Materials from the International Scientific-Practical Conference on "Totalitarian Cults - Threat of the 21st Century"
These materials were presented in Russian in the book.
23-25 April 2001
2001 Publishing House of the Fraternity of St. Alexandr Nevski
An international scientific-practical conference on "Totalitarian Cults - Threat of the 21st Century" was held from 23 to 25 April 2001 in the Orthodox Center in the name of Saint Nikola in the City of Nizhny Novgorod. It was extraordinarily well represented not only by geographical region, but also by the number of participants. There were assembled in Nizhny Novgorod delegations from seven countries and 22 dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), totaling 201 people. Large segments of the mass media were also present, both press and television.
Participants and guests of the conference uniformly noted not only the highly scientific quality of the lectures and reports, but also the excellent variety of the main forum's membership: theologians, religious specialists, sociologists and clergymen. There was also quite a number of hands-on people experienced in matters of resisting cults, from missionaries and catechists to journalists in the committees of the conference.
The work resulted in a whole series of documents in which were concentrated a general summary of the discussion: the "hot" topics tended towards practical recommendations, they focused attention on the danger from a great number of totalitarian cults operating on Russian territory (published in this collection of texts).
While a great deal of the work in preparing for and conducting the conference was done by the Nizhny Novgorod diocese and the Information-Consultation Center of St. Irineaus of Lyon, the lion's share by far of the toil and trouble was accomplished by the Fraternity of St. Alexandr Nevski, with its abbot, the deacon of the shrine of Alexandr Nevski, archpriest Valentine Sazanov, head of the Fraternity of Aleksei Nikolayev Sakharov.
As a consequence of the conference, the publishing house of the Fraternity of St. Alexandr Nevski published jointly with the Information-Consultation Center of St. Irineaus of Lyon the following collection of texts, which include those from all plenaries, some committee statements, and also the sum of the documents from the main forum.
Archmandrit Kirill (Pokrovski), Nizhny Novgorod
Candidate of Theological Science, abbot of the Annunciation men's monastery, head of the Nizhny Novgorod spiritual seminars
Words of welcome for guests and participants of the conference
Permit me, in the name of the Metropolitan of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamasski Nikolai, who would have received the direct participants into the organization of this conference, but, unfortunately, was not able to be here today, to greet you, to welcome you with the Light of Christ's Resurrection and Paschal days, in which we, however, will not speak about joyful events. Jesus Christ, the Savior, in founding Christianity, said, many shall come in my name, saying I am the Christ, and shall deceive many (Matt. 24:5, Mark 13:6). As early as the first century of Christianity, such heresies were present, like Arianism, monism, Nestorianism, iconoclasm and many others. Today, all of us here live in a special time. Heresy arising in former times used to immediately be declared heresy, and what's more it was often proclaimed as such in decrees from government offices. But today, things are much more involved, in view of the pluralism of opinion and freedom of religion being given to new teachings, and this law being applied to spiritual terrorists, who then violate this same law. Today, all of us here need to give an answer to questions for those people who live with us: first, are the teachings, many of which fall victim to the truth of Holy Orthodoxy, corroborated by the Holy Apostles and Fathers of the Church, and, secondly, do the teachings lend truth to the state of affairs across the government agencies, which are today responsible to make that happen in the government without violating any freedoms not only of so-called religious minorities, but also of everybody -- freedom of the basic denominations. Unfortunately, today we see that our substantial denomination is not represented in government agencies. I think this somehow needs to have some comment in our documents and in our discussion.
In Nizhny Novgorod since the early 1990s, there have appeared representatives of such religious organizations, which had never been seen there before and of which nothing was known. And here these people from non-traditional denominations have been committing acts of genuine spiritual terrorism, ruining the spirits of people who knew nothing about Christianity. Because their spirits were empty. They were confirmed atheists and non-believers. And visiting missionaries bought these souls with the chicken soup of their false doctrine. By now we have been told that we, as citizens, are obligated to respect the sensitivities of any belief.
The Seti-NN telecommunications company has been in existence for almost ten years. It was founded under the influences of the Seventh Day Adventists, and in the course of these ten years it has not stopped venting a stream of invectives against any activity by the Nizhny Novgorod ROC (Russian Orthodox Church) diocese. This is an example of a situation where the intention was to pay a lot of money for a whole telecommunications channel, and it happens with many others. The head of the Mitropolit at Paschal supper brought up one of the saddest examples of those affected by the activities of cultists: mothers who have wandered into a cult, that kill their infant children, and then cut their own throats ...
On the first line then, we, members of the clergy, missionaries, and catechists, need to inform people about the dangers of new doctrines and to relate to the government agencies that we stand and continue on the side of freedom of conscience, to watch over the spirit of any citizen of our state, of any Russian person.
Once again, I wish you success in work before you, health, well-being and accomplishment in your efforts, which often seem invisible. But we recall the words of Saint Pisani, that one soul saved and averted from sin betters the entire world. The Lord of everything good is helping!
Umar-Khazrat Idrisov, Nizhny Novgorod
Representative of the Spiritual Council of Mussulmen of Nizhny Novgorod city and Nizhny Novgorod province
Words of welcome to conference guests and participants
Esteemed clergy! Esteemed conference participants, dear brothers and sisters!
I raise a prayer to the Almighty for success in the day's endeavors, because the questions brought forward today are current and significant not only for believers, but also for all citizens of our homeland. Proposals for discussion of the problem areas have a multitude of aspects to them such as theological and scientific, so they are also of a civic and political character.
I will not address a certain level of theology, I would want to keep the attention of the auditorium in several aspects in discussing today's conference topic.
All traditional religions on earth that profess to humankind believe their beginnings to be in Asia, an area of special consequence in the search for spiritual morality. And each of them has a number of unique features, but despite these differences and the occasional complication in relationships among them, many centuries of existence together made representatives of these religions tolerant. But the principle role in the quality of interdenominational tolerance is the one played by mutual respect and humaneness in their worldview orientation.
After all, all scriptures inspired by God profess the principle ideas of unity of the Creator and unity of the family of mankind, and they carry in themselves the idea of peace, neighborliness and justice, and they include guidelines like no killing, no stealing, don't harm your neighbors ...
And that brings us to so-called new religions and denominations, because they were formed in centuries of harsh changes in the informational and biological fields on earth and they distinguished themselves through their aggression, intolerance and their founders -- leaders of charismatic and authoritarian sense and of ruthless character. The Aum Shinrikyo, the "khlycty", the Hashishin. They built upon others from other eras, but tightened up the conviction in their exclusivity. Their leaders took on the role of Messiahs, the role of prophets, committing by their actions the sin of pride/arrogance.
But we all remember the words of Jesus Christ, "Beware the lying prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inside have the substance of ravenous wolves."
And the Holy Koran, which rejects bearing false witness, emphasizes that he who distorts Divine revelation cannot succeed. No matter in what century the Scriptures exist, thoughts of their persuasion and urgency always existed, and people do not forget how to think.
In the analysis of so-called new religions and denominations, which are most well known today and which have thousands of adherents, it becomes obvious that they appear exemplarily in one or the other time: in the middle of the 19th century or in its second half. This applies to the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Bahaists, the Ahmadiya cult, the Society for Krishna Consciousness, etc.
And territorially they arise either in the USA or in colonies dependent on western countries. For instance, the formation in British India in the middle of the last century of the Ahmadiya cult, which proclaimed its founder a prophet and Messiah and pretended to embrace the entire world of Islam. Springing up almost simultaneously in Persia was the new religion of Bahaism which elevated its founder Bahaulla to the capacity of Messiah. This cult later called itself a worldwide religion. It's noteworthy that the centers of these two cults, which were formed on an pseudoislamic foundation, were founded in the western sphere of civilization: the center of Ahmadiya is in London and the Bahaist centers are in the USA and Israel.
In studying the reason new cults and denominations arise, the overall political settings of these times should be taken into consideration.
