If the "mind control" argument for New Religious Movements' (NRMs') recruitment/membership and the groups' presumed social threat has failed to gain purchase among most North American academics or politicians, (see http://www.cesnur.org/testi/se_brainwash.htm ) the anticult movement's (ACM's) fortunes abroad have been far different. The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and the American Family Foundation (AFF), the United States' two largest anticult organizations, working in tandem, have literally exported this fundamental premise of anticultism -- that no rational person with normal free will would voluntarily associate with a NRM to a considerable array of countries, principally in Europe. The results have created a worldwide controversy over government intrusion into human rights and religious liberties, entangling secular anticultists with counter cult clergy and legislators of several dozen nations, including the United States. (see http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_index.html) Ironically, though the ACM failed initially to stimulate governmental response in this country, it ultimately succeeded (if indirectly) by later proselytizing and mobilizing elites overseas, with international consequences.
Evidence for a North American-European Connection?
For the past several decades, social scientists have sensed or suspected a linkage between postwar European anticultism and its older American counterpart. For example, British sociologist James A. Beckford has claimed such a relationship for ACM groups in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.1Israeli psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi found his country's primary ACM group, Concerned Parents Against Cults, using American ACM literature at a workshop and that it was "modeled after similar grass roots family-based groups in the U.S.A."2 Dutch religious scholar Reender Kranenborg noted the prevalence of North American ACM pamphlets and other publications in the Netherlands.3 Massimo Introvigne, attorney and director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) in Turin, Italy, summarily declared that "...the most important European post rationalist anti-cult movements --- CCMM and ADFI in France, AIS, CROAS and Pro Juventute in Spain, FAIR in England, ARIS in Italy --- although independently established, now depend, and in some cases would probably not exist without, inspiration and materials from CAN (Cult Awareness Network) and the American Family Foundation.4 American sociologist-attorney James T. Richardson has explicitly viewed the "brainwashing/mind control" metaphor as a North American export in that "the spread of brainwashing claims around the globe and their use in legal actions is explicable in terms of functional theory. The spread of such ideas serve the purposes of those in the United States who have opposed the spread of new groups, with the adoption of such ideas elsewhere being something of a validity check for their use in the United States."5
The most explicit suggestion of such North American New World influence has been made by Shterin and Richardson on the Russian situation:
Russian worries and anxieties about NRMs created demands of different kinds: for interpretations, explanations, and social and political arguments. Western anti-cult groups were instrumental in meeting these demands by supplying a particular type of material, and by doing so they sought to secure a particular type of demand. They offered anti-cult concepts of "brainwashing" and "mind-control," negative images of NRMs, and "generalizations" about their alleged anti-social nature. Furthermore, these concepts and images were picked up, through the Russian ACM, by various interested groups -- the media, politicians and state agencies (as had happened also in the West... Both publicity and [official] "approval" were then used by Russian and Western anti-cult groups to support their own claims, the Western information thus being effectively recycled, ... It is worth noting that the recycling continues, with news from Russia, produced in most part from Western sources, now being used as evidence that the menace of "destructive cults and sects" is international.6
The "exportation" process, according to these authors, went in leapfrog sequence: North American ACM activists spread the "mind control" imagery to Western/Northern Europe, and from there (with some more direct influence from the U.S.A.) to Eastern Europe, for example, through the Dialog Centre (Denmark) and the Berliner Dialog Centre.
Another source of the Western anti-cult material have been "secular" anti-cult organizations, notably the French ADFI, the British FAIR (Family Action Information and Resource; "R" formerly stood for "Rescue"), the "old" CAN (Cult Awareness Network), and the American Family Foundation (AFF). ...Concepts of "brainwashing" and "mind-control," commonly used by these organizations in their opposition to "cults" or "sects" provide a frame of reference for their counterparts in Russia, and, through the latter, for interested social and political agents. The ideas of that sort were introduced into the Russian discourses mainly by translations of the American popular anti-cult literature and presented to the Russian public as fundamental and widely accepted by the mainstream Western psychological and psychiatric sciences.7
Religious counter cult agencies in the West have also been accused of being proselytizers of ACM doctrine:
Numerous evangelical groups regarded it as part of their missionary agenda in Russia to promote negative images of groups they considered to be "dangerous cults." Thus, some evangelical missionary groups from the United States were extremely active not only in getting across their own religious message, but also in disseminating warnings against newer and older NRMs through tens of thousands of copies of literature or through many web sites.8
Until recently the dynamics of this cross-cultural, ideological fertilization has been only surmised except by actors in the ACM's "European campaign." Some authors, such as the previous two, have tracked down specific influences of French, Germans, Danes, and Americans on Eastern Europe, for example. And the influence of the American ACM in spreading "mind control" ideology to Europe, as we shall see, can even be dated. With the availability of the post-bankruptcy CAN records on international ACM organizations, moreover, the pattern of "mind control" missionizing can be more directly traced. Though that message went out to a variety of countries (for example, Argentina, Denmark, Austria, South Africa, Russia and Australia, and a number of countries in Eastern Europe), we focus on France and Germany, and to a lesser extent England, where the most virulent political and social effects of these missionizing efforts have been seen. (For that reason also we do not attempt to examine the link between the U.S. and its close northern neighbor, Canada. However, CAN records of correspondence and organizational documents reveal about two dozen Canadian ACM groups during the 1980s and 1990s operative in cities like Montreal, London, Toronto, Calgary, Freelton, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Like many earlier local U.S. ACM groups, they have held expressive names like Ex-Members' Society, London Cult Awareness Center, Council on Mind Abuse, Inc., and the Edmonton Society Against Mind Abuse. They were in contact for possible coordination with their U.S. counterparts, as CAN correspondence shows.)9
We offer one preliminary overview comment on the European "cultanticult" scene:
Compared to those traditions of many European nations, North American religious culture has been one of (relatively) unfettered pluralism. The U.S. Constitution prohibits any official, government-subsidized religious denomination at either the federal or state levels. Instead, U.S. Religious culture represents an open "marketplace" of competing groups and potential "consumers" (to use a capitalist analogy) who may endorse particular group options by their membership and uncoerced donations.
The implication is that with no official state religion there are also few targeted state protections for NRMs, so offenses against them (i.e., violations of religious liberty for members) take longest to receive attention by state prosecutors. Hence the task of defending any NRM or its members often falls to private attorneys in civil suits where both NRM and ACM advocates argue over such issues as NRM members' "mental stability," NRMs' alleged deceptive fund-raising, and so forth. In other words, defending the religious freedoms of unconventional groups is often left to private individuals and groups (or private enterprise), not to government.
In Europe generally the case is reversed. There are official state sanctioned religions or at least select "preferred" denominations that receive special recognition and subsidies or privileges that others (particularly NRMs) do not.10 And the close relationships between certain religious denominations and governments mean that NRMs often confront state investigatory commissions, legal entanglements, and lack of concerns for religious liberties that their American counterparts do not. European governments (often with the blessings of their sanctioned church elites) are much less reticent to interrogate, restrict, and intervene against NRMs.
Thus, one sees a curious but logical disparity in anticultisms between the United States and European countries.
In the United States' religious marketplace, opponents of NRMs largely have to fend for themselves as voluntary associations in mobilizing resources without government support or encouragement, as the history of the grassroots ACM clearly shows. (That is undoubtedly one reason the vigilante practice of deprogramming originated and, for a while at least, thrived in the United States instead of in Europe. Desperate families have had to resort to taking the law into their own hands.) If the ACM movement was to survive, it had to attract a critical mass of advocates and survive the various financial and legal/organization hurdles we have described.
In (often socialist) European countries, by comparison, whose church state separation is rarely as clear as in the U.S., the public as well as state subsidized clergy expect that state to take a proactive role in monitoring and even restricting NRMs. As a result, American ACM groups have had to depend on mass participation without government assistance, while the European ACM effort has received (by American standards) almost immediate government support and never has had to generate a large public constituency. Thus, as three sociologists observed two decades ago in comparing North American and (West) German anticult efforts (and the relevance still stands):
[In Germany] instead of there being any "mass" of organized individuals reacting to social strains who then somehow join together in a concerted effort to achieve a goal, there is a relatively small clique of individuals who hold more or less key positions within important organizations (particularly the Protestant church) who have an effective communications system, and who have ready access to the media. These individuals are able to mobilize the anticult sentiment, or at least speak for it. There is little or no organized "mass" of people behind them (unlike the American situation)... Thus, in contrast to the United States the parents' organizations, insofar as they exist other than on paper, serve mainly as legitimation for the actions of several key individuals than they reflect any widespread parental unrest.11 [Italics in the original.]
For a countermovement such political environmental factors can be important.
European NRM/ACM Conflicts in Legal Context
Unlike the simpler contexts of just the United States or Canada, NRM controversies in Europe are complicated by post-World War Two developments at cooperating and consolidating broad legal commonalities among nations. James T. Richardson refers to the latter as "pan-European institutions" that resemble legal confederations intended to bridge national boundaries, particularly in areas of economics but also in human rights: "The new pan-European institutions have arisen in a unique context which involved the joining together for economic and social purposes a number of societies, virtually of which have official state-sanctioned religions, even if the specific arrangements for support vary somewhat."12
The first of these institutions was the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, originating from the Congress of Europe in 1948. That group passed a statute, or resolution, calling for the adherence of all member nations to the lawful, free enjoyment by all citizens of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Out of that statute eighteen months later came the drafting of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ratified by the representatives of ten European nations in 1950. (see http://www.pfc.org.uk/legal/echrtext.htm) Three years later it became literally a treaty among nations. Currently there are twenty-nine countries pledged to its precepts.
