Anti-Cult Propaganda in French Public Schools
Anti-cult hysteria in France now involves public schools. Fourth grade students in junior high schools are subject to anti-cult propaganda and atrocity tales, as evidenced by this section of the manual of Civil Education "Education Civique - 4e" by Dany Feuillard, Jean-Pierre Rosenczveig, and Jean Menand (Paris: Hachette, 1998, pp. 18-19). The authors thank Alain Vivien, currently president of the governmental Mission to Fight against Cults, for his assistance, and quote inter alia from Hayat El Mountacir of the French anti-cult association ADFI. We thank Willy Fautré, of Human Rights Without Frontiers, for bringing this text to the attention of CESNUR and first protesting its use in French schools. Commenting on the section on brainwashing in this manual, Dr Benjamin Zablocki, a leading academic exponent of brainwashing theories in the U.S., wrote that it "proves that there can be fools on all sides of an issue. I totally disavow the simplistic theory presented in the paragraph" (quoted with permission).
"The Danger of Cults
Crimes and felonies perpetrated by cults often make headlines: suicides, killings, kidnappings, destroyed and divided families. Cults, however, continue to recruit, in every milieu and among persons of every age.
DOCUMENT 1: ATTRACTING AND LURING
In order to contact you, cults often hide behind a mask. They introduce themselves as a group of friends and offer a pleasant and caring hideout. They offer simple answers to your problems. A cult would never use force in order to recruit. You will meet a cult in an association it controls, such as an art school, a music school, a group offering help for your school duties, theatre, cultural conferences, etc.
"Who, when participating in a seminary introductory to Sahaja Yoga, in a public hall, in a school, would have foreseen such a result? Money and friends slowly disappear (...) [(...) in original]. We become nothing. The group becomes everything"
(A former disciple of Sahaja Yoga, in Hayat El Mountacir, Les Enfants des sectes, Fayard 1994)
DOCUMENT 2: BRAINWASHING MEMBERS
In order to indoctrinate new members, the cult "washes their brains" through methods of mind control. The cult destroys entirely their personality and critical thinking. It cuts them from family and friends. Members slowly come to accept literally everything without a second thought, just like robots.
"Every student feels like a link in a chain. He has no right to break solidarity with the group (...)[(...) in original]. If members were taken individually it would be impossible to persuade them to swallow up what they swallow up through the group"
(A former member of New Acropolis, op. cit.)
"When I arrived in the community, they said: Forget your way of thinking, your ideas, your opinions. Dont think. If you have any goods, any money, just give them to us. Regard work as a pleasure. Some members of our community even work at night"
(A former member of Tabithas Place, op. cit.)
DOCUMENT 3: THE GURU
Several cults claim to be "new religions" in order to appear respectable, and promote fanciful worldviews derived from science fiction or video games. The founder of the cult, the guru, rules the cult and orders members to comply with his own wishes and ambitions, as absurd as they may be.
"Even if what I say is a lie, you have nothing to lose by following this way of living. Lets assume that I have made up myself this new theory for the unification of the world, that God never thought of this theory. God himself would come down and walk with me in order to buy the theory from me"
(From a speech by Moon, founder of the Unification Church - in Les Sectes, coll. Les Essentiels, Milan 1996)
Claude Vorilhon, for example, is a former reporter, born in Vichy in 1946. He claims that in 1975 extraterrestrial beings called Elohim took him to their planet and asked him to become his messenger upon his return back to Earth. He takes the name of Raël, establishes the Raelian Movement and re-writes the Bible on the basis of science fiction. In order to re-establish the Garden of Eden, Raëls suggests to limit democracy. Only those with an IQ of 150 would be eligible for public office, and an IQ of 110 would be required in order to vote. The others will have no rights whatsoever.
DOCUMENT 4: CHILDREN IN CULTS
For a cult, a child is very important. His education in the group would convert him or her in a lifetime member. He or she will never know anything different from the group. Often children are separated from parents immediately after birth. Cut off from the external world, with no telephone, radio, TV or books, they are often mistreated and are routinely subject to sexual abuses. Compelled to work at a very early age, their mental (and, at times, physical) health is so damaged that they are unable to live outside of the cult.
"I had some dental problems (...)[(...) in original]. I needed a brace, but my mother told me: What for? Armageddon is near and when you go to Heaven youll have brand new teeth"
(A former Jehovahs Witness, in Les Enfants des sectes, op.cit.)
"When a child is born in Scientology, he or she is immediately separated from the parents, from the mother. The child is placed with a nani [sic], a very special kind of baby-sitter. She will keep the child in a group of some ten kids until they are 12 (...)[(...) in original]. The nani is there in order to give Scientology auditing and courses. Almost never do the parents see their children. After childbirth the mother is sent the very same day to a mission in a foreign country: theoretically for fifteen days, but they soon become three months. Same for the father"
(An ex member of Scientology, op. cit.)
DOCUMENT 5: CULT MONEY
Cults make billions by ruining members and by selling false spiritual and professional information. Cults soon become powerful financial holdings and diversify their activities. They establish schools or universities, buy real estate, start commercial ventures, organize exhibitions, etc. Since they do not always report their income, governments may prosecute them for tax fraud.
"Examples of Scientology costs (in the Paris Celebrity Center in 1995): dianetic audition (something similar to psychological counselling): FF 1.400; purification (one week of fasting with prescription of vitamins): FF 12.000; intensive auditing (in-depth process, duration 12,5 hours): FF 22.000; level 0 to IV in the Traning Academy for Scientologists: FF 69.000"
(Les Sectes, op. cit.)
1. How do the cults recruit their members?
2. What is the new cult member subject to?
3. What do cult members do? Why, in your opinion, is it so difficult to leave a cult?
4. Who is the leader in a cult? What does he or she compel the cult members to do?
5. What are children in cults subject to?
6. Where does the cult money come from? What do governments do against these organizations.? Do you think it is enough?"
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