In the middle of the last century, several financial and political elitarian circles began to adopt new lines in life that tended toward world supremacy. That is the moment when the political ideology existing in 20th century political powers was conceived.
To attempt to take under control financial flows, economics, political power and judicial standards in various countries -- above all in western countries and in Russia -- could these circles have missed the religious/spiritual sphere?
If we are to be objective, then it needs honestly admitted that the origins of new religions and denominations were advantageous for those that were allowed to control the consciousness of many thousands of adherents and divert throngs of people from the true causes of trouble, misfortune and failure on earth at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. And the elite permitted lines to be introduced into peoples' lives, that could be advantageous sooner or later. And for the stupefication of the masses a search was conducted during this time for the "true name of God", and studies were made of "secret signs from extraterrestrials, and attempts were made to experience the presence of "holy spirit," etc.
It was on this primitive level that the primarily nebulous religious self-identification of US inhabitants several Protestant countries in Europe, and also the colonial populations of western countries was conducted.
In our era these cults rush into Russia. Instead of accepting the registration laws that apply to all genuine traditional denominations of the country, cults lobby to get western legislation passed into law, with a tendency to directly support beliefs foreign to Russia. Unfortunately, representatives of traditional religions in Russia, especially Orthodoxy and Islam, do not find themselves on this level. This could explain the weak religiosity of the people in post-atheistic Russia.
But today the time has come to ask for whom was profiting from the spread and development of Aum Shinrikyo, which turned out to be a terrorist organization, or the so-called "churches" of recently appearing Christians or "Reverend" Moon from Korea?
It should be clearly noted when to whom and for what was creation of these new religions, although the answer already given by the founder of one of the most popular of today's cults - Mr. Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. He said that the easiest way to make much money is to invent a new religion.
I think today acceptance needs to be properly extended. Government should not take upon itself the role of defending Orthodoxy or defending traditional religions -- no, government needs to rise to the role of defending its citizens from the aggressive influence of western oriented new religions and cults.
We, Mussulmen, can state that Islam has not and does not require defense of anyone, because, according to our system of belief, it is defended by the Almighty. However, as far as defending the citizens of Russia, we are prepared to accept an active share in the matter of the advocacy of our religion and of the religion of monotheism. And its main idea is expressed by the holy prophet Mohammed, who said: you'll never get to heaven if you're not convinced, and you won't be convinced if you don't love each other. So examine the world between you! Here is the basis for spreading our religion to all those who wish to listen to us, and this basis is the philosophy for cooperation with those who strive for truth, peace and goodness!
Eduard Mikahilovich Chaprak, Nizhny Novgorod
head of the European community of Nizhny Novgorod
Words of welcome to conference guests and participants
Esteemed theologians and clergy! Dear conference participants!
Before anything else, permit me in the name of the Jewish community of Nizhny Novgorod to congratulate those present on the most recent celebration of the Christian Easter. The celebration of light over darkness, the defiance of physical death, the exploits of Christ -- he brought every believer to reflect not only upon spiritual salvation through truth but also upon empty-handed piety.
Quite recently Jews of the world celebrated the holiday of Pesach. I will permit myself to mention its philosophical-moral points. The exodus from Egypt, leaving the despotic pharaoh, by the way, a symbol of the fight with unjust, totalitarian power. The exodus was the route to spiritual freedom, unrecognized and unaccepted dictates. The individuals and people could not be slaves. So thousands of years ago one of the basic concepts of Judaism matured.
And we do not forget the idea in the Old Testament, where it mentions, "the Lord, Who brought us out of the land of Egypt, [...] Him shall we hold sacred and Him shall we adore and to Him shall we sacrifice, [...] and we shall not hold other gods sacred" (4 Kings 17, 36-37).
As an Orthodox Jew, I also remember the words of Moses, "... a prophet who shall dare to speak in My name that which I have not commanded him [to speak], or who shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet will die." (Deut. 18,20). What is this about? It's absolutely obvious: about the danger of false doctrine, the danger of spiritual slavery. The spiritual slavery of a spell is just like physical slavery. But true believers need be frightened not of cruel omens nor of vicious thoughts nor of evil deeds, because the Torah warns us about strange possibilities they present.
It is with bitterness, however, that we look upon attempts at spiritual enslavement of people through moral domination and spiritual dictates. Domination, as a rule, conceals its intentions with clever symbols of trust. We recall, for example, the actions of the Templar Order, which nearly plunged all of medieval France into the flames of civil war. We also recall that their symbols included a sacred sign of Judaism. Complete subordination to a mysterious and somber head of the order gave him power over the souls of rank-and-file cult members, who believed that they served a God United. But they served the Satanic idea of undivided power over people just like themselves. What would then await them? A body of lost, terrible legends. Could it be they were a product only of the Middle Ages?
But it seems to me that cultism of a totalitarian bent is durable, very durable. And its efforts are not always directed towards terrorism or the physical destruction of non-believers. Time gives examples of more subtle forms of operation by totalitarian cults.
The Freemasons of Europe, protecting the Star of David, had the essence of a totalitarian cult in subjecting great numbers of their own members to puzzling empty phrases about universal good, and also in pretending to have spiritual power over every Mason practitioner and to have control over countries and peoples. Financial, informational and political control. This is not unsheathing the sword, but concealment, an effective form of suppression and metamorphosis into slaves. But form does not change substance. The exodus of the Jews from Egypt was the first confirmation of that.
Life has shown: one can attempt to go beyond religious political doctrine, form one's own set of instructions, and create new organizational structures. One can, of course, promote trust in secular science to the rank of Satanic verse and worship idol knowledge. Life demonstrates what sort of end game such totalitarian cults have. All this leads to a poor state of mind. The path from this goes not to good, but to loss of a sense of birthright and civic spirit, loss of personality and dignity, to a state of sin. I think that one of the trails leading to the creation of a cult is called Pride, or Superpride. As Solomon said in his proverbs, "When pride cometh, then cometh shame, but with humility comes wisdom." (Proverbs 11,2).
What else could I add to the Testament of our fathers? It already talks in the Scriptures about good and it already calls evil "evil." The sun rises and the sun sets and it hurries to the place it arose, [...] and the wind returns again according to its circuits [...] and there is no new thing under the sun. (Eccl 1:5-9)
Evil and good always repeat themselves, and they always will. And good will always resist evil until the time people consider themselves a product of God, but not of Satan.
Alain Vivien, France
Minister of the French Republic, chairman of the Interministerial Mission to Combat Cults for the Prime Minister of France
Government and cults: France's experience
France was first bothered by a prevalence of cultists within her borders as well as outside the country limits in the 1980s.
A parliamentary report published in 1983 passed the first act, which consolidated the will of the prime minister and attention of the French National Assembly toward researching the problem of deliverance from this social apparition.
We do not call separate branches of large religious denominations or new religious movements cults, as if they were not unique in their beliefs. In France, cults are what we call societies founded on ideologically totalitarian structures whose behavior brings about serious damage to fundamental freedom and to social stability.
This definition has not yet been integrated at the present date into French law as it has, for instance, in Berlin.
Be that as it may, French justice is not defenseless before cults. A law has existed since 1901 concerning social organizations. From another side, churches were separated from the government as of 1905 in the Republic. This reciprocal independence allowed freedom to develop and made impossible the existence of official totalitarian ideology which is destructive to freedom -- things are for freedom of conscience as they are for political freedom. These two laws are fundamental to our institution.
Paradoxically, cults, the majority of which stress their religious orientation, do not function on a similar basis in France. The explanation for this may lie in that they do not in the least strive to accept the the openness that is characteristic of democratic institutions. Actually, omitting their official, ever-flattering speeches, something quite the opposite to what others call ethics and freedom is obvious.
