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OUR RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF MIND CONTROL AND BRAINWASHING
Issued by World Services on the Collective Behalf of the Fellowship of Independent Missionary Communities Commonly Referred to as The Family
Issued March 1993
Copyright (c) 1993 by World Services, Zurich, Switzerland
ALL MEMBERS of The Family are free moral agents, able to make and abide by their own decisions, and free to leave our communities at any time they so desire. No member is in any way coerced or hindered from leaving our fellowship at any time if they wish to depart. Nor are they forced to accept beliefs or practices against their own will. They are in fact encouraged to make their own choices and to think for themselves, according to the Scriptural injunction, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5).
The Family categorically denies all accusations, allegations and insinuations which suggest that our membership are not free-willed and mentally responsible individuals. We reject, as does much of the scientific community, the attempts by anti-cult advocates to foist fanciful and mythical "robot" brainwashing theories on the public. In the absence of any empirical evidence, the anti-cultists claim that people can be made to change their beliefs almost instantly and involuntarily without any use of force or restraint, and can then be held mental prisoners in zombie-like submission through some sinister unseen controlling influence. Such sweeping allegations are irrational, even bordering on paranoia, and insult common sense. They are certainly not an evenhanded or scientific treatment of religious conversions, social influence and attitude changes.
Ever since the early 1970s, many of our detractors have attempted to use such allegations to malign our Christian fellowship. Thankfully, accusations of this nature have seldom been taken seriously by the authorities. Most observers have accurately concluded that these charges were unfounded, and were promulgated by individuals who were prejudiced against us, or who had some vested interest in persecuting us. For this reason, we have never felt that it was necessary to formally refute such allegations.
However, over the last few years there have been an increasing number of cruel attacks on sincere people in all faiths and religions, brushing off their dedication and idealism as an apparent symptom of "brainwashing" or mental or spiritual coercion. The notion that religious leaders of all religions, not just New Religious Movements (NRMs), are controlling the minds of their members is being so popularised and dramatised in the media that the public is now confused and has become concerned about this issue.
What we are witnessing in these unfounded attacks is the creation of a new demonology. In place of the witches of Salem capturing the minds and souls of the young and vulnerable, it is now "sinister and pernicious international pseudo-religious organisations" that stalk the world seeking to lure new recruits by stealth and deception into a life of irreversible mental slavery. Their techniques are portrayed as being so effective that even their members are not aware of what has happened to them. So subtle, it is claimed, are the mind control processes that a new breed of "expert" is required to see through the apparent normality of a church or NRM member. These "experts" are not put off by the absence of empirical evidence of mental dysfunction, but rather diagnose someone as "brainwashed" simply on the basis of their membership in certain groups. By some undefinable gift of insight, these psychiatrists or counsellors or deprogrammers are supposedly able to perceive whether a group member is free or mentally controlled.
Anti-cult religionists and anti-religious organisations, particularly in the USA, cultivate and sponsor "experts" in mind control for the purpose of attacking the membership of various churches and religious organisations. These "experts" help them cloak religious bigotry under a wrap of scientific and medical-sounding terms to gain respectability for their unscientific deeds and claims. Organisations that are opposed to freedom of religion, freedom of membership, or freedom of association are collectively referred to as the anti-cult movement (ACM) or anti-cult network (ACN).
Some "experts" are now so brazen with their "robot" mind control theories that they have actually attempted to pass them off in courts of law as established scientific facts rather than as their own unprovable pet theories, all the while trying to ride on the fact that they have set themselves up as "authorities" on the subject. However, just being an "authority" does not make what you say any more true or scientifically factual. If that were so, then the courts would soon be filled with "authorities" on all sorts of scientifically unprovable matters. Well-respected astrologers would soon be offering their "expert" opinions on why someone committed homicide by blaming it on the configuration of the planets and stars.1
The Family resolutely denies that as a group or as individuals we insidiously control the thoughts and actions of our members. We are repulsed by ludicrous claims that attempt to depict our adherents as being so "mind controlled" that they are like some kind of mindless zombies in a B-grade horror film, stripped of all personal values or decision-making capabilities, and no longer in control of their own actions. That is not scientific theory, that is religious bigotry and hate!
We contend that theories of robotic brainwashing and mind control, as popularised by our persecutors, are an unfounded myth with no basis in sound scientific or medical fact. Furthermore, we maintain that this myth of robotic mind control is being promoted for blatantly ulterior motives by a vocal minority consisting of ACM activists.
Many fair-minded academics, theologians, sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists have actively disavowed and debunked these false theories and ill-founded allegations, and are presently trying to properly inform the public. The remainder of this paper will be largely devoted to presenting some of their most relevant findings.
A. Where Did the Myth of Mind Control and Brainwashing Begin?
"BRAINWASHING" is a term that supposedly describes an historically defined event, that is the process of indoctrination that is said to have occurred to some American prisoners of war during the Korean War (1950-1953). It is a term coined by journalist Edward Hunter (1953) to describe "thought reform" programs and methods developed by the Chinese Communists after taking control of China in 1949. The Communist Chinese hoped to influence their own people and some prisoners of war enough to cause them to change their beliefs and accept as true, beliefs they previously had considered false. Their methodology included starvation, deprivation of sleep and isolation of victims alone in a prison cell or a small room for long periods of time where they feared for their lives. They were told repeatedly and harshly that their political, religious, or social beliefs were wrong while shown the advantages of complying with their captors' position.
Dr Lee Coleman, a practising psychiatrist in Berkeley, California, with a long-standing interest in the problems of psychiatry and law as applied to NRMs, has written dozens of articles in professional and lay journals. He is a very outspoken critic of the robotic mind control myth and explains that out of "the embellishments of cold-war propaganda that sought to gain support for what was an unpopular war [the Korean War], came the idea that the Red Chinese had developed a method of `mind control'." The idea that scared so many people, he adds, was that "a zombie could be created, one that acted like he was in control of his own thoughts and feelings, but whose mind was in fact under someone else's control. It is this zombie that anti-cultists and vocal psychiatrists so vehemently claim the cults are fashioning" (Coleman 1982: 15).
Interestingly enough, lasting conversions supposedly brought about through "brainwashing" did not occur even in Chinese and Korean prisoner of war camps, where attempts were made at "thought reform" of American prisoners. Early research into brainwashing, though done a few years after the events and involving a rather limited sampling, pointed away from the possibility of brainwashing happening in the absence of extreme physical coercion. Certainly no modern-day version of "brainwashing" without the use of prisons or torture has been scientifically documented.2
Psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton (1961) prepared a study on "thought reform" following the Korean War. He interviewed 25 Western political prisoners who had been arrested and detained by the Chinese authorities and put through up to a 3-1/2-year period of ideological remoulding (szu-hsiang kai-tsao) which employed techniques of torture, ill treatment and prolonged incarceration.3 He also interviewed 15 former students of Chinese "revolutionary" universities. Similarly Edgar Schein (1961), for his study on coercive persuasion, interviewed 15 of the more "notable" American POWs from the Korean War.4 Neither Lifton nor Schein found scientifically useful the sensationalistic model of robotic brainwashed mind-controlled zombies, as popularised by journalist Edward Hunter in his book Brainwashing in Red China (1951). (See Schein 1961: 18.)
Robert Lifton and Edgar Schein did use the term "brainwashing" in the titles of their books Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism -- A Study of Brainwashing in China (Lifton 1961), and Coercive Persuasion: A Socio-Psychological Analysis of Brainwashing of American Civilian Prisoners by the Chinese Communists (Schein 1961). However, both authors not only repudiated in their text the use of the term "brainwashing" but in effect disallowed the substance of present-day "robot theories" of brainwashing aimed at denigrating certain church memberships, especially in New Religious Movements (NRMs).5 Lifton concluded, "From the standpoint of winning them over to a Communist view of the world, the program must certainly be judged a failure" (Lifton 1961: 274).
Contrary to movie industry versions of mind control as portrayed in the motion picture "The Manchurian Candidate", the facts do not support the fantasy. The 50 out of 3,500 American prisoners who seemed to convert or collaborate at the time (Scheflin and Opton 1978: 89) simply did so for expediency. If any real conversion did take place, it was no more real than could be expected from having such close communication with the Communists, and not because of brainwashing and Pavlovian techniques capable of suborning free will and judgement.
The Amicus Curiae Brief6 of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (29 Feb. 1988) says:
True conversion to Communism did not occur in either Korean POW situations, or in the Chinese incarcerations of Westerners on the mainland.7 What sensation-seeking journalists had interpreted as conversion turned out upon closer scrutiny to be simply coerced behavioral collaboration accompanied by little, if any, internal attitude change towards Communism. (Amicus Brief 1988: 11,12.)
Schein (1958: 332) in The Chinese Indoctrination Program for Prisoners of War: A Study of Attempted "Brainwashing", concludes that "Although collaboration was prevalent, genuine conversion was rare. `[C]onsidering the effort devoted to it,' Schein concluded, `the Chinese program was a failure.'" (Schein 1958: 332.)
The "brainwashing" excuse was not "considered adequate defense in the trial of the American POWs who were court-martialled for collaborating with the enemy. In those trials, communist indoctrination processes were considered to have produced no distinctive induced loss of capacity, and therefore could not constitute a legal defense" (Amicus Brief 1988: 22).
Another famous case involved Patty Hearst, the daughter of a wealthy California newspaper publisher. She was kidnapped 4 Feb. 1974, and after two months "converted" to active involvement and collaboration in the criminal life of her captors, an urban rebel group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). She helped rob a bank on 15 April 1974. She was arrested by the FBI on 18 Sept. 1975, and was tried for robbery in 1976. At her trial, she tried to explain away her participation in their criminal behaviour by implying she had been brainwashed and was therefore not accountable for that period of her life. She testified that the SLA had threatened to kill her if she did not join the group. The "jury rejected the implied brainwashing defense" and she was sentenced to seven years in prison.8
It is important to note that life in The Family bears absolutely no resemblance to what Patty Hearst experienced. No one is incarcerated or forced to act contrary to their conscience, nor physically threatened if they choose to leave. Patty Hearst's behaviour did seem to temporarily change under extreme coercion, imprisonment and fear for her life. Still, even under such extreme circumstances it was ruled that she was not brainwashed but fully accountable for her own decisions and actions.
The Amicus Brief (1988: 19) brings out that Lifton (1961) and Schein (1961) concluded that "coercive persuasion in a strong and unequivocal sense cannot be distinguished from mainstream religions and other conventional social influences by any criterion other than the presence of incarceration and physical maltreatment" (Amicus Brief 1988: 19,21). In other words, if someone is free to leave a group and is not physically coerced into submission, then the conditions are not distinguishable from mainstream life and therefore cannot be classed as brainwashing.
Schein and Lifton also acknowledged that coercion takes place in many everyday situations, which people enter into or leave voluntarily, and that just because someone is coerced in a given situation, that in itself is no indication that it is a bad situation to be in. There is, for example, a high degree of coercion present in the military, college fraternities, Catholic Orders, self-help organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, psychoanalytical training institutions, mental hospitals, and even some childrearing practices, but that does not imply that those situations are bad. (Schein 1961: 202, 260-277, 281, 282; Lifton 1961: 141, 435, 436, 451.)
Attempts by the ACM to capitalise on "brainwashing" have received a cool reception in the more scientific and level-headed sections of the academic community. A unanimously approved resolution passed by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (U.S.A.) at its council meeting on the 7th of November 1990, reaffirmed the unscientific status of mind control theories, stating:
In response to problems in legal and scientific contexts, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion has been asked to address the issue of our scientific community's evaluation of processes, variously described as brainwashing, mind control, thought reform and coercive persuasion, which have sometimes been applied to participation in new religious groups. Rather than continue to respond to these debates on a case-by-case basis, the SSSR makes the following resolution:
This association considers that there is insufficient research to permit informed, responsible scholars to reach a consensus on the nature and effects of nonphysical coercion and control. It further asserts that one should not automatically equate the techniques involved in the process of physical coercion and control with those of nonphysical coercion and control. In addition to critical review of existing knowledge, further appropriately designed research is necessary to enable scholarly consensus about this issue. (SSSR Resolution 7 Nov. 1990.)
ACM proponents trying to put a new spin on a questionable theory to begin with could not delineate how this mythical, magical control over youths, some who were well-educated, well-adjusted or well-to-do, was achieved or maintained in the total absence of racks and thumbscrews. (Bromley and Hammond 1987: 221-224.)
However, where "incentives" are lucrative enough, it seems collaborators can be found not only in POW camps but in any segment of society. The ACM have found a handful of "experts" willing to try to dress the illegitimate theory of brainwashing in new pseudo-scientific clothes.
An American Psychological Association Task Force on "Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control" (DIMPAC) under the chairmanship of Margaret Singer and which included Harold Goldstein, Michael D. Langone, Jesse S. Miller, Morris K. Temerlin and Louis Jolyon West produced a report which condemned cults and mental development groups for what they considered to be the use of brainwashing. They submitted their report to the American Psychological Association's Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology (BSERP) for its approval. The Board in a final reply issued 11 May 1987 to members of the DIMPAC Task Force thanked them but found the report "unacceptable to the Board", stating that, "In general, the report lacks the scientific rigor and evenhanded critical approach necessary for APA imprimatur." The Board warned the Task Force to in no way use their past APA appointments or in any way imply that this report had the Board's or the APA's approval, specifically instructing them to inform readers of the report that it was found "unacceptable" by the Board. The Board considered that the APA did not have sufficient information available to guide the APA in taking a position on the controversial area of deception and indirect methods of persuasion and control. This APA refusal is known as the BSERP's Memorandum and shows that there is neither general nor substantial agreement concerning brainwashing and mind control in the USA.
In spite of the clear rebuff given by their professional colleagues, people like Margaret Singer and others earn huge fees by offering their "expert" opinion. However, as word gets around, courts are beginning to bar Margaret Singer and similar "experts" from giving evidence. In the case of Green and Ryan v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (filed 13 March 1991, U.S.A.), Dr Singer and Dr Ofshe's theory that "thought reform" is possible in the absence of physical coercion was ruled inadmissible as the basis of evidence since this theory does not enjoy "substantial" scientific approval.9 Likewise, in the case of Stephen Fishman, this same thought reform robot theory of Singer and Ofshe was not accepted because it lacked "general" acceptability. These two cases established that in the field of both civil and criminal jurisprudence, the theories of non-coercive mind control do not enjoy sufficient (whether general or substantial) acceptability within the scientific community to constitute the basis for expert opinion in litigation.10
It is understandable why such theories are not acceptable when you take a close look at what such theories are suggesting. A simplified description of current mind control mythology is offered by University of Nevada professor of sociology James T. Richardson, who studies the dynamics of conversion and regards NRMs as a social movement. The following is an admittedly interpretive rendition of the "brainwashing" theories put forth by archrivals of the NRMs, Richard Delgado, a legal scholar, and Margaret Singer and John Clark, psychiatrists:
Under these myths, a leader who is interested in financial gain, sexual favors, or just plain power starts a new group using some extraordinary powers of hypnosis or mind control. He somehow "zaps" potential converts simply by looking them in the eye and uttering a few magical phrases, or by tricking them into participating in a high pressure group recruitment process. Thus the recruit falls completely under his command, and becomes a deployable robot, also, interestingly, imbued with this magical power to trick people into joining. These new converts go out and convert even more people through similar processes, and the new group is off and running. This process allegedly will cause the group to continue growing until it is huge and threatening to society. The membership is controlled via some type of ESP, and through this mental power all the members do the master's bidding for eighteen hours a day or more. The organization continues to grow because this power of the leader, even if passed on through member evangelizers, is so strong as to defy efforts by the converts to leave. Thus, so the myth goes, once a Moonie (or Hare Krishna, or Divine Light Mission, or Children of God) recruiter "looks you in the eye," you are a "goner," destined to live out your life as virtually a slave to the omnipotent group leader.
