A report produced by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs committee encourages the Parliament to address the problematic aspects of dangerous cults, such as mental and physical abuse, and dangers to public safety. The European Parliament is urging European Union states "to clamp down on religious cults which might harm young and vulnerable people... to ensure that information is made available about the dangers of cult membership," according to the Independent [July 11, 1998], of London.
Such cult-related preventative activity is rare for a government organization, despite the highly publicized cult violence over the last four years, the somber statistics of the little-understood problem, and the pending millennium, slated to spark more catastrophes.
Recent Cult Tragedies in the News
1994, more than 60 members of Europe's Solar Temple cult were induced to mass suicide in France and Switzerland.
1995, Japan's Aum Shin Rikyo cult released sarin nerve gas in Tokyo subway killing ten and injuring thousands. Only last month (June, 1998) testimonies from recent trials of Aum Shin Rikyo members revealed that for years prior to the 1995 attack, the group released lethal germ warfare in Japan, targeting the Japanese Legislature, the Imperial Palace, and even the US military base at Yokosuka. The poisons were not detected at the times of their releases, and apparently caused no deaths. The attacks were intended to spark the apocalypse Aum Shin Rikyo postulates is coming. Meanwhile, about 200 current members met for a fundraising conference in late April, 1998, paying up to $1,500 each to attend.
1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult ingested a combination of vodka and drugs, committing suicide. Members were convinced that the only way to survive Earth's being "recycled" in the year 2000 was to be saved by a UFO flying behind the Hale-Bopp comet.
1998, Scientology has faced allegations of fraud and member suicides, deaths, and psychotic breaks; when Germany refused to recognize Scientology as a bona fide religious organization, contending the cult is a threat to democracy, the US accused Germany of "intolerance," causing diplomatic tensions.
While recent cult tradegies have received a great deal of media coverage, many facts regarding cults are rarely divulged to the general public.
Of the 912 People's Temple members who died in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978, 276 were children, and of more than 80 who died at Waco, Texas in 1993, 25 were children.
An estimated 5,000 economic, political, and religious groups have used tactics of coercive mind control to deceptively influence 20 million victims in the United States alone in the last ten years, including 2.5 million at any given time. Worldwide figures are even greater. [Cult expert Dr. Margaret Singer , Cults in Our Midst].
The cult problem is so prevalent, the chances of a family member joining a cult are greater than a family member catching chicken pox, four times greater than contracting AIDS, 90 times greater than contracting measles, and 45,000 times greater than contracting polio. [Dr. Paul Martin, cult expert and director of Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center, Ohio, USA].
25% of the millions of cult members worldwide "will suffer enduring, irreversible harm that will affect their ability to function adequately in emotional, social, family, and occupational domains," according to Dr. Martin. For every person who becomes a cult member, many more are impacted; parents, children, friends, and family suffer personal and often economic loss.
Entire societies, numbed by coercive psychological influence, are more likely to allow large-scale tragedies. Perhaps the most devastating example is the Holocaust. Cult mind control is totalitarian, and as such is anathema to democracy. Democracy is founded on the principle that humanity is rational; for democracy to work, people must be capable of using their critical faculties. Mind control works by bypassing rationality and eliminating free will. Without free will, all other basic human freedoms, such as freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, become utterly meaningless. Eventually if left unchecked, it would destroy all basic human freedoms and ruin democracy.
Despite the human and societal damage caused by cults, few organizations exist to help prevent or lessen the damage. Until very recently, governments worldwide have not created systematic programs to respond to the problem. The work has been done by non-profit organizations and by people working on individual bases, studying the cult phenomenon, counseling cult members and ex-members, prosecuting those guilty of cult-related crimes and abuses, and educating others on the dangers of cults. According to Dr. Martin, "Compared to other social or medical problems, the havoc created by destructive cultism is the most understudied, neglected, and ignored mental health and social problem in the world... If the symptoms exhibited in former cult members were attributed to a virus, it would be considered a worldwide epidemic..." The cult problem is growing and expected to accelerate as the millennium looms.
Fortunately, for all its destructiveness, mind control can be diffused rather easily. Education is vital in helping cult members leave the destructive groups they feel tied to. According to Dr. Singer, 90% of cult members, given the opportunity to take a few days away from the group to be given full information, consequently leave the destructive organization.
The European Parliament's proposed solutions focus on education and prevention. The United Press International [July 14, 1998] reports the Parliament is giving priority to "protecting people through information and advice, 'allowing individuals to make a well-informed and independent choice and providing help if they wish to leave a cult.'" The report urges the European Parliament, in addition to providing education, to monitor the activities of potentially dangerous cults, produce a survey of such activities, and establish an "international educational network about cults," according to UPI. In addition, BBC World TV [July 13, 1998] reported that "The European Parliament's resolution calls for... bringing so-called psychological services by cults, like counseling, under Consumer Protection Law; and possibly extending the powers of Europol, the fledgling FBI for Europe."
