This section examines the malicious and aggressive methods used by Nichiren Shoshu in its campaign against the SGI. We'll look at their activities on the newsgroup ARBN, and examine (broadly) some of its more massive websites. This will entail an examination of the methods and character of its primary webmaster, his relationship to the priesthood itself, and his similarities to a rather shady group in Japan.

A Nichiren Shoshu member recently asked her temple representative about what the Temple is doing on the Internet. She posted the answer:

I quote YOU, temple rep: "Don't go on the internet, we have members who have been on it a very long time and they know what they are doing." — ARBN post, Thursday, May 31, 2001 2:12 AM
Don't be fooled: Nichiren Shoshu has a calculated stake in the Internet; it's priests are involved (despite protestations that they are not); and, as we see from the above, they don't want even their own members jumping in to gum up the works. 

Nichiren Shoshu's activities on the Internet are marked by aggression, cunning, persistence, and the ability to adopt a most innocent persona. It is continually caught with its hand in the cookie jar, and continually is ready with a detailed story of how someone else forced its hand into the cookie jar.

Its presence and all of the above attributes — can be witnessed most keenly on a newsgroup, "alt.religion.Buddhism.Nichiren" (ARBN). ARBN was established by a member of another Nichiren sect, for the purpose of constructive dialogue among all who purport to follow the Daishonin's teachings; it was actually called, in its inception, "Nichiren Believers Unite".

For at least five years, however, the culture of ARBN has been defined by Nichiren Shoshu. There is no dialogue; there are only attacks on the SGI. 

As an illustration of the nature of Nichiren Shoshu, ARBN is very revealing. The NST members claim is that it is the SGI who is attacking, out to destroy Nichiren Shoshu; while the temple members just want to be left alone to practice their own religion in peace. Since about the middle of 2000, very few SGI members participate there. One would think, then, that with little input of any kind from the SGI, ARBN would become a discussion among Nichiren Shoshu members about the benefits of practicing their religion.

Think again.

In the ten days from March 2 through March 11, 2001, only two SGI members posted more than two messages, and only four posted at all. None of their posts had anything to do with Nichiren Shoshu doctrine, activities or members: one significant thread had to do with nomenclature for a type of Gohonzon scroll, and the other had to do with ARBN itself, and its hostility to open discussion. SGI members totaled 36 messages — and even this is stretching it, as one of the posters has declared his opposition to the SGI and especially to his local organization. Counting him, though 36 messages originating from SGI members.

In the same period, there were 317 posts by Nichiren Shoshu members, of which 168 were unprovoked messages about President Ikeda, about the editor of the World Tribune, and about an SGI member who doesn't post to ARBN. Ten of these were "refutations" of articles taken from Gakkai publications (not posted by SGI members to ARBN; the temple members had to go looking for them), and 30 were responses to messages posted to "SGI members'" message boards. These boards are supposedly just for SGI members, but the temple members invade, read, and exploit them by "responding" on ARBN (where, of course, the original poster has no idea he/she is being "refuted" or, as in most cases, merely mocked).

A typical thread is one entitled "About This Newsgroup". The first existing message (the thread had started before the 10 day window, and the first few posts had already been dropped by Usenet — about which more later) was about this: 

"I'm not naive. I understand what's up with the SGI leadership. They do sometimes expend what I consider to be too much effort on the anti-temple thing. But, as I've said, I've never seen or read anything or anyone advocating any sort of destruction or violence towards temple members or property. It's not militant by any means. As for the skits, they're no more hateful or harmful than any Saturday Night Live skit about George Dubya. It's called parody.

"You continue to prove my point that NST members consider it shakubuku when an NST member tries to get someone to join NST. But, when an SGI member does it, it's considered harassment. Does that make sense? Nah. Is it fair? Nah. But hey...sense and fairness do not seem to be the cornerstones of this here newsgroup. Sense and fairness are what I consider to be important aspects of Buddhism, however. That is what led to my original comments."