This mythology about why and how new religions start and succeed is very appealing, particularly to those who feel somehow threatened by the growth of new religions. Such myths furnish ammunition for fighting the growths of new religions. Thus deprogramming, legislative action, and governmental bureaucratic controls of various kinds (using the brainwashing myth as a justification) may be visited upon new religions. The myth is, as Anthony, Robbins, and McCarthy have said, a "social weapon" to use against unpopular groups. (Robbins (ed.) 1985: 163-165.)11
B. "Brainwashing"--A Mixed-up Metaphor
IN THE LONG RUN, Communist-style brainwashing proved to be more a propaganda scare tactic than an easy-to-apply practical way to command the loyalty of political opponents. Yet fears and fascination with the prospects of brainwashing far outlived the facts of the matter. Experts found brainwashing to be a very transient transformation of allegiance at best, requiring complete physical control while using unspeakable conditions of torture and confinement in order to implement.12 Images of totally controlled "brainwashed" zombies captured the imagination of people and the term entered popular usage. Sociologists David Bromley and Anson Shupe sum up the situation most succinctly in their book, Strange Gods, The Great American Cult Scare:
The entire concept of brainwashing, as we have seen it, is a misnomer. It is repudiated by many sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists as a crude euphemism. Worse, it is a distortion of a real, understandable process of attitude change [behaviour influencing and religious conversion] that is neither mysterious nor unusual in American society. (Bromley and Shupe 1981: 124.)13
Anti-psychiatry psychiatrist, Dr Thomas Szasz, in his article "Some Call It Brainwashing" (The New Republic, 6 March 1976, page 32) tried to clear away some of the semantic debris surrounding the term "brainwashing":
Like many dramatic terms, "brainwashing" is a metaphor. A person can no more wash another's brain with coercion or conversation than he can make him bleed with a cutting remark.
If there is no such thing as brainwashing, what does this metaphor stand for? It stands for one of the most universal human experiences and events, namely for one person influencing another. However, we do not call all types of personal or psychological influences "brainwashing." We reserve this term for influences of which we disapprove. (Szasz cited in Streiker 1984: 153.)
Lowell Streiker, religious and mental health reformer and author of several books, says the following about brainwashing:
"Brainwashing" is a term of opprobrium, which indicates that the speaker does not approve of the consequences of the process upon the subject. "Conversion" and "reform" are terms which indicate the speaker's approval of the results.
"Brainwashing" has been frequently applied both popularly and academically to religious phenomena. The critics of revivalism have often accused Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, tent evangelists, Campus Crusade for Christ, et al. of brainwashing. (Streiker 1984: 148-154,166.)
Theologian Harvey Cox, Professor of Divinity, at Harvard University agreed:
The term "brainwashing" has no respectable standing in scientific or psychiatric circles, and is used almost entirely to describe a process by which somebody has arrived at convictions that I do not agree with (Biermans 1988: 33).14
Sociologist Robert W. Balch in his article, "What's Wrong with the Study of New Religions and What Can We Do About It?" says,
As a descriptive label, brainwashing . . . is essentially useless because it depends on untestable assumptions about the slippery issues of freedom and control (Biermans 1988: 5).15
Despite the fact that little evidence has been produced that Chinese Communist "thought reform" resulted in any significant number of defections, or that "robotic" zombie-like brainwashed humans even exist, the ACM with their small group of "experts" still vigorously promote the myth, trying to exploit as much as possible "a widespread public belief in and fear of brainwashing" (Bromley and Hammond 1987: 221-224).
C. The Anti-Cult Cure for Brainwashing
SO WHAT IS THE PROPOSED CURE or antidote to "brainwashing"? Is it to break the invisible fetters of belief that held the captured mind? What can destroy youthful zeal and idealism, eradicate personal religious conviction and replace it with the wishes of parents or "normal" society? How can freedom be robbed, personal convictions be supplanted and total conformity enforced without committing a felony? (It can't!) How can the seeds of religious hate, suspicion, guilt, shame, revulsion and rejection of cherished beliefs be so imbedded in one's brain as to break their faith? Ted Patrick, a self-styled "expert", in actuality a semi-literate high school dropout, ex-truck driver, ad hoc state social worker turned muscle man for the ACM, developed a solution. He opted for recreating conditions similar to those in the Communist Korean prisoner of war camps and proceeded to forcibly de-convert through capture, control, confusion, condemnation, coercion. He called this procedure "deprogramming"!
D. Ted Patrick--Prime Mover of the ACM and "Deprogramming"
THEODORE ("TED") PATRICK JR. helped kick off "deprogramming", was instrumental in the forming of an early anti-cult organisation, Citizen's Freedom Foundation (CFF) in 1974, and got the "robotic mind control" myth rolling in America. Patrick refused to see NRMs as religions, but viewed them as part of a systematic Communist plot to take over the minds of young Americans. Deluding himself into believing that anyone who is in an NRM must be brainwashed, Patrick rationalised the use of brutal force to make people confess that they were indeed "brainwashed", and kept them captives until "they convince their captors, in truth or out of desperation, that they had renounced their faith and are `deprogrammed'" (Barker 1989: 17,19).16
Such failure to allow adult children to make their own choices in life have spawned further forcible deprogrammings, pitting the domineering parent against the adult offspring. In essence, the parent is trying to force the child to conform to their preferred choice of lifestyle or belief. The child has decided to become a missionary, but the parent may have wanted him to become a doctor, so decides to "rescue" him from his "wrong" choice.
Earning felony charges for his efforts, Patrick cashed-in on "cults" with a vengeance, "rescuing" young "victims" for anyone who could afford his exorbitantly high fees.17 He never winced at using "mind-liberating" techniques all but identical to the dreaded "mind-controlling" Communists he so abhorred.
Lowell D. Streiker in his book Mind-Bending: Brainwashing, Cults, and Deprogramming in the '80s, describes Ted Patrick's role in promoting the anti-cult "brainwashing" myth:
Ted Patrick gained notoriety for seriously applying the term "brainwashing" to religious cults and for the coercive methods which he justified on the basis of such alleged brainwashing. Patrick's world is as dualistically black and white as any cultist's. The universe is divided into heroes and villains. The villains have mysterious "ESP mind control" powers which enable them to hypnotize or brainwash gullible youth on the spot.
[Patrick] believes that American religious cultism is the creation and pawn of Communism, a means of overthrowing America by subverting the minds of the young. He is a conspiracy theorist who believes that virtually all tragedies of the past generation (political assassinations, mass murders, terrorism, and the like) were deliberately caused by "the Communists" and are the direct result of Communist experiments in mind control. (Streiker 1984: 148-154,166.)
E. The "Stolen Mind" Strategy
ALTHOUGH "BRAINWASHING" and "mind control" theories find "little confirmation in a mounting body of social science research findings" (Bromley and Hammond 1987: 225-229), the ACM still enjoys much success by filling the media and frightening parents of NRM members and the public with mind control accusations. Why does the lie persist in spite of all the evidence to the contrary?
Lee Coleman's writings reveal that "brainwashing" labels are used to explain and condemn any change of attitude or behaviour with which people disagree. His writings provide penetrating insights into the underlying motives of the anti-cult and anti-religious movements, alienated parents and other forces at work within the mental health community.
Critics of "cults," especially parents who sought to reclaim their adult children, have recognized that their major obstacle has been that those they wished to "rescue" were not themselves complaining of coercion or deception. Our legal traditions dictate that the apparently voluntary activities of such converts could not be forcefully interrupted unless evidence of incompetence could be established. It was for this purpose that a strategy was required. It took the form of an alleged "stealing of the mind," and it allowed parents and other critics to argue that they were justified in taking control of a convert's body in order to free that person's mind. (Coleman, April 1984: 322, emphasis added.)
The claim of "brainwashing" today accomplishes what the claim of "possession by the devil" accomplished hundreds of years ago. . . . Today indeed critics can't accept the fact that many young people are finding fulfilment in some of these new churches, so they attribute their contentment to the effects of "mind control." (Biermans 1988: 36-38 citing Coleman 1982: 16.)
F. "I Was Brainwashed!"--The Blame Game
THE DESIRE TO FIND A SCAPEGOAT to blame everything on makes the "blame-it-on-brainwashing" solution a sure winner with some parents of NRM members and ex-members alike. It "tends to absolve everyone (apart from the NRM in question) from any kind of responsibility" (Barker 1989: 17,19 citing Robbins (1988: 95) and Skonovd (1983: 101)).18 In other words, why confess to having made a mistake when all you need to say is, "I was a poor helpless victim of brainwashing! I didn't know what I was doing, my mind was not my own!"
The brainwashing explanation provided families with a superficially plausible model of seemingly "bizarre" behavior that did not place any stigma on either themselves or their errant ("cult") family members, and it came embellished with the legitimacy of science. Even more importantly, it created the basis for placing a diverse array of new religious groups under the rubric "cults." (Bromley 1987: 221-224.)
Parents are under strong pressure not to blame either themselves or their children for cult involvement. Once a young person becomes convinced that the new religion is not nearly as lofty, appealing, or benevolent as once thought, he or she too comes under the same pressure: not to blame oneself for misplaced idealism or naivete. (Bromley and Shupe 1981: 198-202.)19
All things considered, the deck is heavily stacked in favour of making the "deprogrammee" accept the robotic brainwashing theory to explain away his or her unpopular behaviour.
Consider that the parents had been humiliated by the offspring's often hostile and sometimes thorough rejection of the parents' lifestyle and goals. . . . Consider the often substantial fees paid for deprogramming and the trouble to arrange it. Consider also the possible risk of civil and even of criminal prosecution that all--parents and deprogrammers alike--faced. These factors dictated that the price of re-entry into conventional society had now risen, and only public admission of having been brainwashed as well as testimony about other allegations of heinous cult outrages would suffice to pay for it. Thus, public contrition for having abandoned parental values became the cost of re-admission into the mainstream community. (Shupe and Bromley (1981: 195) cited in Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 74-75.)
G. "The Devil Made Me Do It!"--The Easy Way Out for Ex-Members
MUCH OF THE RECRIMINATION today against NRMs is derived through the accounts of deprogrammed ex-members. In order for a "deprogrammee" to be successfully deprogrammed, they need to be given easy ways to explain away their previous "abnormal" behaviour, absolve themselves of all accountability and justify why they joined in the first place. Parents don't like the suggestion that something was wrong with their child or their previous life, so the blame has to be placed on the group. Coleman writes:
If only he will acknowledge that he is brainwashed and did not truly choose--by his own free will--to join the "cult," all will be forgiven. All family resentment will then be focused on the "cult," which is solely responsible for any disapproved behavior. This is too tempting for some persons to resist, and it is from such persons that the anti-cult movement recruits its crusading members. (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 72-73.)
Playing upon weaknesses, guilt feelings or bitterness, the "exit counsellor" (the new word for a deprogrammer) helps the "victim" transfer all that is negative in his or her life onto their former group and become an apostate. "Exit counselling" encourages ex-converts to blame others and avoid accepting any blame or responsibility for one's own action or choices in life. However, the negative proselytising of deprogramming is built upon the myth of "mind control". Therefore, once the apostate accepts the brainwashing solution, he is in effect admitting to having had a "sickness of the mind" and now must provide the "facts" to substantiate his claim to having taken a "mental leave of absence" to join a new religious group. Having to come up with "evidence" of their brainwashing is the penance and price every apostate must pay who opts for this "easy way out". The tangled web begins. (See Robbins et al. (eds.) 1988: 95; Skonovd 1983: 10.)
H. The ACM's Mind Control Conspiracy: "We Create the Excuse and You Create the Evidence."
EX-MEMBERS OF ANY NRM are exposed to a lot of social and emotional pressure to explain themselves and their behaviour. Deprogrammers can really turn up the heat during the critical stages of decision making, even threatening custody loss if a member's children are involved. Parents of adult members play on emotions and responsibilities owed to them. There are many powerful means of manipulation used to bring pressure upon ex-members to get them to "willingly" conform to the brainwashing model.
Researchers Alan Scheflin and Edward Opton in The Mind Manipulators suggest that "brainwashing" or "mind control" are convenient ways to rationalise one's actions and thereby avoid taking responsibility.
Anyone can commit an act such as joining an unpopular group and afterwards claim "I was programmed to do so." Scheflin and Opton point out that esoteric notions such as "brainwashing" allow people to forget that they are responsible for their own actions--in a manner that compares with the insanity plea in legal cases. Personal values and independence of thought and judgment "are not snatched away from people. . . ." The concept of brainwashing is the most seductive mind manipulation of all. (Biermans (1988: 36-38) citing Scheflin and Opton (1978: 474); see also Hexham and Poewe 1986: 11.)
Accepting the ACM's "I was brainwashed" method of exiting a controversial group while exonerating one's self by claiming to have been "mind controlled" turns out to be little more than offering a plea of temporary "insanity". Claiming to have totally lost control of one's own mind is far from liberating. "Brain-freed" ex-members of NRMs must pay a high price for their "official" pardons by eagerly seeking to appease and please their ACM "liberators" by complicity. Shame and blame are put in the past only if the ex-member agrees to play this penance game. They must claim to have been "brainwashed" and confess "cult" atrocities. Presumably all this self-cleaning through condemning others will help usher in a better life purged of all "cult" impurities. Converts to this "I was a victim of brainwashing" cult of the ACM often themselves become "disciples" of deprogramming upon seeing the "light", dedicating the rest of their lives to digging up dirt and dragging "victims" away from former groups, feeding the swelling ranks of the ACM with obedient and very "psychologically dependent" workers.
Coleman describes this transformation as follows:
Back in the arms of Mom and Dad, freed of all responsibility for whatever choices they made, they are ready to further legitimize their new stance by attacking others who have strayed from the path of purity (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 73-74).20
I. The Art of Rescuing People Who Aren't in Danger
EILEEN BARKER is a sociologist of religion and founder and head of INFORM, a British-based NRM information service supported by mainstream churches and the Home Office. INFORM strives to remain objective about NRMs. In her book New Religious Movements, Barker comments about the tack of deprogrammers:
Sometimes professional deprogrammers contact parents directly, playing on their fears in order to persuade them that, if they really care about and want to save their child, the only option open to them is to pay the deprogrammers to "rescue" the child (Barker 1989: 101-104).
Like exorcists in reverse, the ACM seeks to cast out religious beliefs they do not agree with. The anti-cult mind patrol of deprogrammers drag protesting young adults away from their communities, children and loved ones for days or weeks of intensive interrogation and a systematic bashing away at invisible "brain chains" of faith. Solemnly, they dedicate themselves and their draconian deeds to the complete liberation of the "victim's cult-kidnapped mind". They do not relent until every NRM or Catholic or Protestant spirit departs and the person submits to their will and accepts their doctrines and obeys the wishes of those who are paying dearly for this indelicate surgery on the soul.21
Does it help to protest? Can a victim just assure their captors that they have voluntarily chosen their own religion and are not brainwashed? No! According to the faithbreakers, recruits to new religions "who maintain that they are happy with their new activities and are free to leave if and when they choose, only prove how complete the mind control state has become" (Coleman, April 1984: 323) and therefore are all the more in need of "rescuing".22
J. The ACM Uses "Brainwashing" Charges to Fuel the Fires of Religious Hatred and Bigotry, Tear Families Apart and Turn Friends into Foes
THE PROCESS by which a once happy and enthusiastic member, or ex-member, of The Family can, under ACM tutelage, turn into a hate-filled fanatic and become an ACM deprogrammer mystifies many, making them wonder if perhaps brainwashing really is possible--at least at the hands of deprogrammers.23 The aberrant behaviour of ex-members who get tangled up with deprogrammers or "exit counsellors" is surprisingly enough explained in part by coercion-theorist Dr Robert J. Lifton, whose writings often end up fuelling the fires of brainwashing mythology and religious bigotry. Lifton explains:
He [the ex-member] must also look upon his impurities as originating from outside influences. . . . Therefore, one of his best ways to relieve himself of some of his burden of guilt is to denounce, continuously and hostilely, these same outside influences. The more guilty he feels, the greater his hatred. (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 73-74.)
