1982: Kansas Deprogramming Bill

18 Feb: Kansas moving to allow parents to deprogram kids      20 Feb: Inhumanity of Deprogramming
20 Feb: Anti-Cult Bill Is Dangerous

4 Mar Deprogramming: Right or Wrong?

16 Mar Parents Back Anti-Cult Bill 16 Mar Parents urge panel to OK bill on "mind control" cults
17 Mar Cult bill called a threat to religions 18 Mar Be Careful

The bill was ultimatedly defeated, but it is important to know about its historical background.


Kansas moving to allow parents to deprogram kids

Miami (Florida) News
18 Feb 1982
Associated Press


6 TOPEKA, Kan. - The state House has passed a bill that would make Kansas the first state in the nation to give parents the right to retrieve their children from religious sects and have them deprogrammed.

The bill, which goes to the Kansas Senate, was prompted by a case involving a 19-year-old Manhattan, Kan., woman, Dee Dee Tillman. Last April, she joined the Maranatha Campus Ministries International, a 10-year-old Florida-based religious organization with about 3,000 members on 52 U.S. campuses.

Concerned over changes in her behavior, her parents "kidnapped" her in September and took her to a farmhouse in central Kansas where she was deprogrammed by a psychologist.

Before yesterday's 98-27 vote, a young man identifying himself as Lowell E. Mitchem handed out packets of information to House members. Mitchem said he recently came to Kansas as state director of the Unification Church, one of the groups targeted by the bill.

"This bill constitutes a potential threat to the unrestrained practice of our religious freedom as defined by the First amendment ..." Mitchem said in a statement included in the packet.

The measure allow parents or guardians to take their children from a religious group for 30 days if they obtain a court order. During that time, a hearing would determine whether the person was capable of making decisions on his own or needed psychological treatments or deprogramming.

Parents or guardians would have to petition a district court to obtain authority to retrieve their children, and that would require a hearing before a judge.

 
The state House has passed yesterday a 98-27 bill that would make Kansas the first state in the nation to give parents the right to retrieve their children from religious sects and have them deprogrammed.

 

 

 

The measure allow parents or guardians to take their children from a religious group for 30 days if they obtain a court order. During that time, a hearing would determine whether the person was capable of making decisions on his own or needed psychological treatments or deprogramming.

 


Anti-Cult Bill Is Dangerous

Wichita (Kansas) Eagle
20 Feb 1982


Legislation that would allow Kansas parents to remove their adult children from religious groups is laden with dangers. Unfortunately, the House has seen fit to pass this constitutionally questionable measure. Either the Senate or the governor should see to it the bill does not become law.

The measure would permit parents to have their adult children removed from a religious group for a period of 30 days. During that time, court hearings would be held to determine if the person in question had been brainwashed and was in need of "deprogramming". Kansas would have the dubious distinction of being the first state in the country to pass such a law. A similar bill twice won the approval of the New York State Assembly, but Gov. Hugh Carey wisely vetoed the legislation each time.

Not the least of the problems with this proposed law is its infringement on constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion. Presumably, the measure is intended to be a deterrent to the religious cult phenomenon. Laws, however, can't single out specific religious groups, and all religions would be subject to any provisions that are passed.

Equally sticky would be even defining what is or is not a cult, and what degree of adherence to religious beliefs would constitute "brainwashing." What is considered a cult today could be viewed as a recognized religion in the near future - and conceivably, the reverse also is possible. Supporters of the bill argue unconvincingly that "established" religions would not be threatened. Whose "established" religions?

We understand the anguish of parents and other family members who see loved ones go "astray" - as the former see it - but that it is a matter that must be dealt with on the personal, and spiritual, level. Passing a law won't solve the problem.

 

 

A similar bill twice won the approval of the New York State Assemble, but Gov. Hugh Carey wisely vetoed the legislation each time.

 

 

 

Supporters of the bill argue unconvincingly that "established" religions would not be threatened. Whose "established" religions?

 

 

 

It is a matter that must be dealt with on the personal, and spiritual, level. Passing a law won't solve the problem.