Most important among those precepts are two articles that affect religious liberty. Article 9 states in two parts:
This second part puts seemingly reasonable, if imprecise, limits on how "free" the exercise of religion can be. There is also an article 14 which explicitly endorses a lack of ethnic and demographic restrictions on this exercise:
14. The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origins, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.14
The Convention established a European Commission of Human Rights which, through its staff, can hear and investigate a complaint of violations of the above article after a complainant has already pressed his or her case in a "domestic" (national) court system. If the Commission does not resolve a complaint, the matter then can go to the next level, the Committee of Ministers, made up of all the Foreign Ministers from the member nations of the Council of Europe. And to further complicate matters, any of the nations involved have several months to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, (see http://www.echr.coe.int/ ) located in Strasbourg, France. The Council of Europe has a Parliamentary Assembly, composed of representatives from separate national parliaments of those countries in the Court of Europe, which elects members to the European Court.
The Committee of Ministers may or may not refer a matter to the Court but can take action if it decides that Convention principles have been violated. The end result can be that the Court of Human Rights could hear a full-fledged adversarial trial, with written and oral arguments, witnesses, expert testimonies, and so forth. Any judgment is then returned to the Committee of Ministers. The process is laborious, often taking years and creating an enormous backlog of cases, thereby discouraging individual complaints.
In reality, it would appear that this elaborate international legal structure does not go far beyond providing a paper guarantee of religious liberties to ensure that such liberties are protected. The second part of Article 9 gives nation states a wide interpretation that can subvert the intention of the first part if they should claim a threat or endangerment to some part of the public, or to specific cohorts of citizens, resulting from some practices of religion. As a result, relatively few complaints have made it very far through the system. Richardson notes that from a review of previous governments' interpretations of the religious freedom guaranteed in Article 9's first part,
... it could be argued that Article 9 ends up being used as a way to limit religious freedom, especially for minority religions, not to protect or expand such freedoms. One way Article 9 has been used as an act of limitation on religious freedom has been to focus on the matters raised in paragraph 2 to disallow coverage of the broad concerns of paragraph 1.15 [Italics in the original.]
In essence, what Richardson terms a "majoritarian" standard has become the norm for interpreting Article 9, permitting the possibility of dominant prejudices by judges and jurists to prevail in assessing the practices and beliefs of unconventional religions. There are, by North American standards, fewer safeguards for minority religions if states decide to intervene in the "interests" of a higher public concern. The European Parliament, made up of 518 representatives from the member nations of the European Community, has not shown itself terribly concerned with the religious liberties issues. (see www.europarl.eu.int)
When NRMs' freedoms are involved in a controversy, these tend to be obfuscated by other issues. To cite Richardson's conclusion on this matter:
In these new pan-European structures, the treatment of minority religions is to allow control and management by member States, which leads to disregarding most claims based strictly on freedom of religion. The pan-European entities defer to Member States, some of whom have a quite spotty record of protecting religious minorities and freedom of religion.16
Thus the European notion of religious liberties for NRMs is based on the reality, and sometimes reluctant acknowledgement, of pluralism rather than any celebration of it. Religious toleration in many parts of Europe is, to use two social scientists' words, "the (often grudging) willingness of the State to allow a variety of religious belief and behavior."17
This distinctly non-American view of religious ferment has been embraced by moral entrepreneurs in the North American ACM where they eventually have found more fertile groups for accepting the dubious notion of "mind control". The phenomenon is a familiar one to "constructionist" sociologists dealing with social movements who have studied the cross-cultural emergence and evolution of social problems in countries linked socially, politically, and economically.18
The Early ACM Connection
The North American ACM did not inspire or create the initial European reaction to NRMs. Indeed, European countermovement activities were occurring before AFF or CAN even formally existed. These actions were the result of a constellation of concerns: the suspicion of harmful, even socially subversive behaviors by NRM members; understandable nativism and ethnocentrism; the challenge to the hegemony of older denominations by aggressive "upstart" NRMs (the formers spokespersons are called sektenexperten, typically German [Lutheran] pastors anxious to stifle competitors); and the relative deprivation and disappointment experienced by families whose offspring abandoned conventional career/domestic trajectories. In the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, where sudden religious conversion is somewhat alien to the general citizen, there was also a widespread fear that what was called the implicit generation contract was in danger of being violated by communal religious groups that removed youthful members out of the job market and thus the social entitlements pool of taxpayers, i.e., that young people would not contribute to the costs incurred by the state in taking care of the older generation in health benefits and retirement, much less for their own future costs.19
Thus FAIR (Family Action Information and Rescue) was founded in 1975 (four years after the first American regional ACM group coalesced) by a Member of Parliament who had become embroiled in a Unification Church
lawsuit. FAIR has resembled the American-style family-based groups like the older Citizens Freedom Foundation, spinning off regional affiliates.20 Likewise, the French ADFI (Associations pour la Défense de la Famille et de I'Individu) emerged during the early 1970s and achieved a national (federated) style organization by 1975. In 1977 AGPF (Aktion fur geistige und psychische Freiheit) was established in West Germany as a coordinating body for a number of initiatives -- group and individual, public and private -- against NRMs. And about the same time, the latter country's ministries became involved in NRM controversies. The most active was the Ministry for Youth, Family and Health. During the spring and fall of 1978, this agency conducted a pilot study to collect and review "official data" on NRMs. Among other German governmental agencies that became involved and produced policy reports were the Ministries of Labor, Health and Welfare in the state of North Rein Westphalia, the Ministry of Welfare, Health and Sport in Rheinland-Pfalz, and the Standing Committee for Culture and the Standing Committee for Welfare, Health and Family Policy of the Bavarian Senate.21
Early North American involvement in ACM efforts seem mainly to have consisted of sympathetic "bridge-building," North American spokespersons answering international queries for information and suggesting future cooperation, and tentative cross-conference attendance. On the first two activities, consider this small (grammatically uncorrected) sample from a much larger volume of early correspondence to and from CFF in the CAN files:
Gracias tambien por la informacion sobre le libra Imperio Moon que yo tengo en mi poder puesto que se ha editado en espanol y se vende en has liberias de Montevido.
Please supply me with following: Your free leaflet -- Destructive Cults: Mind Control and Psychological Conversion.
Waitara, New Zealand 1982
Your pamphlet on Destructive Cults may come in handy, will try and have it photocopied. We have been asked to talk to high school girls about cult involvement, but didn't have much to hand out.
New Zealand 1982
My 22 year-old daughter ... went to the University of Edinburgh about three years ago... Her studies suffered, we think it was because of the association with the Moonies and went to live at the Moonie home.
Republic of Botswana, South Africa -- 1982
I am interested in receiving information on the programs you are involved with in the Anti-cult arena, We are developing materials and techniques at our school in Jerusalem. We want to link up with other organizations who do similar work.
Jerusalem, Israel -- 1982
Greetings from a kindred organization. A number of individuals who have tried to counter the influence of the cults separately have united to form this organization. If the name [Free Mind Foundation] resembles yours it is because our aims are probably the same. will be happy to exchange with you any items of information and reports of techniques and strategies.
Wellington, New Zealand -- 1982
Your center has been mentioned as one good source which can provide us information and advice about cults
and its damages to young people and student... I'm a Catholic priest working as a school chaplain.
Bhopal, Philippines 1983
Being a young organization, the task that lies ahead of us is very enormous. Thus a request that you assist us in whatever way you can establish our infrastructure.
Kampala, Uganda -- 1985.
Such requests for information from around the globe look remarkably like the ones CAN was receiving over a decade later. For example: I write to you in the hopes that you can help me with the situation presenting itself. My daughter has become involved with the Hare Krishna ISKON movement and I look to you to help me face this issue and advise me as to the best approach.
Cape Town, South Africa -- 1995
We reviewed letters to CAN from persons wanting to establish working relations from countries as diverse as Israel, Canada, South Africa, Uganda, Australia-New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Argentina, Ireland, Belgium, Chile, and Venezuela. Just as the first North American ACM activists formally began with only narrow interests in the Children of God NRM but soon expanded to monitor a much broader array of groups,22 so CFF and later its successor CAN began to network internationally. For example, CFF and CAN spokespersons (usually the presidents or executive directors, rarely staff members) responded to letters in the following ways:
We are most encouraged to hear of your good luck [in Tokyo], have put your name on our newsletter mailing list, and hope you will do the same for us. ...If there is any specific help that I or CFF might offer you, please do not hesitate to call on me.
June 21, 1982
We would most definitely appreciate establishing a link between CFF and South Africa.
October 5, 1982
Thank you for your letter of January 6. 1 wish I could send you many names of members of the Psychiatric Association (APA) who support our position. Unfortunately, few psychiatrists understand mind control here in the United States.
February 11, 1983
Letters soliciting information as well as help in NRM issues are often paired with CAN replies in the former group's files. Thus, Priscilla D. Coates Director of CFF's National Office and later to be CAN's Director, replied to the Deputy Consulate General of the Swedish Consulate in New York on a matter of returning a NRM member to her parents that she (Coates) had access to extensive files "on a number of groups" and offered future assistance to him. [Document #1]A Belgian anticultist traveling to the U.S. on a data gathering mission interviewed deprogrammer Ted Patrick and offered to arrange for videotaped deprogrammings (at Patrick's suggestion) to be placed in CFF's library. [Document #2/1] [Document #2/2] Iin response to a request from an employee of an affiliate of ADFI seeking information on rebirthing as a possible cultic behavior, Coates offered to find information on the practice but called it "pop," "pseudo," "quack" -- "perhaps even fake or false" -- "amateur" psychology, "a foolish, worthless and possibly dangerous gimmick" because the potential for ego destruction could be very great.[Document #3/1] [Document #3/2]
CAN stored boxes of such correspondence from a multitude of nations, most European as time went on. Because so many of the larger NRMs were international in their missions, many queries originating from overseas were from persons seeking information on family members recruited by missionaries there but who had migrated to the U.S.