There have been a large number of tragic events which required legal intervention, for instance, the charges against R. Hubbard for fraud in 1978 and the subsequent sentencing, and the illicit treatment of human beings practiced not only on adults but also on little children in the order of the Solar Temple. At the present time, nearly 160 cases are being investigated by judicial authorities. This is ten times more than 15 years ago. It is impossible to say that in France cults are more of a threat than in other European countries; one can say she is one of those who more actively defends herself.
The French Parliament carries on its fundamental research. A committee of inquiry studying the financial sources of French cults makes a public report in June of this year. The Senate and National Assembly recently voted for measures required to control the educational activities undertaken by some cults, which are actually not in observance of international conventions on children's rights. Finally, groups and organizations that are recognized as socially useful can initiate and present civil lawsuits representing cult victims in court.
These first results exist perhaps due to the activities of private organizations that fight against manipulation of consciousness and that support the President and Prime Minister of France. With them is included a contract with a term of up to 4 years rendering support, specifically in working with young people.
And without these rehabilitative organizations we would not have been able to operate at the present time, because they represent spokesmen of public opinion.
At the present time, activities of these organizations are conducted on a general European level that stipulate the approach to European governments. A European association of such organizations has already been created, the chairman of which is a citizen of Belgium, and representatives from England and Catalonia are listed in the secretariat.
What is the preliminary result of two year activities by such organizations? They would have wanted to reign in more difficulties than achievements. Speaking of achievements, one can say that it accomplished one, but extremely important, achievement: the tendency of cultism to develop in France will be slowed down. However, I am not trying to say cultism is on the decrease. In France, the latest count is 500 thousand people who have been confronted with cult activity to one or another extent. They were or appeared either as members of cults or their victims. Half of this number, which is great enough just in itself, is made up by members of the Jehovahs Witnesses organization.
So, about the difficulties we run into. The first of these is that cultism was a phenomenon of global character. I am firmly convinced that spiritual powers, in the field of philosophy as well as in the field of religion, can take on a much greater role in combatting this phenomenon, which infringes, more than anything, upon the individual.
In France the Catholic Church began to take steps in the fight with cultism too late. As concerns Protestantism, Protestants in various countries see this thing in various ways, depending on the degree of their own maturity or decay. As concerns Mussulmen denominations, they do not have structures in France that are clearly enough organized, therefore it is very difficult to have a dialogue with them. Nevertheless, there is an overall decreasing number of believers taking on an active share in the work of associations to rehabilitate cult victims and in the work of our mission.
Another problem includes the fact that European governments, when this all began, were very poorly mobilized to fight entities of this sort. Promising steps in that direction, however, have already been noted. The European Union Commission of Rights and Freedom, together with the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, have worked out a recommendation, the initiator of which was Adrian Nestase, the former prime minister of Rumania who is presently the deputy of the European Parliament.
Outside of that, last year in France under the aegis of our mission, we founded a conference for all representatives of associations engaged in the rehabilitation of the victims of destructive cults.
The third extremely important problem that we have run into is connected with the penetration of cult members into the highest levels of government agencies.
By attentively observing how a number of forums were put together in which representatives of both government and non-government organizations appeared, cultists very quickly realized that there is some freedom of space that can be filled within social-political structures. From that point, they created a number of non-governmental organizations, which work to conceal their extremely dangerous activities. Besides that, these organizations are used as lobbyists for interests internal to the country to conceal their work. In this connection one can remember rather positive statements being made about Scientology by a former president of the USA, as he did for cult activity in different fundamentalistic countries. Most of the talk is about Vakhabism, whose activities are concentrated in a number of countries in Asia and Africa.
Therefore it is necessary to give unflagging attention to cult activities, and this attention needs to occur on the part of all organizations, independent of their attitude to the Church.
Pastor Thomas Gandow, Berlin, FRG
Representative of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lutheran Church on issues of cults and worldview, vice president of the International Institute for the Study of contemporary cultism, the "Dialog Center," leading specialist in the expansion of totalitarian cults into countries of central and eastern Europe
History of how the concept of freedom of conscience developed: American and European approaches
I am thankful to those who invited me to this conference. Esteemed archmandrits, fathers, ladies and gentlemen!
I am not a lawyer, nor a historian, and not a professor, as it says in one of the programs. I'm a Lutheran pastor from Germany. For more than 20 years now I have been dealing with cultists, guided in this matter by what is reported from Christians. An example which can be useful for us to follow here is that of ancestor Abraham, who started on the path of belief with the destruction of pagan idols. It is this type of approach that reveals we have much in common with our Jewish and Mussulmen friends.
As a citizen of Germany, I know from personal experience what suffering may be wrought by a pagan totalitarian cult that comes to power, as happened with Hitler and his German Order. It is well known, after all, that the Nazi party for him was only a political cover for an occult group.
Therefore I am very happy that Christians, Mussulmen, Jews and probably some atheists are attending this convention today, and that all of us together are trying to ward off a threat to our society.
One can make some distinction between the social consequences of the existence of traditional religions ("sincere" belief) and of religions that are primarily false (superstition). In philosophy, the method of searching for this distinction is called "critical ideology," and we, Christians, call this "theological thinking." So here the apostle John told us that there needs to be a "discerning spirit." In making such a distinction, the discussion of the problem is possible only if you have put together an initial point of view, a platform on which you stand. It is necessary to have this for freedom of belief, freedom of conscience and freedom of thought.
At the present time in Europe there is a whole campaign of new decisions about the concept of "freedom of religion." It is understood in European tradition that freedom of the individual, the rights of persons and citizens, is above freedom of religion. And freedom of religion has never meant the right of an organization against its own members. It is not the right of an organization against society and government. It is not the right of an organization against people that criticize it. It is not the right of an organization against freedom of speech.
The present European campaign on "freedom of religion" is directed against government agencies in the West, just as it is in the East. You in Russia could experience the fruits of this campaign when the new Freedom of Conscience Law was passed: by observing the opposition in the campaign back then, we could see the features of the campaign that is now being conducted now all over the world.
In Germany, this campaign is concentrated around the acknowledgment or non-acknowledgment of the Jehovahs Witness religion (at the present they are not acknowledged in Germany as a religion). Tomorrow, Minister Alain Vivien will speak about the tenseness of the situation concerning cults in France. The point of this campaign consists of exerting influence on registration procedures for religious organization by government agencies.
Religious freedom -- this is one of the most important and time-honored rights and freedoms that they have in Europe. In the majority of European countries the words "religious freedom" is not in the Constitution, but on the other hand they record freedom of opinion, freedom of faith, freedom of conscience and freedom of religious services. As you see for yourselves, all this is much more related to the individual than it centers on the organization.
The history of the development of religious freedom in Europe is closely related with the national conflicts and wars after the Reformation. In Central Europe, religious freedom developed more than anything else as a freedom to belong to one of the Christian branches. So, the Westfalian land of 1648 granted a citizen freedom to belong to one of three Christian denominations: Lutheran, Calvinist (reformed) or Old Belief -- Roman Catholic. Back then there was no doubt about the idea that in any given society there had to be only one religion. For this was needed to reinforce religious unity. Under the conditions of the Holy Roman Empire, however, it was impossible for the German people to organize such unity, therefore the idea was finally come upon that they needed to have denominational religious freedom throughout the entire empire, but in the real world they came upon, unity was needed. And thus government departments were developed, which were either Lutheran or reformist or Roman Catholic. The Empire also included within itself Catholic Spain, Austria and other lands.
If you, for example, were Lutheran and lived in a country where everybody was Roman Catholic, then you had two choices. You could either accept the Old Belief (Roman Catholicism) or emigrate (this second right then was an innovation) to a European country where Lutherans lived. Naturally, leaving one's country and property was difficult for people. And after all, sometimes it's better to get away from everything, but not go against one's conscience -- such a right to emigration was part of living in Central Europe. As we also know, in Eastern Europe this right was denied to people until the 90s of the 20th century.
