Founder: Earl Blighton, an "ex-engineer" who claims "divine revelation" prompts him to start the Order.
Text: The Bible (preferably the New Testament) with mystical emphasis on the Pauline epistles, seminars and correspondence study.
Symbols: Golden Cross-overlaid with a flaming sword. MANS is an acronym denoting mysterion (mystery), agape (divine love), nous (knowledge), and Sophia (wisdom).
Appeal: Moral asceticism and ethical honesty are strongly emphasized to attract those who have been victimized by society's moral vacuum. The image of the Order in not controversial and so little is known about it that prospective members have no predisposition about its secret teachings.
Purpose: The Holy Order of MANS promises to reveal hidden, ancient Christian mysteries. These "truths" will elevate one's spiritual consciousness and prepare him for the New Age that will soon dawn upon humanity. Members are promised entry into "the Greater Brotherhood," a company of "Christed" individuals who will someday reign with "the Cosmic Christ."
Errors: Christ is not Eternal God but merely a great teacher. God the Father is "the highest initiate among the humanity of the Saturn Period," Jesus is "the highest initiate of the Sun Period," and the Holy Spirit is "the highest initiate of the Moon Period." Mystical wisdom is considered to be a valid source of truth and equal in authority to biblical revelation.
Background Sources: Holy Order of MANS solicitation correspondence; introductory brochure, "Steps Along the Way"; Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, February 1976, vol.2, no.2.
Address/Location: Holy Order of MANS, 2101 Seymour Ave., Box 308, Cheyenne, WY 82001 (Discipleship Headquarters). Holy Order of MANS, 20, Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94117 (International Headquarters).
Publicly distributed literature described the Holy Order of MANS as a "discipleship movement," not a religion.
"Seekers" who inquire are told that the Order's purpose is to teach the Universal Law of Creation, revealed by ancient Christian mysteries.
A list of Twelve Rules of Living guide the search, including admonitions to tithe ($5 per month for beginners) and render absolute obedience to the Class Master to whom the inquirer is assigned.
Entry into the Order, which is coeducational, starts when the initiate fills out an application form. He must also pledge his willingness to receive the teachings of Master Jesus. This nominal reference to Christ is consistent with the Order's position that Jesus was a great teacher, but only one of several great avatars. The nominal reference to Christ in consistent with the Order's position that Jesus was a great teacher, but only one of several great avatars.
The Holy Order of MANS purports to have a Christian belief system. There are frequent references encouraging the seeker to maintain "high Christian morals." However, the Order's true mystical nature is revealed by its allusions to concepts such as "Self Realization," the "Aquarian Age," the "Christ Light Within," the "Esoteric Council," and "Attainment of the Illumination."
The so-called Basic Course takes about two years to complete. Then the entrant, who is now a Lay Brother of Sister, may proceed on to the Advanced Course, or may even pursue the highest level of Discipleship Instructor. From that point onward, each member is expected to exhibit qualities of self-control, charity, and detachments from material and physical desires.
Dark-colored clothing with a clerical collar is standard attire; a dress style designed to spiritually distinguish members from "the common fold." Such garb also emphasizes the Catholic-type overtones of the Order. In fact, the Order has re-instituted many monastic practices of the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church.
The Order's emphasis on sacraments also reflects a spiritual tie to Catholicism, though some conscientious Catholics would find many of the Order's tactics highly questionable.
It is interesting that, after the changes in Catholicism following Vatican II council; many disgruntled Catholics sought a religion that had the sacramental emphasis of pre-Vatican II Catholicism.
Rigid moral codes are not assigned. Instead, the Order seems to assume that a subjectively acquired Christ-consciousness will dictate positive conduct. Members are told that they do not need to forsake their existing church or religious faith affiliations because the precepts of the Order are "not doctrines."
For those who make a total commitment to MANS teachings, there are cloister and monastic orders.
By denying that Christ is the only Savior / Creator and relegating him to an infusion of "radiant energy," the Holy Order of MANS places itself in opposition to orthodox biblical belief. The Order also denies the biblical concept of hell, claiming that the only hell we know is of our own making.
More serious spiritual dangers may be encountered by meditation techniques designed to "reach the higher beings and your own inner being." Such a solicitation may result in spiritistic practices, though there is no reason to suggest that any active attempt at spiritualism or necromancy is intended. They do, however, promote involvement in tarot cards, astrology, psychic power, Kabbalah, and parapsychology.
On a more positive level, the Order does operate Raphael House, a San Francisco shelter for the homeless and the abused. Raphael House's inmates can stay until they find work or go on public aid.
The main thrust of the Order is an appeal to achieve a higher consciousness. This exalted state is to be achieved by attaining the same "Christ consciousness" as Jesus, who was merely a God-realized man. Members will then be prepared to enter the New Age of man's spiritual understanding. Their slogan, "And by their work ye shall know them," is paraphrased from Matthew 7-20.
The substitution of the word work for fruits may or may not have been deliberate, but it does reveal the essential difference between the Order and biblical Christianity.
The ethical aims of the Order are commendable, but ultimately unattainable. The true Christian is to be known by the Spirit' s fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), which comes from the indwelling Person (not consciousness) of Christ.
While the Holy Order of MANS is quick to report its acceptance by some Christians, no sensitive Christian can accept the Order's unorthodox theology and its mingling of Christianity with the occult.