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The Debate

Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario

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PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
HISTORY
DEFINITIONS
THE PHENOMENON
DEPROGRAMMING
THE DEBATE
qnote.gif (173 bytes) The Case Against the Groups
qnote.gif (173 bytes) The Case Against the Critics
ONTARIO
RECOMMENDATIONS
CONCLUSIONS

A slight young man, peering distractedly from under the visor of a baseball cap, spoke haltingly of his search for "peace of mind"in an Eastern religious movement. He was a 27-year-old graduate of chemical engineering described by his mother as brilliant. Yet, in an interview with the study, each question he was asked was followed by a long silence as he struggled to bring his intellect to bear on it.

By contrast, a former school teacher, an attractive and smartly-dressed woman in her mid-20s, spoke fluidly as she described her finding "oneness with God" in a new religious movement originating in Toronto. Looking like a young rising business executive, she was poised and self-confident in answering questions.

Whether the personalities these two persons presented to the study were to any extent products of the experiences in their movements could not be determined in a single conversation. On the surface, each fits a stereotype, perpetuated by one side or the other in an increasingly hostile debate about cults, sects, mind development groups, and new religions. The young man, battling to order his thoughts, appeared to personify the zombie-like characterization of a cult member so often cited by critics of movements. The former school teacher, radiating self-possession, seemed a walking demonstration of the inner peace groups say they bring to members.

The debate involves vested interests on each side enlisting some of the most potent minds and respected personalities from the fields of medicine, theology, psychology, the lax, philosophy, and sociology. Yet, it continues to be a controversy in which minds meet more in heat-generating conflict than light-producing discourse. On one side are the self-proclaimed anti-cultists, who accuse the groups of a broad range of abusive practices, which allegedly enslave members, undermine their mental health, destroy families, and threaten society as a whole. And some forces on the other side, notably representatives of the groups, deny such allegations and portray their movements as bearers of enlightenment. Additionally, they and others, some of whom may even question the groups' beliefs, depict movements as victims of the kind of persecution that classically has been visited upon all religious innovators by societies that had lost touch with man's spirituality.

Are the groups victimizers or victims? The debate unfolds as follows.

 
On the surface, each fits a stereotype, perpetuated by one side or the other in an increasingly hostile debate about cults, sects, mind development groups, and new religions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The debate involves vested interests on each side enlisting some of the most potent minds. Yet, it continues to be a controversy in which minds meet more in heat-generating conflict than light-producing discourse

 

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