But you see, besides three Christian denominations in Europe were also smaller religious communities, for which on the map of Europe there was not space where they would have been able to emigrate (As we know, there were no Jewish or Mennonite lands). What was to do with such people? They needed to be left in Central Europe and either travel to North America, where there was already a completely different set of laws, or to the Russian Empire, or to the Austrian Empire, in which the Tsar or Emperor guaranteed that you could live life in your region and keep your faith. Such a new addition to the acceptance of religious freedom was obtained by the name of "tolerance." You didn't have the right to this if you did not have legal position, but to say the least you were tolerated, you were allowed to exist. Undoubtedly, tolerance was a rather unstable legal defense. History shows, however, how difficult tolerance of belief for adherents of different faiths has been. The government back then was still not exhibiting tolerance in its treatment of the individual, but was tolerant in its attitude toward rather small religious groups, such as allowing minorities to exist in countries with the status of tolerant ethical groups.
In the greater number of European countries, however, there was only one state religion, and citizens were allowed the choice of joining it or leaving the country.
The development of the concept of the citizenry as individuals began to advance by stages. The mobility of the population began to disperse religion into local and diverse regions. The task became surmounting local, regional divisions of religion and overcoming the system by which tolerance extended only to defined groups. All this was welcomed to new European concepts of religious freedom.
Religious identity -- this was not only the identity of people as members of a religious group, this was also the right of an individual to have freedom of faith, of profession and of conscience. When the latter right was taken away by the government, people had to demand it back, to demand that the head of government grant citizens the right to belong to a religion other than that held by the head of government, even if they moved to a different part of the country.
In the United States of America, where the majority consists of diverse churches, diverse nationalities, and diverse minorities, the development of religious freedom took another direction. It seems to me that the majority of religious groups there interpret religious freedom as the right of the group against the government, against other groups or their activities or against former members. The group concept is very strong in the USA, although of course they have an understanding of individual religious freedom.
It seems to me nonetheless that the development of the idea of religious freedom, as it happened in Europe, was more progressive and people-oriented. It gave more rights to believers than the American variant, where you have religious rights, if only they exist for members of some group.
Today all the more often religious groups from the USA increase in the European cultural environment. They bring with them their ideas that are surprising to Europeans. It turns out unexpectedly that religious freedom is not the right of a citizen to leave his faith before the state and not the right of an individual to keep his religion without regard to that which is imposed upon him by government, and not the right of a citizen against state ideology, but this is the right to belong to a group or organization. I think that abuse would result from approval of such a concept. It absolutely possible that business would adorn itself with religious trappings. Or, worse than that, a criminal racketeering organization of the Scientology type would conceal behind the screen of religiosity. Or the Mafia would declare itself a religion. Must we endure all these cases to grant religious freedom to a similar organization?
I think that these groups exist for more than just financial gain. They do everything to destroy in the sphere of their influence freedom of their own members or clients. They strive for freedom to attack their clients. They strive for freedom to attack their own clients or even ruin them in general. And all this under the pretext of ostensibly exercising their freedom of religion
I am leading up to the summation of my speech. A cult needs to be regarded as a religious society. However, it is only an organization expressing the individual freedoms of its members, and nothing more. It does not have and is not able to be anything special as a religious organization. According to law, no sort of religious organization -- as it may be called -- has the right to destroy the dignity of its citizens as it is done, for example, by Scientology. Everyone needs to be treated with respect for human freedoms, for human dignity, for the right of freedom to leave a religious organization -- in this way everyone is equal before the law.
The concept of human dignity is the most important part of human rights. And the task of the government and of state agencies is to defend it with the help of the law regardless of by whom and for which reason this human right is under attack.
Religious terrorism, crime and criminality from religious motivation need to be stopped by law the same as we act in cases of politically motivated terrorism or criminality. Just as political ends cannot justify criminality, then if someone says they are a religion, this does not in the least justify them committing a crime. Specifically, governments need to defend people, especially children, from economic, ideological and secular exploitation, from suppression of their rights by such organizations.
I note that today human rights are not what we need to assert with the state, but what the state needs to assert with those groups who attack.
Furthermore, religious organizations, however they may be called - churches or cults - do not have to have hidden, secret rituals. Everything needs to be in clear text and be made public so that people may consciously make a personal decision as to whether they want to take part is such religious rituals and ceremonies or not. Nobody needs to be forced to take part in religious ceremonies (It should be said that force means not only physical, but also using the aid of fraud or forgery - when they invite you for one thing, but you end up getting into something completely different).
Religious communities (churches or cults) do not need to put their members in psychological dependency with regard to their actions, nor in material or social dependency, because in this direct way they undermine people's religious freedom. I repeat, religious freedom is not permission for organizations to do what they want.
When in traditional religion they have a spot of abuse, the state has the right and needs to defend the people from it. But to a far greater degree the government is obliged to defend the individual, when religiosity serves only as a costume, as a cloak for purposes which have nothing at all in common with religion, such as business, physical attacks or even homicide.
Supplement to Pastor Thomas Gandow's lecture
(Document Bundesrat 196/96 of 14 March 1996)
accepted for discussion by the European Parliament 12 February 1996
Resolution on cults in Europe
Official Journal C 078 , 18/03/1996 p. 0031
B4-0259, 0264, 0266, 0271 and 0274/96
Resolution on cults in Europe
The European Parliament,
- having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950,
- having regard to the Treaty on European Union, and in particular Articles F(2), K.1 (2), (5), (6), (7) and (9), and K.3 thereof,
- having regard to its resolution of 8 July 1992 on a European Charter of the Rights of the Child (( OJ C 241, 21.9.1992, p. 67.)),
- having regard to Recommendation 1178 (1992) of the Council of Europe on cults and new religious movements,
A. reaffirming its attachment to the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law, such as tolerance, and freedom of conscience, religion, thought, association and assembly,
B. whereas recent events in France, and in particular the deaths of 16 people, three of them children, in the Vercors on 23 December 1995, have drawn attention to the dangerous activities of certain organizations commonly known as 'cults',
C. whereas the activities of groups of cults or cult-type associations are a phenomenon that is rapidly proliferating, and taking increasingly diverse forms, throughout the world,
D. whereas many religious and other sects are perfectly legitimate and are therefore entitled to have their organizations and activities protected under the guarantees of individual and religious freedom enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights,
E. whereas, however, some cults operating through a cross-frontier network within the European Union are engaging in activities of an illicit or criminal nature and in violations of human rights, such as maltreatment, sexual abuse, unlawful detention, slavery, the encouragement of aggressive behaviour or propagation of racist ideologies, tax fraud, illegal transfers of funds, trafficking in arms or drugs, violation of labour laws, the illegal practice of medicine, and so on,
1. Reaffirms the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to freedom of association, subject to the limits imposed by the need to respect the freedom and privacy of the individual and to provide protection from practices such as torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, slavery, etc.;
2. Calls on the Member States to ensure that the legal and police authorities make effective use of existing legal provisions and instruments at national level and cooperate actively and more closely, particularly within Europol, to combat the attacks on the fundamental rights of individuals of which certain cults are culpable;
3. Calls on the Member States to ascertain whether their judicial, fiscal and penal provisions are adequate to prevent the activities of such cults from resulting in unlawful actions;
4. Calls on the governments of the Member States not to make the granting of religious status automatic and to consider, in the case of sects involved in undercover or criminal activity, withdrawing their status as religious communities, which confers tax advantages and certain legal protection;
5. Calls on the Member States, in this regard, to step up the exchange of information between them so as to coordinate data on the cult phenomenon;
6. Calls on the Council to study, propose and adopt any measures arising from effective implementation of the instruments incorporated in Title VI of the Treaty on European Union and existing Community law in order to control and combat the illegal activities of cults in the European Union; calls on the Council to promote cooperation between the Member States and third countries to trace missing persons and facilitate their reintegration into society;
7. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to show the utmost vigilance to ensure that Community subsidies are not granted to illicit cult-type associations;
8. Instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs to propose to the corresponding committees of the national parliaments that their next joint meeting be devoted to the subject of sects; in this way, information on the organization, working methods and conduct of sects in each Member State could be exchanged and conclusions drawn on the best way to restrain undesirable activities by them and on strategies to raise public awareness about them. The conclusions of this meeting should be submitted to the plenary in the form of a report;
9. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Council of Europe.