In addition to the graduate co alignment of ideologies and commitment to fight "cults," face-to-face interaction began to occur at the iniative of ACM groups on both sides of the Atlantic (and Pacific). To name several early examples:
In 1978 the German Union for Child Psychiatry (also translated as the German Association for Children's and Youth Psychiatry), along with the Federal Conference for Educational Advice, hosted a seminar in Hanover on NRMs, or as the German referred to them, "youth-religions." Among those speakers invited were two American psychiatrists who were to become close to the AFF as leaders and/or supporters: Harvard University's Dr. John G. Clark, Jr. (Founder of the Center for the Study of Destructive Cultism) and Yale University's Dr. Robert J. Lifton (coiner of the term "thought reform" and whose work on the subject has been used as the gospel of "mind control" ideology of the North American ACM).[Document #4] According to Yehuda Bauer in his unpublished paper, "Euthanasia, Nazism and Psychiatry,"
This was a conference directed at the suppression of expanding religious groups. The German Union of Child Psychiatry brought up a new term for these growing religious movements when they defined them as "youth religions."23
(The two American psychiatrists may not have been aware of some of their hosts in the Union. Several had been accused of being active pro-euthanasia psychiatrists in the Nazi movement during World War Two: Dr. H. A. Schmitz, Dr. Buger Prinz Dr. Hildegard Jetzer [who is alleged to have had over 2000 Polish children destroyed in concentration camps], and Dr. Franz Kapp, who in 1939 wrote a piece entitled "On the Sterilization of Hereditary Mentally Deficients and Its Meaning in the Fight Against Criminality.,,)24
In December, 1980 in Paris ADFI held a conference (Colloque International) on NRMs (also referred to as "Extremist Cults") attended by approximately sixty persons from fourteen countries, including Japan, India, the U.S. Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Holland, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland. One of the participants from the U.S. was California pre-CFF ACM activist Henrietta Crampton. Familiar European ACM names, such as Denmark's Dialog Center's Johannes Aagaard and Germany' s Thomas P. Gandow and F. W. Haack, were in attendance.[Document #5/1] [Document #5/2] A news release from the conference proclaimed in terms distinctly unfriendly to religious pluralism:
It was noted that these new movements' religious claims often defend them from criticism by a public which believes all religion to be good. In fact, with their elitist and totalitarian claims, they are a threat to freedom. ...These movements use the term "religious freedom" to attack the individuals who criticize them. For the sake of their own closed communities they destroy normal family relations. [Document #6]
It is instructive to note that the complaints against NRMs in the longer news release were that they were anti-democratic and anti-family. Nothing was said of mind control or mental enslavement or psychological incapacitation. But out of this conference came the preliminary plans for some sort of trans-national association to oppose "cults." Its constitution named it the International Committee (for short), or the I.C.C.N.T.I.R.O. (International Committee Concerned with New Totalitarian Ideological and Religious Organizations). Thereafter, however, its proponents simply referred to it as the International Committee. [Document #7]
In October, 1982 the Executive Committee of the international coalition centred on ADFI (composed of Haack, Aagaard, and representatives from France, England, and Belgium) journeyed to CFF's annual meeting in Washington, DC to caucus with their American counterparts on pursuit of an International Association for coordinated ACM activities. Keeping with ADFI's past structure, this International Association would have a General Assembly, representatives elected (one each) by member ACM associations and a Board of Director elected by the General Assembly, one representative per country. Future correspondence, it was decided, would be forwarded to AGPF in Germany, and the proposed date of the second international meeting was set for the following October, 1983. [Document #8/1] [Document #8/2]
In September, 1984 Robert Lenz, an officer in CFF and a university chemistry professor, had travel plans with his wife in Europe at the time of annual meetings of England's FAIR in London and West Germany's AGPF in Bonn. He volunteered to CFF director Priscilla Coates to represent CFF at both. He also wrote to the organizer of the Bonn conference, Ingo Heinemann, asking to participate [Document #9] His report to CFFs Board of Directors show Lenz was asked by FAIR's chairperson, Peter Broadbent, to speak on the subject, "What's Happening on the Cult Scene in the U.S.A?" (He also mentions that during his talk, "The FAIR people bristle at the word deprogrammers, which implies violent conversions methods to them.") Lenz's report provides a view of the European ACM for England and Germany) somewhat similar to the American scene (minus government involvement), with the ACM activists feeling like underdogs in their struggles to arouse public alarm over ACMs and enlist political allies. (FAIR at the time had almost 800 total members among its affiliates and was seeking to maintain financial solvency.) At the AGPF annual conference there were discussions "of the supportive and extensive activities of the West German government" by a sociologist who was also the Government Minister for Youth and a talk by a representative from the Evangelical (Protestant) Church. On one panel Lenz represented CFF while Daphne Green, a long-time ACM activist whose son had become involved in the Unification Church, represented AFF.
There were various testimonies by ex-NRM members, of course, but the important point is that that significant networking was occurring, laying the groundwork for future international coordination. Lenz optimistically concluded his report:
I will send to the CFF Board the names and addresses of the representatives as soon as I have more time to organize my notes on the meeting... It is expected that the meeting will generate much greater interaction and cooperation between the cult awareness groups in the different Western European countries, and CFF has an excellent opportunity to establish closer bonds with the organizations. I will submit recommendations on such contacts as soon as possible. [Document #10/1] [Document #10/2] [Document #10/3] [Document #10/4]
Thus, some twenty-five years before recent religious liberties controversies surfaced in France, Germany and elsewhere, an organizational alliance that could realistically be termed an international anticult movement was forming.
The White-Hot Phase
"Social movements," writes sociologist John Lofland, "differ in the level at which they are mobilized at any given moment, at various periods of their careers, and over their life histories taken as a whole."25 Viewing movement mobilization as a variable rather than a dichotomy, Lofland posits a "'white-hot' state of maximum mobilization" when a certain critical mass of resources and motivation come together to create a qualitatively greater spurt of expansion. From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s this is precisely what the North American-European ACM coalition experienced. In particular, this time period was the most productive phase of the American effort to proselytize its "mind control" ideology abroad and forge an international alliance.
Rather than present a strict chronology of this decade-long proselytization -cooperative phase, we separate samples of the documentary evidence into four dimensions of exchange and influence: (1) continued sympathetic requests for assistance and informational exchange; (2) visits to Europe by North American ACM representatives; and (3) international ACM conferences and organizations. While in some respects there is overlap within (1)-(3), we believe the narrative is easier to follow using this scheme.
Continued Sympathetic Requests for Assistance and Informational Exchange
In 1985 CFF's Robert W. Lenz thanked an AGPF contact from his 1984 visit to Bonn, Germany and honored her request for a state-by-stated list of CFF chapters and "cult exit counselors." He reminded her that CFF was the "principal source of information on cults and counseling throughout the United States" and pledged the future cooperation of CFF and director Priscilla Coates. [Document #11] This type of correspondence was to become a trend in the North American-European ACM connection: no longer just individuals with isolated NRM problems but more so an increasing number of representatives of other European ACM groups (or persons referred by these groups ) contacting CAN with requests for information or possible co alignment. CAN records are replete with such correspondence. We interpret this as one sign of the growing reciprocity among ACM social movement organizations on two continents. Here we can only provide a few (grammatically uncorrected) cases. For example,
We are writing because we have been contacted just recently by parents who have a daughter who joined the Kenneth Copeland ministries in England ... But who is now back in Barcelona and in contact with the group. .../ seem to recall that Kenneth Copeland is a TV preacher in the States although we would appreciate any information you could send us on it since it is very new here in Spain.
Association Pro-Juventud, Barcelona, Spain 1989 [Document #12]
We have an urgent need for data on The Schiller Institute. It is at present infiltrating Danish farmers' organizations. ... You would help us by faxing the most important data to us immediately and more substantial material by mail. If you want us to send back to you the collected data which we compile, we will certainly do that in return.
Johannes Aagaard, Institut For Missionstelogi Og Okumenisk Teologi, Denmark -- 1990 [Document #13]
With growing alarm I have read in your newsletter about the relentless attacks against you by Scientologists. I have meant to write before to say that we think of you a lot and that we feel for you very much... Obviously CAN is singled out for all this attention because it is effective. We console ourselves with this positive attitude when we find smears and libelous comments about FAIR in the Moonie press.
Family Action information Rescue (FAIR), London, England -- 1992
I'm a French journalist. I come and solicit you for collaboration. I've got your address by the French association ADF1 in Paris. I'm going to publish one article about fight against sects in Europe.
Brest, France -- 1993 [Document #14]
I am writing to you regarding our recent conversation over the phone. ...Because of political situation in our country it is very difficult for us to operate. So we would appreciate if you can consider a possibility for us to be a branch of American organization CAN.
Belgrade, Yugoslavia 1993 [Document #15]
We are holding a three-day seminar.. We would like to have a speaker from C.A.N....
Republic of Malta -- 1993 [Document #16]
I would like to establish contact with you. Please send me any materials you have about Mormonism. / am ... a cult fighter.. but I can't have any effective "fight" without contacts with you and other similar organizations.
