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JOINING A "CULT":

Part 3

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V. THE CONVERSION PHENOMENON (Continued)

bulletC. What I shall call the functional understanding of cult conversion and membership sees the experience as one which has a coherent connection to the  rest of the person's life, his concerns and anxieties, patterns of coping, and general understanding of his place in the world.

From a purely psychological point of view, it is by no means clear that cult membership is "bad" for the person; joining an alternative religious group may be a very effective way of coping with personality difficulties. We have already cited studies which show that joining a cult can be a way of ending substance abuse. The "strong dependency needs," intolerance of ambiguity, and "ideological hunger" identified by Ungerleider and Wellisch (63) can make cult membership a rational choice, not essentially different, except in its acceptability to society, from joining a convent or the armed services. Galanter found that "affiliation with the Unification Church apparently provided considerable and sustained relief from neurotic distress." (64) Levine and Salter, who in 1976 published findings from a study of 106 members of nine "fringe religious groups," including Children of God, Hare Krishna, Unification Church, and the DLM, reported that the motivation for joining these groups was explained by the members as dissatisfaction and alienation with contemporary society. These feelings were markedly reduced after cult affiliation:

"For whatever reason, they feel better. On a more specific level, in those who had them, the symptoms of anxiety and depression...have diminished markedly. They are happier, more self-accepting, no longer on drugs (if that was a problem), and in better control of their bodies. There is a heightened sense of security and inner satisfaction among many of them -- a great improvement over their psychological state prior to joining. What causes some reservations is the suddenness and sharpness of the change." (65)

Sociologists of religion Melton and Moore use the concept of liminality and transition state phenomena to describe the function of the cult experience. (66) They point out that entering an alternative religion usually occurs during or after the "severe buffeting of early adult transition;" in order to grasp the nature and significance of cult experience as it relates to psychosocial issues, the experience must be seen in the context of transition state phenomena. Larry Shinn backs up this theory with his finding that almost all people who join the Hare Krishna movement had been in a state of psychological crisis -- e.g. identity confusion, religious uncertainty -- before joining the group. (67)

As we can see by examining many of our cultural traditions, it is very often the case that a transition from one niche in society to another is accomplished by entering a limbo-like, transition state before reintegration into society in one's new status. The institution of the honeymoon is a good example. Marriage involves a radical transformation of almost all one's societal relationships -- family loyalties, patterns of spending, leisure time activities, sexual and social availability, etc. Particularly if one remains in one's hometown after marriage, it may be difficult for the young marrieds and their friends and family to make the transition to new patterns of interaction. Customs such as wearing a ring and changing one's name all help to reinforce new patterns with institutionalized cues, but the honeymoon, a liminal state in which one leaves one's accustomed place, engages in a limbo-like period of no material responsibilities, and then returns to a different place in society, also helps to facilitate the change.

Conversion, William James tells us, "is in its essence a normal adolescent phenomenon, incidental to the passage from the child's small universe to the wider intellectual and spiritual life of maturity." (68) It is a commonplace that contemporary society offers few transitional structures for the difficult move from adolescent dependence to adult independence (although the residential college certainly is a strong example). The lengthy period of economic dependency expected of middle-class children pursuing ever-more advanced degrees, has exacerbated the situation. As MacGowan suggests, "it is possible that, for some, membership in the [Unification] Church offers what Erikson spoke of as a pause for identity completion before beginning life's real work." (69) Bromley and Shupe assert:

"Most converts to new religions ultimately discover that they do not wish to dedicate their entire lives to the cause, and they simply resume their former lives or start anew. This is not wasted effort, however; it is a discovery that allows these individuals to define a personal course for themselves that holds out a greater potential for personal satisfaction and fulfillment. Were it not for the overwhelmingly negative public judgment of the new religions many converts could look back on that period as a high point of personal growth." (70)

