On December 22, 1997 the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs released this consolidated text (including all the amendments approved by the Committee) of the "Resolution on Cults in the European Union" . It was originally to be voted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg during the session of January 12-16, 1998. The text was rejected by the plenary of the European Parliament in July 1998 by a strange coalition of anti-cultists regarding it as too weak and religious liberty activists considering that this is not a matter for the European Parliament to decide. It has been sent back to the Commission (where it can possibly rest and die) for further consideration . This is not the Resolution in its final form, but the draft approved by the Committee and sent to the plenary of the Parliament for further amendments (if any) and voting. Posted by CESNUR, Torino, Italy. 




Resolution on Cults in the European Union  


The European Parliament 


- having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,


- having regard to the United Nations Declaration of 25 November 1981 on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief,


- having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,


- having regard to the recommendation of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly of 5 February 1992 on cults and new religious movements,


- having regard to the report of 20 December 1995 by the Committee of Inquiry set up by the French National Assembly on cults in France,


- having regard to the report of 28 April 1997 of the committee set up by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives on combating the illegal practices of cults and the dangers they present to society and the public, particularly minors,


- having regard to the interim report by the German Parliament Committee of Inquiry into 'So-called Cults and Psycho-Groups", 


- having regard to the Treaty on European Union, particularly Title VI, Article F and Article 129a, etc., 


- having regard to its resolution of 22 May 1984 on a common approach by the Member States of the European Community towards various infringements of the law by the new organizations operating under the protection afforded to religious bodies,


- having regard to its resolution of 8 July 1992 on a European Charter of Rights of the Child, 


- having regard to its resolution of 29 February 1996 on cults in Europe,


- having regard to its resolution of 8 April 1997 on human rights in the European Union,


- having regard to Rule 148 of its Rules of Procedure,


- having regard to the report by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs (A4-0408/97)




A. whereas the joint meeting of the committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs and representatives of the national parliaments held on 21 November 1996 confirmed and updated the information available to parliament at the time of its resolutions of 22 may 1984 and 29 February 1996 and proposed certain recommendations for action

B. whereas no further action has been taken on the recommendations in these resolutions to the Council and Commission, according to the information supplied by the Council and Commission,

C. whereas there is no legal definition of a 'cult' and, as in the resolution of 29 Feb 1996, the term does not carry any value judgement, and whereas the legal position with regard to State recognition of religious groups and cults varies greatly between the Member States, and whereas the formation of a cult is one of the fundamental freedoms of religion, conscience, thought and assembly,

D. whereas, therefore, any recommendation for action must concern only the problematic aspects and risks connected with the activity of certain cults, if they affect a person's physical and mental integrity or the social and financial standing, and whereas such behaviour must be the subject of intervention within all other kinds of organization, whether religious or not,

E. whereas, for reasons given under C and D and because such groups can emerge and disappear quickly, Parliament should not undertake to draw up a list of cults,

F. whereas the recommendations in the above resolutions to the Member States, together with national developments in some Member States, have led to increased information, education and advisory activities and in three Member States detailed investigations have been and are being conducted at national parliamentary level, resulting in reports and an interim report,

G. whereas State authorities can regard the existence of cults as problematic only when they threaten public order and/or the standard civil liberties, and whereas the representatives of national parliaments in most Member States regard the existence and activities of cults in their Member State as insignificant or unproblematic,

H. whereas only one Member State has conducted a representative survey on membership of or connection with cults and this survey produced very low figures, from which it may be assumed that these figures are not significantly exceeded in any other Member State,

I. whereas all Member States attach great importance to preserving the fundamental rights of freedom of religion, conscience and belief, freedom of opinion and freedom of association and assembly and whereas it is the task of legislative bodies and the courts to settle any conflict with other fundamental rights,

J. whereas in many Member States there is a worrying trend to discourage or prohibit cult members from working in the civil service,

K. whereas most Member States regard the present legal instruments as sufficient and the joint meeting unanimously rejected specific anti-cult legislation, but whereas the joint meeting also stressed that sufficient use was not made of the present legal instruments to combat criminal activities or breaches of tax or social security laws,

L. whereas the attraction of cults should be seen as the symptom of aprofound, social, moral and civic disquiet and in the light of a longing for a meaning and purpose in life, which for some people in today's scientific and technological society marked by individualism and the erosion of the traditional social fabric is no longer being satisfied by the traditional churches,

M. whereas the demands of today's work environment create a favourable climate for services offering help to overcome perceived individual failings or personality faults,

N. whereas the potential dangers of many cults primarily affect individuals, including young people, possibly damaging their mental and physical integrity or their social and financial standing, and whereas at present and on the basis of the available information there is no reason to fear that the firmly-established democratic institutions based on the rule of law in all the Member States are in immediate danger,

O. noting, nevertheless, the tragic events directly involving cults which have taken place in several countries and in particular France, Switzerland, Canada and Japan and which have involved cases of mass suicides of men, women and their children; whereas these facts cannot be ignored,