Sofia, Bulgaria 1994 [Document #17]
There were more direct trails of correspondence that point to cross-fertilization. In a March 22, 1988 letter to West Germany's premier anticultist, the Rev. Friederich W. Haack (Commissioner of Apologetics, Lutheran church of Bavaria), AFF's Michael D. Langone (a psychologist and Director of Research and Education) asked Haack for his opinions about whom to invite to serve on the AFF Public Policy-International Committee (which AFF previously had asked Haack to chair). Langone suggested as possible nominees Daphne Vane (of England's FAIR), a French woman from ADFI, a Member of the British Parliament, and the head of the Spanish Pro Juventud. This committee would, among other things, organize the next International Congress. Daphne Vane was considered a good candidate, in Langone's opinion, since she was already planning to come to the AFFs annual convention the following September. He wrote: "In forming such a committee, AFF hopes to be a catalyst. [Document #18] An associate of Rev. Haack responded to Langone's letter and wrote that Haack had suggested Wurtzburg, West Germany as a meeting location for the Congress. [Document #19]
Later, in a November 3 letter of that same year Langone write Haack a "Dear Fritz" letter in which, among other topics, he addressed the issue of Haack developing AFF's International Subcommittee of the Education Committee:
Last winter you agreed to chair the subcommittee. The precise charge of that subcommittee is yet to be defined. Daphne Vane has suggested that some thought be given to forming -- or laying the groundwork for forming -- an "International Family Foundation' which could serve as a federation of sorts for the various cult education organizations around the world. In Barcelona you and I discussed the possibility of organizing an International Conference in Munich in 1989 or 1990.26
Langone's letter went on to suggest a possibly smaller international meeting of CAN, AFF, and select invitees from Europe and expanded the list of possible members of the subcommittee (beyond those already listed) to include Johannes Aargaard, Robert W. Lenz (at that time already on CAN's board of directors), and at least one unnamed representative from Israel (among other countries). (Copies of the letter were cc'd to AFF President Herbert L. Rosedale, CAN's Robert W. Lentz, and FAIR's Daphne Vane.) [Document #20/1] [Document #20/2] [Document #20/3] And in a further indication of this international bridge-building, Robert W. Lenz wrote in a December 3, 1988 letter to AFF's Michael D. Langone thanking him for the invitation to join the AFF Advisory Board and to participate on the International Subcommittee of the Education Committee. His words:
Your proposals for organizing an international federation of cult education organizations, for organizing an International Conference, and for establishing an annual newsletter for the federation are all most exciting. These activities would be of tremendous benefit for increasing cult awareness and for providing education and family support opportunities around the world. I would be most pleased to work with Rev. Haack and the other members of the committee. [Document #21]
At the end Lenz added an offer to serve as ACM ambassador: "...I continue to travel extensively, and indeed I expect to be in Europe on at least three separate occasions in the coming year. Perhaps on one of these I could meet with Rev. Haack." Langone replied later that month, pleased that Lenz had accepted the AFF International Committee's position and cc'd the letter to Freiderich W. Haack as well as to Daphne Vane. [Document #22]
In sum, by the late 1980s to early 1990s the populist identity of CAN (and to a similar extent, AFF) as worldwide clergy houses of NRM advice and information was established. Activists were in more that casual or occasional communication. A network was in place. [Document #23]
The next several sections identify more of the process by which this was achieved.
Visits to Europe by North American ACM Representatives
We have already referred to several appearances in North America by European ACM activists. There were others. Alternately, visits to European anticultists by North American ACM representatives of course provided opportunities for the latter to expose the former to the panoply of quasi-behavioral science terms for NRM involvement, such as "brainwashing," ii mental servitude," "menticide," thought reform," and "psychological incapacitation." Aside from North American ACM spokespersons' presence at international meetings (reviewed in the next section), there were a number of key individual visits, or literal "tours," similar to those of the previously mentioned travels of CFF's Robert W. Lenz in 1984 (and after), which were intended in part to spread the "mind control" ideology.
In November, 1989 AFF's Michael D. Langone wrote ADFI's founder Claire Champollion concerning a possible Paris location for an upcoming international ACM congress. He also remarked that Marcia and Rabbi James Rudin (authors of a popular ACM book Prison or Paradise: The New Religious Cults)30 "will be coming to Europe on vacation in March [1990 and] would like to talk to Jim's alleged contacts at the Vatican to persuade them to send a representative."31 Also in the same month California psychologist Margaret T. Singer, long-time advocate and member of both CAN and AFF and a perennial speaker at their annual conventions, was the featured guest speaker at FAIR's annual meeting in London and addressed "an invited audience in the house of Lords." [Document #24]
In her April, 1990 written report to CAN's Board of Directors, executive director Cynthia S. Kisser related that her "April 20-29 trip to Europe on behalf of CAN proved to be a productive and interesting experience.32 She chronicled her first stop (along with CAN activist Rachel Andrews) in London and a meeting with FAIR's Daphne Vane. [Document #25] Then she described her trip to Paris where she attended a conference of international "cult education groups" sponsored by AFF and UNADFI (Union nationale des associations pour la défense des familles et de l'individu, an extension of ADFI) and chaired by AFF's Herbert L. Rosedale and UNADFI's M. M. Lasserre. Also attending from the U.S. were AFF/CAN's Robert W. Lenz, AFF's Michael D. Langone, and others. Kisser summarized the fruits of her trip as follows:
As a result of this trip, I was able to speak in detail with representatives from Spain, France, England, Canada, and Switzerland, and to a lesser degree with all the other representatives. I anticipate a closer working relationship with many of the groups I met as a result of this trip. [Document #26/1] [Document #26/2] [Document #26/3]
Yet she encountered cultural barriers to a united international ACM front, apparently in the universal acceptance of the "mind control" model:
The international organization was not able to form during the conference, in part because of a division within Europe between those organizations with a religious affiliation and those which are secular in their origins and purpose. While a collective statement on the dangers of cult activity in Eastern Europe was drafted, language barriers and a diversity in the cultural frames of reference for defining the cult problem presented a commonly agreed upon public statement from being finalized in the short period of time the conference allowed.
Nevertheless, she felt that progress was being made.
Bridges of organization cooperation and support were being constructed. And European anticult representatives were becoming more visible at anticult gatherings in the U.S. For example, CAN's Robert W. Lenz contacted a Mr. M. Jansa of the Research Institute of Lutheran Church in Finland with a copy of the 1990 CAN national conference (held in Chicago), inviting him as a representative to the meetings. THE CAN Board of Directors had authorized Lenz to offer M. Jansa a waiver of the $250 registration fee and usual conference expenses. [Document #27] Not all could come when they wanted, however. Ingo Heinemann, director of Germany's AGPF, wrote Robert Lenz in September, 1990 that although he had attended the 1982 CFF annual meeting, division within AGPF and lack of funds meant that he could not afford to attend this time.[Document #28/1] [Document #28/2]
Meanwhile, North American ACM spokespersons were busy in Europe and/or with Europeans. In September 1990, for example, CAN's Robert Lenz contacted an editor at "Speak Up," a television program in Milan, Italy concerning a request for an interview. Lenz informed the editor that it would be convenient since he was going to be visiting the University of Bologna at the suggested time for a series of guest lectures.[Document #29] The CAN files also show similar prosaic correspondence, such as a journalist for the French magazine Speakeasy, an English language-learning publication, planning an arrival in Deerfield, Illinois in 1993 to interview Cynthia Kisser for an article on cults. [Document #30]
Perhaps the best example of North American ACM visitations in Europe and related attempts to proselytize the "mind control" message was Cynthia Kisser's speaking engagement in the German city of Stuttgart, Germany, in November 1994. Along with ACM psychologist Margaret T. Singer, Kisser was invited to speak at a symposium hosted by the ministry for Culture and Sports. [Document #31] Her arrival in Stuttgart was anticipated by German ACM activists. [Document #32/1] [Document #32/2] In addition, Kisser sought to take advantage of the opportunities to promote the notion of "mind control" in NRMs. For example, in a fax memo to FAIR's Daphne Vane Kisser asked, "Do you think I should try and meet with anyone, either in England, France, or elsewhere while I am on that side of the ocean? If so, I would want to meet prior to my presentation to include new information about cult activity in Europe..." [Document #33]Similarly, she alerted her host at the Ministry for Culture and Sport that not only would she attend the symposium but that she was also generally available for speaking on the subject of "cult dangers:"
I also am willing to make my time available while in Stuttgart to meet with any other officials or professionals whom you feel it would be beneficial for me to meet with on the topic of cults. I am also willing to speak to high school or college students if there would be an interest in such a presentation. ...I will let you advise me further should you wish to consider any such meetings. [Document #34]
Kisser's symposium paper was entitled "Destructive Cults and the Problems They Pose to Children and Youth." It was contained vintage ACM examples of defining destructive cults:
A destructive cult always exhibits two characteristics. First, a destructive cult is unethical and deceptive in how it recruits and indoctrinates its members... Second, a destructive cult uses strong influence techniques, often called mind control techniques, in a concerted manner, without the informed consent or knowledge of the recruit, to affect the recruit's critical thinking, sense of self identity, and/or value system. [Document #35/1] [Document #35/2] [Document #35/3] [Document #35/4] [Document #35/5] [Document #35/6] [Document #35/7] [Document #35/8] [Document #35/9] [Document #35/10] [Document #35/11]
Explaining the North American ACM mantra allegedly based on Liftonian thought reform, she then went on in her paper to portray hypothetical ill effects of cults, their victims, and horrific case studies. There were only six references in her bibliography, all ACM publications. The audience was precisely the sort the ACM would want for its exposition on the "brainwashing" model:" "working groups on issues of [cult] prevention," of whom approximately 80 persons were mostly school teachers interested in "youth sects" and "psycho groups." [Document #36/1] [Document #36/2]
This sample of correspondence and related documents concerning North American ACM activities in concert with their European counterparts is not presented to "prove" a connection between the two: rather, it illustrates the reality of that connection. The indisputable facts are that North American anticultists were seeking and finding common ground in the culture wars against NRMs, just as they had done within the United States in the 1970s. Moreover, an effort was being made to create an even larger, worldwide umbrella organization or confederation than just CAN or AFF. Finally, American ACM spokespersons were aggressively promoting to a more receptive audience what to most American behavioral scientists and scholars was a seriously flawed psychological interpretation of religious conversion and commitment.