There were 48 responses to this — 41 by Nichiren Shoshu members, all of them attacking the SGI member's sensibilities and his right to distinguish between the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu. 

Anyone who has observed ARBN for any length of time knows that at one time SGI members posted frequently — often countering Nichiren Shoshu attacks on President Ikeda, pointing out flaws and omissions in tabloid articles posted by Nichiren Shoshu, and making extensive use of the Gosho to discuss doctrine with Nichiren Shoshu members. 

They also have observed that when their attacks on President Ikeda are rebutted, Nichiren Shoshu members respond by re-posting the original article, or calling the SGI member a name — usually some sophomoric mutation of his/her real name.
And when the Gosho is used, Nichiren Shoshu responds first with a line or two from another Gosho, for which they cannot provide context since the line was supplied them by a priest from something which has not been translated entirely into English (hence they have no idea of, and no interest in, the contextual meaning of the sentence they use). Then, when that doesn't work, they denigrate the Gosho, saying it is "not the last and only word" on doctrine. The temple members actually maintain that there are "secret teachings" from the Daishonin, available only to Nichiren Shoshu priests; and that these teachings are in fact the real "last word." Finally, when they are continually called back to the Gosho, they resort to the namecalling.

This is true of every Nichiren Shoshu member who posts to ARBN and meets reasoned argument — every one sooner or later devolves into gratuitous insults of their opponent. Every time.

For instance, the posts "about an SGI member who doesn't post to ARBN" mentioned above: This person used to post to ARBN over a year ago — and made many valid comparisons of the two sects, based on history and his own observations. Nichiren Shoshu members decided that he masturbates frequently. All their responses to him had to do with hair on his hands and crude references to his body parts. For instance: 

Subject: Re: Is Liap a man? 
From: (Cult Watcher International) Date: 4/2/99 10:06 AM Central Standard Time 
Message-id: <>

Just forget about it Paul. It was all my fault anyway when I started talking about Luap's hand. That's the closest thing he has to a wife and kids and I guess it really offended him so he took revenge.

Now, a year later, that SGI member is posting to an SGI discussion board. Nichiren Shoshu members can read what's posted there, and they have been taking isolated comments by this person, posting them to ARBN — and making crude references to masturbation.

This is poor, innocent, persecuted Nichiren Shoshu.

Nichiren Shoshu has found the Internet to be a useful tool for its relentless attacks upon the SGI. Its members deny vehemently that their activities are controlled or even sanctioned by the priests, but consider: 

  • The webmaster of the largest site receives mail at Myogyoji Temple in Chicago (as noted through an ARBN message from a member of that temple); 
  • By his own admission, he discusses his activities on ARBN with Rev. Kawabe, formerly of the Chicago temple and now chief priest of the Washington DC temple (according to his own posts on ARBN); 
  • Rev Kawabe himself has sent a message to ARBN; 
  • The three most active temple members on ARBN recently met in Spain — one lives there, one is from England, the other from America — and were singled out by the priest at the temple; 
  • They have been given many documents that were either never translated into English — especially snippets from certain Gosho — or would have been available to only a few people within the hierarchy of either the SGI or the priesthood; 
  • They all, every one of them, use methods that originate with the Myokanko, the lay group based at the Head Temple that publishes the anti-Gakkai periodical Emyo. Their methods include:
    • The repeated dissemination (i.e., spamming) of articles containing charges against the Gakkai, as if they are current, when in fact they have been disproved;
    • Never responding substantively to rebuttals of their charges; they respond by repetition of their original charge, or with a new and unrelated charge;
    • Instant and massive responses. For instance, one post by one SGI member on ARBN will, within hours, have five or six responses from Nichiren Shoshu, all with the characteristics described above; 
    • Intimidation of those who challenge them, through name-calling, massive responses questioning the character of the respondent, and searches for and publishing of irrelevant private information about the respondent such as lifting their posts from unrelated newsgroups or copying information from their private unrelated websites);
    • Interference with SGI communications on the Internet
So the activities are most certainly sanctioned by the priesthood, and these activities consist entirely of trying to destroy the SGI. The SGI uses the Internet to disseminate information about itself and about Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism; individual members have established discussion groups online; others have websites and still others have electronic newsletters. And, obviously, people curious about Buddhism — from students, to individuals who might want to practice, to academics — use the Internet as a research tool. The SGI has made great efforts in recent years to establish common ground with other institutions in the areas of peace culture and education; the temple does its best to sabotage these efforts.