In recent months, other government organizations have also begun plans to address the cult problem. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights brought a Special Rapporteur to the United States in January to discuss dangers posed by cults, with FACTNet director Bob Mintonamong many others. In April, the Belgian Parliament approved the establishment of a public Information and Advice Center on Harmful Cults. The center's purpose is to study cults, provide information and advice to the public, and set up a study center accessible by the general population. [From Belgium newspaper, Het Belang van Limburg, April 29, 1998].
FACTNet, as a nonprofit provider of solutions to cult and mind control problems, is extremely pleased that governments are taking initiative to actively address the cult problem.
Jesse Prince left Scientology in 1992, after practicing Scientology and working for Scientology for 16 years, during which he reached Scientology's highest ranks. Prince served as second-in-command of one of Scientology's main organizations, the powerful Religious Technology Center (RTC), and on RTC's Board of Directors.
Since leaving, Prince has worked to put his life in order, but has not spoken publicly about his experience in Scientology - until now.
Prince's silence was due to his vast knowledge of criminal activities pervading Scientology, his possible culpability for having partaken in illegal acts on behalf of Scientology, and his fear of Scientology's vengeance (indeed he has received death threats after going public with only a few details of his experience).
On August 14, 1998, an affidavit by Jesse Prince was filed in the Denver Federal Court in conjunction with the FACTNet-Scientology lawsuit. This affidavit exposes a vast system of criminality pervading Scientology, rooted in Scientology's leadership.
Following are some excerpts from the affidavit:
"It is incumbent on this and every court, as well as the authorities, to realize the amount of deception, chicanery, lying, manipulation and outright criminality that Scientology will employ to hide the truth about their criminal activities... I know because I was part of it for years. I received orders to break the law. I issued orders to break the law. I got others to break the law, and then I helped to hide these criminal activities just as they are hiding them now... In fact, this tactic is one of the most coercive used by the Scientology hierarchy: to involve members in criminal acts for which they are then liable, which then prevents the person from speaking out."
"Members of Scientology are induced to confess to acts that, if not outright criminal, are embarrassing or possibly destructive to the person's job, marriage or profession... under the guise that it is a 'religious confessional' for the member's good. The truth is that these 'confessions' are kept to blackmail and extort the member should they dare to speak out... I know because I watched this done to others, I did it to others and it was done to me."
"I should clarify why I (and others) tolerated such treatment for so long. The ability to tolerate such abusive conditions and treatment are one of the most basic requirements for promotion in the Sea Organization and RTC... Looking back on it, I cannot believe that I actually tolerated such denigration and such abuse and actually deluded myself that it was for my good as well as the good of others."
"I have also been privy to the destruction and alteration of documents to protect the group."
"One principle reason why tax exempt status had not been granted was the IRS's position that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (LRH) was actually the managing agent of Scientology in complete disregard of the corporate structure of Scientology. We knew this to be a fact but also knew that it violated IRS rules and thus had to be hidden... I was also given instructions that I was in charge of purging the remainder of the Scientology organization of LRH orders. This was to include Church of Scientology of California (CSC); Church of Scientology International (CSI); and RTC."
"...David Miscavige for the first time stated that Scientology had been ordered by a court to produce various documents concerning a former Scientology member named Lawrence Wollersheim who had a lawsuit pending in Los Angeles against the Church of Scientology of California. The court had ordered Scientology to produce Mr. Wollersheim's entire 'preclear' (PC) file... A 'PC' file is one of several files kept on members... Mr. Wollersheim's PC file was several thousand pages in length and stood as high as a six-foot tall man. Initially at this meeting it was decided that Mr. Wollersheim's PC file would be redacted and culled of any evidence or documentation which might assist Mr. Wollersheim in his lawsuit against CSC... Ultimately, approximately 50 pages were produced pursuant to the court order... Later, I was informed that a second court order was issued to produce Mr. Wollersheim's entire file. Faced with the prospect of having to produce the entire file David Miscavige gave orders that the entire file simply be destroyed by being pulped."
"At the same meeting in early 1983 David Miscavige specifically ordered Patricia Brice (who at the time was L. Ron Hubbard's personal secretary and an employee of ASI) to begin the process of mass copyright registration filings for all of L. Ron Hubbard's materials. This order was given despite the fact that Mr. Miscavige was already aware that many of the materials in question were already in the public domain. Thus, I know from personal knowledge that in mid 1983 Scientology began a massive program to register Mr. Hubbard's material with the United State's Copyright office."
"In late 1991, my wife Monika became pregnant and although we were elated, she was ordered to abort the child. The reason for the abortion order is that Sea Org members were not allowed to have children. The order devastated both my wife and me."
Jesse Prince's full affidavit is available at www.factnet.org/Scientology/jesse_prince_affidavit.html.
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