Inhumanity of Deprogramming

Whichita (Kansas) Eagle
26 Feb 1982
Forum
Connie Copeland


8 I wonder if the general public realizes what a person has to go through to be deprogrammed.

Have you ever experienced it? Of course not. Can you imagine what it would be like to be shut up in a closet for days, to be stripped of your clothing and all your identity? Please think about it.

The House of Representatives in our wonderful state of Kansas passed a bill to that effect recently.

An adult child could be subjected to deprogramming not because he or she committed a crime, but for the simple reason that he or she chooses to worship God contrary to the parents' teachings.

I am now a proud grandmother, and I shudder to think what would have become of me if my parents had done that to me when I chose a religion other than theirs. I thank God my folks understood me and loved me in spite of the embarrassment I must have caused them.

Perhaps, if there were such a law then, my other relatives might have talked my folks into having me deprogrammed.

Deprogramming is mean, abusive and inhuman. I cannot see how we can stand by and allow this to become a law in this wonderful state of Kansas. I love it here, and always thought our state was the best in the Union, because we have a sense of pride and love for our fellow men.

To think that an adult-age child could not have the freedom to worship God or not to worship God! What's going to come next?

 

 

 

To think that an adult-age child could not have the freedom to worship God or ot to worship God! What's going to come next?

Deprogramming: Right or Wrong?

Salina (Kansas) Journal
4 Mar 1982
Opinion


6 In recent weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Kansas House of Representatives have tackled the knotty subject of "deprogramming" youths who have joined religious cults.

The results were quite different.

The Supreme Court refused to take up a case in which deprogramming was involved. The justice rejected an appeal by two alleged deprogrammers accused of abducting Thomas Ward of New Yord City, a member of the Unification Church headed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The court action leaves intact a circuit court of appeals ruling that allows Ward to sue his parents and the deprogrammers on charges of violating his First Amendment rights, which guarantee freedom of religion and freedom of choice.

He claims that, at the instigation of his parents, he was kidnpaeed, held captive, stripped to his shorts and subject to "continual harangues, lectures and readings against the Unification Church, some lasting as long as 18 hours."

On the other hand, the Kansas House last week overwhelmingly passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would allow parents or other relatives of youths over 18 to seek legaltemporary guardianship if they think religious cults have brainwashed them. An amendment would allow relatives to supervise and guard the "victim" for up to 30 days, during which time deprogramming could be conducted.

Although we understand the anguish of parents whose children get involved in an off-the-wall cult and we sympathize with their dislike of such cults, the House bill raises some questions.

For one thing, couldn't such bills conceivably open the door to possible future persecution of other religious establishments and their members? Even Methodist, or Catholic or Episcopal or-?

And isn't it wrong to attack a "new" religion if the only reasons are that we don't like it and it is different fro the ones we know and love?

And, finally, although brainwashing of youths by a religious cult is despicable, isn't it also possibly reprehensible to kidnap and "re-brainwash" youths over 18 who may have joined a cult of their own free will?

 

 

 

Although we understand the anguish of parents whose children get involved in an off-the-wall cult and we sympathize with their dislike of such cults, the House bill raises some questions.

Parents Back Anti-Cult Bill

Wichita (Kansas) Eagle
16 Mar 1982
Robert Fisher


6 Dennis Carper was taking a double major at Kansas State University and was active in both school politics and music groups.

All that changed after dinner one night in the spring of 1973.

"His behavior changed," his mother, Mrs. Ivan Carpe of Newton told a Senate committee Monday. "He was reserved and not his usual outgoing self."

That dinner was given by a recruiting organization of the Unification Church, which Carper later joined, his mother said.

He later threw away all his highschool awards and "everything that had any connection with his past. He spoke of growing up again in the group," she said.

Carper spoke in favor of a bill to let parents regain temporary custody of their adult-aged children so they could be removed from the cults and deprogrammed.

"We decided that we could no longer, as concerned parents, turn our back on a son who was being forced psychologically to use his talents and energies under the complete control of a person whose motive was personal gain," she said.

Eventually, Dennis was removed from the group with the hilp of his parents.

Carper and some other parents and former cult members who spoke Monday had also testified last month before a House committee on the same bill. The House approved it, but there is organized opposition as the bill moves to the Senate.

