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Fear Breeds Intolerance

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 Critics

     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Fear Breeds Intolerance
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Brainwashing Myth
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Deny Hypnotism and Brainwashing
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Practices of Older Religions
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Myth of the Evil Eye
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) True Conversions
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Myth of Unhealthy Heresies
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Myth of Deception
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Myth of Subversion
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Movements as Victims
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Social Benefactors
ONTARIO
RECOMMENDATIONS
CONCLUSIONS
The illogic of the assaults on the movements is said to be reflected in other ways as well. Partisans on the other side say it also is manifested in the unwarranted virulence of the anti-cultists' campaign against a rather minor phenomenon. Bryant and Sawatsky, president of Canadians for the Preservation of Religious Liberty, caution in a recent publication:

... in a time when there are those in our society who would counsel alarm and hostility to these movements, it is wise to measure our concern against the relatively small size of these groups. Although it makes terrific copy to speak about those 'fast growing groups' whose membership is increasing by 'leaps and bounds' in a year, it does not necessarily give an accurate picture of the real state of affairs. Often such phrases as 'fast growing' means that a particular group has grown from 30 to 90 or from 100 to 400.

If there is so little foundation for the way the movements and issues that surround them have been portrayed, why, then, has so vociferous and widespread an opposition to them emerged? Groups and their allies say the answer simply is fear of the new or strange, and this fear breeds intolerance and provokes suppression. They are that movements represent a threat to some established ideologies, institutions, and interest groups in our society. The guardians of those establishments are simply responding in classical fashion by using tried and true techniques of minority persecution.

Ideologically, the conflict between the groups and the larger society is described by some as a clash between behaviorist influences that prevail in secular Western culture and the more "humanist" philosophies of the new movements. Proponents of this view argue that under the rule of behaviorist science, notions of man as a creature aspiring to freedom and completion of a higher purpose have been debased as unscientific and suspect. Instead, men have become convinced that they are machines or animals driven by sexual appetities, class interest, genetic programming, economic self-concern and other negative motivations. Accordingly, the social system rewards those who curb the animal side of their nature -- those who behave, achieve, and act responsibly. And the individual, imbued by behaviorist psychology with a sense of guilt and self-loathing, submits. Men fear themselves. And that self-hatred makes them obedient to the inequitable and suppressive social system from which they seek approval.

Most movements, on the other hand, are said to proceed from a difficult understanding of man's nature. Theodore Roszak, social historian at the California State University, explained: "They invite us to relax, enjoy, unfold; they permit us to assert our essential innocence. Indeed, it is by now notorious that the imported Oriental disciplines teach our inherent divinity." It is that notion of innocence that Roszak and others believe makes the movements seem so dangerous to many of their critics. As Roszak said:

Beyond the use of naked power, society has very little leverage with innocent people. It cannot manipulate or mystify them into endorsing their own subjugation. It cannot make them despite themselves and so bow down to their prescribed duty... I suspect that society built upon that conviction of innocence (if there should ever be one) would lack all the psychic compulsions on which industrial discipline is based. Innocent people are not submissive people. They will not suffer the punishment of an alienated existence as if they deserved to be condemned to that death-in-life. They are apt least of all to know themselves and to be themselves.

Analysing the clash-of-ideologies argument in different terms, Dick Anthony, a social scientist at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, said it is a distortion to characterize the conflict as one that pits secular, liberal society against conformist, anti-libertarian movements. He said U.S. -- and by extension, we can assume, Canadian -- society is highly conformist. For all their theoretical commitment to individual freedom, pluralism, and other such values, most members of society feel committed to a tacit covenant under which they conform to an unstated but clearly understood set of values. Anthony and others of this view say it is as though people were bound together by a firmly-established civil religion. And adherents of that religion are following a classical tradition in religious persecutions of castigating minorities for what really are the failings of society. As Anthony explained:

(Criticism of the movements) sounds as if we're just frankly individualistic and secular and we're uptight about these movements because they're conformist and involved in some sort of covenant. I don't think that's the rivalry. I think the rivalry is between one kind of covenant and a more frankly collectivist covenant, and that's why people find it meaningful or entertaining or interesting to seize upon a symbolic contrast group, a kind of scapegoating mechanism to shore up the conventional covenant.

This scapegoating theme is a common one in responses to anti-cultist attacks. It arises again in views expressed by Harvard divinity professor Harvey Cox at a 1977 Toronto conference on deprogramming. Cox said many of the chief criticisms of the movements are modern versions of standard myths, which have been used through the ages to harass and persecute adherents of minority beliefs. The content of specific myths will be elaborated later as responses to specific anti-cultist allegations are examined. Cox said myths about cultic brainwashing, deception, or other practices are society's defence mechanisms. He contented that the phenomenon of young people rejecting conventional life-styles to join radical groups reflects society's failures. But, rather than engage in introspection, society responds by scapegoating. As he said:

We can see (the movement), as appealing to a certain kind of idealism, simplicity, encouraging people to sacrifice, to work hard for higher objectives, whereas everything else in this society is saying, 'Get your degree, get your money, get your job, get your references, get rich, and so on.' Somehow or other, we do not want to face that alternative appeal, and so out of the depths of the collective psyche these myths emerge to protect us from just that kind of self-awareness and self-scrutiny.

In the analysis of responses to specific anti-cult allegations, effort has been made to follow topics discussed in the foregoing section. However, this can only be approximate at best because defenders and spokesmen of movements, groups, and organizations view some allegations as unworthy of comment, and other allegations are construed differently from the way they are set out by anti-cultists.

 

 

The illogic of the assaults on the movements is also manifested in the unwarranted virulence of the anti-cultists' campaign against a rather minor phenomenon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The answer simply is fear of the new or strange, and this fear breeds intolerance and provokes suppression ... The guardians of threatened establishments are simply responding in classical fashion by using tried and true techniques of minority persecution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adherents of that "unstated civil religion" are following a classical tradition in religious persecutions of castigating minorities for what really are the failings of society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Criticism of the movements sounds as if we're just frankly individualistic and secular and we're uptight about these movements because they're conformist and involved in some sort of covenant. I don't think that's the rivalry. I think the rivalry is between one kind of covenant and a more frankly collectivist covenant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the chief criticisms of the movements are modern versions of standard myths, which have been used through the ages to harass and persecute adherents of minority beliefs.

 

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