Like for the "No to Saddam, No to Bush" slogan, the cult problem does not justify spin and lies in the attempt to solve it. While cults can represent a danger from the minority to the majority, anti-cult groups can represent oppression to minorities. They also reinforce each other's fanaticism. On the other hand, cults try to address a need society can't answer, and anti-cult groups rightly point to the danger of this approach without safeguards. Together they can help us find a truer form of spirituality.
My position regarding the Scientology issues is very similar to the "No to Saddam, No to Bush" slogan to be found in Europe and other parts of the world.
Cults may be a problem, but the abusive use of force and the use of spin and lies in the attempt to solve it is unacceptable as well.
Besides, while cults can develop a relatively coherent but false system, the anti-cult approach does pretty much the same. The difference is that the anti-cult danger and fallacy goes more unnoticed because closer to the mainstream view of society at large. While cults can be said to represent a form of danger from minorities to the majority, anti-cult groups can be said to represent a form of oppression from the majority towards these minorities. In no way is it less dangerous, less ugly.
On top of this, cults and anti-cult groups mutually re-enforce each other's fanaticism. The use of exaggerations and lies to counter cults is viewed by them as further injustice and they contract further more, giving more reasons to anti-cult groups to be alarmed. This is the kind of situation that potentially leads to Jonestown and Waco tragedies.
This being said, it is interesting to note that it also works the other way around. While cults and anti-cult groups are both wrong, somewhere they are also both right. This would be viewing the situation from a positive aspect rather than a negative one.
Cults answer to a need that society at large and a sclerosed church cannot fill. They awake in their members the deep-seated idealism and urge to live a fuller and more useful life. On the other hand, anti-cult groups rightly point to the dangers this approach entails when led without due safeguards. A more measured anti-cult movement could lead one to adopt a truer spiritual approach, and what they fundamentally say is far to be without merit.
The problem, of course, is that while each side see their own positive aspects, they are oblivious to their negative ones. When they get attacked for their negative aspects, they feel they get attacked for their positive ones. They thus defend and bite, and become even more cultish than they were.
The situation is thus a complex one. Neither the simplistic "solutions" of cults nor the simplistic "solutions" of anti-cult grups are acceptable. At the same time they can both teach us something about our own failings and it would be wrong to reject them out of hand. The lessons of cults can lead us to a fuller and more intense form of spirituality, while the lessons of anti-cult groups can help us drive this flame in a safer and truer way. We need thus reject both of them in what they carry of unseen dangers, but we also need to consider what they carry in positive messages.
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