How a New Age Church Connected with Charles Manson Became a No-Kill Animal Sanctuary that Took in Michael Vic’s Dogs (And the Dogs Went on Ellen)

The title says it all, but here’s the story:

The beginning is a little muddy, as are many things on the titillating periphery of Charles Manson’s legendary days of carnage. Manson drifted through a number of groups, musical and religious, picking up bits and pieces to make the ultimate tableau that can connect The Beach Boys to Scientology while ping ponging off dozens of other acid era Californian cultural touchstones. So the story goes, one of these influences was a sinister cult going by the name of Process Church of the Final Judgement. The group was awash with rumors of satanic worship, conspiracy connections, and dark deeds. The reality, it seems, is a lot more like a theater geek and a theology major having a green week than the summoning of Black Phillip. Founded by ex-Scientologists themselves with a habit of folding old beliefs into new ones, the Process Church went through a variety of incarnations and locations. Starting in England, they got fed up with ol’ father Hubbard and pilgrim-like moved on to Mexico City where they rolled up some local historical religious flavor until they were washed out by a hurricane. Still going strong they started up chapters, and a coffee shop called Satan’s Cavern, around the world including one in San Francisco. Here the supposed Manson connection was made, standing out among rumors of satanic worship and the ritual murder of German shepherds. This peaked when Manson was asked by police if he knew the church’s founder, Robert De Grimston Moore (a suitable name for a warlock of sorts), and Manson responded “You’re looking at him. Moore and I are one and the same”. The church responded by lawyering up and claiming no connection but also, perhaps grasping at publicity, published an essay Manson had written in prison in the Death edition of their self published magazine (also called The Process).

That pretty much sums up Manson’s involvement, but the Process Church kept rolling. In it’s established style of never quite putting something down before picking the next thing up, it continued to evolve through an unbroken lineage of altered forms until it finially metamorphosed into an animal rescue refuge in Kanab, Utah. Kind of like a band that’s ended its experimental phase and settled into some comfortable pop, the Process Church made its final rebrand to the Best Friends Animal Society. It stripped itself of any signs of religious past and, save for rumors of the late founder having been eaten by wild dogs, contentedly helped animals in relative obscurity.

In 2007, Best Friends Animal Society rescued a number of dogs that had been used in an underground dogfighting ring run by at the time NFL quarterback Michael Vick. The dogs, who had originally been expected to be euthanized due to their aggression training, instead became “Vicktory Dogs”; icons for the rehabilitation of dogs who had undergone the inhumane process of fight training. Forget convincing misguided people that pet pitbulls are harmless, these dogs managed to go from bloodsport to The Ellen Degeneres Show. Unfortunately I can’t find a clip of that, but here’s big sweetie Georgia doing well in a video about her rehabilitation.

So there’s your six degrees of uh… Manson Ellen? It’s a long ride, and if you’re interested at all in the history of the Process Church or the story of the Vicktory dogs there’s a whole lot more to dig into as well as two respective documentaries. Here’s the documentaries and all the relevant links I pulled from.

The Vicktory Dogs doc

The Process Church Doc (looks like a fun one that gets into how goofy the church actually was)

A great and detailed history of the church

A timeline of the church

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