Such feelings, Lifton warns, encourage "mass hatreds", purges of heretics, and "political and religious holy wars. . . . In their enthusiasm to discredit their former churches, and vindicate themselves before their families, ex-members joining the ranks of anti-cultists have, unfortunately, contributed massively to the wave of religious bigotry which is now growing" (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 73-74).
Objective social scientists have traced this puzzling pattern of polar opposites, love-turned-to-hate behaviour coupled with the remarkable "similarity" of atrocity tales, directly back to anti-cult deprogramming. (Barker 1989: 128.)24
Robbins (1988: 96-97) cites the following observation made by Solomon (1981: 293) concerning the effect deprogramming has on ex-converts:
The recrimination against cults for brainwashing converts has derived much of its popular plausibility from the accounts of ex-members, who have often become ACM activists. Research by sociologists has revealed that there is really a wide range of attitudes to be found among ex-converts, and recriminative attitudes are exhibited primarily by ex-members who have been deprogrammed or have otherwise been involved in ex-member support groups and therapeutic programs linked to the ACM. (Beckford, 1985; Lewis, 1986; Skonovd, 1981; Wright, 1984.) Deprogrammed ex-devotees [ex-members] often "appear to confidently `know the answers' and to be themselves committed to working as deprogrammers or exit counselors and to speaking out against cults, etc." (Beckford, 1985.)
K. Why Are Tales of Atrocity so Similar?
IT IS A WELL-ESTABLISHED FACT that most new religious converts leave their new-found faiths as easily as they entered. The majority of those who leave NRMs say the experience was beneficial. (See Barker 1989: 55-57.)25 Not so for those who have undergone "exit counselling". ACM converts often claim to have been brainwashed and tell very similar stories of "atrocities" aimed at turning their listeners against the NRM they were formerly a part of. Where do they get these look-alike ideas? Sociologists Bromley and Shupe answer this with historical insight and caution about believing unreliable and "suspect" testimonies of deprogrammed ex-members:26
Deprogrammers themselves implanted interpretations in the midst of new religions' members. Deprogrammers are like the American colonials who persecuted "witches": a confession, drawn up before the suspect was brought in for torturing and based on the judges' fantasies about witchcraft, was signed under duress and then treated as justification for the torture. In the end, the similarity of ex-members' stories is not the result of similar experiences but rather of artificial and imposed reinterpretations by persons serving their own needs and purposes. (Bromley and Shupe 1981: 198-204, emphasis added.)
Lee Coleman (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 73-74) adds:
Given the realities of social psychology, particularly the felt need of the ex-member to justify previous behavior with a rationale that exempts him or her from personal responsibility, most researchers agree that testimonies of ex-members as to the causes of their behavior are extremely suspect and should not be presented with the aura of scientific evidence. [Emphasis added.]
"In the past, whether claiming to be ex-Mormons, ex-Catholics, or ex-whatevers, these individuals have been able to sway audiences and actually incite mobs with their inflammatory accusations and lurid claims of `I was there, I saw it happen!'" (Bromley and Shupe 1981: 15-16.) They seem to think, "The more bizarre I can tell you my behavior was, the surer the evidence is that I must have been brainwashed" (Needleman and Baker, 1978: 125-129 quoting Harvey Cox). It is such people who also feed the media with "images of innocent, idealistic youth transformed into fanatical zombies" (Bromley and Hammond 1987: 225-229).
L. The "Expert" Industry: The Mercenary Medicine Men of Mind Control
ANGRY PARENTS, deprogrammed ex-members, hostile religious organisations and some state agencies all saw great potential in exploiting the "mind control" myth to invalidate any unpopular group, idea or activity. Imaginative pseudo-scientific theories that run contrary to common sense, like giant balloons, need a lot of hot air to keep afloat, and in the case of the ACM, inspire "activists", legitimise religious bigotry and keep a highly questionable clutch of mental health "experts" and social scientists in business.
Joel Fort, in his essay "What Is `Brainwashing', And Who Says So?", gives the following insight into the calibre of "scientist" these "experts" are involved with:
While claiming to be studying certain religions or psychologies, many have been using a one-dimensional, out-of-context, viewing-with-alarm approach; and while claiming to be scientific, many have failed to define their terms, be objective, use random or large samples, have control groups, produce replicable results, or carefully interpret data. Professional elitism and other intolerances, questionable values and motives, and violations of human rights are so prevalent that they are taken for granted and not seen. Although the "brainwashing" term has created problems, it certainly has been placed in the service of their perpetrators. (Kilbourne 1985: 62.)
Coleman points out the need for "experts" to sanction the myth of mind control:
It is one thing for parents and a few apostates to make such claims [of mind control] and yet another to have those claims validated in court. If temporary conservatorships were to be obtained, testimony from mental health professionals would be necessary. Support from the mental health profession was also crucial if proposed conservatorship laws aimed specifically at new religions, and civil law suits centering on allegations of mind control, were to have any chance of success. To back up courtroom and legislative testimony, a body of literature was needed; the concept of mind control would have to become not just a personal opinion but a legitimate scientific finding. This professional literature was indeed forthcoming, largely under the authorship of the same mental health practitioners who had frequently recommended forcible removal of a religious recruit--sometimes without ever having talked with the individual involved. (Coleman, April 1984: 322.)
The anti-cult movement surrounds itself, as Coleman says, with "a vocal group of mental health professionals who regularly claim before courts, professional meetings, and the media, to have found evidence of such `mind control'" (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 71).27 Bromley and Hammond also talk about the role of professionals in keeping the ACM afloat:
The professionals in this network were particularly important, for they provided the expertise in drafting anti-cult legislation, offering expert testimony when former members brought legal suits, and providing exit counseling (Bromley and Hammond 1987: 225-229).
Robbins (1988: 170-172) documents the commercialising of cult concern:
The intense agitation over "destructive cultism" creates the basis for the elaboration of an opportunity structure whereby certified professional helpers can develop new and prestigious roles as counselors and rehabilitators of "cult victims". (Kilbourne and Richardson 1984: 237; Robbins and Anthony 1982: 283-297.) Therapy and counseling have been urged for cultists, ex-cultists and families traumatized by the involvement of a family member with a cult. Some clinicians have been activist crusaders in this area.
M. Making Money on Mind Control
A POINT that is well worth bearing in mind is that ACMs are not "benevolent societies". The "professionals" and others who work for ACMs are not dedicated volunteers, but well-paid individuals, some of whom receive a large percentage of their income from NRM bashing. To be discredited would mean a substantial loss of income for them, something to which they violently react. ACM "experts" charge hundreds of dollars an hour for their services. For example, Margaret Singer "earns a considerable portion of her income from cult cases" (Richardson 1991: 59). These members of pseudo-medicine offer their services as "expert" witnesses or guest speakers, opposing any unpopular minority religious group you wish, or providing support literature for would-be deprogrammers.
Stanislav Andreski, professor of Sociology at Reading University (U.K.) and author of several books, spells out the role of the "expert" very clearly in his book Social Sciences as Sorcery. We quote from chapter two, which he appropriately titled, "The Witch Doctor's Dilemma":
The position of an "expert" in the study of human behaviour resembles that of a sorcerer who can make the crops come up or the rain fall by uttering an incantation. And because the facts with which he deals are seldom verifiable, his customers are able to demand to be told what they like to hear. . . . His specialty is so hard to prove or disprove anything, that he can with impunity indulge his fancy, pander to his listeners' loves and hates or even peddle conscious lies . . . taking advantage of public gullibility . . . spinning more and more intricate webs of fiction and falsehood, while paying even more ardent lip-service to the ideals of objectivity and the pursuit of truth. (Andreski 1972: 24-28,31.)
N. The Emperor's New Clothing "Experts"
WILLIAM KIRK KILPATRICK, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at Boston College, with degrees from Harvard and Purdue, treats this topic with the same candid professional honesty in his book, The Emperor's New Clothes--The Naked Truth about the New Psychology:
There is adrift in the psychological community an abundance of speculation, wishful thinking, contradictory ideas, prejudice, doubletalk and ideology disguised as science.
As a short commentary on our capacity for self-delusion it's hard to improve on Hans Christian Andersen's story of the Emperor . . . to me it has a special application to our current veneration of psychology and psychologists. . . . The story is essentially about bowing to expert opinion . . . the folly of letting common sense take a back seat to expert knowledge. [In the story] each one thinks, "I can't see anything in this, but who am I to say?" . . . Our confidence has been outmatched by the force of expert psychological opinion . . . because psychology has achieved emperor-like status in our culture, and partly because all the clever people swear that it's cloaked in handsomely woven ideas.
Given the years of training, sophisticated technology, and specialized vocabulary available to doctors, not many of us are inclined to question a physician's diagnosis. The same sort of ultimate expertise now attaches [itself] to the psychological profession. And in some ways, the psychologist's profession is even more secure . . . if a therapist makes a mistake it can go undetected for decades. . . . Who has ever seen an ego structure or an inner dynamic? Much of the psychological garment truly is invisible. . . . Christians too believe in many unseen forces . . . psychology, like Christianity, is partly a matter of faith. (Kilpatrick 1985: 3-6,8,15.)
O. The Jungle of ACM Jargon
NRMS AND PROGRESSIVE CHURCHES are frequently condemned for developing their own systems of symbols and special terms. However, the same can also be said of many clubs, fraternities, military units, social groups, tribes, professions or youth groups. Anti-cultists are no exception. They shroud themselves in a unique dialect. Some terms they borrow from the NRMs, which they apply in demeaning ways. Questionable conduct on the part of the ACM is carefully couched in nice-sounding terms. For example, "deprogramming", the coercive subverting of faith, they euphemistically now call "exit counselling". Pseudo-scientific sounding terms are very popular, too, as they help make even the most innocent of everyday human activities and experiences sound like a disease that must be treated and overcome.
Andreski lifts the lid for a peek at the world of socio-psychological semantics. In his book Social Sciences as Sorcery, chapter 1, entitled, "Why Foul One's Nest?" he writes:
Even the old and valuable insights which we have inherited from our illustrious ancestors are being drowned in a torrent of meaningless verbiage and useless technicalities. Pretentious and nebulous verbosity, interminable repetition of platitudes and disguised propaganda are the order of the day. . . . One could fill an encyclopedia trying to expose all the foolish antics which pass for scientific study of human conduct. (Andreski 1972: 11,16.)
Any action can be denoted as good or bad by the choice of words to describe it. "Conversion", "recruitment", "re-education", "secondary socialisation", "mind control", "menticide" and "brainwashing" are all words used to refer to the same process, but as you see, they are definitely not synonyms. One person may describe a lifestyle as "sacrificial devotion" while another will call it "authoritarian exploitation". "Depending on the context in which they are used, words such as dedication, discipline, surrender and submission can be imbued with very different values" (Van Driel and Richardson 1988: 54; also Dyson and Barker (eds.) 1988: 202-225, which is also cited in Barker 1989: 39-42).
"Brainwashing" and "mind control" are only two of scores of propaganda terms and phrases used to besmirch and ridicule members of new religions. Even Lifton, whose ideas the ACM espouse, said of brainwashing:
Behind this web of semantic (and more than semantic) confusion lies an image of "brainwashing" as an all-powerful, irresistible, unfathomable, and magical method of achieving total control over the human mind. It is of course none of these things and this loose usage makes the word a rallying point for fear, resentment, justification for failure, irresponsible accusation, and for a wide gamut of emotional extremism. One may justly conclude that the term has a far from precise and questionable usefulness. (Lifton 1961: 4 cited in Amicus Brief Feb. 1988: 9,10.)
Here are some popular anti-cult terms translated into everyday English (see Biermans 1988: 38-39):
aberrant behaviour: any religious observance according to the ACM.
bizarre conduct: any solemn, sacred or holy ritual of any church the ACM is attacking.
brainwashing: proselytising. Of course the ACM are now trying to refine the crude image of "brainwashing" ideology by using souped-up sounding terms like "cult-imposed personality syndromes", "self-inducted personality regression", and "destructive cultism" (see Bromley and Hammond 1987: 225-229).
cult: "A fashionable buzz word thrown about haphazardly by the media, anti-cultists, establishment ministers (who no longer worry about the label being applied to them), and even some social scientists who should know better. Although the term has a fairly precise technical meaning, it has been run into the ground by persons who indiscriminately attach it to any group not conforming to a narrow range of so-called normal middle-class religions" (Bromley and Shupe 1981: 21,22).
cultist brainwashing: any form of proselytising done by any church that the ACM disagrees with.
domination of cult leaders: any authority invested in members of new religious movements.
exit counselling of cult victims: a double-speak way of making the harassment and deprogramming of a wavering or kidnapped member of a minority religion sound like a friendly chat or possibly a rescue operation.
fallen: according to the ACM, this is the condition of anyone who joins a new religious movement, or anyone who changes churches.
impaired psychological freedom: a feeble attempt to sound medical and avoid saying "brainwashed" or "mind controlled" (Shepherd 1985: 31-37).
information disease: this pseudo-scientific sounding term is promoted by Conway and Siegelman in their book Snapping, America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (1979) and related articles by them and others with sinister sounding titles like "Information Disease: Have Cults Created a New Mental Illness?" (Science Digest, Jan. 1986). They equate religious conversion and religious teachings to induced insanity, making the acceptance of new spiritual ideas and teachings sound like a debilitating mental illness.28
love bombing: used as a put-down of any group display of personal love and concern for others.
mental kidnapping: a mythological occurrence where an NRM member is supposedly able to snatch control of the minds of unsuspecting people. This term is used by those critical of religions and NRMs to describe any form of conversion or proselytising usually to a non-traditional set of values or way of life.
mind-altering techniques: singing, praising the Lord, chanting, dancing, clapping your hands, or just about anything done by a regular church-goer or NRM member that would "tamper with the quality of information fed into the brain". Mind-altering activities lead to the dreaded "information disease" which only deprogramming can cure (see Biermans 1988: 65-66).
prisons: the dwelling places of new religious groups, Christian retreat houses, Catholic monasteries, convents, etc.
psychopathic trance: any form of silent prayer, devotion or meditation.
snapping: conversion to or from an unpopular cause or religion. Generally used as a put-down of religious conversion as the mechanism by which one loses one's mind through becoming a member of some active church or being in a "cult". The term "snapping" is the title of the deprogrammer's handbook written by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman (1979)29, who hypothesise that the only way to reverse religious zeal or "cultic control" is by deprogramming. Ted Patrick and other deprogrammers use the term for any sudden conversion or de-conversion. A person has "snapped" when he or she changes their outlook suddenly, like "a light switch being turned on [or off?]".
subversive agents: missionaries.
thought reform: a term borrowed from Chinese brainwashing attempts and used liberally in tirades against unpopular churches or NRMs.
zombie: according to the ACM is any member of an active church or NRM.
zombie-like obedience: any church or NRM member following through on suggestions from overseers.
P. "Experts" Are Conning the Courts about "Mind Control"
"WHERE IT HAS BEEN POSSIBLE to test psychiatric judgement against known objective criteria, those judgements have been shown to be more often wrong than right." That statement was made by Dr Jay Ziskin, a Los Angeles psychologist, attorney, and author of Coping with Psychiatric Testimony along with David Faust, who is a director of psychology at Rhode Island Hospital and an Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Human Behaviour at Brown University. Ziskin and Faust characterise psychiatric evaluation and methods of assessment as "fraught with danger of distortion, incompleteness and inaccuracy due to personal values, attitudes, and biases of the examiner." Yet more and more "expert" psychiatric "testimony" is being used and even relied upon in courts.30
The involvement of psychologists and psychiatrists within the legal arena continues to grow rapidly but remains highly controversial.
Studies show that professionals often fail to reach reliable or valid conclusions and that the accuracy of the judgments does not necessarily surpass that of laypersons, thus raising substantial doubt that psychologists or psychiatrists meet legal standards for expertise.