Alexander Leonidovich Dvorkin, Moscow
Ph.D., M. Div. Chairman of the Department of Sectology of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Institute, Chief Editor of the Prozreniye (recovery of sight) magazine
Totalitarian Cults on the Threshold of the XXI Century
Esteemed members and guests!
On December 31, 2000, religious organizations were registered as follows: Russian Orthodox Church, 10,913 organizations; Islamic organizations, 3,048; Evangelical Christian faith (i. e. Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal), 1,323; Evangelical Christian - Baptist, 975; Evangelical Christian (mostly neo-Pentecostals), 612; Seventh Day Adventist, 453; Jehovah's Witnesses, 330; Lutherans, 213; New Apostolic Church, 86; Methodists, 85; Churches of the Full Gospel (again neo-Pentecostal), 62; Christian Teetotalers, 54; Mormons, 33; non-denominational Christians (mostly Charismatic and neo-Pentecostals), 156; Old Believers of all orders, including "edinovertsy", 278; the True Orthodox Church, 65; Roman Catholic Church, 258; Mother of God Centers, 27; Church of the Last Testament (Vissarion), 28; Jewish communities, 197; Buddhist, 193; Society of Krishna Consciousness, 106; neo-Pagan, 41; Bahai, 20; Unification Church (Moonies), 17.
The numbers require an explanation. The total amount of Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal communities in this list is nearly 2,000. This is a rather considerable figure. One-fifth the number of the Orthodox communities. I recently came from the Yekaterinburg diocese, where the situation is typical: in a small city there are several neo-Pentecostal communities, the largest of which has 500 - 900 people, according to how they are counted. This in a city with two big Orthodox cathedrals. How many total activists could Orthodox cathedrals have? The most there could be in the whole city would be 200 people. But in a community of Pentecostals 600 people - all of the 600 are activists! Undoubtedly most of the townsfolk count themselves as Orthodox, but after all, they only go to church two or three times a year, and there you have 600 people, who are ready, depending on what the leader says, to go where he likes, to do what he wants, to carry out any act. In fact, practically every member of a totalitarian cult is an activist. Therefore an accurate comparison would not go by the number of members of denominational groups, but by the active members of the parish. In a "congregation" of cultists, this is an army consisting of all officers. Having this in mind we see that the ratio is not very consoling, even if it is taken into consideration that the number of clergy we Orthodox have is rather large, but after all, much depends on the parishioners. Triumphalism would get us nowhere.
More than that, in this statistic, the issue dealt with is registered religious communities. But, after all, there are rather many cultic organizations either not registered or officially registered not as religious, but as a social, educational, informational or other type of association. Cults actively operate through them, such as Narconon and the Hubbard Colleges. The Moonies have the Pure Love Alliance and all kinds of federations: the Family Federation, the Federation of Women for World Peace, etc. Recently there were flyers appearing in Moscow. They announced that the Center for Orthodox Culture was opened as well as the Orthodox academy of St. Simeon the New Theologian. Only it didn't say what diocese it was a part of, and only an experienced eye would see that this was a "Mother of God Center" cult.
Outside of that, there are various commercial and semi-commercial groups that also belong to cults. On the name day of his son, my parish priest was recently given by a parishioner a very beautiful cake, on the bottom of which there was a small label that said, "Friends of Vegetarianism Society." A telephone number was added at the bottom. The priest dialed this number and it turned out to be the Krishna Consciousness Society! It distributes its idol-sacrifice products through the usual retail system. When I arrive in different dioceses, they often tell me they now have it a little easier with the cultists. This is in places where five - ten years ago there were preachers everywhere you looked, but now there are not so many. As a matter of fact, there is by no means an ebbing tide. Cults have simply gone into a new period of their development. Each of them ended up aiming for a certain level of membership. Now membership is actively growing in only two cults, the Jehovahs Witnesses and the neo-charismatics (neo-Pentecostals), who still have a very steady increase. In a large number of the cults remaining, membership has stabilized, or even decreased somewhat, at a very carefully maintained optimum level. They are now engaged in strengthening their niche in society. They buy up real estate, acquire political lobbyists and pay certain journalists to work for them. They hire experts to create a foundation for them, and attorneys who defend their claims in court. In short, they do everything to show they have clout, and they refer to themselves as a permanent factor in the Russian reality; when they will fortify their positions on this level they can push for a new spurts of membership growth. Outside of that, they have powerful foreign support, most of which comes from the USA.
There are new tendencies as well in our new "domestic" home-grown cults which are grow and promote themselves. To be specific, this includes the new Anastasia and Radasteya cults, which have recently come to light along with others. This process is reciprocal: the more foreign cults put on a Russian mask, the more domestic cults acquire an international character in that they found foreign branches and enlist foreign supporters. Thus sectarian globalization works for both sides.
Now all major cults are using the fight against drugs as their P.R. action. Scientologists, charismatics and Moonies promote their anti-drug programs. They bring in "model" people, who have been recruited into the cult and who supposedly have rejected the use of drugs. Anyone who voices a word of criticism is declared to be an agent of the drug Mafia and a supporter of drug use. The first to succeed in this was the Scientology organization's Narconon program. There was a sad experience in Yekaterinburg: the director of the Moscow Narconon, Vl. Ivanov, was invited by the rector of the main city university to give the students lectures. It was announced that the topic was damage done by drugs, but in fact, there was nothing but the Scientology propaganda. What is more, next day 200 pupils of the University high-school were rounded up into the university auditorium for this propaganda. During this time, the rector of the university stated that no representative of the Orthodox Church would set foot on his university.
In fact, the law on freedom of conscience, the fight for which so many spears were broken, proved to be rather impotent. Anyone who wanted registration got it: Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, New Apostolic Church, Church of the Last Testament of Vissarion, etc., including, at the last moment, the Moonies. Using fraudulent methods and evading justice, Scientology managed to get registration (the issue of their registration was appealed in court by the Justice Ministry). Attempts by our authorities to counteract Scientology in court have been rather futile. A wave of lawsuits have gone in favor of the cult in court. In Kirov, the neo-Pentecostals sued the authorities for refusing to register their center and won the case. In Irkutsk, a deputy of the local legislative assembly gave an interview containing remarks critical of the charismatics; he was taken to court and the case has not been resolved to this day. In Chelyabinsk, the journalists managed to defend their freedom of speech against the Jehovah's Witnesses who sued them. This was a milestone decision. But it should be kept in mind that cults constantly use the tactics of court pressure and will use it again and again. Everybody knows that even if they win a case against Scientology, it will cost enormous amount of frustration and time, not to mention the financial expenses! Who would want to get involved in that?! And cults also use each of the cases they win for their own publicity and for intimidation of their opponents.
In the present day, human rights defenders are converting in large number into cult defenders. Yet one conspicuous echelon of the cult supporters are the former professional atheists (teachers of scientific atheism), who lost their lucrative jobs. They appear in courts as experts hired by cults. They now call themselves 'religiologists' and write textbooks in which they promote the idea that the only normal and objective experts in religious issues can be atheists.
Cultists fight the church on one hand on the other hand try to appear to be on friendly terms with it, thus wining legitimacy for themselves. A classic example of this is the photograph distributed widely by Aum Shinrikyo, in which their cult leader Asahara shook hands with Orthodox Metropolitan Pitirim. This was a case where a cult used deception: senior clergyman Pitirim once was approached by an unknown oriental blind man and was asked to be photographed with this person who was "searching for truth." Such examples abound.
