At first glance, the glossy magazine with the flashy layout, four-color graphics and celebrity photos bears a striking resemblance to Time or Newsweek.
The resemblance ends there. New Dimensions magazine has attacked "the gay political machine," described homosexuality as an "illness" caused by "trauma-induced conditioning," published photos of aborted fetuses, likened abortion supporters to Nazi propagandists and assailed day care as a "dangerous" system pushed by "radical feminism."
The monthly magazine also has carried an article on "how Pavlovian conditioning is being used to disarm America" and accused the news media of engaging in "hysteria control" by "selectively editing and diluting certain terrifying information" about AIDS.
The magazine is owned by the Foundation of Human Understanding, based in Grants Pass, Ore., and recognized as a church for tax purposes. The foundation is headed by Roy Masters, 62, a radio evangelist and former professional hypnotist who has conducted exorcism rituals in which he touches people in the audience with a gnarled wooden cross.
Masters was editor in chief before being succeeded by his son Mark, 26. Another of his four sons, David, serves as art director.
New Dimensions has been drawing attention in conservative circles since changing its name from the Iconoclast and switching to a glossy format last year. While the magazine is available at only a few Washington newsstands, it has been mailed unsolicited to some Washington organizations and media people in recent months.
Most issues feature a long article by Roy Masters and several pages of advertisements for his books and meditation tapes, with titles such as "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well," "Understanding Sexuality" and "Beyond the Known." Masters, who offers these in an introductory package for $49, says people can "conquer suffering without doctors" by recognizing that "your reactions to everyday experiences are causing a subtle hypnotic influence upon you," according to one ad.
Roy Masters declined to be interviewed, and Mark Masters did not return repeated calls. A New Dimensions staff member, Elizabeth Newton, said the magazine's policy is "absolutely no interviews. ... We just can't give out any information."
The magazine publishes four times as many copies as it sells and provides many of its ads free to conservative groups. Some local residents believe that New Dimensions is subsidized by the foundation's other businesses, such as the Tall Timber Ranch, a 372-acre retreat that features a French-trained chef; and some Masters family businesses, including a real estate firm that advertises million-dollar ranches.
A legal notice in the magazine says that an average of 110,000 copies are published each month but that only 27,646, on average, are sold through newsstands and subscriptions. Another 14,864 are given away free, while 68,015 are leftovers or returned from dealers.
The magazine, with a cover price of $3, is created on desktop computers by an editorial staff of about 15 in a two-story house next to the foundation's church building. With the equipment, two staffers can produce magazine-quality color in just four days for $2,000 a month, according to an industry publication. New Dimensions recently won an Ozzie Award from Magazine Design & Production.
Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.), a conservative whose article on "the gay agenda" was reprinted by the magazine, said, "New Dimensions puts a new twist on what I see as grass-roots sentiment in America and talks about issues that would not be talked about by the Establishment press like The Washington Post or the New York Times or Newsweek or Time."
New Dimensions regularly reprints columns by such prominent conservatives as Paul Craig Roberts, Patrick Buchanan and Kenneth Adelman. Several of these columnists said that their work is purchased through their syndicates and that they know little or nothing about the magazine.
CBS television commentator Andy Rooney recently refused to allow republication of his syndicated column after receiving a complaint from ACT-UP, a gay-rights organization. "As soon as I looked at the magazine, I realized instantly it was no place I wanted my column," Rooney said.
Jeffrey Hart of ACT-UP's Oregon chapter said New Dimensions is "spreading a lot of misinformation and lies." He said it is published by "extreme right-wing fundamentalists" who "have a thing about homosexuality."
The magazine frequently attacks what it calls the "pro-abortion media," including The Washington Post, for liberal bias. One story criticized The Post for failing to give front-page coverage to a rally here by 200,000 abortion opponents last spring.
A cover story called "Hollywood's New Blacklist" says that "you're a potential blacklisting target in Hollywood if you are a political conservative, an outspoken Christian, pro-life or even just swimming against the popular liberal, secular, hedonistic tide." Another article describes the National Organization for Women as "a hard-core lesbian-rights organization."