As the courts and the public come to realize the immense gap between experts' claims about their judgmental powers and the scientific findings, the credibility of psychology and psychiatry will suffer accordingly.
Expert testimony may exert a prejudicial effect on juries. Confidence and accuracy can be inversely related, and yet the jury may well accept the opinion of an expert who exudes confidence over that of an opposing expert who expresses appropriate caution. Expert evidence is readily subject to abuse due to its highly subjective nature and vulnerability to biases. The involvement of experts wastes many hours of already too scarce court time and costs taxpayers millions of dollars. Experts also create malpractice risks for colleagues. (Ziskin and Faust, 1988, emphasis added.)31
Many reputable mental health professionals are becoming concerned about the rapid erosion of their own professional credibility. Psychiatrist Walter Reich of the National Institute of Mental Health aptly notes:
Psychiatry endangers itself--debases its coinage--by entering areas in which it lacks a broad base of expertise. In [brainwashing] cases, psychiatric experience is limited and not widely tested. It does not amount to legal expertise. (Reich 1976: 403.)
Q. "Mind Control" Charges Serve to "Medicalise" the Attack on NRMs and Circumvent Civil Liberties
SOCIAL SCIENTISTS Anthony and Robbins have concluded that the ACM's attempt to achieve the "medicalisation of deviant religions", i.e. accusing them of brainwashing members, constitutes a misuse of scientific-sounding ideas for political ends. They also maintain "that involvement of the mental health establishment in the suppression of alternative religions constitutes a substantial threat to civil liberties." (Melton and Moore (1982: 36-46) citing Robbins and Anthony 1982: 286.)
In countries where the free exercise of religion is an issue, medical and psychological allegations are frequently used in attacking new religions. By accusing new religions of "brainwashing" members, it becomes a "medical" issue rather than a religious one (Robbins and Anthony 1982: 286.)32 Subsequently, following a twisted form of Machiavellian logic, religious rights are denied to NRMs because by definition all members of NRMs are "brainwashed". Therefore they are not able to "freely" practise their own religion since, as the myth makers would have it, every member of a NRM is a mind-controlled zombie in need of being "rescued". William Shepherd (1985: 31-37) writes:
"Impaired psychological freedom" and "zombie-like obedience" and "brainwashing" are merely other terms for pathology and mental disorder. Once involuntary behavior is imputed to someone, the disease or medical model is already in play.
The state's . . . medical way of thinking about deviance gives anti-cult citizens a way of stigmatizing cult membership as sickness. Rescuing "victims" is a laudable objective, and rescuers (vigilantes?) need not therefore be overly concerned with the niceties of civil liberties. "If cultism is essentially a medical issue it cannot also be a civil liberties issue, for the sick must be healed" (citing Robbins and Anthony 1982: 286, emphasis in original).
Hence "the primary function of the idea of brainwashing as applied to new religious groups has been to legitimatise oppression" (Brockway and Rajashekar (eds.) 1987: 97-100). This infringement on religious rights becomes a deliberate, concerted, protracted, violent assault on The Family and other new religious faiths. Bromley and Shupe explain:
Those who have created the great cult scare . . . want to marshal the power of the state, the churches, the mental health profession, and other sectors of society in rooting out something they see as an unprecedented threat, and they are perfectly willing to sacrifice legal guarantees, established scholarly procedures, and accepted boundaries of civil discourse to do so. They want us to believe the cults pose an unprecedented and extraordinary threat so that the use of unprecedented and extraordinary means to uproot them can be justified. (Bromley and Shupe 1981: xiii-xv.)
The greater the power given the state to dictate which religious beliefs and practices are "sane" and which are deviant, the greater the risk of state-imposed religious dictatorship and totalitarianism, as was manifested in the former Soviet Union, where active members of Christian churches were frequently "hospitalised" or shipped off to the gulag to be "cured". As Shepherd noted:
Where new religious group members are the deviants, compulsory psychiatric care is often the goal motivating alienated parents who try to get conservatorship orders from sympathetic courts. . . . [This] is nothing else than the "`Sovietization of medicine'" (Shepherd 1985: 31-37; also quoted in Shupe and Bromley 1980: 224; for general reference see Robbins and Anthony 1982).
R. Conventional Churches Wanting to "Cut Out the Competition" End Up Hurting Themselves
HISTORY is full of examples of mainstream attacks on marginal religious groups (Cox in Needleman and Baker (eds.) 1978: 125-129). Of course, much of the zeal for uncovering heretics came from the fact that all of their goods and possessions were then taken from them. The whole process became very big business and a tremendous source of revenue and political power for the Inquisitors, not so very unlike the legal shenanigans foisted upon NRMs of today.
"Quakers, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites, Christian Scientists and even Catholics have at different times been the targets of allegations strikingly similar to those being made against the new religions" (Bromley and Shupe 1981: 211-212). Robbins explains:
Certain church leaders [fundamentalist Christians, some representatives of mainline denominations, and some Jewish associations] have been active in attacks on cults.33 Other church spokesmen have been active in the defense of the rights of cults. The competitive relationship between conventional churches and unorthodox religious movements is obvious. Some dynamic NRMs have succeeded in eliciting from devotees an intense and diffuse commitment which most conventional non-evangelical church organizations have not been able to match. Among evangelical and fundamentalist groups there is a long tradition of fulmination against cults, which are often designated as satanic. . . . But some church leaders are sensitive to civil liberties issues and are quick to perceive threats to the "free exercise of religion" and "church autonomy" from any governmental intervention. (Robbins 1988: 172-173.)
Standing passively by, watching a crime being committed, does not speak well for one's character, yet many mainstream religions did little or nothing to stop ACM attacks on NRMs. Now the ACM has grown in strength and are attacking more mainstream denominations as well. Barker warns about the troubling escalation of religious rivalry that "brainwashing" and "deprogramming" ACM madness have stirred.
In both Britain and North America, the use of this illegal practice (deprogramming) has spread beyond the area of NRMs. There are examples of Protestant parents hiring professional deprogrammers to "rescue" their offspring from Roman Catholicism,34 of Catholic parents arranging for the kidnap of their daughter from a convent that was reportedly run by a follower of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre;35 of Jewish parents kidnapping children who had converted to evangelical Christianity;36 or a daughter kidnapped after she had married a Muslim;37 and various other cases when parents have disapproved of their adult children's choice of marriage partner or the political causes that they have espoused. (Barker 1989: 101-104.)38
James Richardson sums up the impending danger to everyone's religious rights: by allowing religious conversions to be branded as "brainwashing" and then dragged into the arena of the courts for resolution, one is in effect forcing the State to control religions and rule on the acceptability of religious beliefs.
Protecting a person from "brainwashing" is merely a derogatory way of saying a person must be protected from embracing new and life-changing beliefs. The court thus arrogates to itself the authority, on behalf of the State, to determine which conversions constitute a "great abuse" and therefore can be freely regulated, even to the point of destruction of the church through protracted litigation and ruinous damage awards. (Richardson 1991.)39
S. The Dirty Tricks Department of the ACM: A Misinformation Campaign against NRMs
HERE ARE ONLY A FEW of many propaganda ploys used by the ACM to distort public perceptions of new religious movements:
1. Play up the "This is not an isolated incident!" lie.
The ACM takes isolated problems that occasionally occur in an NRM, and which may occur frequently in society, and blow them all out of proportion (usually in the media) so that to the uninformed public it will seem like the rule rather than the exception. Media-generated hysteria also generates "business" for ACM deprogrammers from concerned parents seeking help.
2. Gather and disseminate information primarily from deprogrammed ex-members.
In gathering information about NRMs, the ACM seldom, if ever, goes directly to the NRM but almost exclusively gathers information from ex-members that they have deprogrammed and cultivated and in whom they have implanted all sorts of negative ideas and attitudes. Many ex-members actually only become hostile to their former group after they are "contacted" by workers from anti-cult organisations. Coleman says, "The degree to which a former `cult' member claims he or she was the victim of mind control is dependent on the degree of exposure to anti-cult ideology" (Coleman, April 1984: 323). Coleman continues:
Anti-cult mental health professionals have relied overwhelmingly on biased sampling methods. They seldom spoke with either current members of new religions or the high percentage of recruits who left voluntarily. . . . Instead, such critics have engaged in what is euphemistically called "exit counseling," talking with those who have been removed by force at the behest of angry parents. Whether through a kidnapping or a court-ordered conservatorship, such persons have been subjected to a period of lock-up--lasting days, weeks, or sometimes even months--and an intense effort to deindoctrinate them. By the time such persons are interviewed by mental health professionals, great pressure (particularly through the manipulation of guilt) has been applied to adopt the mind-control claims of parents and deprogrammers. Not surprisingly, many persons subjected to such imprisonment and high pressure manipulation have become true apostates, anxious to vindicate themselves before their families. Some have gone on to become deprogrammers themselves, and of these a few have become major media attractions and courtroom "experts" who testify on the psychological abuses of "cults." Reliance on such sources is hardly sufficient for a fair assessment of recruits to new religious movements.
3. Ignore all facts that disprove "mind control".
The ACM ignores the majority of findings of medical health professionals and impartial researchers of NRMs. These findings are favourable to the cause of NRMs, and show no indication of "mind control" or "brainwashing". In many cases studies show that for the great majority of people who join, the experience is very beneficial. Coleman notes:
When more dispassionate investigators, avoiding such obvious "mistakes" in methodology [as to form conclusions about NRMs based only on observations made of deprogrammed ex-members], have studied new religious movements, they have found no evidence of mind control or of the mental or physical harms claimed in anti-cult literature (Coleman, April 1984: 323).40
4. Insist that everyone in an NRM is a controlled "victim" and not a volunteer.
The ACM teaches that all members of NRMs are coerced into joining and that once a member, they lose their free will. This is totally untrue in The Family, as it is our policy that no member of our fellowship is ever pressured to join or remain if they choose to leave.41 Barker mentions that "serious research suggests that many of the processes involved in becoming a member of an NRM differ little, if at all, from the sorts of processes that occur in the family, the school, the army, or indeed, some traditional religions. There are those who argue that adult conversion [to an NRM] involves less control by others than that which is involved when a child is born into a family with a strongly held religious tradition" (Barker 1989: 19,20).
In the case of The Family, one clear indicator of the freedom of choice that each member has within the movement is that approximately 38,000 people have at some time joined our fellowship as live-in members of The Family or its predecessor, the Children of God movement, and yet the present adult population is approximately 1/10 that figure.42 In general, people join or quit NRMs just about as easily as other serious or significant commitments they make in their life, such as getting married, changing jobs, changing from one faith to another, or changing their citizenship. Melton and Moore conclude:
Although some instances of questionable evangelistic techniques have occurred, there is little or no evidence to suggest that members have not freely chosen entry into the groups (Melton and Moore 1982: 36-46).
5. Play up an imaginary rosy past life with parents and accuse the NRM of being home-wreckers.
The ACM likes to paint NRM members' pasts as happy, wonderful and normal until they were taken over by the "cult". Past relationships with parents are portrayed as very "rosy"; all the rough and rocky places are paved over. With terrible tales of life in the NRM, the ACM pushes parents to near hysteria, which becomes proof of the parents' great love and frustrated concern in the face of the "cold, heartless cult" that keeps their child prisoner. The ACM carefully avoids any objective look at the past. The intense mental anguish and despondency the child may have silently suffered over the years without telling his parents, or which the parent may have largely ignored or not known how to handle prior to their offspring's having joined the NRM, is never mentioned or even considered. Nor do they care how alienating it is for the adult son or daughter who has joined an NRM to have his or her parents insulting him or her with charges of being a victim of "brainwashing" and having no free will of his or her own.
Fears and failures are hard to talk about with parents who are high in hope but low in sensitivity. Therefore when someone finds a happier way to live and their personal outlook on life becomes more positive, they may become exuberant and show it, expecting their parents to be equally enthused. However, since they may not have been open and honest with their parents about how they previously felt or looked on things, their sudden joy about leaving a previously unsatisfying life comes as a painful shock, if not like a slap in their parents' face, and seems so "out of character" that some sort of "mind magic" explanation for the change in their child might seem believable. Barker explains that "this process is greatly exacerbated if the parents are also frightened by sensational media reports, or they have been otherwise persuaded that their child is now a brainwashed robot who is incapable of independent thought. The parents might then start to `see' signs that their children are indeed `not themselves'. It is, however, unlikely that the converts will have been drastically manipulated by sinister techniques of mind control--and extremely unlikely that they will be suffering from any lasting (or even temporary) physiological damage." (Barker 1989: 33-36.) As Melton and Moore put it:
An apparent radical personality change ascribed to deception and brainwashing by a cult may in reality be an attempt by the young person to be more honest about his or her real feelings, values, and commitments in the face of parental concern, pressure, and/or disapproval. In this way the movement into an alternative religious group may be a significant step toward independence from the primary family. (Melton and Moore 1982: 36-46.)
The ACM plays upon the parents' fears, telling them that they will never see their child or loved one again once they join an NRM. The truth of the matter is that loss of contact largely depends upon the attitude and motivation of the parent or non-member who wishes to remain in contact. Parents who are being fed ACM hysteria often become very threatening and critical of NRM members, which only worsens relationships and widens any real or perceived division. As the parent becomes hostile, the member becomes fearful of a possible deprogramming attempt.
6. ACMs teach that only people with mental problems enter or stay in NRMs.
The most vigorous critics of "cults" have attempted to define the issues and conflicts surrounding cults as constituting primarily a mental health problem (Robbins 1985: 7-8).
This simplistic and dogmatic point of view is widespread and fanned from time to time by media portrayals of NRMs, or by ACM and anti-religious "experts" now congregating in the social and behavioural sciences, as well as by certain religious leaders determined to frighten their members away from having contact with NRMs. Anti-religionists portray religious beliefs and conversion experiences as forms of mental illness. Melton and Moore note that:
The point of view expressed in such a book as Snapping reflects a militantly secularist reductionistic and regressive reading of religious experience characteristic of classic Freudian and other hostile interpretations of religion in general and conversion in particular (Melton and Moore 1982: 36-46).
Emotionally troubled people are attracted to NRMs for help and guidance, but that does not mean that the membership of NRMs themselves are therefore emotionally disturbed, as some ACM researchers try to imply from the samples they take of ex-members. The truth is that people who leave NRMs with problems are the ones who joined with such problems to begin with and have not been able to keep them in check or permanently resolve them while in the group. To say their experience in the NRM created the problem is just not true. Coleman uses the following analogy to point out the error of forming opinions about the mental health of NRM members from only talking to deprogrammed ex-members who likely have had problems from childhood:
Using the same approach, one could sample the persons in a psychiatrist's office at any given time, give them psychological tests, and on discovering psychopathology, conclude that going to a psychiatrist's office causes emotional disorders! (Melton and Moore (eds.) 1982: 36-46).
The Dutch Government Study of New Religious Movements concluded that:
In general, new religious movements are no real threat to mental public health (Wittenveen 1984: 314).
No proof has come up . . . that new religious movements would have a serious pathogenic impact on their members. Admittedly, former members (often claim) to experience psychic problems, but these are (a) usually not of a serious nature, (b) not of a specific nature and (c) usually on the one hand traceable to problems which existed prior to entry into the movement. On the other hand, they are no more than adjustment difficulties. . . . Therefore, in our view, there is no call for protective measures. (Ibid. 317.)
The Hill Report to the Ontario Provincial Government of Canada, titled The Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario, similarly stated that while the experience of some movements might contribute to or be a factor in some illnesses, it stressed that the evidence could not identify the movements' practices as the cause of either mental or physical illness (Hill 1980: 550). The Hill Report concluded that "no new government measures were warranted involving the groups' impact on their members' health" (ibid. 554). Barker and others warn that "it is a dangerous path that a society is treading once it starts defining people as mentally ill merely on the grounds of their religious or ideological beliefs,43 and it is a path that the nations of the West have vociferously denounced" (Barker 1989: 55-57).44
7. The ACM teaches that new religious movements cause insanity.
NRMs do not drive people crazy faster or more frequently than any other lifestyle or religion. In fact, many formerly troubled people find that life in NRMs is very beneficial.45 Melton and Moore state:
All religious groups--not just the deviant ones--have within them persons with severe emotional problems. The pastoral-care movement of recent decades has emphasized that this is where troubled persons should be! Our point is that, contrary to current popular treatments, not only is there little reason to believe that members of alternative religions are significantly more emotionally disturbed than persons in more established denominations, but claims that the groups damage persons emotionally are not substantiated by any careful quantitative empirical studies. In fact, participation in these groups often has a therapeutic impact on the personalities of group members.