International Conferences and Organizations
We do not mean to imply that European ACM groups have been dependent on their North American counterparts for motivation, mobilization, or tactics to opposed and/or monitor NRMs. To use a biological metaphor, North American ACM input on "mind control" has acted more as an enzyme to stimulate and reinforce concern where it already existed. European anticultists often have had the advantage of government sponsorship or at least have not had to face the reluctance of state interveners and inspectors as have North American anticultists, "burdened" as the latter have been by a legal and cultural tradition of church-state separation. To some in Europe the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is regarded as an impediment to be overcome before that nation can definitively address the "cult problem" (a position undoubtedly repugnant to American civil libertarians). One well-known European ACM spokesperson, Johannes Aagaard of Denmark's Dialog Center, even accused the United States of maintaining a "medieval European ecclesiastical policy" by making heinous religious behavior by "cultists" above the law. Writing in the AFF's Cultic Studies Journal, he cites several cases of religious chicanery and fraud by well-publicized NRM leaders and then provides a curious "straw man" picture of U.S. State neutrality toward religion in general:
Mind-bending and soul-killing take place all over, and yet there are not laws against it. Under the cover of religious freedom a deadly permissiveness has crept in. This is especially so in the United States, where the "First Amendment" is used to support all manner of evil exploitation in the name of religion. Anyone who pretends to be religious or runs something even faintly related to religion is considered virtually outside the law. The worst aspects of medieval ecclesiastic policy in Europe have, for all practical purposes, come back to the United States: the contention that religions are exempted from the claims of law. [Document #37/1] [Document #37/2] [Document #37/3] [Document #37/4] [Document #37/5] [Document #37/6]
Similarly, Frances ACM activist Alain Vivien voiced his concern to the U.S. Embassy in Paris in anti-pluralist terms:
In the United States, freedoms are crazy. In the name of the First Amendment of the American Constitution, which forbids the enactment of laws dealing with religious affairs, one can say and do anything he wishes including practice polygamy like some Mormons do. France recognizes the freedom of everyone as long as it does not encroach on the freedom of others Europe is mobilizing to defend freedom of liberties against sectarian enterprises. The slowness of the United States in becoming active in this fight is a source of concern.33
And there have been occasional horrific instances of NRMs fulfilling Aagaards worst "all manner of evil in the name of religion" scenarios, serving as partial reinforcement to continue the credibility of ACM ideology and inspiring the initiative to form an international umbrella ACM organization. While the North American ACM may have had only mixed results in mobilizing public and official opinion after the ritual murders-suicides of the Peoples Temple congregation at Jonestown, Guyana in 1978,34 European alarm has been translated into more concrete form in the wake of Jonestown and subsequent, analogous NRM catastrophes, such as the deaths of suicide-murder victims in Switzerland's Order of the Solar Temple, the suicides (and by some, antecedent castrations) of California's Heaven's Gate UFO group, the (apparent) fanaticism of the late David Koresh' Branch Davidians, and the gassing of commuters in Tokyo's subways by the AUM Shindrikyo NRM. These events have provided Europeans (as the Center for the Study of American Religion's director, J. Gordon Melton, has argued) with "a new level of concern."35 But even if not enhanced, that concern persisted due in part to these sensational cases.
Meanwhile, CAN and AFF have indeed steadily attempted to serve, in AFF's Michael D. Langone's words, "as a catalyst" in creating a forum to promote an international response to NRMs. We have already referred to several of the largest (and oldest) European ACM groups: England's secular FAIR; France's ADFI, probably the largest and most influential counter movement; Denmark's Dialogue Centre; and Spain's AIS and Pro Juventud. There are also Sweden's FRI (Association to Rescue the Individual); Italy's tiny Comitato per la Liberazione dei Giovani dal Settarismo (since transformed into ARIS -- Associazione per la Ricerca e l'Informazione sulle Sette); another French group, CCMM (Centre de Documentation, dEducation et de Action Contre les Manipulations Mentales); the English religious counter cult organization Deo Gloria Trust; Austria's GGS (GeselIschaft Gegen Sekten); Luxembourg's CDIF (Cercle de Défense de l'Individu et de la Famille); Spain's CROAS; and others in countries such as Argentina, Greece, Finland, and Norway. [Document #38/1] [Document #38/2] [Document #38/3] [Document #38/4/1] [Document #38/4/2] [Document #38/5] [Document #38/6/1] [Document #38/6/2] [Document #38/6/3] [Document #38/7/1] [Document #38/7/2] [Document #38/7/3] [Document #38/8/1] [Document #38/8/2] [Document #38/8/3] [Document #38/8/4] [Document #38/8/5]
We have already shown evidence of North American ACM activity in Europe: spokespersons' travels as they spread the "mind control" model for interpreting NRMs, involvement in a 1980 ADFI conference in Paris where plans for an International Committee were drawn up, and a 1982 visit by ADFI officers to CFF's annual convention where further plans for an international ACM organization were pursued. There have been further efforts by ACM activists on both sides of the Atlantic to create linkages and by the North Americans to promote "mind control" as the premier NRM issues.
In 1987 the "First International Congress on Cults and Society" was hosted by As Pro-Juventad for three days in Barcelona, Spain. AFF-CAN representatives were very visible as presenters of workshops, discussions, and papers. Consider a sample of their scheduled presentations from the printed program (in English translation):
Birth and Evolution of Cults. International Expansion and Local Settlement. Future Perspectives.
Richard Ofshe (on AFF's Board of Directors) and P.Rodriguez
From Idealism to Mental Slavery. Coercive Persuasion: Techniques and Consequences. Prevention.
Louis J. West and Michael D. Langone
What Future Awaits People under Mind Control? Ways of Reading and Treating Members and Ex-members.
Margaret T. Singer and Louis J. West
Disintegration of the Family Nucleus Because of the Cult Problem. Solutions.
Margaret T. Singer and Michael D. Langone
Incidence of Destructive Cults on Children. Future of Programmed Children.
The "medicalization" theme in how American anticult participants dealt with NRM issues is evident from the titles. One result of this First International Congress was the Barcelona Resolution on Cults (hailed by The Cult Observer as "landmark").36 The Resolution states, among other things, that the Congress reviewed the harms posed by "cults" to individuals, families, and communities. It specifies that while the European Parliament's Committee on Youth, Culture, Education, Information, and Sport adopted in 1982 its own Resolution on "cults" that was found not contrary to Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, that earlier Resolution had not yet been ratified. Therefore, the Barcelona Resolution emphatically urged that the European Parliament's earlier Resolution be endorsed and ratified by the Parliament "and further to deal with the depredations of cults and to provide improved protections and avenues of redress for cult victims and their families throughout the European Community."
Encouraged by this international bonding, AFF began aggressively planning for a second International Congress, to take place within a few years. In December, 1987 Michael D. Langone communicated to Freiderich Haack about holding such a congress meeting in Munich in the Spring, 1989. [Document #40/1] [Document #40/2] The goals of this congress would be compiling and publishing a directory of international ACM groups, developing literature laying out the international scope of the "cult problem," discussions of how to better coordinate ACM efforts, news and research, (again) planning an international federation of counter cult organizations, planning regular bi-annual congresses, issuing resolutions for state authorities in various countries to investigate NRMs, and so forth. There was an explicit request to keep North American ACM "mind control" proponents in the limelight:
I suspect that it will be financially impossible to pay for attendees [sic] travel expenses; each organization will most likely have to take care of the expenses of its representatives. We may, however, want to make some exceptions, e.g., bring over speakers like Jolly West and Margaret Singer (maybe you could arrange for parallel speaking engagements for them with organizations that could pay their travel expenses?).
Herbert L. Rosedale, new president of AFF, wrote in a mass mailing letter of July, 1989:
The International Congress on Cults at Barcelona in the fall of 1987 underlined the international dimension of the cult problem and demonstrated the increasing sophistication of national organizations striving to combat cults. ...In order to begin the process of improving communication and coordination, AFF would like to propose that any international meeting of representative from cult educational organizations meet in the spring of 1990 at a European location that would be convenient and economical (perhaps Barcelona or Paris).37
Among the "business-oriented" topics proposed by Rosedale for this conference were discussions on NRM victim assistance, ACM relations with churches/colleges/politicians/professional groups, how to define the concept: "cult," and a possible 1991 International Congress on cults. Rosedale's letter was specific as to the format, based on the Barcelona precedent:
To make the most effective use of our time, we propose that no more than two representatives from each organization attend and that we prepare a specific program in advance (listing speakers, times, discussion topics and leaders, etc.) Because many representatives will be travelling long distances, we further propose that the meeting be at least two and possibly three days in length. [Document #41/1] [Document #41/2]
The next major international ACM conference38 was held, as Rosedale envisioned, in Paris, April 27-28, 1990, hosted by the AFF and ADFI. AFF and CAN were at its heart. AFF's Herbert L. Rosedale sent a "thank you" letter in advance to CAN's Cynthia S. Kisser:
I want to express my appreciation of your organization's interest in sending a representative to the meeting we, the American Family Foundation (AFF) with L'Association pour la Defense des Families et de I'Individu (A.D.F.I.), will conduct in Paris... The meeting's purpose is to discuss ways in which cult-education organizations can cooperate and collaborate to their mutual and the public's advantages. ...This is a meeting to initiate a process of cooperative planning, so publicity is not desired. [Document #42]
(An interesting side issue is that ten years after ADFIs first international planning meeting in Paris, Rosedale called for each attending representatives at the 1990 meeting to spend some time introducing and describing their separate organizations and that the 1990 meeting's purpose is "to initiate a' process of cooperative planning." In some ways the international cooperative" scene has been experiencing the same coordination problems that North American regional ACM groups of the 1970s encountered in trying to unify. In April 1991 representatives of the European ACM held a meeting in Barcelona, Spain (AFF and CAN called in their regrets.) to work on the "International Congress Planning Committee.") [Document #43]
NRMs, such as the Church of Scientology, had long been conducting "guerrilla-war" formats against ACM groups, so the invitation to the 1990 Paris meeting had it printed at the bottom: "Please present this strictly personal invitation at the door, together with personal identification." [Document #44] Participants represented a Who's Who of international anticultists. From North America were familiar names: Michael Kropveld from Montreal, Quebec's Cult Project, AFF's Herbert L. Rosedale, Michael D. Langone, and Robert W. Lenz, and CAN's Cynthia S. Kisser. [Document #45]
The North American ACM's presence was growing stronger in the international ACM. AFF president Herbert L. Rosedale served as the chair of the 1990 Paris meeting where further resolutions and plans to form an international ACM went ahead. In fact, Rosedale became "temporary chairman of the Consortium of groups and professions and religious and lay leaders representing many nations. [His self description] [Document #46/1] [Document #46/2] [Document #46/3] [Document #46/4] [Document #46/5] [Document #46/6] [Document #46/7] [Document #46/8] [Document #46/9] [Document #46/10] [Document #46/11] Rosedale offered CAN and AFF as models of how European ACM groups could target professionals for proselytization, particularly in the issue of "mind control:"
In the U.S., both CAN and AFF have regularly provided [sic] speakers throughout the country to local religious groups, to groups of mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, school counselors, and others. Both CAN and AFF are available to cooperate in sharing our experiences in the organization of such meetings and in providing appropriate speakers. In particular, we can provide therapists who had had hands-on- experience in treating cult victims and who can impart to mental health professionals the basic information that they need to respond more effectively to cult victims.