P. whereas priority should therefore be given to protecting individuals, including in their capacity as consumers through information, education and advice,

Q. whereas there is a need for objective information, particularly in schools on the problematic practices of some cults, but whereas State agencies or those supported by the State, in accordance with their constitutional position in each country, should refrain from adopting a biased attitude when providing information, education and advice and allow individuals to make a well-informed and independent choice, at providing help if they wish to leave a cult,

R. whereas detailed analysis and critical discussion of the teachings and philosophies of cults and the methods they use, as long as these are not illegal, presents a social and political challenge to which the recognized churches and religious communities, the political parties, consumer protection organizations and those supporting families and young people must respond and whereas if particular economic sectors and enterprises are affected, employers' and workers' organizations are also called upon to deal with this issue,

S. whereas State and private agencies need an international network to support their informational, educational and advisory activities,

T. whereas this task cannot be undertaken by Europol, as it is not within its general remit, although Europol has a central role to play in combatting criminal activities in the context of its current mandate which may be extended pursuant to article 2(2) of the Convention,

U. whereas, in view of the very different degrees to which this topic is regarded as a problem in the Member States and the lack of a quantitative and qualitative basis for a common European policy, there are at present not sufficient grounds for setting up a special EU agency on the problem of cults,

V. whereas, however, with regards to the commercial services which cults may offer on the 'psychological services' market, consumers should be protected against abuses, there may be loopholes in consumer protection laws at European level which should be scrutinized, and if necessary the present rules should be extended,

W. whereas member states activities on problems which are not consumer protection issues could be coordinated in the context of cooperation under Title VI of the TEU,

X. whereas there is continuing concern that the activities of cults and the possible dangers associated with them may be increasing and therefore a Europe-wide survey of quantitative data and more detailed investigation into these phenomena appears desirable and justified,

Z. whereas the Central and Eastern European countries now also increasingly face the problem of cults, and whereas these measures should also be extended to them and they should be helped in the context of PHARE and


TACIS to deal with such problems in a way which is compatible with fundamental rights, 


1. Stresses the importance of cooperation between the Member States, calls once more on the Council and Commission to act on Parliament's recommendations to them in its resolutions of 22 may 1984 and 29 February 1996 as the joint meeting on cults of the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs and representatives of the national parliaments has confirmed and updated the information available at the time of those resolutions, and affirms once more that freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of assembly are fundamental rights of a democratic State;

2. Calls on the Member States and the European institutions to take action only on the problematic activities of cults and in connection with their specific activities if they affect people's physical and mental integrity or social and financial standing, taking actions also when such behaviour occurs in other types of organization, whether religious or not, while fully respecting fundamental civil rights;

3. Calls on the Member States to lay down and maintain a number of stable criteria and minimum requirements in their policies for aid and subsidies, within the scope of their competence, in order to ensure the correct application of these subsidies for their lawful ends, and scrupulous compliance with all the legally established conditions;

4. Calls on Member States to apply penalties to members of cults only in relation to their individual illegal activities;

5. Calls on Member States where complaints over certain undesirable or problematic activities of cults are frequently being voiced to provide unbiased information, education and advice services, particularly for young people and families, to enable individuals to make a free and informed choice, and to provide support structures for those wishing to leave cults and for their families;

6. Calls on the Member States to apply existing legal provisions and instruments effectively and to ascertain whether there is sufficient provision, particularly in the areas of the law on associations, corporation law, tax and social security law and criminal law, to protect the public from unlawful activities and in particular to ensure that minors whose parents are members of cults are not cut off from the application of provisions intended for the protection of young people, such as those on welfare and education; reaffirms, however, that it considers inappropriate any specific legislation against cults as such;

7. Calls on the Commission, in the context of its competence in the area of consumer protection to investigate whether consumers need protection from abuse in connection with the commercial services which cults may offer in the 'psychological services' market and whether there are loopholes in European consumer protection law and if so, how these could be closed as a matter of urgency;

8. Calls on the Council and the Member States to consider whether, under Title VI of the TEU, support can be provided for the activities of information, education and advice centres in the Member States which require international cooperation and which come within the remit of Title VI, in particular, exchanges of information on names, methods and ramifications and with a view to finding missing persons;

9. Calls on the Commission or Eurostat to conduct a Europe-wide survey, including the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, of quantitative data on the phenomenon of cults and to invite those Member States which have no statistical data to collect such information;

10. Calls on the NGOs specialized in the protection of human rights to launch and support information and advice activities to enable every individual to choose freely on membership of any cult or new religious movement and in any case to enable the individual to leave freely when heor she so decides;

11. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide help in the context of PHARE and TACIS to enable the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to deal with cults in a way which is compatible with fundamental rights and to set up institutions providing information, education and advice;

12. Apart from these measure sees at present no need or justification to introduce a common European policy against cults or to set up a special European agency;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the member states and the Council of Europe.


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