Interview of May 20, 1978, Berkeley, Calif.
Gary Scharff belonged to the Unification Church (Moon Sect) in the USA, where he held management functions. After his deprogramming, he worked at the rehabilitation center with Joe and Esther Alexander (Freedom of Thought Foundation) in Tucson, Arizona. Today he lives in Berkeley, California, and is married to Barbara Underwood, who, together with her mother, has published a book about their time in the Moon sect (Hostage to Heaven, New York 1979). Gary Scharff reported in his interview how he got into the Unification Church, what his career there was, how he was gotten out by his father and how it's going with him afterwards.
At the end of my third year of study I had the feeling that I had to leave the university for a while. Besides that, I was in a relationship with a girl who had not worked in the student movement. And then I just had the feeling of having to get away from school. I decided to only do physical labor for one year: no mental work, just manual labor. So I left school and got a position in a tool manufacturing plant. I was a steel worker, driver and had similar jobs. My father is a professor in Louisville, Kentucky, where I come from. As the son of a professor, I could take courses at the University of Louisville for free, which is what I was doing. And that is where I was contacted by the Moon sect. At first they were all just very warm-hearted and friendly people. There was nothing spectacular about it. I had arrived at a turning point in my life, and had simply decided to go along with them. That was in the summer of 1972. At that time, it did not appear to be any big, important decision in my life. If the consequences of this decision would have been clear to me, then I would have recognized its importance. But at the time, I didn't think things through that far, and I didn't know how the cards would fall. So I went in, got more and more involved, until finally, in March 1973, I drove to New York to take a training course which was very strictly organized and, essentially, militant. At the time I was really involved. Prior to then I had just thought, "Good, I'll drive to New York and help these people out." And then when I finally got there, I didn't even know what was happening to me. You just took it upon yourself and accepted it. And by then, it's already too late.
You don't even know that you can no longer really leave. You only know that you don't want to leave. The course consisted of about fifty people from all over the world. There were some Germans, also French and Dutch, but most of them came from the USA. The course lasted about two months, and the twenty best graduates from the total of fifty course participants were sent to different American states to be responsible for leading the missions there, because the Moon sect was expanding and needed new leaders. I was among the twenty best. I was sent to Pennsylvania, and went to Philadelphia. I stayed there for four months.
In the meantime, my father was really getting mad. In March 1973, when I had left Louisville, Farley Jones, a former President of the movement, had gone to my parents to reassure them that everything would be all right and that I would go back to Princeton for my fourth year in school. Once I graduated the training course, all that was over. My father started sending letters to Mr. Moon in which he insisted that I should be allowed to return to the university. Naturally, I had no intention of going back to the university. However, my father knew an American congressional representative, and had connections to a senator from Kentucky. At the beginning, Moon didn't answer his letters and simply ignored him. Later he had them returned to sender without even accepting them. My father wrote via registered mail, but the letters came back with the comment, "Refused by addressee." Finally my father got so angry that he began to write on the letters, "copy to Senator ... That was a very smart way of proceeding, and I recommend it highly. Finally, the following happened: the girls for publicity work at the Moon sect had sought out the particular senator on Capitol Hill in Washington.
When one of the girls was with the senator from Kentucky, he showed her my father's letter and asked her what she had to do with that. That is the first time she had seen the letter because his mail was being returned to sender. So she brought the letter back, and Moon became rather angry. He called me in for a personal interview, just he and I, and told me that my father was making problems, that I had to tend to them and take care of the situation so that he would not cause embarrassment for the Unification Church.
I explained to him, "My father will not be satisfied until I go back to the university. Other than that, I can't suggest anything which would convince him. Only by treating him that way can I prove to him that I am free. And the only possible way to appease him is for me to return to the university." I did not want to go back to school and they didn't want it either, but there was no other choice. So I took up my studies again, and my father hoped that I would lose these crazy ideas in Princeton. The whole year, I was the National Director of the college student branch of the movement, called CARP. That was from 1973 to 1974. Besides that I was responsible for the mission in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was back to school again, but was constantly going to Philadelphia; Princeton is only 50 miles away, one hour by train from Philadelphia. Every weekend I rode back and set up my work shop there.
I did my exam work for my teachers in Princeton on the teachings of the Unification Church. Their reactions were mixed. I had based it on the theologian, Paul Tillichs, and had tried to model the Unification Church so that it would be more easily acceptable for professional theologians and philosophers. Finally I composed the exam project from about 60% of my own ideas and about 40% of the actual ideas of the Unification Church. But my professors were impressed by the completeness of my work, its arrangement and its style, because I had written well. Despite that, the ideas were rather naive. So the exam work was accepted, but I was very disappointed that I had not gotten the best grade. Anyway, at the end of the year, I went back to a training course in New York. I was very quickly promoted to lecturer because I could make a good presentation. I went into Barrytown Center, which is about 100 miles north of New York on the Hudson. I was given charge of the three-day work shop program in which the young people recruited from New York were indoctrinated. In about four months I taught perhaps several thousand people. They came every weekend and in the middle of the week; that was really a very crazy time. At the end of this era, there was a big argument between two Japanese managers at the top of the movement. The one of them who was responsible for the New York Unification Church had told Moon that nothing in the world was more important to Moon than his mission and the conversion of New York. He took that very seriously. The only chance to convert New York apparently consisted of winning New Yorkers as sect members. He had set himself a goal of 3,000 new members. Now he had the following problem: in order to make people into members, he had to send them to Barrytown, where they would graduate the work shop.
Once they got to Barrytown, though, they were under another Japanese manager by the name of Ken Sudo. Moon had told Ken Sudo that his mission was the most important in the entire world. It consisted of converting every person who came to Barrytown and sending the new adherents out to the various parts of the USA in order to convert, and therefore save, all of America. Therefore Sudo thought, "I have to save all of America; he only has to save New York. Therefore it is much more important for me that everybody who arrives in Barrytown remain under my control." So every time somebody from New York was sent to Barrytown, he never came back; the people simply disappeared. Because of that, the New York director was very frustrated because he could not get back his members. Therefore a very large dispute ensued and I, as director of the three-day work shop, was right in the middle of it. There were 3-day, 7-day, 21-day, 40-day and 120-day courses which followed one after the other, but the three-day course was the most important because it was here in the beginning that people were prepared for their entry. And once you got them from the three-day to the seven-day course, then there was no more leaving. Therefore, the New York director demanded that Sudo put his best people on my staff so that we would convert all participants of the three-day work shop and could send them back to New York. At last the only one who could solve the argument was Moon, in that he ordered, "No more three-day work shops will take place in Barrytown. New York should have its own three-day work shop, and the first continuation course will then take place in Barrytown." So I was out of that job. I did not go to New York, though, but was assigned to Sudo. Look, a typical clique society reigns in the Moon sect: small, pure cadres with the right loyalty. I was Sudo's man so he wouldn't let me go. At the time in Barrytown, I became a teacher of Unification concepts; that is the philosophical, the religious aspect of the divine principle.
At the same time, I was also Assistant Director of Planning and Development of our new seminar. That is to say, we planned the opening of a seminar. I was among the few people in the whole movement who had some theological knowledge. So we wanted to open a seminar. I was taking care of the matter and wrote an application to the State of New York to ask for state recognition of the seminar in Barrytown as an educational establishment with the right of bestowing an academic grade. The application had been rejected for years, and they are still not licensed because of not absolutely illegal, but, in any case, questionable procedures in the seminar. Besides these two activities, I was also made the Public Relations Representative. In Fall 1975 I was finally sent as student and assistant professor to the seminar. At the time, I was also writing to a magazine about American history from the view of the Unification Church. This work, however, was very time-consuming, but it was still the most creative thing that I ever did while I was in the movement. In May 1976 I was right there to get the job done with the magazine. I was exhausted, because in the work for the Unification Church there is no stopping unless it is a complete personal collapse. Right at that time, my father had a few academic meetings in Atlantic City, in the vicinity of New York. He was there with my mother. He called me up and asked me to meet with him. I had just gotten to a point where I could use that, and besides I had gotten so high in the hierarchy that I had some control over my own time. So I agreed to a meeting in Atlantic City. My father talked me into a meeting with Rabbi Davis.