Although North American cult educational organizations have had a much more positive impact on the mental health community than European groups appear to have had, Europeans should not overlook their own mental health resources. Dr. TyIden, a psychiatrist from England, spoke at our meeting. And Dr. Jansa, a psychiatrist from Spain, reported that his organization has worked with over 250 cult victims during the past few years. I also heard that there is an experienced team of German mental health professionals. Diversity of speakers, wide geographical distribution, and repetition are the three key ingredients in educating professional communities.
Rosedale even proposed making the Cultic Studies Journal "an international journal more responsive to the needs of European scholars and professionals." Acknowledging that there was a divergence of views on identifying and combating the NRM "problem" (Aagaard of Denmark's Dialog Centre wanted cults to be opposed on moral and religious bases as "counterfeit pseudoreligions," contrary to AFF's and CAN's contention that harmful actions, not beliefs, should be the focus.), Rosedale nevertheless wrote optimistically that the international union effort could and should go forward.
There is other evidence that AFF and CAN emphasis on the mental incapacity and injury of "cultists" was gaining attention among European anticultists. The Swiss delegation to the Paris meeting proposed a World Family Foundation and urged the creation of a document, based on materials promulgated by Margaret T. Singer, John G. Clark, Jr., Louis J. West, Michael D. Langone, and their European counterparts, establishing the mental and physical endangerment to NRM members. [Document #47] Meanwhile, plans for both an International Congress, to be held in the early 1990s, and the elusive International Organization were being made. [Document #48/1] [Document #48/2] [Document #48/3] [Document #48/4] [Document #48/5] [Document #48/6] [Document #48/7] [Document #48/8] [Document #48/9] [Document #48/10] [Document #48/11] [Document #48/12] [Document #48/13] [Document #48/14] The Congress was held at Barcelona in April 1993 and a Provisory Secretary of a new International Conferation (as it was now called), Jacques Richard from France, appointed. The course of action agreed upon in Barcelona was for members of the Confederation to apply immediately to various national authorities and private foundation for subsidies. Over 20 North American and European ACM groups were part of the Confederation. [Document #49/1] [Document #49/2] [Document #49/3]
Meanwhile, there is evidence of continuing North American ACM efforts to proselytize European officials.39 From correspondence in the CAN files it appears there was a regular flow of North American ACM materials to European officials (not just to ACM groups) and reciprocal recognition. For example, consider just German contacts during one brief period in 1994 (and again, this is not the total population of documents):
On November 28 German ACM InfoSekta's Drs. Eschmann and Erni wrote CAN's Cynthia S. Kisser:
I [Eschmann] refer to my telephone call one hour ago and thank you for your kind assistance. Enclosed please find extracts from infoSekta's report of activities 1991-93...Thank you for sending us the statement of claim of Landmark [the NRM group in question] vs., CAN and later of your answer. [Document #50/1] [Document #50/2]
On December 1, David J. Bardin, attorney for CAN's Washington, DC legal firm Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin and Kahn received the following letter sent by Gotz Reimann, First Secretary/Cultural Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, DC:
Reiman similarly sent Kisser a thank you note the same day regarding the Church of Scientology:
Thank you very much for the wealth of material you have sent me concerning your recent visit to Stuttgart, Germany. The material is very helpful for my work. Receiving information from the different states, or Lander, in Germany is not always easy. ... Again, thank you very much for your cooperation. [Document #52]
After Cynthia Kisser's 1994 tour of England and Germany, she was warned of a handbill entitled "Scandal in Stuttgart" and that it called her an "advisor from the criminal milieu" with "detestable practices." The letter was from Ingo Heinemann of the AGPF and suggested Scientology may have distributed it. Heinemann wanted to know if Kisser wanted to pursue legal action. [Document #53] Finally, one year later Kisser's contacts made through her 1994 visit to Germany sponsored the Ministeriurn Fur Kultus Und Sport show her inviting Hans-Warner Carlhoff to CFF's annual convention in New York but him declining.40
On June 30, 1994, a new incarnation of the Confederation, FECRIS (European Federation of Centers for Research and Information Sectarianism), was registered with the French government in Paris.41 (As Americans had quickly learning in dealing with the European ACM, the latter blankedly refer to the NRM issues as one of "sectarianism" whereas the Americans use the label "cultism.") Jacques Richard was chosen as its first president. The Federation as registered contained only thirteen associations, all of them European. Jacques Richard hastened to assure CAN's Cynthia S. Kisser shortly before her trip to Stuttgart that the word "European" in the group's name was certainly not meant to exclude non-European ACM groups. [Document #54]
In a sense that caveat did not matter. By 1995 CAN was embroiled in several dozen expensive lawsuits, a number over failed coercive deprogrammings that sapped its leaders' time and the organization's finances. Finally, its auditing firm informed its board of directors and executive director Cynthia S. Kisser that CAN was "no longer a going concern." On the morning of October 23, 1966 CAN closed its doors amid bankruptcy proceedings and eventually had its assets, including international correspondence and records, auctioned off. CAN collapsed because of its complicity in coercive deprogrammings, not because of "its" lack of success during the North American ACM's "white-hot mobilization" phase.42 CAN has since ceased to be either a national or international player, and attempts to resurrect it have not been particularly successful.
AFF, on the other hand, continued to maintain and expand its relations with the international ACM, including a closer Asian involvement due to spectacular controversies such as those concerning Japan's AUM Shinrikyo and China's Falun Gong. An examination of the program from its AFF 2000 annual conference, the theme of which was "Cults and the Millennium," show an array of European and Asian presenters and attendees (not to mention Canadian participants): two attendees from Belgium and France, respectively (the latter a "conseiller diplomatique" for the Prime Minister); two representatives from the French ACM -- UNADFI and CCMM, respectively; Jean Nokin, president of FECRIS; five representatives from England, one of whom was Daphne Vane, by now both a member of FAIR and vice-president o FECRIS, and another, sociologist Eileen Barker, founder and chair of INFORM, a British NRM information clearing house; one Australian attendee; four presenters from Japan (one psychologist, two attorneys, one pastor); and one social psychologist from Beijing, China. The titles of the papers presented reflect a vintage "mind control" orientation, including those of most non-American participants. Presenters of the Denmark Dialogue Centre's moralist-theological persuasion seem not much in evidence, if at all, a sign that we interpret to mean that a growing number of anticultists abroad have been influenced by the North American psychologically oriented ACM ideology rather than the earlier European theologically oriented opposition. [Document #55/1] [Document #55/2] [Document #55/3] [Document #55/4] [Document #55/5] [Document #55/6] [Document #55/7]
French-German Measures Against NRM
In the remainder of this chapter we focus on two major Western European countries where North American ACM influence has been the greatest, resonating as it has with pre-exiting NRM concerns: France and Germany. Events there illustrate a contention of sociologist James T. Richardson that the various so-called "pan-European" legal bodies guaranteeing religious liberties have shown themselves relatively toothless in enforcing Article 9 of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. These bodies prefer to refer cases of possible religious repression or violation of freedoms to individual (possibly offending) states.43
There are several independent sources of this ongoing European NRM/ACM controversy that we can triangulate. First, of course, there is the body of ACM correspondence detailing its dynamics. We estimate that we have presented as evidence here no more than half the larger body extant in the CAN files. Second, there are published analyses by scholars (not ACM activists) who deal with issues of NRM liberties versus state policies in Europe. These would include books by legally trained researchers, such as Religious Liberty in Northern Europe in the Twenty-First Century (edited by Derek H. Davis) and L'activisme anti-sectes de l'assistance à l'amalgame (by French attorney Alain Garay), as well as a number of articles in such outlets as the Journal of Church and State and Social Justice Research. These are not the works of countermovement propagandists but rather serious, objective expositions.44 Third, there is the voluminous journalistic coverage on a day-to-day basis of state policies and actions vis-à-vis NRMs in Europe (disseminated further on the Internet by CESNUR [Center for Studies on New Religions] in Italy). Fourth, there is the published "running account" of European state actions toward NRMs put out by (in particular) the Church of Scientology International in a series of books and magazines.45 While that church obviously has an interest in portraying itself as a victim of statesponsored discrimination, its narratives of the NRM controversies are nevertheless meticulous and verifiable.