Cult membership, according to Melton and Moore, is one way of giving outward expression to the inward liminal state of young adulthood, and an effective way of achieving separation from family. The highly structured cult environment, in which many decisions and personal needs are taken care of, resembles the "floating" or liminal state of the honeymoon or other institutionalized transitional structure. Further, the researchers claim, the unresponsive and trance-like behavior that psychologists such as Margaret Singer report as "characteristic of the ex-cultist and that she blames on the behavior-conditioning practices of the groups is further expression of a state of liminality, one which has not been terminated by simply leaving or being coerced into leaving the group." (71)

Another helpful way in which to look at joining a cult is as another (probably not final) step in a lengthy "conversion career." (72) Most people who join cults would have described themselves as "seekers" before their conversion; urged on by the basic questions of the meaning and value of their lives, they have at the very least engaged in an ongoing internal dialogue critical of mainstream religion and values, and typically sampled a number of alternative options. Thomas Pilarzyk, in his study of members of ISKCON and the DLM, (73) found that over eighty percent had used hallucinogens and about half had participated in communal living arrangements. Twenty-five percent had been involved with radical political organizations (e.g. Yippies and Students for a Democratic Society); sixty-six percent had had some contact with political groups. Sixty-eight percent of Hare Krishna members told the interviewer of past involvement with groups somewhat like ISKCON in that they were "authoritarian religions with absolutist meaning systems." (74) For example, one member explained:

"I was a real believer in the "heart-way" in Jesus Christ. I felt I was saved at twenty-five and freed from sin and its guilt. But I didn't realize at the time that I had a lot more karma to burn off". (75)

Interestingly, while members of the DLM also showed a high incidence of previous involvement (forty-five percent) this was typically with groups, such as Transcendental Meditation and yoga groups, which were like the DLM in their somewhat loose structure and syncretistic style.

Here are two accounts of conversion journeys to the Unification Church:

"After graduating Pratt with honors, my desire to find God became the most important thing in my life. . . . By graduating, I had fulfilled my responsibility to my parents. Yet I hadn't found my life work. I was convinced that God knew my life work, and so I determined to find a way to meet Him. In college, I had fellowshipped with three major Hindu spiritual groups and done much reading. (I had lost respect for Christianity.) When I heard the Divine Principle, I was impressed by its comprehensiveness, its logic, and its implications. So I determined to study it and examine it until I could prove its veracity or falsity. I moved in physically and really joined about eight months later. By that time my major questions had been answered..."

"While I was a Catholic nun I was considered to be happy and successful. But after many years as a nun I realized that what had formerly held meaning for me no longer did. I would go to Mass in the morning and feel nothing. I was aware of my searching for answers when I first met the Unification Church members and began to spend time with them. In fact, I became a member of the Unification Church even before I left my former community. When I told the nuns that I had become a "Moonie" they thought I had had some kind of breakdown, but I know that I have found meaning and happiness in my new life." (76)

Benton Johnson argues that new religions are more effective than new therapies as a cure for the kind of emotional distress that might be articulated as a sense of meaninglessness, because the source of distress is narcissism, lack of commitment, and so on:

"In new religions, the general conduct of [members'] lives is guided by a single purpose and a single moral code. Whether they live and work together communally, or whether the religious community is a kind of support group or spiritual home base after the model of most Christian congregations, the whole of life takes on a meaning marked by warmth and love for the serious devotee. Just as typically, however, sexual intimacy is governed by a strict moral code that would strike most modern Americans as repressive. It may be that these new believers have rediscovered, albeit, in exaggerated form, that impulsive sexuality is just as destructive to solidary relationships as is impulsive hostility." (77)

From this more or less tolerant, functionalist view of conversion, it is but a short step to our fourth view: conversion to a cult is, quite simply, a legitimate religious experience.