Who is standing up against cults now? First of all, the Orthodox Church. And unfortunately, it frequently does this alone, as if this were needed only by the Orthodox and as if it absolutely does not affect anyone else. There is such an incomplete array of activists and parents of children (and children of parents) involved in cults. What is done is a basic preventive work and warning people about cults. Literally only a handful of specialists are available for cult exit counseling, and practically nobody is taking care of rehabilitation.
Orthodox public opinion constitutes a major force. In Yekaterinburg, the leader of the local Mormon mission announced that the Vimm Bill Dann dairy and fruit juice company was a partner of the Mormons. The company management simply did not react to this announcement. Then the Orthodox people announced a boycott of products from the Vimm Bill Dann company; the firm became concerned and completely refuted the Mormon's announcement.
For the time being we are not able, unfortunately, to rely on the government. It is necessary to appeal to the population to be active, and point out to people that if they are not concerned about themselves, nobody else will be. It is necessary to introduce the teaching of traditional religion in educational institutions, as it is spelled out in the p. 1 of the First additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Masters of theological science, chaplain of the All-Cypriot league to defend families and persons
Archmandrit Christofor (Chakas), Nicosia, Cyprus
Church and cults: the experience of Cyprus
Fathers and brothers, esteemed guests!
In beginning my presentation I would like to thank the Metropolitan of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamasski Nikolai for the invitation to this very important and profound conference.
The problem of cult consolidation and totalitarian sects has long ago stopped being a special topic of any sort for countries. Unfortunately this problem exists in every country and with every year it widens in scope and grows. This is reflected in the resolution of the European Parliament, which was passed 29 January 1996 and was called "Cults in Europe," which said, in part, "the activities of groups of cults or cult-type associations are a phenomenon that is rapidly proliferating, and taking increasingly diverse forms, throughout the world. [...] some cults operating through a cross-frontier network within the European Union are engaging in activities of an illicit or criminal nature and in violations of human rights, such as maltreatment, sexual abuse, unlawful detention, slavery, the encouragement of aggressive behaviour or propagation of racist ideologies, tax fraud, illegal transfers of funds, trafficking in arms or drugs, violation of labour laws, the illegal practice of medicine, and so on."
It's indispensable to know that the European Union recognizes the importance of the fight with cult-like associations. The most active discussion is the present problem that began after receiving information about the the activities of the Unification Church.
On Cyprus, as in other countries, this problem exists and influences the lives of people and society in general. Cult-like associations operate everywhere, and their activity frequently ends in tragedy. The tragedy in Uganda could serve as one example, where nearly a thousand innocent people, including 60 children, were affected adversely, and this was described as an African Armageddon.
In 1974, Cyprus was divided into two parts, the country numbered nearly 650,000 residents. Of them 18% were Turks, but they occupied 40% of the territory of the island. Cyprus is a small island, but there are very many sectarian associations that operate on it. The proximity of Cyprus to the Middle East, and particularly to Palestine, attract very many cultists. A true story: a Christian association which had been deported from Israel wished to stay in Cyprus so as to be next after the Holy Land, when Armageddon would begin. Many different kinds of offshore companies operate on Cyprus, under cover of which also operate, well-concealed, many totalitarian sects.
In the course of 10 years, we have been very systematically and profoundly involved with the problem at hand. In 1993 on a recommendation from the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe, registration occurred for the Pan-Cypriot League of parents to protect Greek Orthodox culture, family and persons. The creation of the present organization occurred as a result of joint actions of parents to inform the public and also the government about cults and their influence on the lives of people. Our association is comparable to the European Federation Center for research and information about sectarianism. We are in a close cooperation with the Pan-Hellenic League of Parents in Greece, the Center of St. Irineaus in Moscow and the Interministerial Mission to combat the destructive consequences of cults. Our league cooperates closely with the Cypriot committee of the European Interparliamentary assembly of Orthodoxy, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice, as well as with the Holy Synod of Churches on Cyprus. We also established a special legislative committee to study legislative problems and to make different proposal at the governmental level.
Recently from the government was received a request to propose an amendment to legislation that would help in combatting cults. We are studying much literature on the theme at hand. Examples are presented in the monthly magazine "Animirosis" and are published two times a year in the Tkmirastis" magazine. These magazines are received at no cost by nearly three thousand people.
We have organized various conferences and seminars. We invite specialists from different countries: France, Germany, Greece and Russia. Every year three all-out seminars are organized. We provide information support on issues of sectarianism and totalitarian associations.
In September of last year, the Ministry of Justice, together with our League, organized a seminar, which constituted the first step of our government to combat sectarianism. The goal of that measure was the organization of information at the levels of government, politics and Church. According to information from the Ministry of Justice, at the current moment there are over 200 cults on our island. From my point of view, the situation with cults can be compared to an iceberg. The greater part of cult activities are unseen and unknown to us. The cults that pose the greatest threat are the International Church of Christ, Jehovahs Witnesses, Scientology, Mormons, Unification Church of Moon, Shri Chimnoy, Sai-baba, Hare Khrishna, Ananda Marta, TM and many others. Cases of Satanism and vandalism are reported from time to time in the mass media.
Our League conducted a special poll among the residents of Cyprus for children 15-18 years of age on the problems of fighting Satanism. According to the results of the poll, 18.9% of students had some experience participating in Satanist or occult actions. 67.1% said that it was television that served as the primary source of information on Satanism and occultism. 54.6% thought that school, and 47.5% that Church needed to distribute more complete information about the dangers of Satanism and occultism.
The results of the poll also showed that children thought that rock was satanist music. A very large percentage of the children had experienced fear, tension, frenzy and rage while listening to rock, and only a very small percentage had experienced pleasure.
In Greece the situation is no better. In a publication handed out at the VII conference by a representative of the Orthodox Church in 1995, it was reported that on the territory of that country 423 groups of cult-like associations were operating. I think that at the present moment in time this number has increased considerably and that the reason for this is the failure of a single politician in government to study the present scene.
The fight against cults was started 20 years ago on the initiative of Anthony Alevisopolus. He was the one who appeared as the initiator to conduct the Conference as a representative of the Orthodox Church, and this conference has been held now every year.
The Church of Scientology is very active in Greece. They originally operated in Greece as the "Center for Applied Philosophy." They did not at first use the term "Scientology." In 1995, after numerous complaints by parents whose children had joined the cult, an investigation into this was opened by the local authorities, and on the basis of the evidence submitted to the court, a decision was made to ban it. But within 15 days the cult reappeared under the name of "Dianetics and Scientology." Now they've changed again and operate under the name of "Church of Scientology."
In Many cases, members of this cult break contact with school and with family and work for the cult in another country, thereby losing contact with relatives and friends. This results in very many family tragedies. The scope of the present problem is impossible to even comprehend. We are now trying to determine the limits of the problem, to express to society our concern of the present problem and to inform people about our work.
One can write about cult activity as if it were a religious supermarket. Cultists have exercised a tendency toward excessive consumption, offering people various technologies which solve all their problems: family, personal, social, political and global problems in general. So-called missionaries tread far and wide. Hardly anything they offer solves all problem at once. They still interpret the Bible their way, and very often their treatises contain cultic religious texts of the East. Worst of all, that the Bible is dealt with exactly the wrong way around. That which Jesus Christ offered to humankind as the grace of God, they interpret that a person can obtain this on his own. Every day different preacher imposters set up new groups which propagate revelations on the meaning of life to broaden consciousness and create superhumans. These groups can be classified into the following categories: neo-agnostics, theosophers, guru adherents, Islamists, Buddhists, Japanese cults, esoterica, pagan, New Age, satanist, new youth groups, psychotherapy and political.
All these groups offer a person ascension to the lowest level of development to perfection and to become superhuman. The terrible about this is that each group emerges with a vast set of sub-organizations, which at first glance evoke no suspicion. Operating under misleading names, they try to penetrate all spheres of life, into politics, economics, etc.
