|Of all the matters delegated to the study for
examination, the practice of deprogramming seems to come closest to being
a non-issue. The questions of legality and morality the practice raises
are not inconsequential. As well the subject is capable of generating
heated debate among anti-cultists and their nemeses. Indeed, the questions
involving deprogramming are fundamental and the debate about it sometimes
becomes inflammatory. Still, deprogramming is a virtual non-issue because
the practice -- at least as it is allegedly performed by Ted Patrick and
advocates of his technique -- seems to have diminished, perhaps
disappeared altogether, in Ontario.
To the study's knowledge, since 1975, eight deprogramming attempts involving abduction or assault in Ontario have been brought to the attention of the police. In 1977 the Minister of Manpower and Immigration banned Patrick from entering Canada to practise his skills. Moreover, as far as the study could discern, there never were more than two "professional" deprogrammers resident in Ontario, and both now seem to be out of the business. The more professionally established of the two, a Bible expert with an international reputation, explained that deprogramming was no longer profitable. In addition he told the study the demands on his time were too great for a family man and he could no longer tolerate threats to his person or threats of law suits he said he received from various movements.
It is possible that other deprogrammings have taken place in Ontario, but the likelihood of them occurring without media publicity or movement exposure is remote. Indeed, the Canadian cases used by movements in their anti-deprogramming propaganda, are so few that the same ones appear repeatedly and are beginning to look somewhat dated.
Still, deprogramming has been practiced here and could well recur. In addition, the study heard cogent arguments about deprogramming's advantages and disadvantages. Consequently, the study examined deprogramming in some depth and formulated conclusions regarding its legitimacy in the light of the law and civil liberties principles, proposals for legalizing it, and possible alternatives to it.
When deprogramming has occurred in Ontario, it often has entailed acts such as kidnapping, abduction, involuntary confinement and physical assault. In fact, the only charges police have laid, involving the movements and acts of violence, have been brought against participants in attempted deprogramming and not the movements.
In virtually all of these attempts, the deprogrammings were requested by parents and involved persons, who were legally adults. In such instances, the parents seem to have acted on what they believed to be their right to "reclaim" their "lost" children. They believed it was their responsibility, as parents, to safeguard their children from harm. The study recognized and could not help but be deeply moved by the awesome emotional impact that the "loss" of children to various movements had on many parents. The hostile radicalism of some groups, their closed nature and tendency to alienate children from parents, undoubtedly would make such a loss unbearable to many people and would prod them to take extreme measures. As Dr. Levine comments:
Back to the Ontario Report Index Page
Back to the Anti-Cult Page