Nichiren Shoshu does have websites dealing solely with their own religion; these are generally the ones that are obviously connected to the temples. But their most active websites — the ones updated most frequently, the ones from which anti-Gakkai material is disseminated around the world — are the ones the priests allow their lay members to take credit for. These are in no way attempts to propagate their own religion. They are meant solely to undermine the SGI.

Three of these are major. They are: Clearing House; Cebunet/Netnitco; and SG-eye.

1) "Clearing House": This one has been taken down, though its content have found their way into other sites. Its specialties were tabloid articles about the Komeito and President Ikeda, and articles from the Myokanko publication Emyo — a publication High Priest Nikken used as a barometer for proposed campaigns. 

For instance, while the priesthood was allowing its members to vehemently deny that the Sho Hondo (the Grand Main Temple) was going to be demolished, Emyo was carrying articles hinting that the building was about to collapse due to structural flaws. The basis Emyo used for this argument was that a security guard had noticed rust spots on some pillars. It went on to speculate that the wrong kind of sand had been used in pouring the concrete, and that the Soka Gakkai (whose members contributed the bulk of the financing for the Sho Hondo's construction) had stinted on the quality of the material and labor. 

In pursuing this line of rationalizing the impending doom of the Sho Hondo, neither Nikken nor Emyo consulted any designers, engineers or contractors; soon enough the Nichiren Shoshu members on the Internet picked up the cue, and participated in a massive propaganda campaign about the utter instability of the structure. When the architects and contractors who had actually worked on the project attested to their painstaking attention to every detail and their unanimous opinion that the building was safe and would stand for hundreds of years, Nikken hung both Emyo and his followers out to dry — in announcing the upcoming demolition of the Sho Hondo, he essentially said the reason is that it had been contributed by President Ikeda and the SGI — with no mention at all of concern for its structural integrity.

2) SG-eye: This one will be dealt with in great detail on another page

3) Cebunet/Netnitco: Cebunet is owned and operated by a Nichiren Shoshu member in Indiana, though it's based in the Philippines. This is necessary because it puts this individual out of reach of American laws, which he constantly flaunts. He also has a few websites and his email at Netnitco ("nitco" is Northern Indiana Telephone Company).

He uses a number of names: Cult Watcher International, jqpublic, SGI Information Center, adonos (an SGI member's name spelled backwards), Soka Gakkai News. His real name is Craig Bratcher. 

As may be gathered from a couple of those names, he often tries to disguise himself as representing the SGI in one capacity or another, and then undermines his correspondent's confidence in it. He also receives information from the priests for use on the Internet.

A couple of examples: In 1997, High Priest Nikken was sponsoring a mammoth pilgrimage, for which he did not have enough members to meet his goal. So he announced that he had not really excommunicated SGI members six years earlier, that they were still members of Nichiren Shoshu and could see the Dai Gohonzon — and then gave them a deadline of October 31st for leaving the SGI or they really would be excommunicated this time.

Two days before this announcement by Nichiren Shoshu, Mr. Bratcher posted a "poll" asking SGI members on ARBN what they would think if they were given a last chance to leave the Gakkai and embrace Nichiren Shoshu.

The year before, Nichiren Shoshu published a booklet entitled 100 Questions and Answers on the Gohonzon. Three months before its publication, Mr. Bratcher posted a draft by "The Nichiren Shoshu Doctrinal Committee".