The Kansas American Civil Liberties Union will be pulling together much of the testimony against the bill. Its lobbyist, Bryan Krantz, said arguments from law and philosophy professors will center on charges that the bill is unconstitutional and too vague.

Fears of illegality were raised during House debate, but it still passed, 98-27.

 

 

 

Carper and some other parents and former cult members who spoke Monday had also testified last month before a House committee on the same bill.

Parents urge panel to OK bill on "mind control" cults

Kansas City Times
16 Mar 1982
Associated Press


6 TOPEKA - Virginia Hulet and Frances Fanshier share an experience one uncommon to most people. Both have rescued daughters from what they describe as "mind control" practiced by religious cults.

The two women, along with several other parents and some former "cult" members, recounted their stories for the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. All urged the panel to approve a bill enabling parents to legally retrieve their children from "mind control" groups for deprogramming.

The loss of a loved one to a strange unknown phenomenon such as we experienced is devastating," said Mrs. Fanshier, whose daughter, Pam, became a member of the Rev. Sun Myung oon's Unification Church in 1975 while attending the University of Kansas.

Although the Fanshiers, who live in Great Bend, were able to talk their daughter into voluntarily leaving the Moonies, others such as Mrs. Hulet had to resort to another tactic.

The Hutchinson woman called it a "rescue," but she admitted to committee members that, legally speaking, it was kidnapping.

Mrs. Hulet's daughter, Ginger, and the daughter's three sons were part of the Divine Light Mission until their so-called rescue 3 1/2 years ago.

"After Ginger's rehabilitation, we received a beautiful letter from her thanking us for coming to her rescue as she said she could never left on her own," Mrs. Hulet said. "The last sentence of the letter read: 'You saved me from the walking dead.'"

Mrs. Hulet is coordinator of the Citizens Freedom Foundation, a group of more than 100 Kansas parents whose children have been or are members of "new religions" or cults, as the group calls them.

The organization is pusing for a bill that if enacted, would make Kansas the first state to give parents a clear legal right ot take their children from any group practicing "mind control" andhave them deprogrammed.

 

 

 

Mrs. Hulet is coordinator of the Citizens Freedom Foundation, a group of more than 100 Kansas parents whose children have been or are members of "new religions" or cults, as the group calls them.

Cult bill called a threat to religions

Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal
17 Mar 1982
Martin Hawver


7 Opponents of a bill designed to enable parents to retrieve their adult children from so-called cults said Tuesday they fear the bill would establish two clases of religions in the state.

Opponents included the parents of a physician who is a Moonie, the director of admissions at The Way College of Emporia and lawyers and psychiatrists. They testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Frank Flinn, a Harvard Divinity School graduate and now an author and editor, told the committee he doesn't believe the so-called groups use brainwashing or mind-control to catch and hold their members.

"They may use heavy persuation, but no more than you or I would get from a used car salesman," Flinn said.

He also questioned parent descriptions of rescuing their children from cults, saying "Isne't rescuing the same as the criminal felony of the worse kind, kidnapping?"

Flinn said he doubts that cults actually use coersion to make converts, and said if parents are really interested in making sure their children are alright, that "peaceful ecumenical dialogue" and not costly rescue operations are the answer.

Tim Miller, a professor of religion at the University of Kansas, said he's flatly upset at the bill, which he said is aimed at new, small, young religions.

"Are there going to be two classes of religion in the U.S., or just one?" he asked. "Conversions under peer pressure and threat of burning in hell is as American as apple pie."

He said the state has adequate laws against kidnapping, extortion, fraud, theft and involuntary servitude to prosecute persons who break the law, and there is no need for a special statute.

The bill, which already has passed the House, would allow ajudge to appoint a temporary guardian to arrange for deprogramming a person who is found to have undergone a dramatic change in attitude, behavior or manner because of misrepresentation or deceitfl coersive persuasion. A licensed psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker would supervise deprogramming.

The bill is designed to allow parents or other relatives to gain physical custody of a "mind-controlled" person to attempt deprogramming.