There is not sufficient empirical quantitative research evidence to justify the assumption that the incidence of disorders is significantly higher than in mainline congregations. With regard to the genesis of the emotional disorders which do exist, we have suggested that it is highly unlikely the difficulty is rooted chiefly in the groups, but rather in early childhood development and family dynamics within the primary family system. (Melton and Moore 1982: 36-46.)
Regarding the effects of membership in an alternative religion, there is, contrary to popular assumption, some evidence that participation in one of these religious groups may be beneficial to the participants' psychological and emotional health. Discouraged young people entering alternative religious groups may, for example, feel like social and interpersonal failures, having experienced many disappointments in relationships in their lives before joining. The close, supportive atmosphere common to many groups offers a less threatening environment in which social skills may be tested and practised. The experience of communities shared in such a setting deemphasizes competition and emphasizes acceptance, both factors that encourage new attempts at risk-taking in close relationships. (Ibid. 55-59.)
William Shepherd wrote in To Secure the Blessings of Liberty:
A person's religious commitments may not be used as grounds for the state to require him to prove his mental competence in order to avoid enforced therapeutic treatment. No determination of mental impairment may be based on religious adherence; legally, no one may be adjudged crazy by virtue of his faith. And even when the cluster of problems associated with involuntary acquisition of beliefs and present capacity to maintain them is introduced into the legal equation, grave doubt still hovers over anything like Delgado's argument [that the state must stop cults and that "deprogramming or other similar forms of confrontation therapy may well prove to be the only way certain victims can be retrieved from a state of mind control" (Delgado 1977: 85)]. For at bottom, the mind control issues are matters of fact and proof; and "no court that has conducted an evidentiary hearing has found that any religious organization has subjected its adherents to mind control, coercive persuasion, or brainwashing" (note 53 N.Y.U. L. Rev. at 1281). Moreover, self-endangerment, by itself, is not a ground for state-authorized psychiatric intervention. (Shepherd 1985: 31-37, emphasis added.)
Religious research consultant Dick Anthony argues against anti-cult attempts to blame NRM membership for all mental and emotional problems people may have:
There's a large [amount of] research literature published in mainstream journals on the mental health effects of new religions. For the most part the effects seem to be positive in any way that's measurable. (As quoted in Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1988.)46
Anthony discounts mind control mythology and the misappropriation of the term by anti-cult activists.
8. The ACM teaches that NRMs are not real religions, and that even if they were, it would not matter, because all the members are mind-controlled zombies who have no right to religious recognition anyway.
ACM arguments that "cults" are pseudo-religions run counter to world trends that generally seek to broaden the range of recognised religious beliefs and practices. "Up to the present, at least, all of the major `cults' whose status as religious groups has been challenged have passed court tests" (Bromley and Hammond 1987: 230-232).
A consultation report sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, Free University, Amsterdam, called New Religious Movements and the Churches, prepared in September 1986, took a close look at this common ACM lie that attacks all religious conversions:
It is crucial to anti-cultists to insist that the cult which a loved one has joined is not a legitimate religion and that one could not have experienced a genuine and voluntary conversion to it. Thus it is not an invasion of religious liberty or a violation of the adherent's free choice, but a high duty and obligation, to "rescue" the adherent from the cult. (Brockway and Rajashekar (eds.) 1987: 95-97.)
One of the biggest ploys of the ACM is to try to get people to believe that influencing someone's behaviour is "mind control". This is an absurd assumption when you stop and consider that nearly all situations in human society require some degree of conformity and behaviour control just to maintain law and order. If all forms of influence and persuasion result in "mind control" and "brainwashing", then why do humans generally have such a hard time obeying and keeping the rules? If the human mind is as susceptible to "snapping" into total mental submission as some robot theorists would have us believe, then why do personnel problems still crop up in NRMs, or elsewhere, for that matter? The military is known for its extreme demands for conformity, obedience and loyalty, to the death if need be. Does that mean that military men and women are brainwashed, mind-controlled zombies? Would the same be true of corporate executives who give their all because of loyalty to their company or fear of losing their job? Are good motorists all brainwashed because they willingly conform to the police and coercive threats of punishment if they break the traffic rules? Voluntarily conforming one's behaviour or even involuntarily conforming to the wishes of others involves a choice to control one's own behaviour, not mind control or brainwashing.
It should not be necessary to examine in detail the indoctrination or conversion methods of the many groups labeled as "cults" in order to conclude that "mind control" is a myth. The scenario of mindless robots who carry out the wishes of others, while believing they are doing as they please, may make exciting movies, but it is not consistent with human psychology. People who conform to behavioral expectations of a group have made a choice to do so. Even when imprisoned (as, for example, during a "deprogramming") an individual who conforms is demonstrating behavior control, not mind control. (Coleman, April 1984: 323,324.)
T. Normal Social Control and Voluntary Compliance Is Not Brainwashing
Excluding extreme situations where a person's behaviour and beliefs are physically determined by something outside their control,47 there remain only the normal range of social, emotional, psychological and religious influences and expectations that all members of society experience and are exposed to as a part of life and growing up. Religious orders, political, social, business, corporate and educational organisations, clubs, fraternities, military academies, youth organisations, all seek, to a greater or lesser degree, to influence and persuade their members to accept and follow certain beliefs and codes of behaviour. All organisations, from the Boy Scouts to exclusive academies, set limits on autonomy. Influencing others is what human society is all about, from religious beliefs, to colourful political campaigns aimed at swaying voters, to high-power advertising designed to prompt people to purchase certain products. Social order itself is largely maintained by a complex web of influences and persuasions which very obviously impose certain limits on an individual's personal freedom and autonomy, without necessarily affecting their ability to reason or undermine their legal capacity.
The Family is well within the boundaries of normalcy in the way our members are treated and their capacity to act freely and independently. Were all our members totally mind-controlled zombies, we would have no need for rules or discipline or excommunications since all members would no longer make or be responsible for their own actions. Yet we have rules and standards which our members are expected to observe. We have religious beliefs that our members prescribe to in varying degrees. We have an evolving Christian culture that teaches us to love God and our fellow man as ourselves, and we have a common general goal and purpose, and strive to conduct and organise our lives accordingly. Any member is free to leave our fellowship at anytime he or she so desires. Our goal is to teach others about Jesus, and not to accumulate members. Evidence of the total freedom our members have to leave if they so choose can be seen in the fact that only about 10% of those who join us for fellowship and training decide to remain in The Family as a permanent way of life.
U. Media, Myth-Makers and Mind Control
PERHAPS IT IS PREJUDICE, or simply the grey walls of daily routine, that render people vulnerable to the spurious tales of modern myth-makers. Or maybe it is just an inborn propensity to believe the bizarre. Whatever the explanation, the ancient craft of creative lying and "myth-making" flourishes to frightening proportions in modern times. This is attributable, in part, to a media dependent on sensationalism, and the deliberate focusing of public attention for manipulative and monetary motives. Fact and fiction are flashed instantly around the world to obtain a desired response; information is broadcast more and more for a predetermined effect rather than simply to keep the public informed.
The mass media has become a powerful myth-maker, able to disseminate information and misinformation around the world practically at the speed of light. The power of mass communication has, in some cases, been used as effectively as any weapon of war to spread fear and confusion among enemies and to cloak outrageous crimes against humanity under a mantle of moral justifications. Fabrications take on the air of indisputable facts when presented by the media; common sense can be cast aside and the eyes of justice blinded quicker than at any time in history, and the end result is that the general populace's perception of the truth about a given issue often becomes grossly altered to fit the distorted image portrayed by the media!
A favourite tactic of the ACM lobby is to try to get the media and the law involved in "investigating" a religious group, providing all the negative material they can to investigative agencies in order to initiate and/or heighten negative publicity about the targeted group. Many ACM misinformation "packages" find their way into government and news agency files and eventually become accepted as "facts" about the various groups. To further tip the scales in their favour, the ACM encourages parents to write complaints and lobby news and government agencies requesting action be taken against NRMs. Any resulting action provides the ACM with free publicity while serving to generate enough hysteria to cause people to ask the ACM for help, which usually involves professional deprogrammers or exit counsellors. Deprogrammers who land a job "helping" someone "exit" a group are usually very well paid and give their sponsoring ACM affiliates a percentage of the money they receive (a kickback). The media, for their part, do not mind this symbiotic sensation-seeking relationship with the ACM, as it's good for their ratings as well, and the NRMs are frequently not powerful or popular enough to fight back effectively. Curiously, the ACM never seems to aim their concerns about "mind control" against the mass media--television being a prime example--which holds tremendous sway over the minds of millions, especially the young.
THE "MIND CONTROL" MYTH is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated on the public in modern times. The present prosperity of the ACM leans heavily on the pillar of their mind control theories for support. The myth serves many purposes:
1. It creates fear and concern, especially among parents of NRM members whom the ACM targets, enjoining them to support the ACM and hire ACM deprogrammers.
2. It enables ex-members and their parents alike to save face and avoid having to take personal responsibility for their actions.
3. It "medicalises" ideological differences in order to side-step the obvious issue of violations of human and religious rights by ACM activists.
4. It creates a set of accusations so nebulous that "experts" can rarely be proven wrong since their conclusions are based on highly speculative, theoretical, abstract and subjective personal opinions and values.
5. The "mind control" myth is the basis of the very lucrative "faith-breaking" industry, which now threatens even mainstream religions.
"Mind crimes" are impossible to substantiate with real and tangible evidence or eyewitness accounts. No one has ever actually seen a person's mind being kidnapped, especially without the person involved even noticing it. The simple fact is that although people can be bullied, bribed, intimidated, tortured, blackmailed, blinded by love and emotions, tricked, etc., still none of these can produce mind-controlled zombies who happily abdicate all power of reason and personal choice to others. It just doesn't happen.
People can be influenced, coaxed, coerced, pressured, persuaded, convinced and even converted and indoctrinated, providing they voluntarily decide to go along with or accept the ideas and suggestions being given them. However, this still does not produce selfless "brainwashed" zombies suffering from some "information disease". Actually, the term "brainwashing" doesn't describe a real condition at all, but is used as a demeaning bias-evoking pejorative for any transfer of beliefs, influence, conformity, indoctrination, socialisation, conversion or change of attitude that doesn't meet with the accuser's approval.48
Brainwashing in the original Communist sense does not exist, and brainwashing in the popular sense is, at most, coercive persuasion which in the absence of imprisonment and torture "cannot be distinguished from mainstream religions and other conventional social influences" (Amicus Brief, 29 Feb. 1988: 21). The harsh, condemnatory, manipulative treatment received at the hands of ACM deprogrammers often involving deception, force, threats and involuntary confinement, are close to being like the thought reform "brainwashing" methods the Red Chinese used.
"Brainwashing" implies the use of force, coercion, duress and imprisonment, yet in The Family full-time membership is a privilege and a disciple must be very determined to be a member before they will even be accepted. In order to count the cost, and avoid hasty decisions, anyone wishing to join The Family must first go through a probationary period to be firmly convinced in their own mind that this is indeed the type of lifestyle that they wish to follow. Family recruiting methods are gentle, Christian, and centred on love and concern for the spiritual well-being of others.
Coleman points out the difference between normal NRM recruitment and ACM deprogramming:
Try as they [NRMs] may to convert their potential recruits, new religions are limited in their effectiveness by the fact that the person is free to leave. Deprogrammers labor under no such limitation. Through imprisonment, pressure sufficient to produce true apostasy is quite feasible. Thus, while neither new religions nor deprogrammers are able to "steal the mind," the deprogrammers have a crucial edge when it comes to behavior control: they hold prisoners. (Coleman, April 1984: 323-324.)
There is an old saying we believe to be true, that "a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."49 Even if "brainwashing" were possible--which it is not without torture, coercion and total control, and even then many social scientists and mental health experts are sceptical of any sustained effect50--that does not change or alter the fact that people have a right to be members of NRMs if they so desire. The chapter, "Cult Processes, Religious Totalism and Civil Liberties" (Robbins 1985), explains that Lifton, in effect, suggests:
Citizens still have a right to voluntarily enter even coercive situations if they so desire, just as they have the right to enter the military or other regimented environments.
Some people understandably prefer to live within self-sufficient religious communes characterized by regimentation and uniformity of opinion rather than in the atomistic alienation which characterizes a pluralistic secular society. (Amicus Brief 1988: 20 citing Robbins, et al. (eds.) (1985: 59,61,67-68).)
Actively witnessing Christians, like those in The Family, have throughout the ages stirred up some hostility from certain sections of society, who either misunderstood or rejected the message of the Gospel. The first century Roman writer Celsus even described Christianity as "an attempt to subvert society, to destroy family life" (Frend 1982: 63). This sounds very much like today's criticism of The Family! Of course, some ACM sources even go so far as to attempt to deny that The Family is Christian, reasoning, "It's acceptable to attack them because they aren't really a religion." That lie dissipates when confronted by our devout membership who know and live the Bible.
Bromley said at a May 1987 Southern Baptist conference in the U.S.A. that it is a myth that cults brainwash their converts. "If they could brainwash people, you would assume that their success rate for recruitment would be very high, and . . . the escape and defection rate would be very low."51 Family statistics (kept throughout the 24 years of our movement's history) reveal that of all those who have joined us full-time, only one adult member in ten has remained active in the movement. 90% have returned to their secular lives. Of all the children born in the movement, 25% have now departed either with their parents, or if their parents remained, have gone to live with relatives outside The Family. We have found the Scripture, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14) to be true. Of the close to 38,000 adults who have at one time joined one of our communities, and of the 10,000 children born in The Family, approximately 34,000 adults and 2,500 children are no longer associated with us. Of those who are no longer with us, only a tiny fraction have become enemies active in the ACM. The handful of vocal opponents is composed of ex-members who have undergone intense deprogramming or "exit counselling" to where they have either become deprogrammers themselves, or are supporters of deprogrammers and the "mind control" myth.
However, as statistics clearly show, The Family obviously has neither the ability nor the desire to hold or control its members through "mind control" or any other means. We take our commitment to God seriously, and freely and individually make our choice to serve Him as a member of The Family. The slurring of our faith, dedication and deeply held religious convictions as just being "mind control" is the height of religious contempt, intolerance and bigotry.
If all coercion and "brainwashing" were eliminated from the earth, The Family would rejoice and continue to keep going in service to God. The ACM, however, would be instantly unemployed. They are the ones who are dependent on "brainwashing" and "mind control", not us!
We leave you with this concluding thought from Dr Lee Coleman's article, New Religions and the Myth of Mind Control:
We have a choice. We can misuse psychiatry and the courts to "get the cults," by injecting into our jurisprudence the concept that normally functioning persons may nonetheless be considered incompetent to make choices. Or we can reject utterly any temptation to violate the civil rights of any person, even if we are genuinely troubled by that person's choices and actions. If the rule of law means anything, it means that individuals are protected from capricious interference. Interference based on "mind-control" has no place in a free society. (Coleman, April 1984: 324.)
