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What does it mean for a superstar’s career when shilling for a charity during a concert generates as much controversy as wearing a crown of thorns and strapping yourself to a wooden cross during a concert?

No stranger to controversy, Madonna is once again raising eyebrows, but not for her usual on-stage antics. MSNBC.com’s Scoop reports that the Kabbalah-crazed Material Girl is raising eyebrows with her promotion of “Raising Malawi,” a group that is helping orphans in the AIDS-ravaged nation and is connected to the Kabbalah Centre, with many prominent Kabblaists on the board. Founded by the Kabbalah Centre’s Rabbi Berg, the charity, according to its website, provides these children with food, medical care, clean drinking water, and pychosocial care. Additionally, the program parters with local agencies to improve sustainability in agriculture, medicine and education … a la the Peace Corps.

So far, so good.

It seems that things start to get controversial when it comes to “empowering” the children. “Raising Malawi” is currently working with local teachers on a curriculum that integrates the principles of the Kabbalah Center’s “Spirituality for Kids” Program, which the site calls “a non-religious, unique educational program,” but critics disagree.

Call it indoctrination, but, like it or not, charities with a “missionary” statement are nothing new. And while proselytization paranoia is rife in this age of ecumenism, the charity is never officially connected to Kabbalah on its website, raising many suspicions. According to the group’s website, “SFK is a unique educational program for children and families from at-risk communities that teaches them how to overcome the challenges of poverty, violence, drug abuse, and a host of other social ills.”

According to Scoop, Madonna once said, “It gives children the tools to deal with life’s challenges. My daughter is learning about her ego and how to control it. Who’d have thought a child could learn that?” Kind of ironic since Madge got where she is today thanks to her own ego.

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