I spent three hours with Rabbi Davis, but he could not change my mind in any way. I was concerned, but kept coming back to my own standpoint. The meeting had no detectable effect on me. My father and mother sat there while Rabbi Davis spoke with me. They saw the serious questions which the Rabbi threw out, and how completely inadequately I answered him. My parents now got really afraid. They had already been concerned for several years. Now, though, it hit them right in the face. My father and I had a very close relationship, both intellectually and emotionally. However much we disagreed with each other, each one of us respected the opinion of the other. Since I had been a Moon adherent, though, everything concerning the sect resulted in a complete break in communication at the intellectual level. At the end - as you said yesterday evening - it always came to a dramatic display, an argument and mixed-up emotions. All of that became painfully clear now in my meeting with Rabbi Davis. My father said to me, "If you want, I will bring you back to the Unification Church. But what about thinking over what Rabbi Davis said? Don't go right back. Just come home with us for a couple of days and think it all over." I really had no excuse for the Unification Church, but was just taking the time to prove to my family that my involvement in the movement was rationally founded. Therefore I said, "OK, I'll give you a week, I'll stay with you for that long. But you must promise me that you will then bring me back to the Unification Church."
My father agreed to this condition. He was ecstatic and overjoyed that I had said "yes" at all. Arriving at home, I said, "I will speak with anybody on the telephone. I can talk with anybody, and I'm not afraid of negative opinions." With that I had said it all. I telephoned several people. A former Moon adherent from Kansas, with whom I had an hour-long discussion on the telephone, invited me over for a while. He was very intelligent, and did not just scream, "Oh, you are terrible!" Instead he was very calm, which impressed me, because I really had counted on someone who would oppose me vehemently, but not on someone with complete composure. He said, "Why don't you come visit me?" That was all he said. I agreed, and my father made the suggestion that we should drive together to Kansas. On the next day we drove off.
When we got there, they had a deprogramming all set up for me. Dennis Harper, the former Moon adherent and Joe Alexander, Jr., who go there later though, were there. The whole thing was completely disorganized because my father did not really know what he was doing, but had quickly made up his mind. On the first day on the drive to Kansas, we had a terrible argument. He knew, however, that an intelligent discussion was completely pointless at this time; it was far too late for that. It was no longer a matter of an intellectual exchange. My father had called up Dennis in advance and said, "Get a deprogramming ready. I don't know what else I could do for him." So they went through with the deprogramming, and after three and a half days, I decided to leave the movement.
Deprogramming is nothing but a very intensive discussion, very important in my opinion. One cannot really leave the organization if one does not think over its existence in advance, and why one has to leave it voluntarily. Nobody can be made to leave by force, that step has to be made completely voluntarily. Deprogramming is really a mirror which is held up so that you can see precisely what you are doing. In other words, membership in the sect takes away your ability to see yourself from somebody else's eyes. You hear and obey, but with no relationship to yourself. In deprogramming you are forced to be aware of your own conduct, and that is an emotional experience. You begin to ask yourself, "Am I really here to save the world? Am I doing what I believe in? Am I really achieving something?" And then the same idealistic concepts which led to joining the sect also lead to leaving the sect. That is the only reason that deprogramming is successful. It can enable you to leave of your own free will, and do that by the realization that you have not obtained the good things which you thought you were going to get. That is always the essential point, because that is the root of the feelings of guilt which keep you in the sect. You are brought to believe that, outside of the movement, the world, yes, even God, will be left out in the cold. But if the belief that you can build a life outside of the movement is there, then - provided this idea is really your own - you can set yourself free. And that, basically, is what happened to me.
The first thing to influence me was Lifton's reading material. I read his book several times. It concerned what I had been doing as a teacher to others, but not really what I had experienced myself. That was my realization. Lifton described communist China and said that the Chinese communists believed that they were going to save their people. They regarded their dealings to be harmonizing, scientific and therapeutically very beneficial, concerned acts of man for his fellow man. I was totally destroyed by that. How could something that evil, clearly evil, like communist indoctrination, be carried out in the spirit of warmheartedness? I was rather surprised about that. And when I saw that we also dealt with goodness in the same spirit, then I realized that I had possibly been mistaken. I had to admit that there was a possibility that good intentions and uprighteousness are not particularly deep feelings and there are many righteous people who do evil things. Because of that I had to carefully test and question myself.
The turning point for me was freedom, because I believed that I was freeing people by bringing them recognition of God. But then I realized that God cannot force people to love Him, because that would contradict the essence of love. Besides that, I recognized that it was very naive to think that force was always an aggressive act to make people act a certain way; you can also use force on someone by taking away from him all possibility of choice and all alternatives. When I thought that through properly, it became clear to me what kind of force the Unification Church used.
It quite deliberately tries to shut off all alternatives outside of involvement in the movement, and claims that this involvement is the only one in life in which you can begin to feel like a person. But as soon as you are reduced to that condition, you are caught by your own perverted idealism. So that was their freedom and their love. That simply shattered me.
I recognized that there are so many things to do in life which are valuable because I wanted to do them, and not because I was instructed to do them or because they were part of an all-encompassing world plan of salvation, but because they were inherently good and I could do them. I could help people. I could be a teacher or an author - there were so many positive things! My image of the Unification Church as the sole path to salvation and to involvement (even if not of free choice) on the one side, the recognition of my new potential as a person - dealing freely, without having to fit into a group - on the other side, both together had a double effect: the one feeling was like a pull and the other like a push. Finally I could loosen my emotional ties to the movement to a considerable degree.
Consequences of deprogramming
It did take several weeks, though, until I had thought everything through and cleared it up. And even now, as I was just saying yesterday evening, I'm not completely over it. This last December, something happened to me which made that clear. There is a board of trustees for the State of New York, an agency consisting of experts picked by the New York senate who are commissioned to manage various projects in social and educational areas. The board of trustees had been presented with an application for recognition of a Unification Church seminar as an academic course of instruction.
At the time I was in Tucson (at the Freedom of Thought Foundation), and was called up from New York with a request to go back there. The board of trustees was prepared to pay for my flight to New York so that I could give sworn testimony about the seminar. I spent an entire day in the office of the board of trustees and tape-recorded my sworn testimony. It was a very complex statement. I did not simply recommend the destruction of the Unification Church even though, in my opinion, false rumors were being spread about me. The description of the aspects of academic life in the Unification Church's seminar seemed questionable to me. To give well-founded sworn testimony about the seminar was really a obligatory exercise in honesty. One month later, the Unification Church sued me for libel based on this sworn testimony. I did not regard this suit as a legitimate legal means, because it was filed in a New York court. Since I am not a resident of New York, I am not under the jurisdiction of that court and ignored the suit, which the Unification Church continues to persecute me with. Certainly it is the same way in Germany: often the Moon people bring up the proceeding for libel, then let them drop. But in my case they are stubborn. In any case, after I learned that the Moon sect was suing me for libel, a New York attorney I know received the files which had been submitted to the board of trustees for the academic recognition. They also have my sworn testimony there.
The attorney from the Unification Church advised that anybody who had been named by me, including Neil Salonon, give a sworn testimony of their own to counter mine, and that is exactly what they did. The attorney I know sent me copies of those statements. I am telling you this story because it illustrates a very interesting experience. I have never experienced a case of libel like those sworn testimonies. They simply annihilated me in that they criticized my experiences in the Unification Church - I'm exaggerating now somewhat - practically month by month and overstated everything to make me look like a proper jerk, as emotionally vacillating and, in contrast to other members of the Unification Church, always fanatical, and more of the same, really quite meaningless assertions. Apart from me having seen that in the Unification Church as a virtue, that is really interesting, that in reading these sworn testimonies I was utterly destroyed, even inside. I didn't just feel sick, but a part of myself was still so much under their control that I fell into a deep depression for several weeks because of those statements. Although I had already been out of the movement for two years, they still had the same kind of force on my mind. I learned a lot about myself during that time, because nobody can conceive of the depth of the emotional tie to such a movement if he was never a part of it. You would have to look into your own self-seeking, your inadequacies, your fear and suffering. Then you can discover that you are leaving out some of your feeling when you are not quite honest with people. And then there is the completely natural tendency to suppress unpleasant feelings. I know the type who wants to put everything on a scapegoat.
