The New Testament is the greatest book ever written. It gives Jesus' words of truth about God and Satan. Jesus taught that Satan is the "God of this world." There are forces of Good and Forces of Evil. Evil usually wins and anti-cultists have won the cultural war between those on the side of God those on the side of Satan.
BATTLE OF IDEOLOGY
We are in the midst of the greatest battle of ideology in human history. One of the greatest Cain and Abel divisions in the 20th century has been between Communism and Capitalism. That century was the bloodiest in human history. Anti-cultists say they are for freedom of mind. Steve Hassan, the main witch hunter of Father's Unification Church, has a website titled -- freedom of mind. The side of evil twists words and even believes they are the good guys. Hassan believes he is righteous in his crusade against what he sees as "destructive" leaders and groups. Communists, Socialists, Democrats, and Feminists deeply believe they are fighting the good fight for freedom and love and human dignity. The truth is that their motivation has led countless people down a path to hell.
PSYCHOLOGY VS. SOCIOLOGY
Their ideology is intellectually bankrupt. Books such as Hassan's Combating Mind Control and Singers' Cults in our Midst are as true as Marx's Communist Manifesto and Hitler's Mein Kamph. Fortunately there have been a number of non-Unificationists who have denounced Hassan, Singer and others like them as being junk science. The division between good and evil on the issue of mind control in small religions is basically between psychologists and sociologists. Sociologists and professors of religion's books such as Bromely and Shupe's The New Vigilantes: Deprogrammers, Anti-Cultists, and the New Religions and James T. Richardson's The Brainwashing/Deprogramming Controversy: Sociological, Psychological, Legal and Historical Perspectives are excellent books and articles debunking the ridiculous claims of Hassan's crowd. There are also plenty of books denouncing psychology in general as being a phony science and unable to really help people.
JAMES T. RICHARDSON
There is a Cain and Abel split between those on the side of those who see this author and Rev. Moon as involved in mind control and not religious conversion and those who see anti-culists like Hassan, Clark and Singer as just another variation of persecutors -- the tired old sameness of bigotry and ignorance and fear of minorities. The result of Hassan is harassment. It always ends in the use of force by persecutors. One example is the attempt by Hassan types to try to use police force against new religious movements, especially the UC, on the campus of the University of Maryland.
Professor James Richardson is one of the most distinguished writers on new religious movements and the topic of mind control in America. I do not have the space to give his impressive resume here. I do want to quote him in two instances where he gives scholarly and common sense arguments against the junk science rationalization for bigotry and violence against my church and other small religious groups. The first is from a law journal and the second is from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
He writes in the Brigham Young University Law Review:
James T. Richardson
Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies, University of Nevada, Reno. Ph.D., Washington State University; J.D., Old College, Nevada School of Law. Professor Richardson directs the Masters of Judicial Studies Program, in which about 100 trial judges from around the country are enrolled.
Many relatively well-educated and affluent young people have been involved with new religious movements-sometimes pejoratively called "cults" over the past two or three decades in America and other Western countries. Controversy has erupted about the meaning of this participation, as parents, friends, political leaders, and others have attempted to understand why this has occurred.
One appealing explanation for participation has been so-called brainwashing, mind control, or thought reform theories. (3) According to those espousing these ideas, youth have not joined the new religions volitionally, but have instead been manipulated into participating by groups using powerful psychotechnology practiced first in Communist societies. This psychotechnology allegedly traps people in new religions, allowing subsequent control of their behavior by the groups' leaders. (4) According to these claims, the techniques were originally developed for use in the Russian purge trials of the 1930s, later refined by the Chinese Communists after their assumption of power in China in 1949, and then supposedly used against POWs during the Korean War of the 1950s. These techniques included physical coercion and, taken together, can be labeled "first generation" brainwashing. Now these techniques are being used, it is claimed, against young people in Western countries by unscrupulous cult leaders.
When questioned about the obvious logical problem of applying these theories to situations lacking physical coercion, proponents have a ready, if problematic, answer. They say that physical coercion has been replaced by "psychological coercion," which they claim is actually more effective than simple physical coercion. According to brainwashing proponents, this "second generation" brainwashing theory incorporates new insights about manipulation of individuals. (5) The assumption is that it is not necessary to coerce recruits physically if they can be manipulated by affection, guilt, or other psychological influences. Simple group pressures and emotion-laden tactics are revealed as more effective than the tactics used in the physically coercive Russian, Chinese, and Korean POW situations.