1. This illustration is borrowed from Dr London (London 1990:16,17) who gave testimony against the "robot" theory of mind control put forth by Margaret Singer and others. In his deposition submitted August 7, 1990 in the case of United States v. Fishman, Dr London said, "At issue is the scientific validity of the [Robot] theories, not whether persons are authorities on them. If . . . a world-renowned expert on astrology [testified] for the purpose of showing that celestial influences were actually to blame for [someone's] brief psychosis, the court probably would not admit such expert testimony, regardless of the respect which the astrology expert might command in his or her field. This is so because theories of astrology have not been scientifically tested and proven. If the validity of the underlying theory is not established, the extent of the expert's authority in the field is irrelevant. . . . A given scientific theory may be believed, taught, and written about by hundreds of respected scientists and still be recognized as unproven or unprovable, thereby making it an unfit topic for expert testimony. The Robot Theory has been implicitly rejected for lack of scientific support by the Board of Ethical and Social Responsibility of the American Psychological Association: As noted in defendant's motion, the Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility (BSERP) of the American Psychological Association itself specific commissioned the Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC), chaired by Dr. Singer, and requested the report prepared by that task force. . . . This action of the board, rejecting outright the report of its own special committee, may be unprecedented in the history of the APA. As witnessed in the recent discovery response of the APA in Ruehle v. Lifespring, the association continues to stand by its decision."
2. Gene G. James, "Brainwashing: The Myth and the Actuality", (1986) Thought, Fordham University Quarterly, vol. LXI, June 1986, p. 254, said it was "absurd to compare this [recruiting practice of new religions] to the fear of death in prisons held by the Chinese and North Koreans"; Baker, The Making of a Moonie (1984) p. 134, said the comparison "cannot be taken seriously"; Saliba, "Psychology and the New Cults: Part I" (1985) Academic Psychology Bulletin vol. 7: 51, said, "The model of the Chinese prisoner of war camp . . . is highly deficient since members of the new religious movements are not abducted or physically detained"; Anthony and Robbins, "New Religions, Families, and `Brainwashing'", In God We Trust (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1981) pp. 263-265 called the comparison "far-fetched."
3. The term "brainwashing" was derived from the Chinese phrase hsi nao, which literally means "cleansing the mind," and describes the process whereby the vestiges of the old order were washed away in the process of reeducation to assume one's proper role in the new Communist order. The Chinese Communist program of reeducation was more commonly referred to as szu-hsiang kai-tsao, which is variously translated as "ideological remolding," "ideological reform," or "thought reform." (Lunde and Wilson, "Brainwashing as a Defense to Criminal Liability: Patty Hearst Revisited" (1977), 13 Crim. L. Bull. 341,343 fn. 6.)
4. Edgar Schein (Schein 1958) did not look into the overall effect that "thought reform" had on the Chinese population. The people of China were continually subjected to "thought reform" teachings and treatment. If the Tiananmen Square demonstration in 1989 is an indication of how successful their efforts were, then obviously the process did not work well in the long run in China. It did not work well on the soldiers either, and even in brutal conditions very few captive soldiers "confessed" to Korean War crimes and became collaborators.
5. Dr Perry London, Dean of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, in his deposition August 7, 1990, in United States v. Fishman, United States District Court (Northern District of California), discussing Lifton and Schein's work says, "Nothing cited anywhere indicates that they have changed their minds since. In any case, these works do not claim to be controlled studies and could not properly be used to assert that the Robot Theory has scientific status sufficient for use in expert testimony of the type being offered in . . . instances of coercive persuasion" (paragraph 16 page 13).
6. This brief was prepared for use in the Molko and Leal v. Holy Spirit Association case to clarify the state of acceptable scientific opinion concerning theories of brainwashing, and was initially put together by the American Psychological Association, which subsequently withdrew its involvement because its Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC) had not yet reported and the brief, therefore, pre-empted the Task Force report. The brief was then taken over by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and endorsed by a number of other scientists and academics in the United States. Drs Singer and Ofshe have incorrectly implied in declarations that the Amicus Brief filed by the APA in the Molko case was "discredited". The fact of the matter is that the APA was waiting for Dr Singer, who chaired the DIMPAC Task Force, to present her report, which the APA ended up rejecting. As for the Amicus Brief, the APA clearly stated when it withdrew it that "by this action APA does not mean to suggest endorsement of any views opposed to those set forth in the Amicus Brief. Nor does APA mean to suggest that it will not ultimately be able to subscribe to the views expressed in the brief" (cited by London 1990:18).
7. Amicus Brief (1988), p. 11,12; also Lunde and Wilson, "Brainwashing as a Defense to Criminal Liability: Patty Hearst Revisited" (1977) 13 Crim. L. Bull. 350.
Also Joel Fort of the University of California, Berkeley, who gave testimony in the Patty Hearst trial, said the following, "As I ultimately testified and as the jury quickly concluded, no magical thought or behaviour control process was involved in this case and no coercion/duress was being exerted on Patty Hearst at the time of the bank robbery. Only some 12 percent of the American people in the nationwide polls disagreed with my testimony in the Hearst case and with the final verdict. The Korean-Chinese model of presumed `brainwashing' was misinterpreted initially (and currently) and had no applicability to the Hearst trial. And in any case, no Americans in Korea or China had ever demonstrated a long-term acceptance of their captors' belief systems; more importantly, none of them shot at, robbed, or kidnapped others" (Biderman, The Manipulation of Human Behavior, 1961; Bowart, Operation Mind Control, 1978; Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, 1978). (Fort, Scientific Research and New Religions, B. K. Kilbourne (ed.), 1985: 60.)
8. Brief Amicus, p. 23 cites Lunde and Wilson, "The Patty Hearst Trial", 13 Crim. L. Bull. 342 (United States v. Hearst, No. 74-364 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 5, 1976)).
9. In the civil action suit which Jane Green and Patrick Ryan filed on March 13, 1991 against Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (#87-0015 OG), in the United States District Court for the District of Colombia, seeking damages for alleged mental and psychological harm against the transcendental meditation movement, the plaintiffs sought to bring in expert evidence from Dr Margaret Singer and Dr Richard Ofshe. Singer and Ofshe sought to adduce to expert evidence that thought reform could be induced without the application of physical coercion. They sought to argue that Robert Lifton in Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China, 1961, and Edgar Schein, Coercive Persuasion, 1961, concluded that thought reform programs could bring about a change in an individual's belief system. Most of the cases studied by them involved physical coercion. The question was whether or not Dr Singer and Dr Ofshe's theory of thought reform in the absence of physical coercion was admissible as scientific evidence. In considering the nature of scientific expert evidence in civil proceedings, the District Court applied the Frye test, namely that the theory upon which the scientific opinion was based had to enjoy "substantial" acceptance in the scientific community. The court ruled that Singer and Ofshe's theory did not enjoy "substantial" scientific approval and was therefore not admissible as the basis of expert opinion.
10. In the case of Stephen Fishman in the United States District Court of California, (case number #CR-88-06161-DLG), the Court in criminal proceedings ruled that the theory was not admissible as the basis of expert opinion in criminal proceedings using the test of "general" acceptability. In a deposition submitted August 7, 1990, Dr Perry London, Dean of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, a licensed psychologist in the U.S. and Israel, gave testimony against Dr Ofshe and Dr Singer's use of the terms "thought reform" (or "coercive persuasion", or "brainwashing") to refer interchangeably to two radically different theories, which Dr London called the "Social Influence Theory" and the "Robot Theory". He pointed out that these "experts" tried to use scholarly literature which only applied to the "Social Influence" theory in an attempt to cause "confusion and misunderstanding in the minds of listeners as to the status of the `Robot Theory', which is not recognized by the scientific community as there is no controlled empirical scientific literature supporting it."
11. The chapter, "The `Deformation' of New Religions: Impacts of Societal and Organizational Factors," by James T. Richardson, (Robbins 1985: 163-164) cites the following footnotes:
/1/ This admittedly overdrawn mythological interpretation of new religions is illustrated in the work of Richard Delgado, a legal scholar, and of Margaret Singer and John Clark, two prominent psychiatrists associated with the Anti-Cult Movement. See Richard Delgado, "Limits to Proselytizing," 17(3) Society 25 (1980); John Clark, "Cults," 24 (3) Journal of the American Medical Association 281 (1979); Margaret Singer, "Coming Out of the Cults," 12 Psychology Today 72 (1979).
/2/ Dick Anthony, Tom Robbins, and Jim McCarthy, "Legitimating Repression," 17(3) Society 39 (1980).
12. In Donald T. Lunde and Thomas E. Wilson's, "Brainwashing as a Defense to Criminal Liability: Patty Hearst Revisited", Criminal Law Bulletin, vol. 13, 1977, 347-348, cited by Biermans (1988: 29), American soldiers were subjected to attempts by the Communists to change their political ideas about communism and capitalism through various deprivations, group discussions and written confessions. This, of course, was done while they were being held under total physical coercion. As a result, during captivity, some gave the appearance of having been changed, but only a few were genuinely changed in their political views.
13. See also Biermans (1988: 38-39). One footnote in his book reads as follows:
41. Religious studies professor Irving Hexham of the University of Calgary and anthropology professor Karla Poewe of the University of Lethbridge offer a similar conclusion: "We reject the brainwashing thesis not only because it represents an attack upon religious conversion generally but also because there is considerable evidence that people join new religions of their own free will." The main sources of evidence they cite to support their conclusion are the following: "First, there are testimonies by ex-cult members who have totally repudiated the beliefs of the cult but strongly deny that they were trapped by techniques of mind control. . . . Finally, accounts of the cult members themselves often indicate that their decision to become members in new religions followed a long search not only for meaning but also for the resolution of major life crises." (Hexham and Poewe 1986: 9-10.)
14. Biermans (1988: 33) cites "Interview with Harvey Cox", in Steven J. Gelberg, ed., Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna (New York: Grove Press, 1983).
15. Biermans (1988: 5) cites Robert W. Balch, "What's Wrong with the Study of New Religions and What Can We Do About It", in Brock Kilbourne, ed., Scientific Research and New Religions, 1985, 25.
16. Ted Patrick's personal interest in "rescuing" members out of NRMs originated from an incident in which some youthful members of The Children of God witnessed to his son, telling him how to receive Jesus as his Saviour. Incensed that religious beliefs different from his own were presented to his son by the COG missionaries, Patrick devised dubious means of dealing with those (whether they were minors or adults) who converted to NRM beliefs: forcible kidnapping and "deprogramming".
17. Ted Patrick is known for his violent deprogramming techniques and has faced numerous legal actions, arrests and convictions: In June, 1974, he was sentenced to one year imprisonment but got off on probation. In 1975 an attempt to deprogramme a Catholic woman from Canada resulted in a government ban on his entering Canada. In June, 1975, in Orange County, California he was charged again with false imprisonment and received a sentence of 60 days. His probation was revoked and in July 1976 he started a one-year prison term. In 1976 Wendy Helander sued him for 86 days of false imprisonment, and was awarded damages by the court in Bridgeport, Connecticut. While out of jail on a work furlough program, in February, 1977, he attempted another deprogramming. In August, 1977, he pleaded guilty. In April, 1980, he received another one-year jail sentence and five years of probation. In January, 1982, he faced six counts of sexual battery, three counts of kidnapping, abduction and assault. In October, 1982, he was jailed in San Diego for violation of parole as a result of another deprogramming attempt. In June, 1984, his parole was revoked due to another deprogramming attempt. In May, 1985, in San Diego, he was charged with possession of cocaine. In August, 1985, he was sentenced to three years in prison for violation of his 1980 probation.
18. Skonovd also says that the "brainwashing" explanation for all NRM involvement effectively "absolves individuals of responsibility for their own conversions, for remaining in the group, and for behaving in `abnormal' ways while in, based upon the argument that they were brainwashed into converting and then manipulated by mind control."
19. James T. Richardson in "The `Deformation' of New Religions: Impacts of Societal and Organizational Factors," (Robbins et al. (eds.) 1985: 167-168) says:
"Some of the parents simply cannot believe that their children would, of their own volition, choose such a life. To admit such a choice is to admit that their son or daughter rejected them, their values, and perhaps more importantly, the hope and plans that those parents had for the offspring in terms of education and occupation."
20. A footnote in Coleman's chapter, "New Religions and `Deprogramming': Who's Brainwashing Whom?" reads as follows:
9. As Solomon writes in Integrating the "Moonie" Experience, persons forcibly removed "will often arise from the ashes with new-found friends (other ex-members), a rejuvenated parent-child relationship, perhaps a new avocation (deprogramming) and definitely a new reference group and cause celebré--the anti-cult movement" (293).
21. Dean Kelley condemns deprogramming as "protracted spiritual gang-rape until they [the `victims'] yield their most cherished religious commitments." He calls it "the most serious violation of spiritual liberty in this generation . . . [striking] at the most precious and vulnerable portion of the victim's life, religious conviction and commitment." (Kelley, "Deprogramming and Religious Liberty," Civil Liberties Review, vol. 4, July/Aug. 27, 1977.)
22. Coleman refers to R. Delgado article, "Religious totalism: gentle and ungentle persuasion under the First Amendment", S.Calif. Law Review 51: 1-97.
23. Bromley and Hammond (1987: 225-229) say, "The simple fact that deprogrammers could physically abduct and confine members of new religious groups and that within a few days (or sometimes a matter of hours) these individuals would renounce the group and testify that they had been brainwashed lent powerful credence to the brainwashing allegations."
24. Barker also includes the following footnote:
53. Lewis (n.d.), p.15; James R. Lewis "Reconstructing the `Cult' Experience: Post-Involvement Attitudes as a Function of Mode of Exit and Post-Involvement Socialization", Sociological Analysis, vol. 47, no. 2, 1986. Lewis' study replicated an earlier one by Trudy Solomon, reported in Robbins and Anthony (eds.) (1981), pp. 275-294. See Bromley (ed.) (1988), especially part III.
James Lewis divided 154 ex-members of NRMs into three groups:
(1) those who had left their movement voluntarily and had not been exposed to any form of "anti-cult" counselling (what is sometimes referred to as "exit counselling"),
(2) those who had left voluntarily and then undergone some form of "anti-cult" counselling, and
(3) those who had been forcibly deprogrammed. He asked the ex-members to evaluate the extent to which they believed that
(a) they had been recruited deceptively,
(b) they had been "brainwashed",
(c) their leader was insincere, and
(d) the group's beliefs were spurious. He found that in all four of these matters the ex-members' attitudes were directly related to their "degree of contact with the `anti-cult movement'". In other words, the more contact that ex-members had had with the `anti-cult movement', the more likely they were to interpret their movement in negative terms.
25. "Sometimes, indeed, an unquestioning, womb-like atmosphere in which clear-cut directives are given can enable a person to cope when he or she had felt unable to do so `outside'. In fact, there is some evidence that suggests that some people can, in a number of ways, fare better as a result of their stay in some movements." (Barker 1989: 55-57). The Hill Report to the Ontario Provincial Government in Canada, titled "The Study of Mind Development and Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario", said, "Only a small number of persons . . . related totally negative experiences. Most former members, even if strongly disenchanted with their movements on other grounds, were relatively healthy and admitted that their membership had some positive effects. Most of those who became casualties or experienced substantial psychological difficulty short of breakdown seem to have undergone personal crises in their lives prior to joining their movements. A few clearly had been unstable." (Hill 1980: 552.)
Also see, for example, Marc Galanter, R. & J. Rabkin and A. Deutsch "The `Moonies': A Psychological Study of Conversion and Membership in a Contemporary Religious Sect", American Journal of Psychiatry 136:2, February 1979; Wolfgang Kuner "New Religious Movements and Mental Health" in Barker (ed.) (1983); Tom Robbins and Dick Anthony "New Religious Movements and the Social System: Integration, disintegration and transformation" The Annual Review of the Social Sciences of Religion, vol. 21, 1978, pp. 1-27; Michael W. Ross "Mental Health in Hare Krishna Devotees: A Longitudinal Study" The American Journal of Social Psychiatry, 5/4. Fall 1985, pp. 65-67.
26. Cox (Needleman and Baker (eds.) 1978) and Bromley (1981) describe how Maria Monk (1836) and Rebecca Reed, young American women, wrote the books, Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery (1850, republished New York: Arno 1977) and Six Months in a Convent, full of atrocity tales they supposedly suffered before escaping from their Catholic convents, complete with the usual lies told about convents in those days: illegitimate babies, infanticide, graves, and all the rest. The books were widely read, perhaps even best-sellers. One of the convents was investigated and not a trace of truth to the charges was found. Still, an angry mob attacked the convent and burned it down.
