|When the authenticity of faith is
determined by its presumed effects on body or psyche, the therapeutic
state is upon us, opponents of anti-cultists warn. Society delegates to
physicians the power to determine what is good for the body politic -- or,
perhaps more accurately, the spirit. Legitimacy of belief is based upon
how "well adjusted" its adherents seem to be.
Anc Cox said such a circumstance would mean the myth of healthy religion is at play, that is, the asdsumption that some faiths are healthy and some unhealthy. But those who propagate the myth fail to recognize that efforts to assess belief on the basis of whether it is healthy necessarily are tinged with cultural and class biases. Cox added that even by the most benign definition of healthy religion, the only faith that would meet criteria of normalcy prevalent in Western culture would be "conventional Christianity of a fairly cooled-out nature." It certainlywould not be fanatical, but would be geared to help a person get along well, perhaps even succeed, in a capitalistic-industrialist society. Cox said:
But even when movements do address allegations that their practices damage members' health, they contend that the evidence does not support the accusations. In their 1979 submission to the Attorney General, the Canadian Scientologists assailed claims that practices of mind development gorup had precipitated breakdowns requiring psychiatric intervention. The document said there had been only seven such cases reported over the previous four years. If suggested that even if one accepted that there was some link between the course and severe mental stress -- a link that had not been proved -- the caualty figures would not be meaningful. Stresses experienced by participants in the mind development program were portrayed as just a minor part of stresses in life. Statistically in view of the number of breakdowns they cause, these other stresses seemed of far greater consequence. Enumerating some of these other stresses, the Scientology document asked:
In interviews with the study, most clinicians, including most of those who felt movements did have negative effects on health, agreed that evidenceof suchlinks was extremely difficult to obtain and was inconclusive. Moreover, even when members broke down during their participation in various groups, clinicians admitted the breakdowns conceivably could have been precipitated in other situations by other stresses.