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False Christ


The writer and activist Raj Patel has been the victim of what he calls 'clearly a case of mistaken identity'.

The story starts with the Scottish New Age mystic Benjamin Creme, who leads the Share International church. Creme's main teaching is the imminent coming of Maitreya, a messiah figure to fulfil all religions.

Maitreya, we are told, was born in Asia and came to London. Concealing his identity he is politically engaged, and works for justice and the environment.

He has a slight speech impediment. He will reveal his identity on television.
In January, Raj Patel appeared (in the usual sense of the word) on the US chat show The Colbert  Report, talking about his work and life. Followers of Creme watched and realised that Patel was - after the usual prophetic allowances had been made - the perfect fit. Maitreya had come.

So Patel found himself engulfed in an ever rising flood of emails asking him if he was Maitreya and telling him to keep up the good work.

The surprised Patel put a statement on his website saying he was just an ordinary bloke, and that people didn't need a messiah, just to work together for good. And of course the response from delighted Maitreya enthusiasts is that that is exactly what Maitreya is supposed to say.