Actually, neither woman had ever been a nun, a fact well known to the Protestant groups that used them to whip up anti-Catholic hatreds. The two books were largely ghostwritten by leaders of the anti-Catholic movement. According to historians who have investigated both cases, Reed worked in a convent for a short time and Monk's only contact with a convent came when she was confined by her mother to a Catholic-run mental asylum for incorrigible behaviour.
According to one historical account of the Reed case: "In order to escape censure as a failure, she put her imagination to work instead of her muscles and thereby found a way to get out of her intolerable position with honor. She decided to flee the convent and spread the story that she was being forced to take orders against her will. Once out, she quickly got into the clutches of the Beecher (Protestant) group" (J.P. Chaplin, Rumor, Fear and the Madness of Crowds [New York: Ballantine], p. 17).
Monk, on the other hand, was about to give birth to an illegitimate child (the father was a notorious anti-Catholic activist) and sought to escape her obvious dishonourable state by blaming the whole affair on forcible seduction by a Catholic priest. While the Reed and Monk cases are extreme, they illustrate the operation of private motives in such conflicts and warn against uncritical acceptance of unverifiable accounts. (See Harvey Cox's article in Needleman and Baker 1978: 125-129; also, Bromley and Shupe 1981: 15-16.)
27. For an expert opinion of this phenomenon, and a valuable critique of such "expert" opinions from mental health professionals, see Robbins and Anthony, "`Cults' vs. `Shrinks'" in New Religions and Mental Health, ed. Herbert Richardson (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1980).
28. Information Disease by Conway and Siegelman has been severely discredited by social scientists, psychiatrists and other academics such as James R. Lewis, David Bromley, Brock Kilbourne, and Lowell Streiker. The elaborate theory about "information disease" that Conway and Siegelman have created is particularly contemptible to most religious people because it denigrates just about any religious experience or conversion or activity, particularly if there is any intensity in it at all. As Lowell Streiker remarks, "Anything which reaches above the threshold of boredom is suspect."
29. Biermans (1988: 65-66) includes this footnote:
19. Since writing the book, Conway and Siegelman have gone on to attack all fundamentalist Christians, claiming that they are more dangerous than the "destructive cults." See Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Holy Terror (New York: Doubleday, 1982) 5. Streiker (1984: 163) says, "If Lifton's Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism is the deprogrammer's Bible, Snapping is its Summa Theologica, Constitution, and Encyclopedia Britannica all rolled into one."
Hexham and Poewe (1986: 8,9) also wrote:
Evangelicals welcomed Conway and Siegelman's book Snapping because it was a direct attack upon the Moonies and their leader. They completely ignored a short statement on page 46 that equates the conversion practices of the Moonies with those of evangelical Christians. In their latest book, Holy Terror (1982), however, Conway and Siegelman press their attack upon evangelicals directly, insisting that conversion is a form of snapping or brainwashing not only among would-be new religionists but also among would-be evangelical Christians.
30. The unreliability of psychiatric diagnosis has been adequately demonstrated in the California Law Review (vol. 62: 693).
31. See also "The Expert Witness In Psychology and Psychiatry", David Faust and Jay Ziskin, From Science, Volume 241, July 1988.
32. Shepherd (1985: 31-37) adds to this point:
The "cult problem" thus becomes medicalized such that the inflicting of "involuntary harms" through traumatic and pathologenic processes of coercive persuasion is deemed by some legal authorities to constitute grounds for governmental intervention against cults.
33. Watchtower, August 15, 1992, reports that in 1991, a Consistory [solemn council of Cardinals] was organised to discuss certain matters of great concern to the Catholic Church, such as the "aggressiveness of the sects". Italian newspaper IL Sabato reported, "All are in accord that there is a need for a more in-depth study of the phenomenon of new religious movements and also a need to prevent, as far as possible, their expansion."
Bromley and Shupe (1981: 17-19) explain this phenomena in historical context: "Antigroups that opposed new religions have traditionally come from established churches, various levels of government, and groups of individuals who have come into direct, personal conflict with the new religions. For established churches the issue has been the new religions' belligerent rejection of them. . . . Leaders of established churches usually warned their parishioners of the spiritual dangers posed by the new religions and tried to discredit their teachings. Often they were not averse to rallying public opinion and stimulating government action wherever possible. Organizations formed with the avowed purpose of exposing and attacking one or more of the new religions."
The Resolution on Missionaries and Deprogramming which was officially adopted by the United American Hebrew Congregations on November 21, 1977 states: "We affirm the right to use legal deprogramming efforts. . . . We recommend that our Movement work locally and nationally with individuals and groups concerned with activities of the cults. Join in an effort to remove the influence of such groups from within our communities." (Cultic Studies Journal, vol. 2, no. 2, 1986.)
Geoffrey Paul, U.S. Affairs Editor for the London-based Jewish Chronicle reports in the June 26, 1992 edition: "The problem of cults preying on Jews has become so severe in the United States that the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York operates a full-time office, the Task Force on Missionaries and Cults, to help individuals and families fight back. It regards cults and religious missionary groups on a par."
34. Barker's footnote:
8 M. Darrol Bryant (ed.) Religious Liberty in Canada: Deprogramming and Media Coverage of New Religions, Toronto; Canadians for the Protection of Religious Liberty, 1979, pp.11-18; The Toronto Star, 11 March 1975.
35. Barker's footnote:
New York Times, 11 August 1988; New York Post, 21 July 1988; Newsday, 29 June 1988.
36. Barker's footnote:
James Bjornstad The Deprogramming and Rehabilitation of Modern Cult Members, paper presented at the Eastern Sectional Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Lancaster Bible College, PA, 1 April 1988, p.17.
37. Barker's footnote:
Mail on Sunday, 2 December 1984; The Guardian, 30 October 1985.
38. Barker's footnote:
12 For further examples of the `scope' of deprogrammings, see, for example, Bryant, op. cit.; Deprogramming: Documenting the Issue, prepared for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Toronto School of Theology Conferences on Deprogramming, 5 February 1977 (New York) and 18-20 March 1977 (Toronto); "Now--Deprogramming for Everyone" The Washington Star, 18 December 1976; Associated Press 2 July 1980.
39. Richardson, James T., Coercion in Court: Brainwashing Allegations and Religious Proselytizing (1991).
40. The following are references to such investigators and results of their investigations: Bromley and Shupe (1979); Galanter et.al. 1979, American Journal of Psychiatry 136: 165-170; Hill (1980); Levine and Salter, 1979, Canadian Psychiatric Association J. 21(6): 411-420; Ungerleider and Wellisch, 1979, American Journal of Psychiatry 136: 279-282.
41. "Contrary to popular treatments, existing research by sociological investigators indicates there is no reason to believe that entry into an alternative religion evidences any different decision-making processes than entry into other voluntary associations and activities common to a comparable population" (Melton and Moore, 1982: 36-46).
Stoner and Parke perceived the majority of "cult" members whom they encountered in their research as zealous in the same way many sectarian Christians are zealous. In fact, they asserted (1977: 30): "We have yet to meet a cult member, or former cultist, who has convinced us that he was hypnotized into a new religion" (cited in Shepherd 1985: 31-37).
42. Population statistics have been kept of membership in The Family and its predecessor, the Children of God, going as far back as 1971.
Adult membership (twenty-one and over) in our full-time and supporter communities worldwide currently numbers 3,955 (World Services Statistics, January 1993).
43. Shepherd (1985: 31-37) writes: "Psychiatric afflictions may of course arise, but religious deviance is not necessarily and by definition a front on which state-condoned compulsory psychiatry may move. When we use the rhetoric of mental illness to justify intervention, we may both mask and exacerbate tensions within society that make new religious group membership look attractive in the first place and fuel the righteous vehemence of the anticult movement. (Robbins and Anthony, 1982; Shupe and Bromley, 1980.) And by stigmatizing new religious movements we may force members into further closure and further alienation (deviance amplification) (Robbins, 1979-80: 48)."
44. Barker adds the following footnote:
136 An example would be John Clark's "Cults" in Journal of the American Medical Association, 242/3, 1979, pp. 279-181. For a critique of this position see Tom Robbins and Dick Anthony "Deprogramming, Brainwashing and the Medicalization of Deviant Religious Groups" Social Problems, vol. 29, 1982, pp. 283-297. See also Herbert Richardson (ed.) New Religions and Mental Health: Understanding the Issues, New York & Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1980.
45. Levine and Salter (1976: 414) concluded in their study of members from various "cults" that "psychiatric diagnoses could not be applied to the majority of cases. . . . It would be fallacious to label all of these religious followers as more emotionally disturbed than their peers." Nor did they believe that membership in a "cult" was necessarily a dangerous experience for individuals. They acknowledged (1976: 417): "Of those who do join the fringe religions, most will not be markedly changed, or harmed, any more than if they had joined any other intense belief system and cult, be it political, for example, Communist, chemical (drug scene) . . . or therapeutic (primal groups)" (cited in Shupe and Bromley, 1980: 80-81).
46. "Ten Years after Jonestown, The Battle Intensifies over the Influence of `Alternative' Religions". Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1988, by Bob Sipchen; Home Edition Section: View Page: 1.
47. In isolated cases where certain drugs have been administered or brain disorders have occurred, some human behaviour can seemingly be outside the control of the individual involved. Organic dysfunctions of the brain, for example, are said to be the cause of automatism whereby someone carries out an attack on others, not knowing what they are doing. However, in all such situations the person is not in control of his or her own actions. In other words, they have no real choice in the matter whatsoever. However, even in Chinese "thought reform" where men were driven to the point of madness and despair, as soon as the oppressing agent was removed the men chose to leave their "mental captors" even if for a time some for convenience had complied. The furthest one can go with Lifton's thought reform and Schein's coercive persuasion theories is that in extreme conditions it may be possible to get somebody to say they have changed their beliefs, but whether they actually have or not is far from clear. Lifton seemed to indicate that some men were just very confused as to whether or not they had changed their beliefs. It is considered significant that of those American POWs who did seem to convert, all but 13, when given the choice to leave the environment in which they were subject to "control", exercised their free choice to leave their "mental captors". Of the 13 who did not go home, research indicates that they went to China for reasons other than "brainwashing".
48. Joel Fort of University of California, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, noted for research done on kidnap victims, author of The Addicted Society (New York: Grove, 1981) and other articles, and expert witness for the prosecution in the Patty Hearst trials, says, "The preponderance of talkers and writers on `brainwashing' . . . usually begin with undefined, and perhaps undefinable, terms like `brainwashing,' `deprogramming,' and `cult'; use opinion as fact and values as science; and almost invariably take a giant step backward by using as their foundation a few American literary and journalistic works about the Korean War and alleged Chinese torture and thought reform. . . . The very pejorative term `brainwashing' or the only slightly less biased terms `mind control' and `indoctrination' involve no more or less than the influencing, persuading, converting, or changing of attitudes."
49. The collapse of Communist control of the East Bloc and the former Soviet Union demonstrates the great flaw in any serious consideration that brainwashing and mind control are realities, even using brutality to put it into effect. The Communist State used all its power to attempt to "brainwash" its citizens for over 70 years, with obviously little lasting success. The Soviet State really only succeeded in controlling the outward behaviour of people, not their hearts and minds. Sadly enough, free democratic Western nations seem to be following a similar pattern of oppression of religions at a time when the former Communist Bloc has emerged from former dark days of repression.
50. In the U.S. court case, Kropinski v. Transcendental Meditation, Dr Margaret Singer's attempts to testify that brainwashing is possible even without confinement and threats were denied by the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court concluded "`Kropinski . . . has failed to provide any evidence that Dr Singer's particular theory, namely that techniques of thought reform may be effective in the absence of physical threats of coercion, has a significant following in the scientific community, let alone general acceptance.' In March, 1991, the trial court ruled that Singer . . . could not testify to [her] brainwashing/thought reform theories because they were not widely held in the scientific community." (A paper by James T. Richardson, 1991, Coercion in Court: Brainwashing Allegations and Religious Proselytizing, p. 23.)
51. As quoted by Kevin Kelly in the Spring 1987, Whole Earth Review page 57.
Before becoming Professor of Sociology at Reading University in 1964, Stanislav Andreski was Lecturer at Brunel College (1947-1960), Professor of Sociology at Santiago, Chile (1960-1961), and Senior Research Fellow, NISER, Ibaden, Nigeria. He is the author of a number of books, including Military Organisation and Society and The African Predicament as well as Social Sciences as Sorcery (1972).
Dick Anthony has extensive experience as a research psychologist evaluating the mental health effects of involvement in NRMs. The results of his research have been published in over 50 articles in professional journals and in several books. His expertise has been used in the legal arena to evaluate anti-cult brainwashing theories and testimony, such as the "robot" theories of mind control promoted by Singer, West, and others.
Eileen Barker is a Sociologist of Religion at the London School of Economics and the only non-American to be elected President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. She is well known through her publications (such as the award-winning The Making of a Moonie, 1984), her media appearances, and as the founder and head of INFORM which is a British-based NRM information service that is supported by mainstream churches and the Home Office.
Biermans, John T.
John T. Biermans is a New York attorney, having studied law at the University of Toronto and the University of San Francisco, and author of the book The Odyssey of New Religions Today (1988).
Brockway, Allan R.
Rev. Brockway is programme secretary for Christian-Jewish relations with the World Council of Churches' Sub-unit on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths.
Bromley, David G.
David Bromley received his Ph.D. in 1971 from Duke University, specialising in political and urban sociology. After serving on the faculties of the University of Virginia and the University of Texas at Arlington, he is currently Associate Professor and Chairman of Sociology at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. His primary research interests are in the areas of social movements, deviance, and political and urban sociology. He has written extensively about NRMs and the ACM and travels and speaks widely on this concern.
Dr Coleman is a psychiatrist practising in Berkeley, California. His long-standing interest in the problems of psychiatry and law has led to two dozen articles in professional and lay journals, as well as the book The Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority and Law (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984).
Harvey Cox is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity, at Harvard University.
Dr Faust is Director of Psychology at Rhode Island Hospital and Associate Professor within the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.
Author of The Addicted Society, New York: Grove, 1981; To Dream the Perfect Organization, Oakland, California: Third Party Publishers, 1981. He was called in as an expert witness for the prosecution in the Patty Hearst trials having studied thirty-five American kidnap victims and found no evidence of acceptance by them of their kidnappers' ideologies or any kind of partnership with them in robbing and kidnapping others.
Irving Hexham is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary.
Kelley, Dean M.
Dr Kelley is Director for Religious Liberty at the National Council of Churches of Christ in New York.
Kilpatrick, William Kirk
William Kilpatrick is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at Boston College. A graduate of Holy Cross College, he holds degrees from Harvard University and Purdue University. He is a lecturer on psychology and religion in colleges and universities around the U.S. He also wrote, Psychological Seduction (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983) and The Emperor's New Clothes: The Naked Truth about the New Psychology (Westchester: Crossway Books, 1985).
Lewis, James R.
Social scientist James R. Lewis is the author or co-author of several scientific studies and papers, many of which focus on the dynamics of membership in new religious movements. While completing his graduate programme at Syracuse University, his research so outraged the anti-cult movement that they sought to have his work halted. The substance of his work was a careful analysis of the circular practices employed by anti-cultists whereby they would first instil negative attitudes in ex-members of NRMs towards their former group or movement, and then use these same negatively influenced ex-members as proof of the malevolence of the group or movement.
In one study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, using 154 former members of new religious groups, Lewis stated, "It is all too clear that former `cultists' who affiliate with the anti-cult movement are encouraged to reinterpret their membership in the worst possible terms."
