woman whom I saw talking on the cellphone and collecting receipts.
– Source: The gospel according to John de Ruiter, Saturday Night Online, Canada, May 5, 2001