For instance, the group of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from Transcendental Meditation propagandize superhuman abilities, which allow people to act like an empire under the aegis of their group. That cult is trying to find a way into government by corrupt means. On Cyprus reports of this type have appeared: "School of Maharishi in Holland offers practical knowledge of laws of nature and preparation for managerial positions. Having this knowledge, people can improve their professional lives, and each government could obtain the possibility to cope with all problems and to answer all citizens' inquiries."
The cult also offered to organize seminars for ministers, deputies and other civil representatives. They offered their help in medicine, education, commerce, industry, and even in government administration.
Experts believe these groups emit spheres of influence so that resistance does not arise among them. For instance, the Unification Church of Moon operates activity among students, in academic circles, among representatives of learning and politicians. Such organizations, like "Dynamics of Success," "Harmony of Life," and other psychological associations successfully operate in the private sector. The Jehovahs Witnesses and Pentecostals basically attract people with low-level income. Neo-satanists mainly target young people and students. Scientology goes after businessmen and people trying to make a career for themselves. Members of this cult on the whole are very well prepared; they have contacts open for any topic. Cults frequently have their own lawyers, doctors and other specialists, even in computer technology.
Often, when discussing this problem, we hear the opinion that this phenomenon is not new, that the Church has always been running into this problem. On one hand, this is true. But new cults are very different from the old. Old cults operated by exposure to dogma, which had an influence on spiritual, social and civil life. But along with that, they did not hide their true face and took open steps against the Orthodox Church. Now cult-like associations prefer mimicry. They appear with names which derive from various areas of life: philosophy, culture, education and finance. They conceal their true goals and thereby make resistance most difficult.
The authorities are hardly interested in these aspects, that the doctrine of the cult is different from the doctrine of the Bible. They are worried only about the negative consequences of cult activities in the family and in other levels of life.
Professor of philosophy
Chzhan Baichun, Peking, China
Cults in contemporary China
1. Religion in China
In China there are three religions all told: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Confucianism emerged there 2,500 years ago. It emerged as doctrine. I think that to this day it also consists all in all of doctrine, and not religion. Confucianism is a very stable doctrine. It has changed little. The second current, Taoism, emerged simultaneously with Confucianism. There never has been a state religion or worldview trend in China. 2,500 years ago, when these doctrines made their appearance, a large quantity of different teachings existed, and not one of them ever tried to become dominant. Of course, principal currents gradually emerged from the main schools, but they emerged not because their leader wanted this, but because they enjoyed the most popularity among the people of China. Families believed both in Confucianism and in Taoism. In the 7th century, Buddhism came to China, and people were very receptive to this religion, and made it part of their culture, "overdoing" it, so to speak. Buddhism, in the whole sense of the word, did not come to China.
- Confucianism and Taoism have religious functions, but on no account do they appear as religions. Buddhism in China is not a religion. It plays a cultural role.
- Fanaticism is lacking (inasmuch as confessionalism is lacking) among the Chinese people, this is a very tolerant nation. And that is why Buddhism can remain so popular all over China. It combines well with Taoism and Confucianism, and this picture may be observed to this day. Taoism and Confucianism have even been influenced strongly by Buddhism. So it's difficult to say which of these three currents is the main one. Thanks to such tolerance in China, there have never been closed, fanatical cults.
2. Cults in China
If you proceed from the modern definition of cult, then cults do, in fact, appear in China. What are the parameters of the definition of cult? This is the worship of a living person ("living god"), clandestine meetings, mental control, eschatology, and anti-socialness. The main currents of cult in China are: a) commercial, and b) national, cashing in on the popular gymnastics of Tsi-gun. Cults that belong to the first category are characterized by their use of commercial fraud on associates and relatives of cult members. The most popular cults are the ones that use national Tsi-gun exercises for religious purposes. The Chinese are not accustomed to cults, so this is a new thing for them.
New foreign teachings have gradually been coming in from abroad. The reason is loss of tradition. As is known, in the beginning of the 20th century the Chinese nation finally lost its traditional culture. Other reasons are ideological. In the era of "cultural revolution," the destruction of the Chinese tradition reached its peak. When Chinese "perestroika" began in the middle 1980s, the leadership of China ran into a large number of problems on this basis. Every sort of worldview, philosophy and religious belief was sent into China from abroad. At the same time reconstruction of traditional Chinese culture began: Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. People began practicing Tsi-gun exercises together. Cult founders took advantage of this. A not insignificant reason for the spread of cults in China is the Christianizing of China and its negative consequences: some people started the search for religion.
The principle cult is Falun gong. They were fashioned after a model of church hierarchy with much taken from their Chinese tradition (from Buddhism, for example). Outside of this cult, there are ten other formations that I regard as cults.
3. Measures of the government in regards to cults
Naturally, the government is not a specialist in religious studies, but the situation is such that religion itself is frequently not able to look into this complex phenomena. The initial reaction of the government to destructive cults is to declare their organizations illegal. But this has absolutely no effect on Falun Gong. This war will not be over soon.
4. Chinese culture
I consider that in the fight with Falun Gong and organizations similar to it, Chinese traditional culture needs to play a very large role. Cults are spreading all over the world. The Christian church has much experience in fighting cults. We, the Chinese of course, will learn from this experience, insofar as all cults have generally similar traits. But China has its specifics. In my opinion, no religion in China would be fundamental to the Chinese people. Buddhism is not a religion for the Chinese. Therefore, in spite of foreign experience, the main thing for China is the development of its culture and its tradition. What can help the Chinese culture in fighting totalitarian cults? The Chinese use Christianity not to fight cults, but to create its own homegrown cults with a Christian lining. Many millennia of Chinese culture is supported by a strong tradition not linked to Christianity in any way. This tradition has the essence of our spirituality. I regard it like this: the Chinese people are profound believers, but not at all religious. Chinese belief in essence in not religious.
D.D., Representative of the Westfalian Lutheran Church in issues of sects and worldviews
Pastor Rudiger Haus, Westfalia, FRG
The Mormon cult: occultism concealed under the mask of Christianity
In studying cosmic laws, the cosmic law of everlasting progress, for instance, Mormon sect founder J. Smith took everything higher and higher, until he reached the level of godliness. He furthermore asserted that we ourselves are able to reach that level. All members of the Church of Mormon go this same route and daily take their stand as gods. One only has to learn how.
Earlier in our past existence, everyone was a certain spark. God had a plan to raise his own children, his little sparks, to divine heights. They would need to become commanders of love on Earth, need to arrive on Earth to study what is "good" and "evil," to die, and after resurrecting they would be judged. The earth in the future will be divided into three levels: evil people (evil empire), ordinary people (not murderers, not sinners) and Mormons. The Mormon kingdom would also be divided into three levels. Those Mormons who went through the temple ritual fall into the highest level and become gods. During transition to the highest level, Mormons meet Cherubim who ask for the password: a special secret handshake and words to know how to get into Eden.
The Temple Ritual of Mormons consists solely of instruction for this password and special handshake. I can describe this to you, and, if you remember it, you will be able to get into the Mormon Eden. (laughter in hall).
In the Mormon temple they take away the neophytes' clothes. After that, the temple staff - "cherubim" - touch all parts of the initiates' bodies and perform something like an anointing. For this they put on this sort of coveralls here (speaker rises from his chair to give the hall a better view of the Mormon attire), white with ritual symbols, reminiscent of Mason symbols. Then they teach the secret gesture and password (makes some movements). Their meaning is approximately this: "If you betray us, then you lose your life". "If you betray, then you lose your mind (brain), your heart, ability to produce descendants." This means total and final death. Then the initiates are led to a curtain and given the first test. Behind the curtain stands a temple employee who is called "lord" (laughter in the hall). Indeed, he plays the role of God and checks how well you learned everything. If you do everything right, he carries you inside, behind the curtain. You receive the right to enter the kingdom. Then they let you down into the basement, give you back your clothes, and you can go home.
The rituals and symbols of the Mormons are very similar to the Masonic, i.e., openly "borrowed" from the Free Masons. The associated Masons lodges in the United States decided not to accept Mormon into lodges exactly for this reason.
