http://www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/h14.html Jeffrey K. Hadden teaches Sociology 257: New Religious Movements at the University of Virginia. He is a former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Many anticult and countercult professionals consider him to be a cult apologist.
Not surprisingly, Scientology's so-called "Cult Awareness Network" lists Hadden as one of its "professional referrals."
Prompted by fellow cult apologist J. Gordon Melton, Jeffrey Hadden filed a Friend of the Court statement on behalf of the Church of Scientology arguing against the public availability of Scientology Scriptures. These arguments were filed in the case of "Church of Scientology International v. Steven Fishman and Uwe Geertz." Regarding this issue, see the section "Academics and Doctrinal 'Secrets' in "When Scholars Know Sin : Alternative Religions and Their Academic Supporters."
Last year, a 1989 confidential memo written by Hadden on behalf of two other leading researchers resurfaced. (HTML version). The memo shows how these sociologists wanted to "neutralize" activities of the American Family Foundation and other anti/counter-cult organizations. The memo is referred to in Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's report, "Integrity and Suspicion in New Religious Movement Research."
Zablocki did not name names. But a number of professors freely admit that nontraditional religions (in most cases, the Unificationists and Scientologists) have cut them checks. The list includes some of the most prominent scholars in the discipline: Bromley, Barker, Rodney Stark of the University of Washington, Jeffrey Hadden of the University of Virginia, and James Richardson, a sociologist of religion at the University of Nevada at Reno. All five have attended cult-subsidized conferences, and Bromley, Hadden, and Richardson have occasionally testified in court on behalf of cults or offered their services as expert witnesses against brainwashing theory. ''This is an issue,'' Zablocki wrote sternly, ''of a whole different ethical magnitude from that of taking research funding from the Methodists to find out why the collection baskets are not coming back as heavy as they used to.''
JUSTIFICATIONS for accepting benefits from fringe faiths vary: ''I cant be bought with a free conference.'' ''Dont scholars in many fields serve as consultants and expert witnesses?'' And outside research grants for scholarship on alternative religions are difficult to obtain. Until recently, the government has funded very few cult studies, and private foundations that support religious scholarshipsuch as the Lilly Endowment and the Pew Charitable Trustsprefer to pay for studies of more conventional churches. ''Sure, I spent three days on a boat in the San Juan Islands with Eileen Barker and some other peopleit was a conference on religious movements, and we had a great time, and the Moonies paid for it,'' says Stark. ''But Ive gone to plenty of conferences paid for by Jewish organizations and Catholic organizations. The first big study I ever did, on religion and anti-Semitism, was a book for the Anti-Defamation League. I never felt that it was Jewish money. So Im not so worried about that.''
Jeffrey Hadden once organized a Unification Church-sponsored conference on religion and politics in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and published the papers with a Unification Church-owned press. He explains: ''There are all these anticultists, and they begin with the presumption that every religious movement is illegitimate, so anything you say is all right if it undermines the group. I say that religious freedom is a fundamental right. Are there things that happen in these groups that I dont approve of? Have I pointed it out? You bet I have! Have some scholars gotten too close to the groups they study? Of course-if you study a group to understand the world through their eyes, you will understand the world through their eyes. Its a real difficulty.''
Hadden insists that the Moonie money had no effect on his scholarship and that he eventually lost favor with some of the Unificationists. His fall from grace was partly because he said unflattering things about them in his papers and partly because he refused to sign a petition protesting the 1980 New York state legislation that would have legalized deprogramming. ''I stood up at a conference and said, 'Absolutely not!''' Hadden recalls. ''But I reject the notion that our job as sociologists is to be watchdogs. Our job is to understand these groups so that there can be civil discourse about them, not bitter division.''
In fact, Hadden and his colleagues have frequently gone beyond understanding alternative religions into seeking to help them with their legal problems. Much of that activity has been inspired by their efforts to combat the anti-cult testimony of Ofshe and Singer, which they believe has been used to demonize alternative world views and deprive adults of their religious liberty. Inspired by a meeting of cult scholars and representatives from the Unification Church and the National Council of Churches, Hadden composed a memo in December 1989 that was aimed at counteracting the academic legitimacy of the brainwashing conceptas well as, implicitly, the expert witness status of Ofshe, Singer, and others.