By 2000 ADFI, UNADFI, and FECRIS had accomplished in France what North American anticultists had struggled unsuccessfully to accomplish: not merely arousal of societal and national governmental concern over NRMs but an actual law, to be considered by the French National Assembly, that would literally provide the state with the means to dissolve any NRM that it chose. The tradition of church-state separation had always proven a stumbling block to the American ACM; not so in France. Steven T. McFarland, executive director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (created by Congress in 1998 "to give the issue a higher profile in American policy") described the state of religious freedom internationally (not just in France) as "pretty depressing.46 The 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, speaks specifically of France and "an atmosphere of intolerance and bias against minority religions."47 The major issue about NRMs in France by the mid-1990s had become the fear that they engaged in "mind manipulation" (later rephrased by ACM activists as "a state of subjection"). Given intense efforts by the North American anticultists to export the "mind control-brainwashing" model, propped up as it has been by only narrowly accepted behavioral science opinion, one can lay the responsibility for the cultivation of this issue at the feet of the missionizing Americans. Here is a brief chronology of how the official French reaction proceeded.
In 1995 the French National Assembly created a parliamentary commission (alternately known as the Gest, or Guyard, Commission depending on whether one referred to Gest, the chair, or Guyard, the rapporteur) to investigate "sect" issues in France.
In 1996 the Commission released an extremely controversial report, defining sects in terms of the North American ACM's ideology, e.g., sects present physical and psychological dangers to members, prey on children and youth, break up families, and subvert government and public order. Such groups allegedly practice "mental manipulation" to obtain and retain members. The report identified (in a seemingly arbitrary way) 172 groups as problematic "sects." The list is diverse and curious, reflecting perhaps some xenophobic continuity about "imported" groups. For example, the Unification Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Scientology, and several small Evangelical groups were on the sect list. From the perspective of the religious groups so targeted, the Commission report appeared to be an ACM "set up": there were no full, open Commission hearings, no logical pattern of why a given group was nominated for the list, no direct mechanisms for a group to question its inclusion, and no way for a group to protest or remove its name from the stigma of the list. The report fueled anticult attitudes: (see http://www.cftf.com/french/Les_Sectes_en_France/cults.html)
Some religious groups reported that their members suffered increased intolerance after having been identified on the list. The Commission's findings also led to calls for legislative action to restrict the activities of sects, which the Government rejected on grounds of religious freedom. Instead, the Justice Ministry issued a directive to all government entities to be vigilant against possible abuses by sects and to monitor potentially abusive sect activities.48
Then in 1996 the French government formalized an Observatory on Cults and Sects for analysis and to formulate proposals for policies. The previous 1996 report was important to European anticultism: it suggested, among other measures, granting legal status to ACM groups like ADFI (permitting them to initiate legal action, or participate in same, against NRMs); narrowing legal bases for NRMs which applied for tax-exempt status and requiring them to reveal information on sources and handling of finances; establishing a government representative in each province to extend "sect information" to public officials; creating a permanent commission within the European Union to coordinate ACM activities; and developing strategies to monitor sect members' accessibility to professional training programs.
A key actor in these French official investigations and an illustration of North American-European ACM intellectual influence has been psychiatrist Jean-Marie Abgrall, appointed in 1996 to be a member of the Observatory. Abgrall has been active in testifying to commissions and helping prepare official reports in both France and Belgium and is an active ACM spokesperson to the European media (particularly television), despite his lack of actual research contact with NRMs. (This pattern is consistent with that of Abgrall's North American counterparts, such as Drs. Louis J. West, Margaret T. Singer, John G. Clark, Jr., and Michael D. Langone.) Abgrall has appropriated wholesale the North American ACM's "mind control/brainwashing" paradigm (minus the nuances of, say, a Benjamin Zablocki) in such books as his La Mécanique des Sectes. He quotes liberally from such vintage American ACM sources as Evan Hunter's CIA-inspired books employing the misnomer-metaphor "brainwashing" (discussed in Chapter Four) and Destructive Cult Conversion: Theory, Research, and Treatment, published by the AFFs Center on Destructive Cultism. (Psychiatrist John G. Clark, Jr. and psychologist Michael D. Langone were two of its primary authors.)49 (see http://www.cesnur.org/recens/SJR.htm)
Abgrall has unkind words to say about social scientists he views as "cult apologists," and as an "anticult apologist" he has some novel, if strained, interpretations of NRM practices. For instance, he characterizes Scientology's use of the "auditing" (counseling) procedure as akin to regressing the "PC" (preclear auditee) to a childlike dependency. (And Abgrall ultimately rejected the French Observatory on Cults and Sects as too "soft" on NRMs, choosing instead to urge (successfully) the government to create a "Mission to Fight Cults.") North American psychologist and veteran legal consultant Dick Anthony has provided a devastating critique of Abgrall's superficial assumptions, methods, and assertions and bluntly dismisses them as "pseudo-science."50 But in the current cultural climate where a majoritarian dislike of anything lumped into the NRM category exists, Abgrall's rather slanted views have been welcomed by those seeking a legitimate basis to restrict unconventional religions.
Moreover, J. Gordon Melton has observed that in February 1997 the Canton of Geneva (in the French-speaking part of Switzerland) issued a resolution calling for new national legislation to counter the "mind control" problem. (Recall that the Swiss delegation to the 1990 Paris International Meeting on Destructive Cults, organized and presided over by AFF, issued a proclamation calling for a compilation of ACM "mind control" research findings. See endnote 70.) That same year, with the testimony and encouragement of French psychiatrist Jean-Marie Abgrall, a Belgian parliamentary commission released a 600-page white paper which resembled similar reports placing 189 NRMs (not 173, as on the French version) on a (non-official) "sect" list."(This new Belgian list includes Quakers, the Assemblies of God, and the YMCA.) (see www.religioustolerance.org/rt_belgi.htm) About moves to create a trans-European sect observatory, which were suggested to the Council of Europe, Melton concludes:
The sentiments expressed in the European Parliament and the Council of Europe indicate a continent-wide revival of efforts to reverse the spread of new religions. Standing behind these sentiments is an intense resistance to the growing religious pluralism now generally observable in all the European nations.51
Meanwhile, French governmental response escalated. In 1998 the Observatory on Cults and Sects was replaced by the MILS (Interministerial Mission to Battle Against Sects), again to coordinate better information and official activities regarding minority religions. In 2000 the MILS issued a first annual report to the Prime minister (who, it will be recalled, had sent a representative to that year's annual AFF convention in the U.S.). The report was mixed in its themes, alternating between concerns of freedom of conscience and tolerating the existence of what are (in North American ACM terms) "destructive cults." (see www.cesnur.org/testi/fr2K_rapport.htm) That same year a bill became law allowing ACM groups to become parties (or plaintiffs) to court actions involving NRMs. The phrasing of the bill was vague. Comments Melton:
That bill which became law in June, 2000, allows associations that defend or aid an individual or a collective entity against a person or organization that is characterized as having the goal or the effect of creating or exploiting a psychological or physical dependence to have standing in judicial proceedings.52
Anticultism as a countermovement became institutionalized with state blessing.
The National Assembly initiated a Commission in late 1998 to investigate how "sects" obtain their financial resources. The following year a report was Issued (based on a data base of questionnaires previously sent to identified "sects"), and as a result in 2000 National Assembly Deputy Jacques Guyard (of the Gest/Guyard Commission) was sued successfully by groups claiming to have been slandered in the report. (see www.cesnur.org/testi/guyard_en.htm) The report was, by some accounts, shoddy, based on second-hand and indirect information. "Sects" such as the Scientologists publicly protested loudly in demonstrations.
But again, in spring 2000 the National Assembly easily approved a bill that would facilitate restriction of NRMs. (it had passed the Senate earlier in 1999.) This new bill called for specific criteria for the dissolution of "sect" groups (such as repeated complaints against a NRM by family members related to converts); prohibition of sects near "vulnerable" areas, such as schools and hospitals (similar to if they were pornography stores or strip clubs in the U.S.); no renaming or reorganization of dissolved "sects"; and (again) formal creation of the new crime of "mental manipulation." There were also proscriptions for fraud, illegal practice of medicine, false advertizing, and sexual abuse. One justice minister claimed the bill was "a significant advance giving a democratic state the legal tools to efficiently fight groups abusing its core values.53
There were more protests, not just by NRMs like Scientology but also by Christian, Islamic, and Hindu groups. At the same time, ACM spokespersons like Alain Vivien (who had teamed with psychiatrist Abgrall for the "Mission to Fight Cults" initiative) began to rethink the religious liberties implications of the bill as well as the "sect" list first developed in 1996, particularly after an array of French churches added their voices to the protests.54 ACM spokespersons fought back. A report delivered in February, 2000 to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin by the Interministerial Mission for the Fight Against Sects determined that the United States was excessive in giving protection to cults, a claim once made by Denmark's Johannes Aagaard and implying that the U.S. was at some point responsible for the entire "sect" controversy. Thus, by 2001 the ultimate legislative situation was still unresolved, and for many debating the merits of ACM initiatives the water had become considerably murky. [Note: After this paper was read, the French anti-cult law was finally passed, with cosmetic changes only, on May 30, 2001 and is now in force: see http://www.cesnur.org/2001/fr_law_en.htm ]
The church-state arrangement in Germany is more complicated than in France (where there is ostensible church-state separation), and in the German "cult wars" there is a particularly virulent antipathy toward the Church of Scientology (more so than to any other NRM) which in our view defies simple explanation. In fact, by the late 1970s a group Aktion Bildunginfurmation made opposing solely Scientology its raison d'etre (much like the early FREECOG of the United States in the early 1970s regarding the Children of God). With the release of an anti -Scientology book in 1979, AB "presaged a veritable cottage industry in German anti-Scientology publishing."55 ABs founder, Ingo Heinemann, has gone on to become director of AGFP and, as we've discovered in the CAN correspondence files, was in contact with CAN's Cynthia Kisser and before that with CFF officers. J. Gordon Melton has laid out a chronology of the effect of the 1978 Jonestown massacre and its horrific reaction by Germans,56 which prompted the Ministry for Youth, Family, and Health soon after to sponsor a study of members of new religions and their social networks. The European Centre for Social Welfare and Research in Vienna was assigned this research task, but when the findings did not confirm ACM-influenced expectations of deleterious NRM effects on members (as was reported about in other non-anti-ACM published investigations), they were largely shelved.