Mormons practice baptism by proxy. The cult has existed for only 160 years. Millions of people still have not been considered for Mormon "enlightenment", and in order to give them the option to get acquainted with the Mormon teachings, they need to be baptized by proxy. Living people baptize their late ancestors. Therefore Mormons are interested in names and biographies of all those who died so as to give them the option of becoming Mormon (posthumously). They have baptized many noteworthy people this way: Martin Luther, Emmanuel Kant, Ludwig van Beethoven and others. Now they're all Mormon (laughter).
The Mormon faith does not have anything in common with Christian faith. You need to remember this, because Mormon missionaries in Russia and all over the world present themselves as Christians. On 28 May 1991 the Mormon Church was officially accepted by the Russian government. Yet in 1843 a Mormon mission visited Russia. But then the Mormons had no chance of success.
In 1992, two Mormon missionaries arrived here, and two years ago there were already 780 missionaries in Moscow. The Mission covers Moscow, Novsibirsk, Samara, Yekaterinburg, south Russia and Saint Petersburg. The European Mormon center was in Frankfurt it moved to Moscow. Mormons consider Russia to be a special missionary field. Mormonism has established strong roots in Russia. And you need to know that this is so and where it comes from.
Scientology - Cult of Nonsense
Gerald Armstrong, of Vancouver, Canada, has not gained his knowledge about the Scientology cult second-hand. He spent twelve and a half years in that organization holding posts in various departments. He had access to secret documents and was the personal archivist for Ronald Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. The pathological hatred Scientologists have for G. Armstrong is evidence that he speaks the dreadful truth about events that occur within their organization. He continues to testify against Scientology despite the threats, harassment and legal persecution instituted by cultists.
Writer and artist Gerald Armstrong was invited to Russia and visited Nizhny Novgorod, where he gave a lecture at the conference about his time in Scientology.
I was in the cult from 1969 to 1981. First of all, I'll mention about what attracted me and kept me in Scientology for twelve and a half years.
At first, Scientology promises its adherents an increased intelligence quotient (IQ). This is to be achieved by Scientology's psychotherapy, so-called auditing, and what's more, IQ is to rise at the rate of one point per hour. So that would mean getting more "intelligent" not by the day, but by the hour. Since I had more than 1,100 hours of auditing, my IQ would now be at 1,200 points. Naturally I'm joking -- I'm just as stupid now as I was when I went into Scientology. Scientology also promises to improve your ability to communicate and, on top of that, promises you superhuman capabilities. Besides that, Scientology claims that all of this is scientifically founded and proven.
I joined the cult in 1969 in Vancouver, Canada. At first I performed various assignments, organized studies, and sold books. In the beginning of 1971, I moved to Los Angeles, where I joined an internal order of Scientology, which is called the Sea Organization (Sea Org). All Scientologists in the world, that means those in Russia, too, are managed from the Sea Org. I worked in Madrid, Algiers and Morocco. In Morocco I was on board the Scientology ship, Apollo, where staff quarters and Hubbard's residence was located. On board ship, at first I was the driver of the van, then the legal officer. As such I managed contacts with customs, police and other departments in all the ports we pulled into. Then I was the head of the department for public affairs and, eventually, chief of the intelligence section, because Scientology is engaged in intelligence activity in all the countries it gets into.
In autumn 1975, I went ashore along with the ship's company where the headquarters had then been established on land, in Florida. I was in contact with Hubbard's deputies. I worked on his written orders which were sent by telex, met with him every day and gave him reports about work.
Then I was given orders to Los Angeles with the assignment of establishing a secret base for the cult. There I had the misfortune to disagree with secretary Mary Sue Hubbard, Hubbard's third wife, and Hubbard ordered me locked up in the Los Angeles intelligence center. Then I was transported to Florida, where I was again locked up. I experienced for myself the Scientology system of punishment, the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). We called it Scientology's gulag. I spent the next 17 months in the gulag. The rules of conduct there were such that we had no right to start a conversation with anyone, only to answer questions. When any order was given, the order had to be carried out on the run. Special black overalls had to be worn. All contact with the outside world was stopped completely. It was not allowed to read newspapers, to listen to the radio or to watch television. The duration of your stay there was not measured in time. You only had scraps to eat leftover from others' meals. You lay on the floor to sleep, usually in the basement. Ten hours a day was spent doing the dirtiest work.
Three hours a day was devoted to auditing "security checks". This is a Scientology term that means interrogation using a Scientology lie detector.
I had hardly left the gulag when I was sent to the secret base in the California desert, where Hubbard made his own movies. I spent eight months there working on films, this time without being locked up again for Hubbard noticing that I had joked. This time I sat tight for eight months, after which I became part of the detachment occupied with helping Hubbard at home.
In the beginning of 1980 the danger arose of Hubbard's headquarters being searched by the US law enforcement agencies. We were ordered to destroy all his papers. And then when the destruction started, I discovered a large collection of writings from Hubbard's past and asked his permission to examine them. Hubbard permitted this, and for the next two years I was occupied with his personal archives. When I studied these documents, it became clear to me that Hubbard lied about his education, his military service and heroism, and his technology of "mental health." I understood that all of Scientology was a pretense. I had been cheated out of twelve and a half years of my life.
Through fortunate circumstances and with help from above, I managed to escape. If I would not have been able to do that, I would have been locked up again and made to write down a confession of all mental crimes. This practice continues in Scientology to this day.
Right after my escape Scientology published a statement in which I was declared a "suppressive person". This means I was declared to be what Scientologists call "fair game." "Fair game" is found in political, philosophical and applied Scientology. It includes any person who Scientology has declared to be an enemy, one can be tricked at any time or any place, lied to, stolen from or sued. When two or three unite against it somehow, this is called a criminal association. This is also what Scientology is.
Right after I was declared "fair game", the attacks started happening. I was run into by a car. There were 12 attempts on the part of Scientology to entice me into criminal culpability, which I did not do. 5 times I was brought to court. Scientology has published four pages of "black PR" on me. "Black PR" is a Scientology technique to attack to destroy the good name and reputation of its critics. Scientology psychotherapy (auditing) is written down, and this is then used as compromising material. In Scientology auditing sessions, they take people's innermost thoughts, items about their personal lives, sexual activities and what legal transgressions they perpetrated. This is one of the most loathsome practices, and Scientology engages in it every day.
Scientology has persecuted and intimidated not only me, but also my family, friends and the lawyer who defended me in court. They got a police officer in Los Angeles and made him give them illegal permission to eavesdrop both on my house and the house of my lawyer. As to the latter, Scientology also declared him "fair game," and persecuted him for a number of years.
I maintain that Scientology violates human rights and intimidates and persecutes anyone who in any way interferes with them. This organization is schizophrenic and paranoid. These traits are a worldwide expression of the personality of its founder, Ronald Hubbard. This man was a pathological liar. His personal records document his egoism, avarice, greed, megalomania, aggressiveness and vindictiveness.
In 1986, Scientology brought me to court, and I prevailed. In 1991, that decision was confirmed. Due to that decision, which condemned Hubbard and Scientology, they will not leave me in peace for as long as I live.
In the beginning of 1997, I moved to Canada. After I did that, Scientology continued to sue me in court and obtained a warrant for my arrest. To that I wrote for a federal court in the USA a declaration in which were described the threats made against me by one of the Scientology lawyers. As I see it, the situation in the USA is such that I am not even able to tell about the crimes I saw.
I'll continue to stay in Canada and continue to take action against Scientology.
I was drawn into Scientology by promises of great knowledge and of increased intelligence. As I moved up the hierarchical ladder of this organization, it became clear to me that intelligence, of all things, finding intelligence in Scientology is not possible. More than that, displaying it is punished. Using Scientology's yardstick, intelligence and reason are criminal. The organization is waging a war on reason that justifies its constant lies and attacks against the least bit of criticism.
to be continued