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New York Deprogramming Bill

Carey Kills Bill Allowing Removal of 'Coerced' Members from Cults

21 Jul 1981

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21 Jul 1981

New York, N.Y. Times

ALBANY, July 20 - Governor Carey announced today that he had vetoed a bill that would have allowed courts to appoint temporary guardians to remove people forcibly from cults.

The bill was aimed primarily at such religious groups as the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, which sponsors of the legislation contended, practices "brain washing" and other forms of "coercive persuasion" among its followers.

In a veto message, Mr. Carey said the bill would "subject people to the deprivation of their liberty and civil rights solely because of the their affiliation with a particular group."

Bill Called for Proofs

The bill would have permitted a parent, spouse or adult child of a cult member to seek a court order to have the person removed, provided the party seeking the order could prove that the group had committed "fraudulent or deceitful acts" and had engaged in "coercive persuasion."

The party would also have had to prove that the cult member had suffered "a psychological deterioration" that in turn had led to a loss of "substantial capacity to understand or control his conduct."

The Governor had vetoed another version of the bill last year but had said at the time that he would ask his counsel to work with the bill's sponsors "to determine whether constitutionally and legally acceptable legislation can be developed in this difficult area." His message today contained no such statement, indicating a stiffening of resistance to proposals that would empower the courts to remove cult members forcibly.

The bill also received many more negative votes in the Legislature this year than last, and it drew opposition as well from organizations representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish faiths and from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The bill drew national attention and Mr. Carey's office reported that the Governor had received "hundreds of letters and telegrams going both ways," some of them from as far away as California.

Governor Praised by Cult

In a statement issued in New York City today, the president of the Unification Church, Mose Durst, praised Mr. Carey for "showing great statesmanship" by his veto.

Assemblyman Howard L. Lasher, a Brookly, Democrat and the chief architect of the measure, vowed to try to obtain enactment of a cult bill again next year.

"The issue is too important not to see it through again," Mr. Lasher said. He said he believed that supporters of the bill had been "outflanked by the cult organizations," and that the established church groups had been "totally misinformed."

Opponent of the bill, he said, "made it appear to many of the religious organizations that it was a threat to them."

The Rev. Elenora Ivory, associate director for public policy of the New York State Council of Churches said the council had opposed the bill after "looking at it very carefully," being concerned about "the possible ramifications" for all religions.

Part 2

 


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