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Beware of Monastery Icons

Updated 6/9/2014:

In April of 2012 the Sacred Arts Foundation was reinstated in MO with a home address of… Cedar Crest, NM. Cedar Crest is where the Ashram moved 2007. The secretary is still John Weber who has been associated with the organization for many years back.

Updated 11/21/2009:

Someone commented below that the website for the Sacred Art Foundation is sacredartsfoundation.org, not sacredartsfoundation.com. The contact information for the group is in Missouri so I did a search for the Foundation on the MO Secretary of State website. The Foundation was dissolved in 2007. So where did they go? My guess is Cedar Crest, NM.

Several weeks ago I called Monastery Icons and asked for contact information for the Sacred Arts Foundation. They were unable to provide it so I sent a request through their website. I’m still waiting for a reply.

Updated 9/23:

We have had a visitor say that he called the Sacred Arts Foundation website owners and that they denied any connection with Monastery Icons. The strange thing is that the website doesn’t provide any phone contact information, Monastery Icons won’t provide contact information and both Sacred Arts Foundations, if separate entities, are located within two miles of each other in New Mexico.

While trying to prove concretely that sacredartsfoundation.com is the website of the Sacred Arts Foundation that owns Monastery Icons, we ran across another interesting connection that directly ties the Sacred Arts Foundation in New Mexico (but not the website) to Monastery Icons.

When you do a Google maps search for Monastery Icons you get an address of 88 Snowline Rd, Cedar Crest, NM. This address is the same address as used by the Registered Agent, John Weber to register the Sacred Arts Foundation in New Mexico. Google maps also provides the phone number (505) 281-2555‎ which when called, goes to a Monastery Icon answering machine.

Original Post

Bear with me, this post is going to get a little convoluted.

I am sure that you are familiar with the work of Monastery Icons. They make the western / eastern looking “icons” of saints. They have been popular because they give a Byzantine flavor to a lot of western saints that have never been written in a real icon.

Back in the 70′s an “Abbot Bishop” George Burke showed up in Oklahoma City and founded a Hindu community. That community became “Christian” and changed its name to “Holy Protection Old Catholic Benedictine Monastery of the Primitive Observance.” In the early 80′s the community “converted” to Orthodoxy and changed its name to Holy Protection Orthodox Monastery. A few years later they decided they were really Coptic Christians. Eventually they left Oklahoma, moved to Nebraska and then to California where they formed the Light of Christ Monastery at 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs, CA.  Light of Christ Monastery is the original organization behind Monastery Icons. (source)

On the Monastery Icons website you will find the following information:

Sacred Arts Foundation is a non-profit foundation created to strengthen faith and encourage Christian devotion in churches, schools, and individuals through a ministry of traditional Christian art. As the contemporary iconographer Photios Kontoglou expressed so well, “Icons raise the soul and mind to the realm of the spirit.” Our foundation is a cooperative effort of artisans and craftsmen throughout the United States and the world who strive to make our Monastery Icons products the highest quality available.

The Sacred Arts Foundation acquired Monastery Icons in 2004. This wouldn’t seem very odd except that the Sacred Arts Foundation had  the exact same California address as the Light of Christ Monastery, Monastery Icons and as you will see below, the Atma Jyoti Ashram.

If you look at the address on the Monastery Icons catalog you will find an Ohio address. This is the distribution center that handles fulfillment for their “icons.” Doing a search of the Ohio Secretary of State website shows that Monastery Icons is actually the Sacred Arts Foundation, a foreign (out-of-state) non-profit located at 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs, CA. The Sacred Arts Foundation was dissolved in Ohio in August of 2008 for failing to update their records.

The Sacred Arts Foundation filed its 2007 annual registration report in Missouri with a primary business address of 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs, CA. The contact email at the bottom of the form is someone at Monastery Icons. The Sacred Arts Foundation was dissolved by the State of Missouri in December of 2008 for failing to file a current registration.

The California address at that time in 2007 was also the home to the Atma Jyoti Ashram, “a spiritual institution devoted to the practice and teaching of Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion, as found in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the Sankhya Karika.”

The same California address is also listed as the mailing address for Monastery Icons back in 1999.

Sometime between August and September of 2007 the Ashram moved to  PO Box 1370 Cedar Crest, NM.  If you look at the Q&A on the new Ashram site, the Swami bears a striking resemblance to Abbot George, the founder of the Hindu community and the Light of Christ Monastery back at the beginning of this post.

Remember the dissolved Sacred Arts Foundation from Missouri and Ohio? It pops up again in New Mexico, registered with the Secretary of State as a Missouri Non-Profit doing business in New Mexico at – wait for it – PO Box 1370 Cedar Crest, NM.

You can also see that the Sacred Arts Foundation is listed as a Corporation in California at the 1482 Rango Way, Borrego Springs address with a headquarters in Missouri. This record is current as of 9/2009. The question should be asked, how is it that a corporation can be listed both in California and New Mexico with a headquarters in Missouri when the corporation in Missouri was dissolved in 2008 for failure to file updated records?

The following paragraph may link to another Sacred Arts Foundation within two miles of the Sacred Arts Foundation that owns Monastery Icons. We have tried to verify this information with Monastery Icons through email and phone calls and never received a reply.

A quick perusal of the Sacred Arts Foundation website (the website is registered in the town of Tijeras, two miles from Cedar Crest) reveals:

  • Workshops in “Transformational Movement”, Feng Shui, Yoga and Art of Aware Communication
  • Tutorials on Astrology, Tarot and Feng Shui

It is clear both from the origins of Monastery Icons, its tangled web of corporate arrangements and its ongoing ownership by a completely anti-Christian new-age group that no Christian organization should be giving any financial support to this company by buying its art.

Much of the material for this post was mined from the Byzantine Forum.

If you are interested in purchasing icons from good sources (apart from the icons our site), here are some alternatives:

St. Isaac Skete www.skete.com

Conception Abbey www.printeryhouse.org

Lumen Mundi www.lumenmundi.com

Alexandra International www.alexandraint.net

At Aquinas and More we are committed to educating our customers not only about the treasures that are offered by our suppliers but also about items that we don’t carry and the reasons why.

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