The November issue faults "self-centered" parents for "massive social abandonment of their children to institutionalized care," despite "abundant evidence of disease, loneliness and even abuse."
Masters, the son of a Jewish diamond cutter, was born in Britain as Reuben Obermeister. He attended synagogue, a Roman Catholic church and a Seventh-Day Adventist school, according to the Grants Pass Courier newspaper. After immigrated to the United States, he opened a hypnotism institute in Houston in the 1950s and, he told the paper, served a 30-day jail term for practicing medicine without a license. Masters formed the Foundation of Human Understanding in Los Angeles in 1961.
More than two decades later, in 1982, he moved the foundation to Grants Pass. About 2,000 supporters followed him to the rural Oregon town of 17,000, where they have clashed repeatedly with local residents.
Masters's sons started a construction company, and the family soon moved into other Oregon businesses. Family members run Prestige Homes Real Estate, Auto House used cars and the Great American Petting Zoo. The foundation operates Tall Timber Ranch and Brighton Academy, a private school. New Dimensions regularly carries ads for these enterprises.
"He is taking over quite a bit of the town," said Rebecca Brown, a Democratic commissioner in surrounding Josephine County and the target of an unsuccessful recall campaign that she says was organized by Masters's followers. "People are quite concerned about it."
Carol Banks, former county Republican chairman, said Masters's followers have made "repeated attempts to take over the party." Last year, they pushed a ballot initiative to declare the county an "AIDS-free zone," with mandatory testing and possible expulsion of those infected with the HIV virus, according to Brown.
In 1988, Masters and several associates -- including his sons and David Kupelian, now New Dimensions' managing editor -- filed a $2 billion lawsuit against Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt (D), the state attorney general, several other officials and the Grants Pass Courier. The suit charged an unlawful conspiracy to deprive the plaintiffs of their rights. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the suit a "rambling, unintelligible harangue," and Masters dropped it last month.
Masters's radio broadcasts, which originate in Los Angeles and are carried on 15 stations nationwide, focus on the need to reduce stress. The same theme is echoed in his New Dimensions articles, such as "Keys to Overcoming Sexual Addiction."
"Given the 'right' conditioning," he says in one piece, "most people could be brainwashed to believe just about anything." In another, he writes: "Your mind could be altered by the 'terrorism' effect of your own child."
In an article called "Anatomy of a Liberal," Masters asks: "How does an intelligent, well-educated person come to passionately believe that unborn babies are not human, that homosexuality is normal and that self-defense is dangerous? ... Through a traumatic conditioning process well known to terrorists and mind-control experts."
The article features a cover photo of Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), although she is not mentioned in the story.
Steve Hassan, a Boston-based counselor and author of a book on cults, calls Masters "a cult leader" who sways disciples through hypnosis and meditation. He says Masters has staged "phony exorcisms" in which "he would hypnotize people into believing there were demons inside of them, and they would drool and grumble and he would force the demons out."
In a 1984 interview with Us magazine, Masters said: "I am a man without sin. ... I bring out the evil, alien force that controls people." He has jokingly called some of his more passionate followers "Roybots."
Writer John Lofton, a former editor of Conservative Digest, said Masters is a "false prophet" and "theological fraud," and he criticized Christians who embrace the magazine. But some Christian activists disagree. Russell Murphree, editor of the American Family Association Journal, which is associated with the Rev. Donald Wildmon, praised the magazine's "conservative perspective" and said he considers Masters's conduct "a separate issue."
An average 90-page issue is filled with color ads. Rebecca Hagelin, former spokeswoman for Concerned Women of America, an organization that opposes abortion, said the group was given a free ad in exchange for an article she wrote. L. Brent Bozell, publisher of Media Watch, a conservative Alexandria newsletter, said his group received an ad in exchange for allowing its research to be republished.
A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, which bought one full-page ad in an issue on gun control last year, said the NRA was unaware that the magazine had run the same ad without charge in eight subsequent issues.