One needs a scapegoat because there will always be bad feelings, and human nature makes you believe that bad things exist because someone somewhere is bad or defective, and not just because the situation is bad. Somebody had to be attacked for one's own suffering. But if there is now someone who you respect, who is superior to you and who can give you the feeling that it is entirely right to bear this grudge, then that is a very welcome feeling. Bearing a grudge is one of the greatest, but also one of the most dangerous, pleasures of life. I am very aware that the entire person can be poisoned by doing that. For the Unification Church, the cause of all evil is communism and Satan, the both of them together. Communism is the final ruin. Reality is broken up graphically into irreconcilable pieces, and through this over-simplification, many mechanisms which are available to a civilized person for purging his own feelings are completely dismantled. Through that, one becomes the victim of his own impulse. And the people who can instigate the impulsive reactions dominate you completely. The more you obey them, the more you must obey.
I have personally experienced how easily the structures of a civilized consciousness can collapse. When I was in school, one of the biggest puzzles for me was what had happened to the German people under Hitler. I loved Beethoven and Hegel; for me, German genius was unbelievable. Today I understand the contradiction.
Basic legal considerations
Right now America finds itself in a phase, with respect to the law, in which people are seriously concerned about individual freedoms. In my opinion, that is a serious problem. Naturally, I am also for the rights of the individual, but they are overshooting their goal by far. If someone cannot help themselves, for example, and cannot ask for help, how can you help him if any possibility of help has been prohibited by someone because they say that any attempt to help is a violation of his rights? That is a difficult problem.
Concerning the question of thought control - and that is the main interest here - in the future, probably not only psychological but also, and even more strongly, the legal aspects of this problem will be the central point of interest. Because the question about rights of the individual has become more and more important. I know of two approaches to this problem, two arguments in favor of conservatorship. The one argument is based on the theory of individual rights, and the other, on the theory of the rights of society. The first theory is based on the argument of freedom of thought, which means, in essence, that everyone enjoys freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and of press along with all the basic laws of freedom. These laws get their meaning if the individual can think freely. When this process of free thought is cut short, then the court's help is necessary. Then justice is only served when the court protects it from all powers which destroy the ability of free thought. Therefore, the conservatorship law is used for the protection of freedoms of religion, speech, press, etc.
And even if it looks, superficially, like a violation of religious freedom, the necessary separation between religion as a structure of content of belief on the one side and psychological imprisonment on the other side is very important, and completely independent of dogma. If one is now, independently of dogma, in a situation of psychological imprisonment, then one needs the protection of the law. It is clear that this presents a very complex problem.
Frankly speaking, I think the second theory is more promising because, at the present time - at least in the U.S.A. - not enough is known about thought control and the fragility of the mind, therefore one cannot bring people to accept the former argument. Perhaps fifteen years in the future, but, in any case, not today. The second argument, as I have said, appears to me to be more promising in terms of concrete action. It is based on the conviction that the public interest of society is endangered by individuals who are not responsible for their dealings, but our society must guarantee that individuals somehow be held to account for their dealings. I think that is a pertinent argument. Although I do not know how it can be developed, it appears to me to have more substance than the first.
I believe that, as the years go by, if the problem of thought control gets more and more imminent, the consideration regarding the idea of the responsibility of the individual for his dealing will continue to grow in importance in the debate about this problem.
Currently this consideration probably has more meaning for normal crime, and the attitude that criminals, for one reason or another, are not to be held accountable for their crimes. The effective fight against crime by American society must be carried out in some way. One has to get involved in seeing to it that people are held accountable for their conduct.
CURT and HENRIETTE CRAMPTON
Interview of May 25, 1978 in Redondo Beach, California
The Cramptons could be regarded on the west coast of the USA as the parents best oriented to the problem of destructive cults,
Their daughter belonged to a group which calls itself the "Love Family" (also Love Israel).
You ask how parents' groups can work effectively. First of all, I do not know how effective we actually are in our work. But we are told that we are successful, and so I hope that this corresponds to fact. In our work, we try to have a counter-effect on sect propaganda. Sects reach their adherents with radio and television programs. They are successful at that because they have mastered the art of rhetoric. They know how to speak to people through the media. They have the financial means to broadcast their own programs. Besides that, they have at their disposal an entire network of PR people who have access to broadcasters and who put their programming into effect. For us it is impossible to invest so much time and that kind of of money into press and media, to have television and radio specials. We, as parents, follow the television and radio broadcasts, and when we find a program that speaks out in favor of the sects, we get in touch with our broadcasters and explain that only one side of a controversial matter was represented. In the United States, we have an institution, the Federal Communications Commission, which has decided that every controversial theme in the public domain must have both aspects presented. Now and again the institution is, indeed, prejudiced, but must provide time for the other point of view anyway. A little while ago, for instance, there was a religious program with representatives of diverse branches of faith, including the Hare Krishnas. The moderator was very pre-disposed toward the Krishna representatives, and they explained how wonderful their work was and what a service they were performing for humanity. They placed themselves in such a magnificent light that many of us wrote the broadcasting station and told them
that the Krishna organization was the subject of critical examination and we demanded the opportunity to make a counter-presentation. They scheduled broadcast time for us on another program, and we had a young man speak who had belonged to the Hare Krishnas, along with a young man from the Unification Church. They talked about how the money was accumulated, about deceptive methods, about addressing people using deceptive techniques, about how each was filling a quota and how they felt inside if they received no donations (they could not go back to the center until they did). In this way, the two young people described diverse negative experiences from the groups. In doing that, we had the opportunity to present our viewpoint to the public, and this is the main objective of parents' groups. We talk to anyone who is ready to listen, with any church, with any group from the civil service, the community or the schools. Whenever we get the chance, we speak out.
Our main emphasis is the enlightenment of our youth, along with their parents, so that they can recognize the first signs of their child being approached by a sect. We show parents things which should get their attention: if, for example, their child comes home and says that he does not want to go to school any more. When he withdraws to his room and listens to recordings or acts very dull, when he suddenly gives up old friends, when he gives up things which used to mean something to him, when he begins to give away his clothes or begins chanting, or says things which are completely out of character for him. When an abnormal personality change can be observed, or if his areas of interest and studies become totally displaced
then you have to take into consideration that someone is trying to get this youth under his control and influence him. Somewhere, someone is trying to approach him with different ideas, and this someone could, in all probability, be a sect. In this kind of case, the youth should be observed as closely as possible, because as long as he is still at home, there is still the chance to intervene and save him from the sect. Often the personality change is completed after they are already in the sect and when they are far away from home so that the changes remain hidden from the parents. However, if the youth is at home and these things happen to him, they should take a look at where he is really going when he gives up going to school. He could be on the way to the Unification Church, a Hare Krishna temple or another organization not as well known to them.
We also make research documents available to the media: authors, books, writers of articles, television programs, etc. We let them know that they can use the material we have any time they want. We have four large centers across the county in which anybody can inform themselves as to the opinions of experts. We do not propagate our own views there, but those of psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists and doctors. In our attempt to give media access to this information, we also let them know who we are ourselves. If the media are then approached by someone who is looking for help, they can send him to us. We try to make the same information available to parents' groups across the country so that parents or youth who need the information in any part of the country can turn to our groups to obtain information, practical assessments and support.