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bulletD. A number of writers have pointed out that the current furor over cults is merely another instance of the religious intolerance that has always marked American society. Donald E. Miller details the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, and Shakers, quoting eighteenth and nineteenth century tracts that are uncannily like those of today's anti-cult movement. (78) Bromley and Shupe argue that one way in which to understand religious intolerance in America is as a series of conflicts of interest between established religious institutions and new competitors. (79)

Herbert Richardson has shown how the charges leveled at the Unification Church today are almost exactly the same as those used earlier against Catholics and Jews, for example charges of loyalties to foreign powers or organizations, and an obsession with money. (80) Even some of the rhetoric remains astonishingly similar. (81)

Time eventually cloaks most of these groups with an aura of respectability, as we become accustomed to their presence on the American scene. But sometimes older religious practices can become the new targets. Thomas Robbins describes how practices (e.g. speaking in tongues) which were once almost exclusively the province of rural, lower-class religiosity, have now broken their bounds and are to be found on college campuses (e.g. the Maranatha organization). What was once accepted as genuine, if déclassé, spirituality, can now be caught up in the generalized rush to condemn anything different (and, as Robbins suggests, to expand the clientele of the anti-cult professionals). So John Clark, the leading anti-cult psychiatrist, was quoted in Teen Magazine (April 1983) as saying that speaking in tongues is a mind control technique. (82)

These scholars would claim that one cannot pick and choose among "legitimate" and "illegitimate" conversion experiences. Thomas MacGowan asks,

"how can we claim consistency if we acknowledge Paul's experience on the road to Damascus to be religious conversion but deny the same possibility to a young Krishna devotee? There is a danger if we always explain away in purely psychological or sociological terms conversion to a new religion because we then have difficulty holding on to the distinctively spiritual dimension of our own life." (83)

Herbert Richardson presents an example of a legitimate conversion to an alternative religion in the experience of his daughter Ruth. Apparently a "seeker" most of her life, Ruth had been a member of the Children of God at some point during adolescence. She had been fascinated for many years by the story of Joan of Arc, especially the voices Joan claimed to have heard.

Ruth's own conversion to a group called Diliram, a communal Christian group living in Nepal, also involved hearing voices. Richardson writes:

"I was struck by the fact that both the religious and the medical authorities around her were so insistent that her way of explaining her conversion was wrong or, still worse, that what she described simply hadn't occurred. When I heard her story, I didn't know what to make of it, but it seemed to me at least I should credit what she said enough to try to understand it rather than, by discrediting it, to try to evade that task." (84)

In a letter to his wife, written from the monastery where he had gone to visit his daughter, Richardson reports:

"I like the Diliram people very much. They are a diverse group. . . , Each one has a story of how he or she got here that is as unique as Ruth's. A little monastery in the foothills of the Himalayas! It is amazing to me that such people still decide to 'serve Christ'. "

"That's what Ruth seems to have come to. She said to me, quite insistently, that being a Christian doesn't mean being "saved," but following God's will and being his minister. It means living for God. So her conversion seems to be primarily a moral thing. It involves a new and specific idea of who she is and what she should be doing with her life. It is her committing herself to an ideal of life and life's purpose so that she can begin to move in a specific direction. Concretely, this means that she now wants to learn some skills so that she will be able to do serviceable work. (She has an idea that she'd like to try working with the deaf.) This Fall she plans to return to school. How does one know whether this is just another teen-age trip like the Children of God episode or whether it is an authentic conversion? Do I believe in conversions? God's so entering the life of a person that it is totally turned around? Yes I do. And I believe that such conversions mark the beginning of someone's becoming what they are meant by God to be. As Ruth said, 'My first baptism was for you, but this second one's for me.'"

But how do we tell a true conversion from just a transient "high"? Are the unusual experiences, voices, Scripture texts, and visions the real sign? Or is it that the changes in Ruth have been preceded by and spring from suffering? Or is it the emergence in her of a moral will, a sense of vocation, and a commitment to serve God with her life? I think that all these things are important and, in Ruth's case, equally essential. Why? Because it seems to me that the truth of her conversion doesn't hang on one or another factor alone, but on the integrity of the whole story. Her conversion is true because it is the fitting outcome to a long odyssey which has been moved throughout by the providence of God. (85)

