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Americas

Sects cash in on 2012 Mayan end-of-the-world prediction, French watchdog warns

media A Mayan stepped pyramid Fcb981/Open access

The end of the world is in 18 months time, according to the calendar of the Maya people of central America, and France’s official sect-watchers are keeping an eye on cults trying to profit from fears of forthcoming Armageddon.

Unperturbed by the failure of a biblically inspired prediction of “rapture” to materialise on 21 May this year, several obscure religious groups are cashing in on fears that 21/12/2012 will turn out to be doomsday.

The annual report of France’s inter-ministerial mission to combat sects warns against a growing number of predicting the apocalypse and promising support and even safety when it arrives.

One of them, Ramtha, is trying to dig bunkers in the Pyrenees mountains, the sect-watchers say.

And a websearch for “2012” at the beginning of this year revealed 2.5 million pages referring to the apocalyptic prediction.

Georges Fenech, president of the mission, warned that psychologically vulnerable people can fall prey to this kind of group.

“We notice a certain distancing of people who believe the end of the world is coming – they distance themselves from their families, their work,” he told RFI. “These are deplorable situations that we need to warn people about.”

The 2012 date is the 183rd day fixed for the end of the world since the fall of the Roman empire, Fenech says.

The report also warns against phoney medical advice.

“Another issue is the problem of cancer, which is exploited by charlatans and therapeutic gurus who propose all kinds of alternative treatments that can have awful consequences,” Fenech says.

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