These theories might be thought of as quaint ideas developed for functional reasons by those who have an interest in their being accepted. They plainly are a special type of "account" developed to "explain" why people join the groups and why they stay in them for a time. (6)
Whatever the origin, and no matter that the veracity of such accounts is questionable, these ideas have become commonly accepted among the general public in the United States. For instance, one study found that seventy-eight percent of a randomly drawn sample of 383 individuals from an urban county in a western state said that they believed in brainwashing, and thirty percent agreed that "brainwashing is required to make someone join a religious cult." (7) A similar question asked of a random sample of one thousand New York residents prior to the tax evasion trial of Reverend Moon revealed that forty-three percent agreed that "brainwashing is required to make someone change from organized religion to a cult." (8) Results from a random sample of Oregon residents who were asked about the controversial Rajneesh group centered for a time in Eastern Oregon revealed a similar pattern. (9) Sixty-nine percent of respondents in that poll agreed that members of the group were brainwashed.
These notions about brainwashing and mind control have pervaded our society's institutional structures as well. Such views have influenced actions by governmental entities and coverage of new religions by the media. (10) The legal system has also seen a number of efforts to promote brainwashing theories as explanations of why people might participate in new religions.
Thus, it is safe to say that brainwashing claims are playing an important role around the world in efforts to control new religions and to discourage people from participating in them. Such claims fuel popular concern about new religions and serve as a basis for many different types of legal actions. Those using such claims as the basis for legal actions or other bureaucratic control should, however, examine such ideas for scientific validity and face the fact that the claims are often used for ideological purposes; those using such ideas for ideological and political purposes should address the limitations on religious freedom brought about by using such notions.
At the website (http://www.religioustolerance.org/brain_wa.htm) they give some good insights on the fallacy of mind control:
Other terms used to refer to brainwashing are: "thought reform," "coercive persuasion, and "mind control."
We will use the term "NRM" (new religious movement) in place of "cult" in this essay, because of the high negative emotional content to the latter term.
Many individuals in the Anti-cult Movement (ACM) have attempted to raise public consciousness about what they perceive to be a major threat to youth. They believe that many NRMs are profoundly evil. These groups, which they call "cults" are seen as:
recruiting large numbers of young people into their religious groups
subjecting them to severe mind-control processes
destroying their ability to think critically and to make independent decisions.
endangering their followers. Many groups have induced their members to commit suicide.
Many in the CCM see NRMs as being particularly efficient in attracting normal, intelligent older teens and young adults, and convincing them to:
donate major amounts of time and effort to the group,
to uncritically accept its teachings,
to conform to their behavioral restrictions and
to make a permanent commitment to remain in the NRM.
Extensive confirmation for these beliefs has come from disillusioned former NRM members. A minority of psychologists who specialize in the mind-control field also support the CCM's conclusions.
CCM beliefs have been widely accepted by the general public and the media. They mesh well with the mind-control themes seen in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and similar horror movies. The public has uncritically accepted these works of horror fiction as representing reality. The public has also absorbed misinformation about the efficiency of brainwashing techniques used by the communists during the Korean War, and by the CIA.
Belief in mind-control by NRMs is essential to the continued existence of the CCM groups. Otherwise, they have no legal or moral reason to continue their deprogramming and exit counseling programs. Without those programs, their main source of financial support would disappear.
Beliefs Promoted by Other Groups
The mental health and academic religious communities are approaching a consensus that this type of mind-control can not be achieved by psychological means. They see people as entering NRMs because of the emotional support and certainty of belief that the religious groups supply. Almost all leave the group of their own volition, when their continued membership is no longer a positive experience. The average length of membership is probably less than 2 years. Some statements by mental health and religious communities follow:
Resolution of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion:
In 1990, after having received many requests to evaluate the practicality of brainwashing by religious groups, the Society passed a resolution:
"This association considers that there is insufficient research to permit informed, responsible scholars to reach consensus on the nature and effects of nonphysical coercion and control. It further asserts that one should not automatically equate the techniques involved in the process of physical coercion and control with those of nonphysical coercion and control. In addition to critical review of existing knowledge, further appropriately designed research is necessary to enable scholarly consensus about this issue."
Article from an American Psychological Association (APA) Periodical
Philip G Zimbardo, PhD wrote an article in the APA Monitor titled: "What messages are behind todays cults?" He is professor of psychology at Stanford University and a former APA president. Some excerpts from his article are:
"Cult methods of recruiting, indoctrinating and influencing their members are not exotic forms of mind control, but only more intensely applied mundane tactics of social influence practiced daily by all compliance professionals and societal agents of influence."
Analysis by Answers in Action
Bob and Gretchen Passantino of "Answers in Action" have analyzed the CCM belief systems about NRM brainwashing and have found them lacking in credibility: (2)
Brainwashing experiments have all been unsuccessful. The CIA used drugs and electroshock during their investigations into mind-control. "Their experiments were failures; they failed to produce even one potential Manchurian Candidate, and the program was finally abandoned." The brainwashing attempts by Communist military organizations during the Korean war also failed. They were forced to use torture to supplement their mind-control techniques and were able to obtain success in only a few cases. However, CCM promoters appear to believe that modern forms of mind-control within religious organizations represent a major advance over earlier primitive brainwashing techniques. The Passantinos question how relatively uneducated NRM leaders could succeed when highly trained experts had earlier failed.