One can do quite a bit of reading between the lines here: many explanations occur for the father's acceptance of his daughter's new direction. As a scholar of religion, Richardson was already committed to a less than hysterical approach to new religions. His description of Ruth's religious journey, including involvement with Children of God, suggests that the Richardsons had long ceased to expect -- assuming they had ever wanted it -- that Ruth would turn into a "normal" middle-class daughter, and further that Diliram would be quite a relief after Children of God! One also notes a certain congruence between the religion of the parents and that of the daughter; both are using basic Christian concepts and symbols. Also, the immediate practical result of Ruth's conversion seems to be in the direction of greater involvement in mainstream society -- i.e. returning to school. Most families do not accede so graciously to dramatic shifts in their children's religious commitments and lifestyle. This brings us to the final approach to the phenomenon of cult membership.

bulletE. It is my contention that the pivotal factor in most of the issues surrounding cult membership and forced deprogramming is generational conflict; understanding the anti-cult movement as the product of disparate values and family tensions is the best way of sorting out what is "really" going on here.

Parents' expectations for their children have always been a strong force in human history. In our own time, among white middle-class Americans -- practically the only group from whom cults recruit -- the pressures created by these expectations can be intense. (86) These families tend to have fewer children and to invest more time, money, and emotional energy in them than did earlier generations. Furthermore, for those of recent immigrant background, America represents the land where one can dream dreams for one's children and have them come true.

It is possible to understand the cult controversy as primarily a desperate attempt by hurt and baffled parents to retrieve offspring who have spectacularly rejected the family's values. Numerous interviews and accounts by parents who had "lost" their adult children to an alternative religion stress the gulf between parent and child as the motivation behind the decision to deprogram. (Ironically, of course, a deprogramming that fails to achieve its ends will usually result in further alienation.) To return to the case of Emily Dietz, her parents explained why they decided to have their daughter forcibly deprogrammed:

"Emily had reached a point where she was hardly a member of the family. If the deprogramming were unsuccessful, we ran the risk of losing her completely. Since we didn't have that much of her already -- she was so distant, so alienated -- the risk didn't seem so much." (87)

Concerns about bright, college-educated progeny engaging in menial labor form almost a leitmotif in parental accounts. Mrs. Deitz remarked to the reporter that when Emily dropped out of college, she returned to the Washington area and cleaned houses, "although she was a girl whose room was always a mess." (88) The judge in the Dan Voll case, in which Ted Patrick and Voll's parents were acquitted of charges of assault and unlawful imprisonment, directed the jury that "you may also consider the effect upon the minds of the Volls when they learned that their son was cleaning the apartment of McCandlish Phillips." (89) In general, it can be said that families show as much concern for the precipitous drop in their child's educational goals as they do for the child's religious practices. For example, a woman, both of whose privately educated children had joined the Unification Church, told a researcher:

"You cannot believe that all the sacrifice in years is just tossed lightly on one side and nobody's the slightest bit concerned. . . . Here are two parents, and many others like us, that have done without to give their children a good start in life and it's tossed on one side; and they are told that colleges and universities are satanic. It's nonsense and very wrong!" (90)

Sociologist James A. Beckford, in a study of family response to new religious movements, makes a number of interesting points. The typical recruit is in his or her mid-twenties, unmarried, often still in the process of higher education. In other words, recruits are predominantly young people for whom parents still feel a strong measure of responsibility. (91) Furthermore, the families in Beckford's study who responded with "strong and sustained anger" to the child's joining the Unification Church and who often became involved with the anti-cult movement were those who described their family as close-knit, affectionate, characterized by firm and fair discipline. The recruit was often described as a model child, sharing in family activities, and exhibiting no problems until he joined the cult. The child's rejection of such an ideal family and failure to respond to parental sacrifices in expected ways, constitutes what Shupe and Bromley call a "breach of reciprocity." (92)

Cults are particularly likely to invite the wrath of families by an almost provocative show of replacing the family. Cults often have words like "children" or "family" in their group name, and refer to their "spiritual parents" replacing their "earthly parents." The recruit may be asked to make gestures of symbolic repudiation of her "former" family, and may even take a new name and insist that her "old" family address her by it. Of course, these symbols of altered spiritual status are not unique to "cults;" all or most of them are hallmarks of joining religious orders of the more conventional sort.