Hadden's memo, to which he attached Bromley's and Barker's names without their consent, suggested that the Unification Church and other nontraditional religions set up a foundation to fund research and help in ''neutralizing anti-cult movements'' such as the Cult Awareness Network and the Florida-based American Family Foundation. Hadden recognized that the Constitutions church-state provisions precluded federal funding for such an organization; therefore he urged the creation a privately supported ''legal resource center'' to be funded initially with contributions from ''individuals and groups targeted as probable primary users of the material''-in other words, lawyers and their cult clients. Brainwashed! Scholars of Cults Accuse Each Other of Bad Faith, Linquafranca - The Review of Academic Life, Vol 8. No. 9, Dec/Jan 1998
Recently, Hadden militated against the Maryland Task Force, which investigated the influence and effect of cults and other influence groups on Maryland campuses. He supported the lawsuit filed against the Task Force by the Unification Church and Seventh-Day Adventists (helped by top-Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon).
Hadden is a board member for Irving Hexham's NUREL list. In turn, Hexham (owner of the NUREL list) and Douglas Cowan (Hexham pupil and NUREL list co-moderator), contribute to Hadden's "Religious Movements" web site.
It isn't difficult to discover what motivates Hadden. On the one hand is his commitment to the promotion of religious pluralism:
The goals of the Religious Movements Homepage are to (1) provide resources for objective understanding, (2) encourage appreciation of religious diversity, and (3) promote religious tolerance. This example from the entry on Deepak Chopra
Anglican theologican Dr. John Stott says:
Pluralism is an affirmation of the validity of every religion, and the refusal to choose between them, and the rejection of world evangelism. John Stott, Interview with Orange County Register
Indeed, while Hadden talks about an "appreciation of religious diversity," in reality he promotes religious pluralism - the theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality and/or truth - and that therefore more than one religion can be said to have the truth (way to God, salvation, etcetera).
This is one reason behind Hadden's marked intolerance toward those who speak out against certain (religious) movements considered to be cults either on sociological and/or theological grounds:
Jeffery Hadden, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia who studies modern religious movements, calls Wellspring and similar centers the spin offs of an anti-cult movement that at its most extremes he likens to a hate group. He dismisses the scientific validity of the concept of mind control. ''People enter relationships because they wish to and when they cease to be of interest to them, they walk away,'' said Hadden. ''I won't deny that many groups have deleterious consequences, but most people are amazing resilient, and capable of walking away. When they leave with exit counselors, there can be an increase in a sense of anger, that they have been violated by the group they were a part of.''
Hadden is developing a ''Religious Movements'' Web site with over 150 profiles of new religions, partly a response to what he calls the excesses of the anti-cult movement. Augie Wants to Turn You On, Spectator Online, Feb. 23, 2000
While denouncing respected ex-cult support and counseling centers like Wellspring, and even going so far as to bitterly liken the anticult movement to a hate group, Hadden has a tendency to paint cults in a good light. See, for example, this recent report:
Take the International Churches of Christ. A fast-growing Christian organization known for aggressive proselytizing to college students, the ICOCwhich some ex-members and experts on mind-control assert is a cultis one of the most controversial religious groups on campus. At least 39 institutions, including Harvard and Georgia State, have outlawed the organization at one time or another for violating rules against door-to-door recruiting, say, or harassment. ''I'm banning destructive behaviors, not religion,'' says the Rev. Robert Watts Thornburg, dean of the chapel at Boston University, which barred the ICOC from campus after members posted signs saying their meeting was mandatory.
Janine Marnien, for one, felt intense pressure to join the ICOC. In 1998, the then freshman was on her way across the University of Southern California campus, when a beaming young woman stepped in her path and invited her to a nondenominational church serviceand wouldn't take no for an answer. Countless calls, compliments, and invitations later, Marnien was a full-fledged convert, attending almost daily Bible studies, services, and social activitiesand forcefully recruiting other students as well. In addition to giving of her time, she was also required to donate a tenth of her incomeabout 30 percent of each meager work-study paycheck. ''I just didn't realize what I had gotten into,'' says Marnien, now a junior. ''That is, until my discipler told me I couldn't go home for my father's birthday.''