They wonder how NRMs can brainwash recruits in a week, while professionals failed after years of indoctrination. They quote the writings of sociologists Bromley and Shupe (3) which point out how absurd this idea is: "...the brainwashing notion implied that somehow these diverse and unconnected [religious] movements had simultaneously discovered and implemented highly intrusive behavioral modification techniques. Such serendipity and coordination was implausible given the diverse backgrounds of the groups at issue. Furthermore, the inability of highly trained professionals responsible for implementing a variety of modalities for effecting individual change, ranging from therapy to incarceration, belie claims that such rapid transformation can routinely be accomplished by neophytes against an individual's will."
The CCM movement has collected some information to support its belief that religious groups successfully employ mind-control techniques. But the data is unreliable. The information typically represents a very small sample size. It is not practical to obtain information before, during and after an individual has been in a NRM. Often, their data is disproportionately obtained from former members of a religious organization who have been convinced during CCM counseling that they have been victims of mind-control.
One good indicator of the non-existence of mind-control techniques is the ineffectiveness of NRM recruitment programs. "Eileen Barker (4) documents that out of 1000 people persuaded by the Moonies [Unification Church] to attend one of their overnight programs in 1979, 90% had no further involvement. Only 8% joined for more than one week..."
Another indicator of the non-existence of mind control is the high turnover rate of members. Eileen Barker (4) mentions that there is a 50% attrition rate during the members' first two years.
The opinions of former NRM members who have left on their own are clear. Barker comments: "...those who leave voluntarily are extremely unlikely to believe that they were ever the victims of mind control."
The Passantinos conclude: "...the Bogey Man of cult mind control is nothing but a ghost story, good for inducing an adrenaline high and maintaining a crusade, but irrelevant to reality."
Analysis by The Institute for the Study of American Religion:
J. Gordon Melton is the author of the three-volume set "The Encyclopedia of American Religions." He also directs The Institute for the Study of American Religion. The Cult Awareness Network quotes him as saying: (5)
"Slowly, the collapse of the brainwashing hypothesis in relation to the new religions is being brought to Europe, though as in America it will be some years before the strong prejudice against the new religions which has permeated Western culture will be dissolved."
Analysis by the Association of World Academics for Religious Education
The Cult Awareness Network quotes "AWARE" as stating: (5):
Because of its vested interest in maintaining the conflict, the anti-cult movement has been unresponsive to objective scholarly studies, and has proceeded with business as usual, as if these studies were non-existent. Scholars whose work directly challenges the cult stereotype are dismissed as either naive or as being in collusion with the cults. Rather than responding directly to mainstream social science, a small band of anti-cultists with academic credentials have instead conducted research on their own terms, and have created alternative periodicals which featured studies supporting the worst accusations against NRMS."
... Without the legitimating umbrella of brainwashing ideology, deprogramming -- the practice of kidnapping members of NRMs and destroying their religious faith -- cannot be justified, either legally or morally. While advocates claim that deprogramming does nothing more than reawaken cult members capacity for rational thought, an actual examination of the process reveals that deprogramming is little more than a heavy-handed assault on deprogrammers belief systems. The vast majority of deprogrammers have little or no background in psychological counseling. They are, rather, hired gun vigilantes whose only qualifications, more often than not, are that they are physically large or that they are themselves ex-cult members."
References which Debunk Cult Brainwashing
1.The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion: "SSSR Resolution on New Religious Groups", SSSR Newsletter, 1990-DEC. Available at: http://www.psych-web.com/psyrelig/sssrres.htm
2.Bob and Gretchen Passantino, "Overcoming The Bondage Of Victimization; A Critical Evaluation of Cult Mind Control Theories". See: http://www.answers.org/CultsAndReligions/mind_control.html
3.D.B. Bromley, A.D. Shupe, Strange Gods: The Great American Cult Scare, Beacon Press, Boston, (1981).
4.Eileen Barker, "New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction," Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, UK, (1989).
5.Cult Awareness Network, "Brainwashing and Mind-Control: The Hoax Crumbles," at: http://www.cultawarenessnetwork.org/cani2/page20.html
6.D.G. Hill, "Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults,", Toronto (1980)
7.Massimo Introvigne, " 'Liar, Liar': Brainwashing, CESNUR and APA" at: http://www.cesnur.org/testi/gandow_eng.htm
8.The Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) has placed online some "...documents of the U.S. brainwashing controversies, particularly with respect to events of 1987 involving the American Psychological Association..." See: http://www.cesnur.org/testi/APA_Documents.htm