We get a lot of mail, questions about questions from parents whose children are in this or that group and who are asking us for information about these groups. We also get letters from church organizations, from the main churches and from book authors. We try to get these people together with someone from their own local area who can answer their questions. The name of our group can be found in various books whose authors we have helped in their preparation. One of those is the book, "All God's Children." When someone reads this book now and finds our name in it, he can get in touch with us. We have the United States divided up into 8 zones and have a contact person in each one of these areas who can direct those seeking help to a local, resident helper. We live in a large country, and it is difficult to take care of acute, personal problems via mail. For us, giving help to parents is the brunt of our work. Unfortunately, we have not been able to help some of the parents who have come to us because we do not have the facilities to do anything for them. Some of them have not seen their children for years. They are with the "Children of God" in Europe or someplace else, and the only help we can give to parents in that type of situation is a shoulder to cry on. We end up doing that quite often because the parents have not gotten the understanding from priests, friends or relatives in whom they have confided. We have given many people sympathy because - we look at the facts as they stand: some of the parents have turned into alcoholics, others lost their nerve and need psychiatric help. There are divorces. The parents themselves are subject to terrible nervous strain.
They become discouraged, have the feeling that life is meaningless and ask themselves what they have done wrong. There it is our job to help the parents and bring them to take a look at the situation, to understand that it does not have to do with a mistake on their part, that other powers outside the family have caused this, that their children were subjected to a lot of things which were outside of their parental control. Overall, our parental help is probably the most important part of our work.
However, we also have a lot of problems on the organizational side about the question of tax-exemption for our institution. Small groups are forming all over the country without leadership, policies or uniformity. Many of them do not even know of the existence of other parents' groups. It was not until we met in Washington, D.C., in February 1976 at Senator Dole's hearings on the Unification Church that many organizations recognized how widespread the anti-sect movement was. They got together under an ad hoc committee, the "Citizens Engaged in Freeing Minds." We have been working under that organization for a year and a half. Then one of the groups got tax exemption.
So we met for a couple of years in New Hampshire and founded a common organization under the name "Freedom Foundation Educational Trust." This nationwide organization was then supposed to function as an information center. It was to have been stocked with all kinds of information, be accessible to anyone, also give out legal information and help in special interpretations of the law. What we were lacking, however, was an administrative expert.
This administrator would not absolutely have to be familiar with the problems of sects, he only has to understand something about administration. Most of us parents have neither the time nor the capability to organize such a multi-faceted group at the nationwide level. The parents' group is very multi-layered and is not oriented towards political, social or commercial viewpoints.
What ties these parents together is mostly just the fact that they have lost their children. Bringing these many layers under one roof has proved to be very problematic, and something would have to be done on this point. The second deficiency in our last two or three so-called nationwide organizations was the fact that we lacked the money to pay a director for the nationwide institution. A director with the experience which we would need for our organization is very expensive, and we have never managed to get that kind of money together. We have determined that parents are ready to help us when an actual goal is in sight. When we need money for a certain thing, we have received their complete support. But if you say that financial means are needed to build up and expand the organization, then that falls upon deaf ears, or you receive small amounts. Drops in the bucket, but not enough to be able to maintain a viable organization. So we are in a dilemma. In order to work effectively, we need an administrator in our national organization who can make money for us. But we also need the money to be able to hire an administrator who works at the national level. That is the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment.
Currently, the national organization only consists of our eight contact people with their exchange of information and ideas. *
We are still hung up on one point. When one is incessantly occupied with answering letters and telephone calls from confused parents, there is simply no chance to also get involved with things outside of one's own area. We have to have somebody who can conduct a donation campaign, set up a PR campaign and could support efforts to inform our politicians about the dangers. As individual people, however, we all fall into the mail mill - answering letters and telephones. Our parents' organization is currently not getting past that state.
I have not yet talked about our newsletters. These newsletters have received widespread acclaim. Sympathizers and opponents to our cause alike have verified that this is an excellent publication. Its continuation is made possible by a contribution of five dollars a year. Sometimes we also get contributions of 25 or 30 dollars, depending on the financial situation of the reader. Donations occur so slowly and irregularly that it is very difficult to plan a budget or to make any big plans, because we never know how much money we will have to spend the next day.
* Since then - November 1979 - a national organization was founded, the "Citizens Freedom Information Service (CCF-IS)."
In contrast, if you look at the sects, how they get their money and the amounts which they give to the media: the Scientology sect is currently financing a media campaign on television, radio and all newspapers in print for about $680,000. And we have difficulties just getting five dollars per year for the publication of our little newsletter! It is a really sad situation. On the other side, however, many parents have had to give up a lot of money because of the legal difficulties and expenses of getting their children out of sects.
Private detectives, attorneys, and travelling around the country to find a trace of their children costs so much money that they do not also have the means to support our parents' initiative. We do have all their sympathy, but they cannot give us any more than that. Therefore we are hoping for donations from outside parties. In reality, our information work tells about a general, public problem. All families can be affected by it sooner or later. Therefore we should have a wider basis for our financial support. But as long as their own children have not been affected, nobody believes that this could ever happen. The danger is not realized until it concerns them personally.
In the 1960s, about 1969, Moses David Berg founded the "Children of God" sect. Back then, the parents reacted immediately to the loss of their children and formed a parents' initiative under the name of "FreeCog," which means "Free our Children from the Children of God." That organization was solely concerned with the Children of God, since, at the time, that was the only group which was known for bringing about such radical personality changes and the total dissolution of familial relations and which gained power through the control of financial means and the misinterpretation of Bible verses.
Then we learned about the "Love Family" and could compare their method of operation with that of the Children of God organization. When we got our daughter out of the Love Family, we could see that the parents' group was ready to give us their help, tell us about the procedure and give us books to read. One of the first books we worked our way through was "Battle for the Mind" by William Sargant. The parents' group mainly helped us with their understanding and their support. After we saved our daughter from the sect, we presented our case on television. This action caused a lot of letters to be written, since our name was known, and we had reached a wide audience. When we got more interested in the parents' organization, it also got more inquiries from others. It was recognized that the Children of God was not the only organization in the country. Parents told us that the same thing was also happening in other groups which were not always described as Christian organizations, but which displayed eastern origins. We received a lot of complaints about the Hare Krishna and the Divine Light Mission. Therefore we had to give our organization a different name than Freecog. In 1974, a parents' meeting took place in Denver with the intention of founding a nationwide organization whose goal it would be to inform the public about thought control and destructive techniques and to change their behavior about these things. In our opinion, nobody, be it religious sects or whatever else, should have the right to influence thought and methods of thinking so as to cause personality changes. We consider that to be a violation of the personality rights of all individuals.
Our new organization called itself the "Citizens Freedom Foundation." That is how our current group came into being. It is difficult to say how many members we have today. We are scattered all over the entire country and offer our services to so many different people who are not counted as members. Many of those we help we never see again. The number of permanent members active in our organization in not all that big. We have 600 names on our distribution list for regular information. However, this is not restricted to just California.
Our initial efforts to win politicians and various legislative representatives in Congress for our cause shattered on tactical refinements by the sects. We did not know, at the time, that many politicians employ Moonies in their office mail rooms. We did not get anywhere until we concentrated on one particular person, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Carl Albert in Washington, D.C. We firmly believed that an investigation of sects could come out of his office because he could direct such an action from the House of Representatives. Therefore we went out on the streets with clipboards and petitions and gathered thousands of signatures from all parts of the United States. The petitions were to have the following text, "We request that the House of Representatives establish a committee of inquiry into misuse of funds, deceptive activities and behavioral changes by various sects." The investigative committee was then to research the procedures used by sects. Carl Albert's office got thousands of letters
but nobody received an answer from him. In the United States, that is very unusual. It is customary that each person who writes his representative in Congress get an answer, even it is just the confirmation that the letter has been received. In that case, though, there was no reaction at all on the part of Carl Albert. *Kathy's friends, students at Redondo High School, also wrote to Carl Albert as part of their social studies class and requested an investigation of sects which use thought control and techniques of behavioral modification to bind their adherents to them. None of them received an answer, either. That was also highly unusual.
It was not until later that we read in a report from Jack Anderson in the Washington Post that Carl Albert had hired three Moonies in his office, three attractive Moonie girls who functioned as his assistants. So we could only assume that all our letters were weeded out by the Moonies. Carl Albert has since then left Congress, and his resignation from state service has, in hindsight, raised some questions. Other of our politicians have refused to get involved with things which have a religious streak; they believe that they are too controversial to get involved with. They do not want to endanger their position, and would rather let the matter drop. It seems as though not one member of Congress is willing to take up our cause. Congressman Giaimo from Connecticut once made an attempt with a circular to his colleagues, in which he asked that they support an inquiry by the Justice Department with their signature. It was said back then that Levi, the Attorney General, had met with Robert Lifton and Richard Delgado.