A zealous group, to be sure, but is it a cult? ''We're no more a cult than Jesus was a cult,'' says Al Baird, spokesperson for the ICOC, which, he insists, does not condone harassment and is merely an evangelical church out to ''share Jesus with everybody.'' University of Virginia sociology Prof. Jeffrey Hadden, who has studied religious movements for over 30 years, agrees. ''Every new religion experiences a high level of tension with society because its beliefs and ways are unfamiliar. But most, if they survive, we come to accept as part of the religious landscape.'' He cites Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists as examples.
Still, experts say the label has nothing to do with radical beliefs and everything to do with behavior. Each of the estimated 3,000 cults in this country has a unique ideology, but they all share certain worrisome traits (box). Students are particularly easy prey. ''They are in transition from the culture of their parents, which leaves them somewhat uncertain and anxious,'' explains Marc Galanter, a professor of psychiatry and the author of Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion. ''Cults provide answers.'' A push becomes a shove, US News & World Report, Mar. 13, 2000
Hadden and Sociological Cult Characteristics
The sidebar (box) accompanying the US News & World article says:
Dangerous groups have varying beliefs but share similar traits:
Charismatic, authoritarian leaders. Requiring absolute devotion to one person, who dictates how members should think and act.
Mind control and manipulation. Using controlling methods, including physical and/or psychological isolation from family and friends.
Misleading recruitment tactics. ''Love bombing,'' or showering prospective members with attention; the use of front names that mask group affiliation.
More detailed information on the sociological characteristics of cults can be found here.
As a sociologist, Prof. Hadden no doubt is familiar with the behavioral traits that set cults apart from (other) religious movements. Yet he apparently chooses to ignores or dismisses the serious problems associated with cultic movements. For example, instead of acknowledging cult recruitment trends, Hadden claims:
''The notion that somehow new religions are seductively slurping people into their orbit on the streets or through the Internet is absolutely bizarre,'' says Professor Jeffrey Hadden, an expert in New Religious Movements at the University of Virginia. Cults: Worry Ye Not, BBC News, Jan. 5, 1999
Though many of the profiles at the web site he edits make mention of cult controversies, the overall information is largely apologetic in favor of cults.
Hadden and Theological Cult Characteristics
According to J. Gordon Melton, Hadden comes from an evangelical background and still attends an evangelical church. Nevertheless, he appears either unable to tell the difference between orthodoxy and heresy, or unwilling to consider such differences as the basis for a theological definition of a cult.
Time and again, Hadden dismisses sociological and theological concerns regarding cults, in favor of his idea of "religious freedom." In a presentation prepared for a conference on ''Religious Freedom and the New Millennium sponsored by the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (which "receives the bulk of its funding from institutions and individuals related to the Unification Church") at the Renaissance Washington Hotel, Washington, D.C., April 17-19, 1998, Hadden said:
Most scholars and members of religious movements, while being well aware of the hate that is spread by anticultists, have paid relatively little attention to the countercultists. On the whole, these are well meaning people who are motivated by the desire to protect the boundaries of their own faith from ''false'' teachings. I think this is, and must be, an integral component of religious freedom. But I am increasingly persuaded that many of these people have never considered the necessity of religious tolerance as a condition of religious freedom. This is a very serious problem that needs to be systematically addressed through multiple educational and political strategies. "Religious Freedom Resources on the Internet", Text on file.
Hadden's suggestions that anticult- and countercult movements as sources of hate or religious intolerance are typical of the information spread by cult apologists. Let the buyer beware: while Hadden gives lip-service to the defense of orthodox teachings against heresies, he essentially portrays countercult professionals as intolerant. And while he claims to promote "objective understanding," it is clear his objectivity is clouded by a profound hatred of those who speak out against cultic abuses.
- Articles - Brainwashed! Scholars of Cults Accuse Each Other of Bad Faith, Linquafranca - The Review of Academic Life, Vol 8. No. 9, Dec/Jan 1998 The Concepts "Cult" and "Sect" in Scholarly Research and Public Discourse Jeffrey Hadden explains his views on the use of the terms "cults" and "sects", as well as his thoughts on the anti-cult and counter-cult movements.