Families whose progeny have joined a strange and societally unacceptable religion have roughly three choices in how to respond.

bulletThe first is to accept the  choice as the reasonable though unusual act of a rational person. (93) This is the choice Richardson made. For most families, even if they are inclined to be tolerant of their child's religious choice, the pressures of the anti-cult movement tend to push them toward a more interventionist stance. Parents attending a lecture by the celebrated anti-cult activist Rabbi Maurice Davis, for example, might hear him compare the Unification Church to the Nazi youth movement, as he did in the Dole hearings in 1976. (94)
bulletThe second choice is to define the act of joining as due primarily to the weakness of the recruit -- that is, the result of some emotional strain, personality defect, and so on. The problem here is that our society tends to make families responsible for their children's actions: religion tells us that "families that pray together stay together;" it was almost a cliché of the baby-boom period that parents, especially mothers, were responsible for all of their children's emotional mishaps. Therefore, to admit that one's child had joined a cult was to admit that one's family had failed in its function. (95)
bulletThe third option, then, is the one which many families choose: they conceptualize their child's allegiance to his or her religion as something that has happened to the child as a result of some insidious outside force (brainwashing, hypnosis, coercive persuasion, etc.). This is a pandemic, as Eli Shapiro claims, (96) and who can blame the parents if the child is exposed to contagion? In this way, the understandable concerns and angers of parents who have been "betrayed and deserted" provide the human energy that drives the charge of brain-washing and its associated remedy, deprogramming. This then leads to the kind of abuse of civil liberties described above as well as to attempts by various states to legislate against "cults."

To summarize, of these five modes of understanding the phenomenon of conversion to cults, only the "rays from outer space" theory or what Harvey Cox has called "zombi-itis" (97) seems completely without merit. Psychological, sociological, historical, spiritual, and familial explanations are all useful, and will apply in different combinations to different person's experiences. However, it is my thesis that the explanation of intergenerational conflict is the one which finally governs much of the public responses to cults today.

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VI. CONCLUSION

New religions which demand a high degree of commitment from adherents are bound to be disturbing to outsiders, especially to family members of those who join. The existence of a dramatic "threat" to middle-class families inevitably evokes responses from psychologists, therapists (both licensed and self-proclaimed), legislators, and mainstream clergy. Some of these responses are undoubtedly sincere, others are clearly self-serving. Most of these responses (e.g., deprogramming, conservatorship laws) rely for their logic on a stance of delegitimizing the "cult" as a religion which can command the respect and protection afforded to mainstream beliefs. By the same token, the conversion experience is explained, not in terms of religious belief, but in terms of "brainwashing" and mental illness. This allows the cult member to be identified, not as a maverick family member who has chosen a different path, but as the victim of coercive persuasion in need of rescue.

As this paper has shown, none of these contentions can survive scrutiny. It is impossible, on both theoretical and empirical grounds, to draw a bright line between "real" religions and "destructive cults," or between sincere conversion to a religious belief and being the object of "coercive persuasion." Nor is it possible to identify cult membership with mental illness. Therefore, courts ought not to accept arguments, e.g. in the context of claims for unlawful imprisonment, that adults who join "cults" are to be treated any differently than those who choose to join other high-demand groups, such as Roman Catholic convents or the U.S. Army.

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Footnotes:

63 Ungerleider & Wellisch, supra notes 50 and 51.

64 Galanter et al., supra note 52.

65 Levine & Salter, supra note 52, at 415.

66 MELTON & MOORE, supra note 8, at 47-57.

67 Interview with Harvey Cox, supra note 24, at 64.

68 WILLIAM JAMES, VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE 164 (1958).

69 Thomas MacGowan, Conversion and Human Development, in NEW RELIGIONS AND MENTAL HEALTH: UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUES 167 (Herbert Richardson ed., 1980).