* Kathy, daughter of the Cramptons
Richard Delgado is the author of the proposal to change this southern California law. As a professor of law, he would have been in the position to justify why it did not contradict the First Amendment to at least carry out an investigation of these groups. As an expert in the complex of problems concerning brainwashing and behavioral modification, Lifton had written various books. His experiences and conclusions in this area are very extensive. Both of these gentlemen, therefore, were to speak to the Justice Department and present the actual processes used by sects. Giaimo got support for the request from his various colleagues. But when the interview was supposed to take place, Levi himself took no part in it. He assigned an employee of subordinate rank to represent him. Lifton could not be reached at the time, either, so the meeting did not take place with the Attorney General, but among different employees of the Justice Department and Margaret Singer and Delgado. We were under the impression that, after the investigation into the corruption in Korea and the bribing of our congressional representatives, the Donald Frazer committee would also want to look into the Unification Church and Moon's involvement in this organization*. When Fefferman, one of the directors of the Unification Church was supposed to testify before the committee, he refused to answer any questions from the Frazer committee and argued that it was a violation of his Constitutionally guaranteed rights to have to speak about his religion. The sub-committee threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress, but that went no further.
*That is what happened. The results are contained in a report which was published in October 1978 and which can be obtained in the U.S. Congress.
We then wrote letters in which we explained the necessity of bringing the matter to the main committee and Congress itself, and to charge Daniel Fefferman with contempt of Congress. Nothing of the sort happened, although it would have been a significant step forward.
We have, in the United States, an organization which calls itself the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU for short. This organization, a collection of lawyers, brings cases before the court and will act as defense when, in their opinion, they are dealing with a violation of human rights. My personal attitude toward this organization was, initially, neither positive nor negative. I had too little information about their work, and had not able to form a picture of them.
Today, the ACLU represents the interests of the sects, not the parents nor the former sect members who wanted to take action against the sects. The ACLU has always taken the standpoint that the sects are to be treated as religious organs which have to stand under the protection of the Constitution.
It is more concerned about the legal protection of the sect than it is about the protection of the individuals within the sects. After observing this, I began to have second thoughts about the ACLU. I asked myself what kind of organization this really was, and I followed the cases they defended. I subsequently found out that one of the ACLU attorneys, a man by the name of Jeremiah Gutman in New York, was the author of the massage parlor statute which presented the religious opinion that sexual relations brought one closer to God and that the devil could be eradicated by sex. Through his statute, this ACLU attorney got tax-exemption for this enterprise as a religious group, and he represented it in court. Naturally, this looked suspicious to me.
So when parents try to get their child out of a sect and it does not work out, the ACLU goes to the defense of the sect and presses charges. We know of a case of a young man who was freed from the Love Family. He needed psychiatric help. He had genuine brain damage from the inhalation of a chemical solution. He was in a considerably bad mental condition and the sect would not let him visit the hospital, they interrupted his treatment. The parents finally decided that the only way to stop the sect from preventing him from continuing his visits to the hospital was to get a conservatorship for their son and an order which kept the sect away from him. When they went before the court for the (age) minority declaration and the order against the sect, the ACLU was there to defend the rights of the son against his parents. The son himself had not gone to the ACLU. He was in such a mental state that he did not know who he was or what he wanted. In spite of that, the ACLU took the case as a party for the son against his parents. The parents, however, won the process because the boy clearly needed a guardian, and the judge understood the situation. Nevertheless, the ACLU made the attempt to destroy the family, saddled them with additional worries and caused unneeded extra expenses.
A long time ago when Timothy Leary, whom you surely are familiar with, was apprehended for consuming drugs, the ACLU represented his constitutional right to take drugs for religious experiments.
Even when snake charmers were prohibited from using poisonous snakes, since they presented a danger to themselves as well as to underage children who were present, the ACLU took the case to court and
stated that it was a violation of religious freedom; it said the snake charmers had the right to use living, poisonous snakes, even if they could be killed by them.
We found out that the ACLU defended dealers of pornographic material which approved of the abuse of underage children, some of whom were only six or seven years old. Although it is legally prohibited to produce this kind of pornography with children, the ACLU represented the opinion that the dealers still had the right to sell this material once it had already been produced. They justified this viewpoint with the right of freedom of speech.
Another case concerned teenagers in a high school in Hollywood who dealt in drugs. The police took up an investigation and slipped agents dressed in jeans into the school to find out who the drug dealers were. They apprehended various students and found drugs in various lockers on school property, which they confiscated. The ACLU asserted that the locker search had been illegal, and the confiscation violated the civil rights of the students. They said using police officers in civilian clothing was entrapment. They made the school take back the students they expelled, where there are now probably selling drugs again.
We are always running into more cases in which the ACLU defends the questionable rights of the individual person when the rights of others are being violated. Therefore I ask myself which side this organization is on. By sympathizing with the Nazis, though, the ACLU had to have had a sharp decrease in membership.
A Nazi group had planned a demonstration in Skokie, Illinois. Very many Jews who were victims of concentration camps live in that area. That is exactly why the Nazis wanted to have have their demonstration there, because they hoped to get the most public attention that way. In other places they would have just been written off as loonies, nobody would have paid them any mind, but there they caused an uproar and great excitement. Therefore the city refused them the permit to demonstrate. The ACLU then went to the court and stated that the civil rights of the Nazi group had been violated; they had the right to hold their demonstration wherever they liked. The ACLU ended up being successful with this suit.
The ACLU has been our greatest obstacle. They published a brochure about deprogramming. The material they collected had been made available to them from the papers of the sect. They had unconditionally accepted the argument by the sects. We all know that one of the characteristics of the sects is their hidden, deceptive method of operation. Nonetheless, the ACLU accepted their arguments as the absolute truth. They had held a conference on the theme of deprogramming: the Hare Krishna saw to the refreshments, the Scientology group installed the loudspeaker system, and the Unification Church drew up the program. They got all sects involved to arrange this conference against deprogramming. They presented several teenagers who had been deprogrammed and had returned to the sect who told wild stories about how they were abused during deprogramming. The ACLU collected all this into a packet and ended up sending it out to college libraries, where it is kept as documentary deprogramming material.
This material used by the ACLU came to them from an organization with the label "*APRL." It has turned out that APRL is an alliance between Scientology, the Unification Church and other sect groups as well as individuals, perhaps also religious people, who probably do not know who really stands behind APRL. APRL also makes extensive material available for use by press and media. It is a thoroughly difficult task to make it clear to religious leaders, politicians and the press that this APRL organization is nothing else than an association of sects. We have always conceived of what awful power would emanate from a union of these groups. Unfortunately, this fear has come to life in APRL.
Surely you recall the motto of Hitler's propaganda ministry, "When you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, it turns into a truth." This is the technique which is currently being put to use by sects in fighting the parents' groups as far as deprogramming goes. It is said that deprogramming is illegal and presents a violation of civil rights. However, the idea of deprogramming is not more precisely defined by the sects.
* Alliance for the Preservation of Religious Liberty (APRL).
A comparable organization in Germany is the "Gesellschaft zur Förderung religiöser Toleranz und zwischenmenschlicher Beziehungen" in Munich.
Dr. Ronald Enroth in Santa Barbara is a good, Christian sociologist, a professor at Westmont College. He wrote the book "Youth Brainwashing and The Extremist Cults." He has been interviewed several times, and has always supported the parents' organizations and condemned the sects. One of his interviews was published in the Santa Barbara newspaper. A citizen from Santa Barbara immediately sent him a "deprogramming guide" and asked him how he could support a parent's group which allegedly did this sort of thing. The front page of the brochure had a picture of Ted Patrick. It gave step-by-step instructions for deprogramming and said which things were necessary to get someone out of a religious sect. Among other things, it was said that you had to strip and humiliate him, desecrate the picture of his sect leader, put ice cubes on his arms to torture him, tie him to a chair, not let him sleep, not give him anything to eat, turn out the lights and beat him so long and so hard that he finally repented and went back to his family. This brochure of shocking abnormality and gruesomeness was distributed giving the impression that it had been penned by us.
