AN OPEN LETTER TO MORGAN JAMES PUBLISHING, regarding the release of “The Business of Redemption: The Price of Leadership in Both Life and Business” by James Arthur Ray

SEEK Safely is deeply disappointed that Morgan James Publishing has decided to enable James Arthur Ray to reach a wider audience and promote his life coaching business by publishing his new book, “The Business of Redemption.” 

This book, which is available for order this week, significantly distorts and exploits the events surrounding the deaths of Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman, James Shore in 2009.

Kirby, Liz, and James Shore had been attending an intensive personal development retreat designed and led by James Arthur Ray in October 2009. The culminating experience of this retreat was a faux Native American “sweat lodge”— which James Arthur Ray was not trained or qualified to lead. 

Prior to the event, James Arthur Ray proudly and openly touted his “sweat lodge” as hotter and longer than authentic Native American sweat lodges. But he assured his participants that, although they would feel like they were going to die, they would not, and it was safe for them to remain inside the lodge until its conclusion. 

Three of them did die. 

James’s role in the deaths of Kirby, James Shore, and Liz–and the injuries and trauma experienced by multiple other participants in that event–goes beyond having been present when an “accident” occurred. 

Also contributing to the events and their aftermath was James having packed the sweat lodge beyond its intended capacity; having altered the design and duration of the traditional sweat lodge ceremony to make it hotter and longer; and James’s admitted behavior of encouraging participants to stay inside the lodge even though they had reached their physical limit.

After the ceremony had concluded, James left the area, oblivious that multiple of his clients were seriously ill and/or not breathing. 

When he was informed that the police had arrived, that several of his clients had died, and that the event was being investigated as a homicide, he contacted an attorney and left the scene so as to avoid being arrested (he himself admits this). 

This is the man who is now promoting a book on “leadership” and “crisis management.”

James served a year and a half in prison for the role he played in killing three people– and now he is literally looking to profit from it.  

It is hurtful and disrespectful to the families of Kirby, James, and Liz, that Morgan James Publishing has decided to publish and promote James’s book.

In “The Business of Redemption,” James frames his experience in being convinced of negligent homicide and serving less than two years in prison as something that happened “to” him. 

James has repeatedly described the tragedy in Sedona as something that cost HIM his liberty and his business empire.  

James is trying effortfully to frame the experience of rebuilding his coaching business as a “comeback” story, describing how difficult the entire ordeal was for HIM, and how the tragedy of Sedona “had to happen” in order for HIM to “grow” as a person and as a teacher. 

This is a sickeningly narcissistic take on a situation that saw James very briefly lose his liberty and some cachet in the self-help industry (although he is, as of February 2020, back to promoting seminars for which admission costs between $500 and $13,000…) but which cost the families of Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman, and James Shore much more than money or career opportunities. 

SEEK Safely is an organization founded by the family of Kirby Brown to promote ethics and accountability in the self-help field. Part of that mission involves identifying those who enable James Arthur Ray to use the traumatic, painful events of Sedona to try to sell books and promote seminars. 

Right now, that enabling entity is Morgan James Publishing. 

We respectfully invite Morgan James to reconsider partnering with James Arthur Ray. 

This is not a matter of James Arthur Ray having “served his time” and “paid his price” for the crime of which he was found guilty. 

This is about whether someone with James Arthur Ray’s history of exploitation and dishonesty (even before Sedona, James routinely lied about his life experiences and qualifications in order to make his events more marketable) should be allowed back into the self-help space at this time, in this way: peddling a “comeback” story in which he casts himself as the conquering hero who was unjustly held responsible for what he seems to think was a freak accident. 

We strongly urge Morgan James Publishing, its authors, and its customers, to consider whether they want to be part of James Arthur Ray exploiting and disrespecting the survivors of the Sedona tragedy in this way. 

James Arthur Ray would desperately like to regain his fame and fortune as a self-help provider, and he needs to spin the story of Sedona as a “trial by fire” and a “comeback” narrative in order to do it. 

On behalf of Kirby Brown’s family, Liz Neuman’s family, and James Shore’s family, SEEK Safely strongly advises Morgan James not to participate in James Arthur Ray’s deceptive, gratuitous, hollow attempt at “redemption.”

Written by Dr. Glenn Doyle, Psy. D., Board Member of SEEK Safely, Inc.

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