Germany, like France, has witnessed a succession of federal/state level inquiries, commissions, and ACM-inspired legislative bills. That country has also witnessed religious discrimination on a scale only dreamed of by North American ACM activists. There have been police raids on congregations of Pentecostals, alarmist state-sponsored pamphlets describing the dangers of Mormonism, expulsions from schools of children of Unification Church parents, job-hiring refusals to Scientologist because they were Scientologists, and expulsion or banning of Scientologists from political parties. This is the "dirty" reality behind the operationalization of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. So-called "psycho cults" like Scientology as well as more traditional Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish groups have been caught up in the "sect-fear net."57 In addition, certain artists (who happen to be visible Scientologists) have had their work banned or boycotted with German government approval, such as movies of actors Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley and cancellation of concerts of musicians such as jazz artist Chick Corea.
The chronology we presented concerning French legislation is admittedly truncated; a complete history of either the French or German ACM initiatives would be, moreover (for both authors and readers) in this context unnecessary and tedious. The continental European experience in anticultism seems to have always been one of fear and suspicion of any group with an ultimate loyalty higher than that of the community, i.e., the state. We would need an entire additional volume just to trace the case of NRMs' experiences in the German Republic. For just one example of American lobbying influence in that region, AFF's The Cult Observer boasted in 2000 that
American Scientology critics Robert Minton and Stacy Brooks, the latter a former Scientologist, visited Hamburg earlier this year, at the invitation of the head of a German government study group on Scientology, Ursula Caberta, to tell the Interior Agency that Scientology is basically a market oriented corporation that only wants to make money. Scientology is reportedly building up its presence In Hamburg and the state government has actually issued warnings.58
Per this single, brief newsletter mention of American ACM activism reciprocating with its German counterpart, the actions of such individuals and the roles they have played in exporting American-style ACM ideology cry out for yet another extended countermovement chronology, not just a few paragraphs or pages.
As we indicated earlier, the former Federal Republic of Germany's official responses to NRMs began early in the 1970s as North American ACM efforts to proselytize "mind control" ideology outside the U.S. occurred (at least) by the later 1970s. Some scholars have regarded the German reaction to NRMs as no unique modern phenomenon. Rather, it is a part of a predictable historical trend. For example, in the year 2000 lawyer-historian Derek H. Davis reports that
in 1996 as part of a campaign denying certain commercial rights to Scientologists, the German Ministry of Employment issued a directive, still in force, to its Labor offices to mark all files on companies owned by Scientologists with an "S." ...Evidence is mounting that the German government's trampling on the liberties of its religious minorities in direct violation of several international human rights agreements into which it freely entered. ....The reemergence of such practices and German indifference to world opinion concerning these acts is profoundly ominous. A review of German history indicates similar beginnings to recurrent cycles of religious aggression that reflect a cultural proclivity to intolerance.... Modern parallels to past events indicate that Germany may be further in the current "cycle" than is commonly acknowledged.59
There is a documented collection of such discriminatory instances compiled by the Church of Scientology, the German ACM's bête noire, and a group which has often been the recipient of government surveillance and discrimination. Obviously this NRM has a self-interest in cataloguing its negative experiences of rejection, styled as persecution, in Germany. However, it has had little need historically to manufacture much in the way of discrimination reports. In its booklet What America Needs to Know About Discrimination in Germany, published in 1977 by the Church of Scientology International and sent to an undoubtedly broad list of academics, a variety of violations of the German constitution in job discrimination, artistic repression, and even school children's attendance are detailed in case studies. They read (perhaps deliberately) like cases of early Nazi repression. The booklet's sample delineates cases of discrimination against Church members beginning in the early 1990s: political (19); civic [state and municipal] (53); boycotts [of Scientology- related businesses] (131); expulsion from political parties (9); denunciations, condemnations, and political sect-rivalry acts by mainline denominations (23); acts of artistic discrimination (14); job dismissals because of Scientologists' beliefs or Church affiliation becoming known (30); discrimination against Scientologists' children in schools (9); bodily assaults against Scientologists and vandalism of their properties (38); and murder/bombing/kidnapping threats (41). Assuming this is indeed merely sample of acts against one group, one has only to imagine what scale of discrimination would emerge if similar data were collected by other NRM groups. In the United States we would regard Germany as experiencing a shocking wave of NRM hate crimes.
The quintessential example, again directed primarily at Scientology, has been the so-called "sect filter" or religious test. Applicants for public and private employment would have to acknowledge any involvement in a variety of sects, for the purpose of overt discrimination, non-hiring, non-promotion, and so forth. Businesses can demand that their own non-political version of the "sect filter" (commonly referred to as a "technology statement" but prepared for them by the government) be presented to employees. (See http://www.cesnur.org/testi/scient_germ2k.htm)
A related controversy arose when it became known that part of the Microsoft Corporation's Windows 2000 software had been developed by a firm run by a Scientologist, Executive Software International Inc. The issue was a in a mainframe feature called a disk defragmenter that helps hard drives operate more easily. Microsoft ordered that part of Windows 2000 removed as a capitulation to the "sect filter."60 (Actually Microsoft Germany, under pressure from German government officials, posted on the Internet a means, somewhat complicated, whereby owners of Windows 2000 could dismantle the defragmenter if wished.) The office of "Sect Commissioner" has been institutionalized in various areas of Germany and illustrates the fruits of North American- European ACM cooperation.
In October, 2000 spokespersons for the Church of Scientology wanted to prohibit the Hamburg Interior Agency from permitting sect commissioner Ursula Caberta to continue her agency's practice of monitoring Scientology after the AGS (Interior Agency's Work Group on Scientology) allegedly accepted a private loan from U.S. Millionaire Robert Minton. (Recall that Minton and an ex-Scientologist apostate journeyed to Germany to meet with Caberta earlier that year.) The issue, claimed Scientologists, was one of accepting bribes and favors since Caberta had been previously invited by Minton (at Minton's expense) to the U.S. For "informational reasons."61
Meanwhile, German investigations and white papers dealing with NRMs have been as subject to political and bureaucratic factors as the U.S.'s FBI and BATF analyses of their own actions in the Branch Davidians standoff in Waco, Texas. Career interests, popular prejudices, and agency protectionism have become familiar issues.62 Hubert Seiwert, a Professor of Comparative Studies and Director of the Institute for the Study of Religion at Leipzig University, reports on this tendency. He served on an Enquete Commission to investigate and report on "so-called sects and psycho groups" established in 1996 by the federal government. He recounts the politics, disagreements, and compromises that members of the committee, with very different backgrounds and assumptions, brought to the effort. He refers to the "Great Scientology Scare" and how that NRM became a prototype by which others labelled "sects" have been stigmatized. (The same was true in the North American ACM, only there the Unification Church served as the prototype for all "cults.") Despite "an almost complete lack of evidence" for "mind control", the stereotype of dangers sects have continued beyond the Enquete.63
But as we've said, our purpose is not to chronicle the entire German NRM experience. If Derek H. Davis is correct, this ACM-propensity may be ingrained in German society. Rather, we are interested in North American missionizing efforts for which we have found considerable evidence. We offer the following summaries:
First, the early German ACM of the late 1970s was fixated on how NRMs would siphon youth out of mainstream society and thus deplete societal resources to support the previous generation (as well as for those youths in their declining years). It was originally a socio-economic concern, not a psychological one. The North American ACM helped change the discourse of concern to "mind control."
Second, German religious activists, with American encouragement, have been able to shape the definition of the NRM controversy because they are effectively part of the state apparatus. The Institute for the Study of American Religion's director, Dr. J. Gordon Melton, has best described it:
Of the several European countries, Germany provided the most fertile ground for growing anticultism. The Lutheran Church lent its support through its Office for Sects and Ideologies, the base of operations for Pastor Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack. The author of numerous books and pamphlets, Haack attacked what he termed the Jugendreligionen [youth religions] for their drawing young people away from their careers and any responsible position in society, an argument which found more favor in Europe than in North America. The Lutherans were joined by the German Roman Catholics as well as the government's Ministry for Youth, Family and Health which provided needed financial support for APGF concerns.64
Third, as we have shown, North American activists have aggressively and successfully proselytized a psychological model of religious affiliation that failed to be accepted by most professionals and politicians in their own country but which proved politically useful to European governments with less civil libertarian traditions. Just as evangelical Americans found it righteously imperative to form Bible-based missionizing societies to Asia and Africa during what historians call the Second Great Awakening,65 so ACM activists in North America have felt the same call if only to vindicate their stances in the NRM controversy.
Fourth, there is an indisputable political dimension to this controversy in Germany. Part of it has to do with state-enfranchised churches that do not relish competition, particularly when their own voluntary member participation is so dismal. Part of it also is pure xenophobia. The previously cited example, aimed at the Church of Scientology, has been the "sect filter." The U.S. Trade Representative took the Germans to task in 2000 for such practices and the U.S. Congress Committee on International Relations has addressed such issues. That year at a three-day conference at Brigham Young University, Utah's Senator Orrin Hatch, whose own religion (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has been no stranger to violent persecution, denounced events in France and Germany. He compared the original commission in France that essentially "black listed" 172 "sect groups" as a "dangerously broad weapon for fighting unpopular religious groups."66
In sum, to European ACM activists the primary danger traditionally was that allegedly totalitarian groups somehow are able to remove individuals from contributing to the social good; to North American anticultists the problem has been that some groups possess a not publicly understood power to subvert individual free will. These two views have coalesced, to the mutual social movement benefit of both but particularly for the American anticultists who are trying to preserve an ideology with some popular staying power but minimal scientific legitimacy.
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