When Dr. Enroth received this brochure, he knew very well that nothing of the kind could have originated from the parent's organization, because he knew most of us parents to be law-abiding and responsibility-conscious people who would never subject our children to such treatment. His wife immediately assumed that the brochure might have originated from the Scientology sect, because that sect had developed a method of expressing itself which could almost always be identified, and several of the expressions in the brochure matched the jargon it used.
Dr. Enroth then found from a telephone call with the sect that the author of the brochure actually belonged to the Scientology sect.
We had to learn that some of the really deceptive, destructive things, the dirty tricks, so to speak, were organized by the sects and widely distributed as if they were commonly known history. Anybody who did not know better would believe them. One of the most bothersome events was the "Parent Power through Deprogramming" operation, a flyer which was supposed to have come out of our organization. It said, "We must change our Constitution. Our forefathers wanted this country to be a Christian country. Only recognized religions should receive Constitutional protection from the government. If your child has been subjected to brainwashing by a false Christian or a far eastern sect, it can be deprogrammed by us." A clenched fist was drawn above that text. The names of six parents' organizations were listed below. It continued to say, "We are 100% supported by ...," and a list of prominent politicians followed who had run for President or vice president or those who had anything to do with an investigation of sects. There were names like Representative Donald Frazer, who led the Frazer committee, Senator Dole, who was described as being responsible for the hearing against the Unification Church, Dimely (?) conducted a hearing in California; Schweicher, Reagan and Jackson had campaigned for vice-president; Cecile Gundrum is an office assistant was was one of the few who had forwarded on our letters of complaint to those they were addressed to; Maurice Barbosa,
the head state attorney and legal advisor to the sub-committee for crime in the legal committee of the House of Representatives. Maurice Barbosa had possession of files on the sects from A to Z. We had hoped that he would be able to initiate an investigation into sects in the committee.
All the names listed were of people whom we had written, politicians that knew the procedures. Naturally we received instantaneous reaction from these politicians for the misuse of their names on the leaflet, which we, ourselves, had not yet even learned about at the time. We got into contact with Barbosa for that reason. We asked him what the leaflet was about, and asked him for a copy and the names of those to whom it had been sent. He gave us names and addresses of the people who had allegedly received the leaflets on the street, and had then forwarded them on to their congressional representatives. We checked over the addresses, and found out that they did not agree with the names. A further review yielded that these were the names of members of the Scientology Advanced Organization in Los Angeles. We therefore had to conclude that the Scientology sect had distributed the leaflet under the pretext that it had been given out on the street, had sent it to their congressional representatives in order to bring us into disrepute. Other than those, no other leaflets had appeared in Los Angeles.
Nevertheless, we received a letter from Pastor John Noble from the New Haven area in which he indicated that thousands of leaflets had been distributed the week before in the New Haven area.
According to him, after about 8 days, one of the clergy from Ciiford [sic, Guilford perhaps], Connecticut, supported a meeting in which deprogrammed former sect members would tell their stories. We parents did not believe that this flyer had really been approved by the organization from which it was presumably sent. We assumed a conspiracy by the Unification Church with the goal of bringing deprogrammers into disrepute in that they would be blamed for wanting to do away with the First Amendment. Many congressional representatives have shown their approval in their letters to us in the meantime, and they regard us as responsible and upright citizens.
In the work with the parents' initiative against the sects, one has to get involved with those type of things. You have to be strong to be able to withstand such abuse and such defamation. Often you are described as an anti-religious movement, as dangerous fanatics and so forth. Wherever in your life a weak point has revealed itself, you can count on it being taken up and used to bring you into disrepute. If such a weak point cannot be made out, then the sects do not hesitate to invent a suitable one. You have to withstand such things and not let yourself be beaten by them. I have been so discouraged by the things of which I was accused that sometimes I had the feeling that I would just have to give up. You just have to be in the clear about whom these accusations are coming from, and that they are only making an attempt to discourage us and make us quit. Then these tricks turn into a challenge to fight harder.
One of the problems which stand in our way in seeking help for our children is that, for an extension of conservatorship or guardianship, evidence must be presented that the youth in question is really psychically ill. It must be proven that he is mentally unsound or that he presents a danger for himself or for others. So if he carries a knife or a pistol around and threatens his environment in that way, or if he is not in the condition to dress or feed himself, then the possibility exists of getting a legal declaration of guardianship or giving the youth constant medical treatment. However, most of our young sect adherents do not fulfill these criteria. Their bodies function, even if they think that they are spirits awoken to a new life, believe every kind of nonsensical or irrational doctrine possible, do strange things or exhibit certain tendencies towards suicide. It is extremely difficult to state their condition in court. Many of our sects are making an effort to do away with shock treatment and giving medication to mentally ill people. They have launched a big campaign to tell the public that people in mental institutions also have civil rights, that they can call up up anybody with whom they would like to speak. The situation is that a person cannot be prevented from getting in contact with his sect leader. One is therefore not in the position to isolate the youth from the sect so that he can get really good treatment; he cannot be refused visitors.
Concerning the legal situation of sects in the United States, it can be said that they are protected under the First Amendment as long as they are designated as religious groups. There is no legal tool for the control of a religious sect unless it is breaking the law or violating the rights of other citizens in the United States. It is very difficult to produce evidence in the sects' operating area. A senior attorney of our Catholic archdiocese once explained to us that a proposal in that area could only be decided on a constitutional basis by the Supreme Court. In order to put restrictions on sects, first it must be defined what religion is. However, the United States refuses to do that. Therefore we cannot take action against the sects if they do not come into conflict with the law concerning the protection of the public. Proving this, unfortunately, is impossible, since the hypothesis of coerced belief or thought control is not accepted. It is not construed in the United States as an application of force. If we could attain that, then we would be in the position to solve the problem with existing laws and would not need any new legislation. Until we obtain that interpretation, our hands are tied. The parents' initiatives have already been fighting the sects in civil courts for years. In the initial years, the sects sued the parents' groups who were trying to get their children out of sects. They demanded millions of dollars in damages in compensation for the claim that the sects are destructive groups. When the sects were required to present their member lists and financial reports, most of them withdrew their suits and the cases were suspended.
The parents who tried to sue the sects in civil courts had to learn the simple lesson that their children, who were being manipulated by brainwashing and thought control, would say whatever their sect leaders told them to say. They testified before the court that they were in the sect of their own free will and were not subject to the control of their leader. In a case like that there is no prospect at all for the parents to win the suit. I know of two such cases.
In one case there was a high official of the health department and a woman from the Rockefeller family who had joined the Love Family and had brought her two children with her into the group. Because of the total estrangement of the parents by the Love Family, the husband filed for divorce and custody of the children. The judge finally decided that the conditions and the influences in the Love Family were not to the advantage of the child's education, that the mother could not raise the children and that the father could provide for them better. Custody was given to the father. The court added that the children were not allowed to go to the sect, but that the mother could visit her children at home any time.
The second case concerned a wife who joined a sect in Colorado which called itself the Old Catholic, and was led by a self-proclaimed Father Fabian. The husband sued the sect for having broken up the partnership between him and his wife, estranging his wife and thus causing him mental suffering. The court decided in favor of the husband. He had sued for $55,000 in damages, which was awarded him by the court.
The two above-mentioned cases had to do with child custody or proven harm to a third person, which extends the legal route in all cases. These are the only alternatives which are left to us.
In 1977 in New York, a big fact finding committee was called to investigate the attempt by parents to free their children from the Hare Krishna group and rehabilitate them. The committee heard testimony from the parents, the sect and the people who were members of the sect at the time. Instead of a suit against the parents, a suit was filed against the sect for coercion in one case and for causing estrangement to the family and damage to the mother and child in the other case. It turned out in the course of the process that the sect had demanded $50,000 from the father for the medical treatment of his son. He was a diabetic and needed constant medication to prevent further illness. The father showed in the hearing that his son had not received the required medication.