Writings that develop this theme include: Apostates and the Legitimation of Repression: Some Historical and Empirical Perspectives on the "Cult" Controversy (n.d.), Santa Barbara, The Institute for the Study of American Religion; "Reconstructing the `Cult' Experience", Sociological Analysis vol. 47, no. 2, 1986, p. 15; "The Cult Withdrawal Syndrome: A Case of Misattribution of Cause?", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 508-522, December 1987, co-authored by Bromley.
Lifton, Robert J.
Psychiatrist Lifton first made his mark in 1961 when he published his book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China. Scholars have rejected Lifton's attempts to extend his studies of American prisoners of war and his theories of "coercive persuasion" to all sorts of other groups and practices in society. Lifton is a close associate of L.J. West (see below) and a frequent speaker at ACM conventions, held by such groups as the Cult Awareness Network (CAN).
Melton, J. Gordon
J. G. Melton is an author and editor of the comprehensive Encyclopedia of American Religions (1989) and other books, and is head of the Institute of the Study of American Religion.
Moore, Robert L.
Robert L. Moore is an Associate Professor at Chicago Theological Seminary and the author of John Wesley and Authority: A Psychological Perspective.
Patrick, Theodore (Jr.)
In the summer of 1971, "Ted" Patrick served as Governor Ronald Reagan's special representative for community relations in the San Diego area, which Bromley (1988: 190) describes as "a low-level community action position" that he [Patrick] described as "a sort of ombudsman". After his son was witnessed to by The Children of God, Patrick decided to pretend to be a religious seeker to gain entrance to a Children of God community. The intense devotion and expression of love for God and others offended Patrick and he started accusing the Children of God of brainwashing. In 1974, he organised the CFF (Citizens Freedom Foundation). He considers himself to be "The Father of Deprogramming" according to his book, Let Our Children Go! (1976, co-authored by Tom Dulack), where they boast that deprogramming "may be said to involve kidnapping at the very least, quite often assault and battery, almost invariably conspiracy to commit a crime and illegal restraint" (p. 63). Patrick is a three-time convicted felon. He has been jailed after convictions of assault, kidnapping, unlawful detention, false imprisonment and violation of parole, and has been charged with a parade of criminal acts, including sexual offenses, battery, possession of cocaine and such brutal practices as assaulting a deprogramming victim with a straight-edge razor.
Rajashekar, J. Paul
Dr Rajashekar is secretary for the Lutheran Church and People of Other Faiths with the Lutheran World Federation's Department of Studies.
Richardson, James T.
James T. Richardson is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he has taught since receiving his Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1968. He has authored and edited three books in the area of new religions, and written over 30 journal articles focusing mainly on conversion processes, also treating new religions from a social movements perspective.
Thomas Robbins is a Sociologist of Religion who has written numerous articles on new religious movements for leading sociological and religious studies journals. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. He has taught or held research appointments at Yale University, Queens College of the City University of New York, Central Michigan University, the Graduate Theological Union and the New York School of Social Research. Robbins concentrates on research of NRMs in the U.S.A. and Western Europe; he analyses theories relating the growth of new religions to socio-cultural changes, the dynamics of conversions to and defections from movements, patterns of organisation and institutionalisation, and social controversies over NRMs.
Dr Robertson is Executive Vice President of Friends of Freedom, and an ordained minister. A graduate of Antioch Bible College, he is a seminary professor at Maryland Bible College and Seminary. He has been a minister of the Gospel since 1976 and a Bible college teacher since 1983. He has conducted extensive research into the issue of anti-religious groups in America and abroad, and their direct and covert attacks against religious groups. He says of Cult Awareness Network (CAN): "CAN's perversions were deeply hidden behind a veil of respectability, a veil promoted through lies and deceit and couched in pseudo-scientific terms to promote a false image of public service." He warns that CAN has "increasingly been directing their criminal actions against Christian groups" (quoted in foreword of A Criminal Assault on Religious Freedom: The Anti-religious Movement, 1991).
Shepherd, William C.
William Shepherd (deceased 1982) had a Ph.D. from Yale in religious studies and was a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Montana. His wife, Molly, a lawyer, finished and published the book, To Secure the Blessings of Liberty (1985).
Shupe, Anson D. (Jr.)
Anson D. Shupe, Jr., received his Ph.D. in 1975 from Indiana University, specialising in comparative political sociology. After teaching one year at Alfred University, he moved to the University of Texas at Arlington where he is currently Associate Professor of Sociology. His primary research interests are in the areas of social movements, sociology of religion, and political sociology. He is engaged in the long-range study of social movements and societal response with co-author David Bromley. He travels and speaks to various groups about NRMs and the ACM.
Singer is a clinical psychologist in private practice who earns a considerable portion of her income from testifying as an "expert witness" against NRMs. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley, but has never held a paid or tenured-track position there. She is on the board of directors of Cult Awareness Network (CAN). She likes to present the theory of "Systematic Manipulation of Social Influences" with a flair for alliteration by including a thought reform theory of "five d's", which simply put says that NRM deception leads to dependency on the NRM which debilitates them because of group control which causes dread mostly of the outside world which desensitises (mind controls) the person so that they are no longer able to make full use of their former conscience in making decisions about conduct. She presents her theory as having strong scientific underpinning, but this is absolutely not the case and has been challenged by the professional community to the point that in some cases Singer has been barred from giving testimony (see Amicus Brief, 29 Feb. 1988). In one "brainwashing" case involving an NRM in 1989 in Seattle, when Singer noticed Dick Anthony, a consultant who opposes the brainwashing theory, prepared to give testimony for the defence, she quickly backtracked and refused to discuss the "brainwashing" sections of her deposition in court.
Streiker, Lowell D.
Lowell Streiker holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in religion from Princeton University. After teaching religion at Temple University for eight years, he served as a member of the national campaign staff of United States Senator Henry M. ("Scoop") Jackson. In addition, he was co-producer and moderator of the television series "Counterpoint" on WCAU-TV (CBS) in Philadelphia. From 1976 to 1979, he was Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of San Mateo County, California. Previously, he was Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Delaware. In Delaware, he assisted in the rewriting of mental health statutes and spearheaded efforts for the renovation or closing of inhumane treatment facilities.
One inhumane organisation he is concerned with is Cult Awareness Network (CAN), which he says is so deeply involved in illegal deprogramming that he (who some NRMs consider an "exit counsellor" himself), has "had to clean up the wreckage that was left by [CAN's] deprogrammings that went sour over the years." One case concerned a personal friend of Streiker who became so distraught by CAN's warnings and upset by her son's proposed marriage, she had him committed to a mental hospital where he was drugged and deprogrammed by the president of the local chapter of CAN. Her son killed himself soon afterwards.
Streiker was raised in a religiously uncommitted Jewish home, he converted to Christianity at college. He is the author, co-author, and editor of ten books.
Szasz, Thomas S.
Szasz, born in 1920 in Budapest, immigrated to the United States in 1938, studied medicine in Cincinnati and received his psychiatric education at the University of Chicago, and his psycho-analytical education at the Institute for Psycho-Analysis. In 1948, he opened his own psycho-analytical practice. Since 1955, he is Professor in Psychiatry at the State University of New York in Syracuse. Szasz is a co-founder and member of the board of the American Association for Abolition of Compulsory Institutionalizing into Clinics for Nervous Diseases and a member of the board of directors of the National Committee on Crime & Criminality. The Humanistic Association of America in 1973 elected him "Humanitarian of the Year".
West, Louis Jolyon
Dr West, who had to resign his position with the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Los Angeles in 1989 over questions of wrongdoing related to research grants, has played a key role in bolstering the credibility of major ACM players, Citizen's Freedom Foundation (CFF) and Cult Awareness Network (CAN). He serves on the advisory board of the anti-religious group American Family Foundation, which was formed by CFF members in 1979. Early in his career, West conducted experiments which were part of the Central Intelligence Agency's mind control programs of the 1950s and 1960s. The CIA funded West's LSD research on human subjects, funnelling the money through a private medical research foundation, the Geschikter Fund. After years of denying that he had worked for the CIA, he finally admitted to a New York Times reporter that he knew the money he received came from the CIA. In the early 1970s, criticism of West for his human experimentation and racism resulted in his being denied government funding for his proposed Center for the Study of Violence. West serves on the advisory board of CAN.
Dr Jay Ziskin is a Los Angeles lawyer and psychologist in independent practice in forensic psychology and author of the book, Coping with Psychiatric Testimony.
Amicus Curiae Brief of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (29 February 1988)
4th Civil No. D007153 in Court of Appeal for the State of California (George v. Krishna Consciousness of California); Anthony; Richardson; Barker; Bettis; Fichter; Kahoe; Lewis; Malony; Marty; Parsons; Robbins; Weiss; Stark; Melton; Hammond; Mauss; Beckford.
Andreski, Stanislav (1972)
Social Sciences as Sorcery, London: Andre Deutsch Limited.
Anthony, Dick (1990)
"Religious Movements and `Brainwashing' Litigation", in T. Robbins and D. Anthony (eds.) In Gods We Trust: New Patterns of Religious Pluralism in America. New Jersey: Transaction Press.
Barker, Eileen (ed.) (1983)
Of Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the West. GA: Mercer University Press.
Barker, Eileen (1989)
New Religious Movements, a Practical Introduction. London: HMSO.
Beckford, James A. (1985)
Cult Controversies, The Societal Response to the New Religious Movements. London: Tavistock Publications.
Biermans, John T. (1988)
The Odyssey of New Religions Today--A Case Study of the Unification Church. New York: Edwin Mellen Press.
Brockway, Allan R. and Rajashekar, J. Paul (eds.) (1987)
New Religious Movements and the Churches. Report and papers of a consultation sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, Free University, Amsterdam, September 1986. Geneva: WCC Publications.
Bromley, David G. and Shupe, Anson D. Jr. (1979)
Moonies in America: Church, Cult and Crusade. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Bromley, David G. and Shupe, Anson D. Jr. (1980)
The New Vigilantes: Deprogrammers, Anti-Cultists, and the New Religions. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Bromley, David G. and Shupe, Anson D. Jr. (1981)
Strange Gods, The Great American Cult Scare. Boston: Beacon Press.
Bromley, David G. and Shupe, Anson D. Jr. (1981a)
The Social Impact of New Religious Movements. New York: Rose of Sharon Press.
Bromley, David G. and Hammond, Phillip E. (eds.) (1987)
The Future of New Religious Movements. Mercer University Press.
Coleman, Lee (1982)
Psychiatry the Faithbreaker: How psychiatry is promoting bigotry in America, Sacramento: Printing Dynamics.
Coleman, Lee (1984)
The Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority and Law. Boston: Beacon Press.
Coleman, Lee (April 1984)
New Religions and the Myth of Mind Control, American Orthopsychiatric Association, Inc. 54(2).
Conway, Flo and Siegelman, Jim (1979)
Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change. New York: Delta.
Conway, Flo and Siegelman, Jim (1982)
Holy Terror. New York: Doubleday.
Conway, Flo and Siegelman, Jim (1982)
Cultic Studies Journal, vol. 2, no. 2.
Delgado, Richard (1977)
"Religious Totalism: Gentle and Ungentle Persuasion under the First Amendment." 51 S. Calif. Law Review 1.
Dyson, Anthony and Barker, Eileen (eds.) (1988)
"Sects and New Religious Movements", Manchester: The Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library ofManchester.
Eidsmoe, John (1984)
The Christian Legal Advisor. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Faust, David and Ziskin, Jay (July 1988)
"The Expert Witness In Psychology and Psychiatry", From Science, vol. 241.
Fort, Joel (1985)
"What is `Brainwashing', and Who Says so?" in Kilbourne (1985).
Frend, W.H.C. (1982)
The Early Church. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Hexham, Irving and Poewe, Karla (1986)
Understanding Cults and New Religions. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Hill, Daniel G. (1980)
Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario. [Study commissioned and presented to the Ontario government (Canada) which concluded with the recommendation that "no public inquiry be held regarding the issues arising out of the activities of cults, sects, mind development groups, new religions or deprogrammers" (p. 596).]
Kilbourne, Brock K. and Richardson, James T. (1984)
"Psychotherapy and New Religions in a Pluralistic Society", American Psychologist 39: 237-251.
Kilbourne, Brock K. (ed.) (1985)
Scientific Research and New Religions, Pacific Division of The American Association for the Advancement of Science. San Francisco, CA.
Kilpatrick, William Kirk (1985)
The Emperor's New Clothes--The Naked Truth about the New Psychology. Westchester: Crossway Books.
Lewis, James R. (1986)
"Reconstructing the `Cult' Experience: Post-traumatic Attitudes as a Function of Mode of Exit and Post-Involvement Socialization," Sociological Analysis, vol. 47, no. 2.
Lifton, Robert Jay (1961)
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism--A Study of "Brainwashing" in China. New York: W. W. Norton and Co.
London, Perry (1990)
Deposition in U.S. v. Fishman. United States District Court (Northern District of California).
Melton, J. Gordon and Moore, Robert L. (1982)
The Cult Experience: Responding to the New Religious Pluralism. New York: The Pilgrim Press.
Needleman, Jacob and Baker, George (eds.) (1978)
Understanding the New Religions. New York: Seabury Press.
Reich, Walter (1976)
"Brainwashing, Psychiatry, and the Law", Psychiatry, vol. 39, Nov. 1976.
Richardson, Herbert (ed.) (1980)
New Religions and Mental Health. New York: Edwin Mellen Press.
Richardson, James T. (ed.) (1988)
Money and Power in the New Religions. New York: Edwin Mellen Press.
Richardson, James T. (1991)
"Cult Brainwashing Cases and Freedom of Religion", Journal of Church and State, vol. 33, Winter.
Robbins, Thomas and Anthony, D. (1982)
"Deprogramming, Brainwashing and the Medicalization of Deviant Religious Groups", Social Problems, 29: 283-297.
Robbins, Thomas; Shepherd, William C.; McBride, James, (eds.) (1985)
Cults, Culture, and the Law: Perspectives on New Religious Movements. Chico, CA: Scholars Press.
Robbins, Thomas (1988)
Cults, Converts and Charisma. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Scheflin, Alan W. and Opton, Jr., Edward M. (1978)
The Mind Manipulators. New York: Paddington Press.
Schein, Edgar (1958)
"The Chinese Indoctrination Program for Prisoners of War: A Study of Attempted `Brainwashing'", in Readings in Social Psychology (Maccoby, et al. (eds.)).
Schein, Edgar (1961)
Coercive Persuasion: A Socio-Psychological Analysis of the "Brainwashing" of American Civilian Prisoners by the Chinese Communists. New York: North.
Shepherd, William C. (1985)
To Secure the Blessings of Liberty, American Constitutional Law and the New Religious Movements. New York: Crossroads.
Skonovd, L. N. (1981)
Apostasy: The Process of Defection from Religious Totalism, Ph.D. dissertation.
Skonovd, L. N. (1983)
"Leaving the Cultic Religious Milieu", pp. 91-105 in D. G. Bromley and J. T. Richardson (eds.) The Brainwashing Controversy. New York: Edwin Mellen Press.
Stoner, C. and Parke, J. (1977)
All God's Children--The Cult Experience: Salvation or Slavery? New York: Penguin Books.
Streiker, Lowell D. (1984)
Mind-bending: Brainwashing, Cults, and Deprogramming in the '80s. New York: Doubleday.
Szasz, Thomas S. (1976)
"Some Call It Brainwashing", The New Republic, March 6.
Van Driel, Barend and Richardson, James T. (1988)
"Print Media Coverage of New Religious Movements: A Longitudinal Study", Journal of Communication, 36/3 Summer 1988.
Wittenveen, T. (1984)
"Epilogue and Summary" Overheid en nieuwe religeuze bewegingen. The Hague: Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 1983-1984, 16635, nr. 4. pp. 314-318. [Study commissioned by the Dutch government into NRMs, which concluded that no action should be taken to restrain the activities of the NRMs per se.]
Wright, Stuart A. (1984)
"Post Involvement Attitudes of Voluntary Defectors from Controversial New Religious Movements", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 23: 172.