The Crisis of the U.S. Anti-Cult Movement: Cult Awareness Network Loses its Appeal

On April 8, 1998 the United States Court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit in SanFrancisco upheld the first degree verdict against the Cult Awaraness Network (CAN) -- the largest U.S. anticult organization -- in the Jason Scott case, involving the deprogramming of a young Pentecostal. CAN is now required to pay Scott $875,000 in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages plus interest from 1995. The Court of Appeal confirmed CAN's responsibility in the organization of "involuntary" deprogramming and stated that CAN members routinely referred people to deprogrammers. The full text of the decision is available on this CESNUR Web page.

In 1995, following the first degree verdict, CAN filed for bankruptcy and its name and telephone number were purchased by the Foundation for Religious Freedom, a coalition of religious liberty activists including among the most active members some dedicated Scientologists.

Scott had changed his mind a number of times about his attempted deprogramming, giving the (former) directors of the bankrupted CAN some hopes to be back in business. The San Francisco decision will now make these attempts more difficult. Dr. Massimo Introvigne, managing director of CESNUR, commented that the decision "is another crucial blow to the credibility and the very existence of an organized anti-cult movement in the U.S. Its effects will sooner or later be felt also in Europe".

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Sat, Dec 11, 1999