In another case, a young girl went back to the sect after an attempt at rehabilitation, and charged her mother with illegal deprivation of liberty. There the judge decided for the Hare Krishna sect and against the parents. He argued that the accusations of the fact finding committee could not be upheld because he did not want to open up a Pandora's box by admitting the possibility of mind control. The judge told him individually that the concept of thought control or brainwashing of and by itself was not criminal conduct. The fact that indoctrination and constant chanting were used as defense mechanisms
to maintain influence over other people was monstrous, also when it was used for brainwashing or thought control. It could bring about an inability to think logically or act rationally. However, that was not criminal conduct. Neither brainwashing nor thought control, per se, qualified as criminal deeds. Therefore the lawsuit could not be supported. Therefore the complaint was dismissed. The Hare Krishna sect interpreted that as having won the lawsuit. However, they did not win it. The case was only dismissed because thought control and brainwashing are not criminal behavior. Therefore we stand, once again, before the problem of the definition of the use of force.
As soon as we can prove that brainwashing and thought control are applications of force, then we can make immediate use of the rest of our laws and solve the problem. We can prove in many cases that thought control has been effectively used. We have statements on that from psychiatrists, psychologist and other experts. For the time being, though, the only resort we have is the civil suit. At the moment, most of the civil suits are being pressed by the sects - against authors of books, against newspapers and against parents who have tried to help their children. There they accuse us denying youth the religious freedom which is given to them by the First Amendment. If our argument is right, then the youth do not, themselves, choose this religion, but are subjected to brainwashing and forced or programmed into these so-called religions. There the courts decide inconsistently, once in favor of the parents, once in favor of the sects.
In certain respects the sects have a head start, because they have succeeded in keeping various books from being printed and distributed; because the authors are afraid of being sued for their books or articles. With thousands of adherents begging on the streets for money and giving all the money to their sects, the sects have amassed a considerable fortune. With that money they are in the position to hire the best attorneys in the country and take action against parents. Most sect members' parents belong to the middle class or upper middle class and do not have endless sums of money at their disposal. We cannot count on help from organizations for the protection of civil rights since they represent the opinion that we are violating the freedom of the young sect members. For instance, there is the case of an author, Paulette Cooper, who wrote the book, "The Scandal of Scientology." The Scientology sect filed suit to deny the publication of the book and lost the suit. Then they filed another suit and went through six or seven specifications until the author's financial means were exhausted. It finally was settled out of court. The sect paid her a 6 digit sum to stop the publication of the book. Paulette Cooper filed another suit against the Scientology sect for $1,200,000 for a false bomb threat against itself which the Scientology tried to attribute to Mrs. Cooper. Paulette Cooper was taken into custody by the police and held in jail for three days after Scientology had delivered a counterfeit letter to the authorities.
The difficulties she had getting herself out of this problem caused her a nervous breakdown. Finally she decided on a suit which is still to be decided upon this year. In a raid which the FBI held on the Scientology Church in Washington, D.C, evidence came to light which supported Paulette's case against the Scientology sect. It confirms that the sect did everything itself in order to cause her harm. This is only one case of personal threat. Many authors are threatened with civil suits if they publish one of those type of articles. Hare Krishna and the Scientology Church have demanded that authors hand over their manuscripts to their organization before they can go to print. Professor Roy Wallace is also said to have submitted his book on the Scientology sect for so-called "corrections" and permitted the sect to add a chapter at the end of his book in which they gave their counter-presentation. The book was printed, and he received no further threats. In contrast, during the time he was writing the book and when he presented his promotional work on sociology and especially the Scientology sect, he received many criminal threats which, unfortunately, could not be proved.
When the sects file a suit against the parents, there is often no sort of basis for a suit. When we, as parents, are sued, we can only do one thing: answer it. If you do not do that, this is looked upon as an admission of guilt. Therefore you have to participate in the court process. You need an attorney, otherwise the judge can intervene and assign you a defense attorney. It has not gotten that far, yet.
The parents, as good citizens, have always answered their summonses and tried to uphold the legal system.
Most of the suits by the sects are delayed. If a suit is filed against parents or parents' organizations, they print that in their publications. The fact that parents have something to do with these kind of suits does not mean that they are in the wrong. Yet the propaganda machinery of the sects leads one to believe that exactly that is the case. The only alternative we have is to let the media know that the sect is offering a kind of propaganda, and to reveal all the facts. The delay of the suit by the sects is to cause uncertainty and to prevent decision; in most of the cases the sects know fairly well when they will not win a suit.
If one side of a suit withdraws in the course of the proceedings, it must pay the total court costs. A sect which brings in thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a day all over the country with no investment on its own part can absolutely afford to assume such costs. The major portion of the court costs, though, are covered by tax dollars. The one who pays is the state, or the tax payer. So far as I have heard, in Germany, a certain sum must be paid when the suit is filed. That is not the case in the United States. The only expenses which the citizen has to bear if he files a suit against a group or other citizens, a sect or whomever, are his filing fee and copying expenses, nothing to speak of. If we had a system here similar to that of Germany, then this type of procedure would not exist.
The law suit which is staged only as harassment will automatically be dropped. If I understand it correctly, when a suit is withdrawn in Germany, the applicant also pays the court, attorney and copying expenses of the accused. Here the accused has a chance to get back his expenses and eventually a settlement for damages only if he counter-sues. However, that costs, in turn, the filing fee and the retainer for the attorney, more vacation hours from the work place, more trouble and more money than the average citizen is able to invest. It is basically possible, with a minimum financial burden, to initiate a law suit to force the accused through postponement tactics to appear many times before the court so that his expenditures of time and money escalate and finally the suit is withdrawn.
Concerning the question of deprogramming, I would like to pave the way by saying that we substitute a different word for the word "deprogramming," like, for instance, "resocialization" or "reintegration into society." One of the most essential aspects of a deprogramming is the care and love which must be used with the youth who is being resocialized or reintegrated. In general, the youth is very afraid at this stage because he has been told how terrible deprogrammers are. Therefore it is extremely important that he is confronted with a normal, everyday setting, get enough to eat and has caring people around him. If he has been programmed in a Christian viewpoint, then there should be someone there who knows a little about the Bible and can show him where things have been taken out of context, the verses
have been turned around, or incorrectly interpreted by the sect. He must realize that nobody is trying to change him, but that there are open questions which should be explained by a final acceptance on his part. It is of great importance that he get the feeling that he is important as an individual. He must know that many other young people have stumbled into the sect and gone through he same thing, that he himself is not to blame for the things which have happened and that they were more forced upon him from outside.
The presence of other young people who have gotten out of the same or a similarly structured sect contributes very highly to a fast deprogramming. Communication inside the youth group is much stronger than across the generation gap. At the same time, especially with girls, there often exists a need for strength, for a father figure or a person of authority who is helping them to concentrate, who cares and acts friendly. The secret of a successful deprogramming appears to lie not only in the asking of the question and the challenge on an intellectual basis, but also in the very circumspect type of handling with regard to emotional components. The youth must notice that you care about him. If this feeling does not come about, then the deprogramming is extremely long and less successful.
There are as many different techniques of deprogramming as there are youth. Each one is different from the others. Each one must be handled with consideration for his origins and education. The parents must make an effort to support the action. They often hold the key to the whole thing.
The child has to know that he is loved by his parents, that they have done everything they could in their power to show him their love.
Unfortunately the word "deprogramming" has been brought into association with power, force and various violent methods. The only critical phase of deprogramming in which a violent act could happen is right at the beginning of his extrication from the group. But he must understand and realize that he must give his parents the opportunity to talk to him about his problems, so therefore he cannot run away. In 98% of the cases there is no physical resistance by the youth. But it has also happened that a youth has reacted violently. You cannot do much except to hold him down to keep him from hurting himself. The biggest problem with these youth is their total refusal to listen. It requires much patience from a deprogrammer. He may not pressure, has to be there constantly, and may not stop showing the youth his care and love. All available information from the media, the Bible and other sources obtained for him about the sects must be presented to him. Most of the sect members have never read these things themselves, or have only seen what the leader wanted them to see in order to present the sect as an exemplary institution. Most of the groups produce a feeling in the youth of belonging to an elite group and being something special. This presents the difficulty in deprogramming of making clear to them that they are something special as individuals, but not as members of some group or another.