Finally, by his own admission, he knew about an article in the Ghana Graphic, critical of Nichiren Shoshu, before the article became known outside of Ghana and Japan: 

I stated in an article posted 4 hours BEFORE Keith panicked and posted his, I said specifically that any "main stream" reports from the Rawlings back-jungle country would not be accepted. — posted on arbn, January 9, 1998 
(Bratcher had had a long-running "challenge" to give money to anyone who found an article critical of Nichiren Shoshu in a non-Gakkai publication; there were many, of course, from all around the world, but there was always some excuse for not acknowledging them.)

So Mr. Bratcher's activities on the Internet are quite obviously approved and supported by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. What are his activities?

Subject: Friends of Chairman Ikeda Drown Newborn Baby 
From: Cult Watcher International 
Date: 8/24/2000 5:18 PM Central Daylight Time 
Message-id: <>
There's one. Here's more: 
"Actually, they don't even *try* to cover their pile of vile dung they offer to Daisaku." —Craig Bratcher 12/3/98

"See how he shamelessly sucks up Ikeda's dung for the modern age" —Craig Bratcher 3/17/98

"Show us the joy of sucking up the gakker dung. Mmmmmmm! " —Craig Bratcher 2/3/98

"Suck up his dung and spew it out for all to see." — Craig Bratcher 1/31/98

"The Soka Gakkai Dung Sucking competition was created in response to the many gakkers who love to lap up Ikeda's dung and re-spew in on arbn." — Craig Bratcher 3/17/98

"You must march proudly! arm in arm down the path of glory! and joyfully suck up the vile dung from the SGI inc and re-spew it for everyone to enjoy!!!" — Craig Bratcher 2/8/98

"A cowardly gakker, hiding behind another spittle spattered mask, spews his vile dung, anonymously and with no accountability" — Craig Bratcher 7/30/98

"Hey Jim- you've got Daisaku's stinking vile dung dribbling down your chin" — Craig Bratcher 1/25/99

"Masterbator in Action spew dung dung spittle PUSSY Jacking Jinzai Damaging Dungdung spewing Master Baiting pussy Dung Sucking farter PUSSY Master Baiting Wussy Jacking Jinzai Master Dung Spewer Coward, Liar, Idiot Mental illness? Mental Illness?" — Craig Bratcher 4/3/99

(And when he's not fixating on dung:) 
"Hey Snotty- isn't that spittle inside your mask getting uncomfotable by now? Of course- there are little sacrifices to be made for kosenrufu eh. So what if a little spittle is spraying out of the cracks...." — Craig Bratcher 12/5/97

"Oh- I see you have dried the spittle up in your mask" — Craig Bratcher 12/6/97

"BTW snotty the spittle is really spewing out of your mask big time now. You should change it and let it dry up a wee bit. It's dribbling down your slimey chin." — Craig Bratcher 12/8/97

"Yeah- but because of all the spittle spewing out of the orifices in his/her/it's mask, it's hard to tell.I think the gakkers need to be aware that they do need to change masks occasionally to let the spittle dry up lest it spray all over the place...." — Craig Bratcher 12/8/97

"But now they have returned to their own vomit:" — Craig Bratcher 2/14/98

"How cunningly the SGI returns to it's vomit...." — Craig Bratcher 2/23/98

"Jeezus H Christ, dickwad! What the hell do you think this is? Dime a dance? Get your head out of Ikeda's crack for a minute will ya??????" — Craig Bratcher 12/14/97
He has also asked an SGI member in Africa if he was "the leader in the SGI spear chucking club".

He has disguised himself as an SGI member in the Midwest to try to gain access to a controlled mail list.

He has used an SGI member's name, and set up a website — purportedly the member's private website — on which he said the member was "covered with leprous sores."

He has tried to hide a link to his own website in ARBN messages, so that anyone who clicked on the message would be transported to his anti-Gakkai propaganda. (He failed.)

He set up a website called "DIkeda", in which he had President Ikeda writing in pidgin English and asking for money.