Bob Notte, a spokesman for Maranthon, which he described as a conservative campus ministry, questioned provisions of the bill which require a finding of "abrupt or drastic alteration" of values and lifestyle as the trigger to a finding that a person needs deprogramming.

"Moses' conversion after seeing the burning bush coulod be grounds for the provisions of this bill, because Moses' change was not gradual," he said.

Committee Chairman Elwaine Pomeroy, R-Topeka, told Notte that Maranthon was described in testimony Monday as a cult. Notte said he was "horrified to be compared to Moonies and Hare Krishna" groups.

He said his is a fundamentalist evangelical ministry.

Franck Herron, director of admission at The Way International, which purchased the former Presbyterian-related College of Emporia campus several years ago, said he is upset "that The Way was singled out as one of the groups at which this bill is directed."

He invited committee members to the campus.

"I am a staff member at the college and plan a carreer in the organization, and I find the bill not tasteful at all," he said.

Chet Johnson of Merriam and his wife, Ruth, told the committee their son, Dr. "Bud" Johnson, joined the Unification CHurch 2 1/2 years ago. After learning about the Moonie movement, they said they aren't upset at all.

Johnson siad he and his family went to California to a Unification Church camp, "met about 150 people ranging from church leaders to new members, and found them to be a dedicating, loving, alert, high-moraled group.

He said he saw no indications of mind-control or coercion. He said parents who express fears about their children joining the Moonies are parents wo have refused to vsit the church and talk to its members and leaders.

The committee took no action on the bill.

 

 

 

 

Opponents of a bill designed to enable parents to retrieve their adult children from so-called cults said Tuesday they fear the bill would establish two clases of religions in the state.

"Isne't rescuing the same as the criminal felony of the worse kind, kidnapping?"

Conversions under peer pressure and threat of burning in hell is as American as apple pie."

 

He said the state has adequate laws against kidnapping, extortion, fraud, theft and involuntary servitude to prosecute persons who break the law, and there is no need for a special statute.

 

"Moses' conversion after seeing the burning bush coulod be grounds for the provisions of this bill, because Moses' change was not gradual," he said.


Be Careful

Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal
18 Mar 1982


8 Two words of advice for the Kansas Senate as it considers a bill that would permit "kidnapping" people who join religious cults so they could be deprogrammed: Be careful.

Any issue as volatile and emotional as this one has tremendous divisive potential.

Speakers for and against the bill have had their say in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Arguments on both sides are persuasive, but one main danger point seems to stand out:

Even though advocates of the bill say otherwise, there could be constitutional question raised. In New Yord, Gof. Hugh Carey has vetoed similar bills twice because he did not think they would stand a challenge in court.

The bill under study here does indicate that lawmakers have considered constitutionality. As passed by the House, the measure would allow a judge to determine whether a person's personality or lifestyle had changed as a result of deceit or persuation. If the judge determined that it had, he could appoint a temporary guardian for 30 days to deprogram the person.

Legislation of this type creates a genuine dilemma. Everyone sympathizes with families whose children have been converted to follow a cult leader. The loss in many ways is greater than death.

The dilemma is that often our morality and ethics collide head-on with our political beliefs. The United States was founded on a number of freedom principles, one of which is freedom of religion.

And most everyone has an idea of what organizations they classify as "cults". But it's likely that people in the 16 century regarded Martin Luther as a fanatic cult leader.

There is great danger inherent in legislation which are "right" religions and which are "wrong" ones. As abhorrent as cult trickery may be, if we are to advocate freedom of religion, we have to advocate it with not qualifications.

Our society's strenght is in permitting all viewpoints, eventhose with which we disagree, to be heard. And that principle should be uppermost in the Senate's mind a it weighs this explosive issue.

 

 

 

 

Any issue as volatile and emotional as this one has tremendous divisive potential.

 

And most everyone has an idea of what organizations they classify as "cults". But it's likely that people in the 16 century regarded Martin Luther as a fanatic cult leader.

 

There is great danger inherent in legislation which are "right" religions and which are "wrong" ones. As abhorrent as cult trickery may be, if we are to advocate freedom of religion, we have to advocate it with not qualifications.

[TO BE CONTINUED]


 

Back to the Anti-Cult Page