If the sect regards itself as a Christian oriented group, then we would not make an attempt to divert the youth from Christian belief, but to show him where and in what way it has been used by the sect or whatever other group they were a member of. We do not have the intention of bringing them away from their Christian faith, but from the thought control by which they are held prisoner. During the deprogramming phase the youths often fall into a trance, withdraw completely into themselves and stand there totally passive and without emotion. You don't know if they are listening, whether you have gotten through to them or not. In such cases you have to continue to constantly talk to them, put your hand on their shoulder and let them know that you are there. Now and then you can also give them a gentle jab. For the most part they then automatically come out of this trance and become attentive. If they get to the point to which they accept questions, build a communication with their deprogrammer and are ready to read information from outside, then chapter 22 from Dr. Lifton's book "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism" is a very effective means of help. Many of the youths from the Unification Church admit afterwards that they have been through the exact same thing themselves.
It has not been said often enough that the isolation from the sect is an important first step to the re-personalization of a youth out of the sect atmosphere. He will have a tendency to go back to the sect, to backslide and to cut off communication which you seek to build up with him, the dialogue which is so important to the challenge of questions.
The youth should end up finding out that the people out there are not bad and that he can speak with them. He has to know that he has people outside of the sect who can help him. It is generally important to build up and strengthen his ego. This phase of deprogramming ends up with the rehabilitation phase, which, in many respects, is as important or even more important than deprogramming. Close attention must also be paid here that the youths do not come into contact with members of their sect. They frequently fall into a floating state, in which they are not sure of themselves and where a triviality can cause them to go back to the sect. It is incredible what strong reactions can be unleashed by a familiar sentence, a song, a contact with the group, a telephone conversation or the like. Such a triviality can cause them to immediately run away. One of the characteristics of those who go back to the sect is the fact that their decision to take this step is not planned or considered, but results from an impulse. Here you have to pay attention to gradual signs of such impulses and be prepared to get them under control. The only thing necessary for that is love and kindness, contact and speech. Any physical force should be avoided.
Rehabilitation itself can consist of various components. An organized life-style and environment are advantageous. Inside of this organization, the youth must feel free to do what he likes. There has to be time for relaxation, time to speak to others, time to look at the effects of the sect and the methods of operation of other sects in order to be able to recognize parallels.
There has to be the opportunity to speak with other youths who have gotten out of the sect. All this is of great importance to a successful rehabilitation. Sometimes a trip to the mountains or to the lake or a vacation in which the youth can find peace - this is important for the whole rehabilitation phase. During this time they are still very hesitant, unsure and have difficulties making their own decisions. They have to be supported and promoted in this regard. They have to be encouraged to act on their own, to decide and to feel independent. Sometimes it is important to get them out of the domestic atmosphere because a trigger for their confusion may lie there. On the other hand, it is also possible that they need their domestic environment for their reintegration. That has to be individually decided in each case. There are no hard and fast rules. You have to do what appears most appropriate at any given moment. The duration of a rehabilitation should be between two weeks and three months, but is dependent upon the youths themselves and the degree of their imprisonment in the sect ideology.
It is of the greatest importance in each case, though, that he be supported during the rehabilitation phase by other ex-members or people who are well informed about these things. He has to be constantly urged on anew and confronted with situations which demand decisions of him. If possible, he should also be given assignments with which he can help other young people in rehabilitation. That is exactly what he needs. He feels a certain guilt, perhaps because of the money which he has helped collect, or because of the young people whom he, himself, has recruited for the sect.
He has a need to see that they will be given the same help which he has gotten himself. If at all possible, he should be given the opportunity to cooperate in this respect. The provisions for that, naturally, do not always exist, but if the opportunity exists, then it is a very good therapy for the youth.
Rehabilitation is a matter of feel. The basic thing in it is to get the person involved, to give him decisions and to help him to build up his personality and stand by him in his reintegration into society. The sect was his crutch as long as he belonged to it, and he had righteously believed in it. Now that the crutch of discipline and of the authoritarian sect system is lacking, he needs new values which can replace the ones he lost. Anything which gives him the feeling that he has social worth and which puts him in the position to give help to others can basically accelerate his rehabilitation. The purpose of this therapy lies in freeing him from the force which has influenced his thoughts and in giving him the opportunity to see the world with the eyes of reality. It should never be the goal of rehabilitation or deprogramming to establish a certain belief or certain values in the youth. The youth has to recognize that he has to make his own decisions. He has to find his own concept and judgment of the world like it is. Along with that, as has already been mentioned many times, it is of great importance that he perceive himself as being a worthwhile member of a group which supports and love him, and that it be made it clear to him
that not all people in the world are evil, that he has not been seduced and made into a sinner, and that none of the terrible things which he had been threatened with are happening to him. In deprogramming and rehabilitation, the youth has probably slept undisturbed at night and eaten regularly in a relaxed atmosphere for the first time in weeks, months or years. One has to give him time to slowly grow into the personality which he had been before his sect experience and to become the person who he can and wants to be.
Father LeBAR, S.J.
Interview of May 24, 1978 in the Los Angeles Airport
Father LeBar works in the archdiocese of New York in issues of destructive cults.
As to your question of what, in my opinion, would be the motivating factor for youth to join destructive cults, and what, in my judgment, the churches should do to keep this from happening, I would like to answer as follows:
First of all I believe that the youth who join sects have actually been led into something which they, themselves, did not intend to happen. More importantly and fundamentally however, is the fact that they have not found a meaning, a goal or fulfillment in their lives. Because of this situation, they are ready and willing to look all over for those things. They have an open ear for anybody who asks them whether they would not like to cooperate in the fight against drugs or in the unification of Christianity. After they have broken ties with their home, university or whatever, they are ready to make an investment. They are ready to try nearly anything other than what their parents or other persons of authority have already considered to be good things. That is what I see as being the main reason for youth getting involved with sects, because I have learned that once the dangers and the sects' methods of operation have been pointed out to them, they want nothing more to do with sects. The problem consists of getting their attention and informing them before they come into contact with a sect. This has become one of our biggest, real-life problems.
In my opinion the church, be it the Catholic Church or another, is left with an important role in this psychological-religious phenomenon. I think that Catholic, or should we say religious, parents expect an explanation and a direction from their church that this is regarded as a problem.
They do not want to be liable to deception or strive for something false. So first of all they expect that their church identify sects as something bad or at least warns about them. Furthermore, the church has the obligation to help parents and former sect members in taking care of the problem, as the church also helps with drug problems, young drug addicts, alcoholics and old folks. This is a special problem of youth; there has to be rehabilitation assistance and counselling almost daily in the churches. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the Church should engage in deprogramming or in the forceful extradition of youth from other groups. I am not saying that the church does not have the moral obligation to do that. It would, however, be subject to strong criticism if youth were stolen from one religion by another, so this matter should be left up to somebody other than the church.
Lastly, I believe that the church has a very important role in the explanation and counter-presentation of sects as to Catholic, Jewish, Protestant or other beliefs, so that the public knows about these sects before it is too late.
As to your question of whether the churches have establishments in which they can help young people to solve the problem practically, I have the following to say:
At this point in time, I am not aware of any Catholic or other church in this country which maintains a work center for this problem. The greatest part of the work which is done in this area is performed by parents of former sect members or interested priests or clergy who are aware of the problem and are moved to do something about it.
In my own archdiocese in New York, we have several information centers: These are part of my assignment, to give advice and explanation to all groups who need it. We also have a priest of the Blessed Sacrament order in Cleveland, Ohio, who holds a similar function. Besides that, we are looking into the possibility of using one of our inactive child care centers in New York diocese as a rehabilitation center. But that is still only in the planning stages. So far, we have gotten inquiries from people who are interested, but nothing definite yet.
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This translation originated at http://cisar.org.
The url of the original translation is http://cisar.org/books/trn1080.htm