He has taken items from SGI members' websites whether or not they had anything to do with religion — and posted it either to ARBN or to one of his own sites. These included copyrighted lyrics to songs on a business website, and a picture of an SGI member's teenage daughters.

Whenever a new SGI member starts posting to ARBN, Bratcher does background checks on them as a means of intimidation. He posted details of the family makeup of one member, scoured phone books and directories for information on another, lifts messages that SGI members post to technical and other unrelated newsgroups — as if to let them know that Mr. Bratcher can find out anything he wants, so they had better be careful.

But far more insidious than those puerile shenanigans are the articles he posts. Anything that can be remotely used for anti-SGI propaganda is fair game for Mr. Bratcher.

In 1996 he posted an article from a magazine called Archipelago, which tried to link the Soka Gakkai to the Tokyo subway gassing. This is the sort of thing Mr. Bratcher loves, so he posted it — even though it contained grave slander against Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha Nichiren Shoshu purports to follow:

This article by veteran investigative reporter Jack Amano discusses the ideology of Final War, the central doctrine of Soka Gakkai, which represents a clear and present danger to Japan and the international community.

The role model of Ikeda Daisaku inspired Asahara to become a sect guru, and he modeled much of Aum's organizational structure after SG's, recruited many SG members, especially in the Kumamoto area, and adopted the Nichiren faith's core apocalyptic tenet — ''saishu senso,'' the Final War.

Though the Aum later used the biblical term Armageddon in their literature (which later came to the great relief of Buddhists, because they could erroneously blame Christianity for the idea), Aum's leaders, including Hideo Murai, referred to the prediction of an imminent apocalypse as saishu senso. In the 13th century, the prophet Nichiren prophesized that the irreversible moral and social decline in the Latter Day of Buddha's Law would be suddenly reversed in a global war. Following the defeat of the materialist powers, he predicted, the Lotus sect Buddhists would establish the Dai-san Bummei, the Third Civilization based on Buddha's teachings. [emphasis added]

There is no "core tenet" in the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin of a "final war" in which his followers would physically vanquish "materialist powers". Nor is there any such "prophecy". Nichiren Daishonin would have been appalled at such a suggestion.
The article stated, as fact, that there is such a tenet; but because it also contained anti-Gakkai propaganda, Bratcher did not hesitate to post it.

He has every piece of such material that is published, maintains it on his websites, and posts it en masse to ARBN. As mentioned earlier, Usenet purges the newsgroup every two weeks; a post does not stay there for more than 14 days. Mr. Bratcher schedules massive postings to ARBN so that there is always a spate of anti-Gakkai headlines there. This is so that anyone who may come across ARBN as a research tool, or as a means to find out about Buddhism, will see that most of what is said about the Gakkai is bad. In addition to the above: 

  • He posts articles about Mr. Ikeda being charged with rape. He does not post the later articles reporting that the charges have been dismissed or found to be false. 
  • He posts an article saying that the Gakkai is suspected of murdering a Tokyo politician. He does not post subsequent reports that the police and insurance companies have found the death to be suicide, or that those making and publishing the charges have been found guilty of libel.
  • He posts articles saying that a Gakkai official stole a vast sum of money found in a safe in a city dump. He does not post subsequent articles reporting that the police have concluded the money was legitimately earned and returned to the official.
And when these problems are pointed out to him, he does not respond (except with some of the epithets listed earlier). No matter how soundly refuted his articles are, they are posted again and again in accordance with the Usenet schedule.

In short: Craig Bratcher is a liar, and he will lie about anything that furthers his job, which is to attack the SGI at every opportunity.

Note that many of the methods used by Craig Bratcher resemble those used by the Myokanko in Japan. Another interesting characteristic of this group is multiple user accounts, in which several people have the password to one email account. One of these accounts ("ipcress"), which based in England, is active on ARBN. Mr. Bratcher is a part of "Ipcress", and he and another temple member have often traded accounts.