Popular Food Truck Accused of Luring Women Into a 'Cult' – The Daily Beast

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In July, the owners of Bad Rooster—a wildly popular Minnesota food truck known for its decadent sandwiches and tattoo-style logo of a surly bird—solemnly stood before their vehicle and recorded a Facebook video defending themselves. “This food truck has been nothing but an award-winning food truck,” fumed Soulaire Allerai.

“We serve the best chicken in, I guess I feel, in the state,” added the 65-year-old proprietress known as the kitchen’s “chief mother clucker” and who is also a “life strategist,” podcaster, and lead minister of Living Faith Spiritual Community in Minnetonka. “I’m tired of people being attacked because you think you have some purpose in life, or not, I don’t know.”

The poultry-slingers told viewers they’d lost revenue due to “malicious and personal” rebukes on social media, accusations they said were unrelated to the chicken joint but which they didn’t detail in the video. “We are asking for support, because we cannot survive this defamation without your support,” the truck’s head chef, Soulmar Allerai, chimed in.

But, according to critics who’ve recently come forward, Bad Rooster is more than a friendly purveyor of wing baskets and waffle fries; they say it’s a financing arm for a New Age “cult.”

Sisters Kelly Abedi and Angela Hummelgard took to Facebook this summer to warn customers that Soulaire, the public face of the company, runs a spiritual group called Soulful Journey that they claim rips members from their families, inspires them to legally change their names, and convinces them that Soulaire can channel God and beings from other dimensions.

The siblings recently told Fox9 that they’ve lost contact with their mother Mary Ring, 70, since she joined Soulful Journey in 2007. They say Ring, who now goes by Cianna LaJoie, divorced her husband and eventually cut ties with her family within a year of becoming a member.

Now they’re facing a defamation suit from Soulaire and Bad Rooster that seeks $200,000 in damages and an injunction barring the sisters from “making false and defamatory statements” about the food truck and “conspiring with others to do so.”

It was a weird phrase that she kept repeating. It was almost scripted.

“This is not a random attack on an inoccent [sic] business as she claims,” Abedi wrote in a Facebook post. “This has been our families heartbreaking journey over the course of nearly 15 years. Our goal remains to inform the public of the group behind the truck so they can make informed choices about where they spend their money.”

For her part, Soulaire has denied claims by Abedi and estranged relatives of other Soulful Journey members, who also spoke to the local TV station last week.

The mystical personality posted a statement on Bad Rooster’s Facebook page calling the accusations “patently false” and “solely designed to harm me and Bad Rooster because of the success and goodwill we have earned.” She said her detractors are “trying to find a scapegoat for their own problems.”

In a statement to The Daily Beast, a Bad Rooster spokesperson said the sisters must be held accountable for the reputational and financial damage they’ve caused.

“​​Soulaire Allerai is not a cult leader, and she does not brainwash people,” said Stacy Bettison. “She teaches people to develop healthy relationships and hopes these families can form meaningful and lasting bonds with each other. The people who take classes from Soulaire Allerai decide whether to talk to their families or not. Their decisions have nothing to do with Soulaire or the services she provides.”

The defamation suit alleges that Abedi waged an online campaign that discouraged local breweries and food truck festivals from hosting Bad Rooster. The complaint also claims that the food truck makes up to $9,000 each day it’s open. “Businesses that had planned to host Bad Rooster canceled under pressure from the incessant flood of unwanted messages and phone calls from Abedi and her associates,” the filing states.

Abedi and Hummelgard couldn’t be reached for comment.

But their account of losing their mother has encouraged other former members of Soulaire’s organization and relatives of current adherents to share their stories.

I now know that I am a servant to ‘G’ and that I am here to do his will.

John Goepel, of Maryland, told The Daily Beast that his older sister stopped contact with her family after moving to Minnesota to join the Soulful Journey clan.

