Extreme groups are of course the primary responsibles in
case of mass suicides or in case of other forms of violence on
their part, but the confrontational approach of anti-cult
groups have for effect to worsen the groups' paranoia and push
them towards an irrevocable decision.
The "investigation" of Leo Ryan in Jones' camp in
1978, with NBC camera et all, helped
to precipitate the Jonestown tragedy.
In Waco, the FBI and BATF, made
hysterical by alarmist rumors from anticultists, have most
probably caused the tragedy in which 75 men, women, and
children were burned alive.
The following post
shows the same kind of confrontational approach at work
towards the Heaven's Gate, how it prevents the possibility of
a peaceful resolution of conflict but on the contrary helps to
reinforce the group's feeling of estrangement from the outside
society. The post was made by an Heaven's Gate member in the
alt.religion.scientology newsgroup, to thank Scientologists
for having busted CAN.
Subject: Thanks for
Actions Against CAN
From: "lah" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here's a round of applause to the Church of Scientology for
their courageous action against the Cult Awareness Network.
From our point of view, no group was as "off" in
their judgment of others as was CAN. No group was as out of
place in their
condemnation of the innocent as was CAN.
They accused our group of "cult activities"
promoting all sort of lies about us. When we asked to speak
with them to correct some of their false accusations, they
refused to listen. Their only desire was to see our financial
records and ironically, we really have no finances to speak of
at all. They exerted no effort to determine the facts even
when those who could most accurately provide those facts were
literally at their doorstep.
We hope you will continue to advertise on behalf of freedom of
thinking for all.
History proves that nearly every conceptual milestone now
considered "good" was at one time considered a
"cult." In the early/inception stages of any
significantly updated thinking, it seems that some embodiment
of narrow-minded opposition takes it upon themselves to
threaten its right to exist.
So thanks again from all of us determined to continue the
search for Truth through alternate paths. And thanks from
those who support the right of others to do so as well.
That the feeling of
estrangement, alienation, and incomprehension played a role in
Heaven's Gate members decision to rejoin "home" can
be seen through the following excerpt taken from their website
and in which they explain how their rejection by the usenet
community (something quite natural taken the nature of this
media) has comforted them in their idea that there was nothing
remaining to be done for them down here on earth..
Then on September 25-26, 1995,
from a secluded location, we issued a statement that went out
- "on line" - around the globe, for our sixth public
interaction. The statement entitled "Undercover 'Jesus'
Surfaces Before Departure" was posted to the World Wide
Web and to 95 UseNET newsgroups on the Internet, potentially
reaching millions simultaneously. And in keeping with our
policy of "speaking in tongues," on October 11,
1995, we posted a higher, more generic translation, entitled
"'95 Statement by an E.T. Presently Incarnate." The
response was extremely animated and somewhat mixed. However,
the loudest voices were those expressing ridicule, hostility,
or both - so quick to judge that which they could not
comprehend. This was the signal to us to begin our
preparations to return "home." The weeds have taken
over the garden and truly disturbed its usefulness beyond
repair - it is time for the civilization to be recycled -
Of course, the rather
negativist nature of usenet in general can't be blamed on
anyone, but then usenet isn't a cult-watching organization
supposed to resolve conflicts and prevent cult tragedies.
Alas, CAN wasn't anything like it either, and on the contrary,
increased the conflicts and the potential for
violence. Waco, that anticultists helped to bring about, was
only one of the events seen threatening by the group. The
threat of false arrest, kidnapping and deprogramming, was
looming in their mind as well. This, combined with the groups'
natural paranoia and its strange beliefs, helped to shape
their resolve. At first a remote possibility, it became
dreadfuly real as events mounted up to their final conclusion.
The following excerpt from
their website shows this peculiar combinaition:
Another possibility is that,
because of the position we take in our information, we could
find so much disfavor with the powers that control this world
that there could be attempts to incarcerate us or to subject
us to some sort of psychological or physical torture (such as
occurred at both Ruby Ridge and Waco).
It has always been our way to
examine all possibilities, and be mentally prepared for
whatever may come our way. For example, consider what happened
at Masada around 73 A.D. A devout Jewish sect, after holding
out against a siege by the Romans, to the best of their
ability, and seeing that the murder, rape, and torture of
their community was inevitable, determined that it was
permissible for them to evacuate their bodies by a more
dignified, and less agonizing method. We have thoroughly
discussed this topic (of willful exit of the body under such
conditions), and have mentally prepared ourselves for this
possibility (as can be seen in a few of our statements).
However, this act certainly does not need serious
consideration at this time, and hopefully will not in the
The true meaning of
"suicide" is to turn against the Next Level when it
is being offered. In these last days, we are focused on two
primary tasks: one - of making a last attempt at telling the
truth about how the Next Level may be entered (our last effort
at offering to individuals of this civilization the way to
avoid "suicide"); and two - taking advantage of the
rare opportunity we have each day - to work individually on
our personal overcoming and change, in preparation for
entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
The cult/anticult drama that members on each side go through
on a daily basis only becomes visible for the public at large
when it mounts up to mass tragedies. The public is very often
unaware of the whole background that precedes these tragedies
and unilaterally blames the religious groups. The role
anticultists had in them remains occluded, while the same
anticultists capitalize on the events to further their agenda
of fear and hysterical reaction in the public and among
authorities. Thus, the vicious circle keeps on widening.
It is only by becoming aware
of the situation as a whole, that is, the
situation that involves both the cults and
its mirror, the anti-cult movement, that we can hope to better
understand the dynamics that are really at play behind these
events, with the hope of having a better chance to prevent