“I’m completely torn and it has wrecked me emotionally trying to justify that my sister has every right in the world to do this,” said Goepel, a 34-year-old dad. “I’m trying not to be a judgy asshole, and love her unconditionally. This was the time to finally have a chance to say how I feel and tell our small part of the story. I’m torn about it. It’s painful.”

While Goepel believes Soulful Journey is a “cult,” he doesn’t see it as particularly dangerous. “I see them as doing good for their community,” he said. “If you want to eat and spit out nonsense, that’s your right. But there are other people who are impacted by these choices.”

Goepel said his sister had a full-ride scholarship for a doctorate program in art therapy almost 10 years ago, but ditched her educational plans to join Soulaire’s community. “I’m going to go after what I desire, and this school is not what I desire,” Goepel remembers her saying.

“That word is hard for me now,” Goepel said. “That’s really what she kept focusing on was ‘doing what she desires.’ It was a weird phrase that she kept repeating. It was almost scripted.”

When Goepel’s sister met Soulaire, the speaker went by the name Lynn Young and traveled across the country to host seminars where she channeled spirits.

At the time, Goepel says, his sibling was vulnerable and struggling with addiction. “My parents gave her an ultimatum: Go to rehab or we’re cutting you off,” Goepel added. “She kind of found the spiritual group and turned her life around.”

He said she went from college party girl to introspective artist and invited her parents to attend one of Young’s workshops, wherein Young embodied different entities and while doing so changed her mannerisms and accents. “They said it was an interesting experience,” Goepel said of his parents’ visit to Young’s seminar. “But they chose to never go again.”

After getting involved with Young’s teachings, the sister appeared to have a clairvoyance and calm wash over her. She left for Minnesota, and Goepel says their parents supported her and wished her well. “We’ll be here if you need us,” Goepel recalls his family telling her. “We’d love to see you for Christmas.” She never returned home.

In 2005, new age magazine The Edge reported that in 1993, Young “became a vehicle through whom a spirit being called ‘G’ began to impart important wisdom about living in this material world to all people who would listen.”

“He is very loving, in fact he’s very enduring,” Young said of the spirit. “It’s amazing to watch how everyone is transformed by him. I look at people and they’re not the same people that I knew. You watch their lives change from the experience.

“I now know that I am a servant to ‘G’ and that I am here to do his will. Whatever it is he needs, I will be the vessel or the vehicle by which it comes.”

It’s unclear when Young changed her name to Soulaire Allerai, but Soulful Journey’s website sells her book called Being. On the web page for the publication, the author signs off on a message to readers using the name “Soulaire (Lynn Young).”

The alleged medium did more than channel “G.”

One former member, Fai West, told Fox9 that Soulaire taught followers that they had identities in a parallel dimension called “The 99.” According to West, who lived with the group as a teenager, Soulaire told her that she was her daughter in that alternate reality.

Meanwhile, a woman named Raila told the outlet that Soulaire claimed Raila’s children belonged to someone else in “The 99.” Raila told Fox9: “I realized I had to get out when I felt like I would rather die than stay.”

Goepel said that his sister once told him that during one of Young’s channeling sessions, she became Jesus and spoke to the sibling about how Christianity was misunderstood.

Like other members of Soulful Journey, the sister legally changed her name and hasn’t seen her family in years. The only contact Goepel has had with his sibling is through sporadic and concise text messages. “I have had very low-level contact, once or twice a year sending a message or pictures of my kids, trying to engage her,” he said.

Goepel learned his sister is working for the food truck herself and is in a relationship with Bad Rooster’s chef, who told the Star Tribune that he legally changed his name to match Soulaire’s. Goepel doesn’t know much else. He doesn’t even have an address for his sibling.

“It’s been a difficult thing to experience,” he added. “We were very, very close. To have my best friend gutted from me is pretty painful and to see her living this alternate life with a new name and a new family, it makes us wonder: What did we do wrong?”

“As much as I want my sister back, I’m also happy that she’s living her destiny. I’ve had to accept that and I’ve had to grieve her while still living. It’s a very awkward dichotomy.”

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