70 BROMLEY & SHUPE, supra note 9, at 209-10.

71 MELTON & MOORE, supra note 8, at 57.

72 This term was originally coined by sociologist James Richardson.

73 Thomas Pilarzyk, Conversion and Alteration Processes in the Youth Culture: A Comparative Analysis of Religious Transformation, in V. THE BRAINWASHING/DEPROGRAMMING CONTROVERSY: SOCIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, LEGAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES 51 (David G. Bromley & James T. Richardson eds., 1983).

74 Id. at 59; See also Galanter et al., supra note 52.

75 Pilarzyk, supra note 73, at 59.

76 MacGowan, supra note 69, at 162-63.

77 Benton Johnson, A Sociological Perspective on New Religions in IN GODS WE TRUST: NEW PATTERNS OF RELIGIOUS PLURALISM IN AMERICA 51 (Thomas Robbins & Dick Anthony eds., 1981).

78 Donald E. Miller, Deprogramming in Historical Perspective, in V. THE BRAINWASHING/DEPROGRAMMING CONTROVERSY: SOCIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, LEGAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES 15 (David G. Bromley & James T. Richardson eds., 1983).

79 Historically, when new religious movements have appeared they have created confrontations with groups seeking to preserve the status quo. Virtually every new religious group of any size that has sought major change in traditional values and established institutions has also been the target of severe persecution. In each such case some other group in society that perceived this intended change to be a threat took the lead in mobilizing opposition. Whether or not these perceptions of threat were justified, opposition groups determined that these new religions would subvert the social order if left unchallenged. There have been few features shared by the groups we describe, i.e. Quakers, Mormons, Roman Catholics, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists. They have differed widely in their beliefs, their organizations, and their memberships. The common element of such persecuted groups has not been any specific characteristics as much as others' fears that they would have some detrimental effect on American society. BROMLEY & SHUPE, supra note 9, at 7.

80 RICHARDSON, supra note 13, at xxvii.

81 In the 19th century, Harper Brothers. . . set up a dummy publishing company to sell and promote Maria Monk's "Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal." . . . Maria claimed that she had become pregnant by one of the priests whose lust she was obligated to serve, and fled the nunnery because she would have been required to strangle her own infant at birth...Maria's story, loudly vented in the public press, appealed to the increasing anti-Catholic feeling in the America of the 1840s. Journals sought to outdo themselves in reporting Catholic atrocities. The public was enraged and, in certain cases, broke into religious houses in order to liberate the young novices who were held there captive. A perverse power to enslave the young was attributed to the Catholic clergy -- especially Jesuits -- who were accused of playing on the superstitions and credulity of the young... [OCRT Note: One of our staff members recalls seeing this book for sale in Kapuskasing, Northern Ontario in the mid 1950's]

When I hear the Catholic Father LeBar vilifying "cultists," I am always reminded that I, when young, heard a Protestant fundamentalist describe Catholics in the same way. There was even a "converted Catholic priest" who, coming on a regular lecture circuit, would describe how horribly the Catholic church had held him by the mental chains of "superstition" until he escaped. Today, "ex-cultists" travel the same circuit telling how they were "mentally imprisoned" by Sun Myong Moon. Id. at xxvi-xxviii.

82 Thomas Robbins, Objectionable Aspects of 'Cults': Rhetoric and Reality 23 (unpublished).

83 MacGowan, supra note 69, at 127.

84 Id. at xlix.

85 Id. at l-lii.

86 Jim Jones' People's Temple is an obvious counter-example, and the only counter-example I know of. The fact that Jones began as a mainstream Protestant minister, and the obvious sincerity of his ministry to the poor and his concern for racial integration, all make the People's Temple a wild card among the alternative religions.

87 A Question of Will, supra note 23, All.

88 Id.

89 PATRICK & DULACK, supra note 19, at 149.

90 James A. Beckford, A Typology of Family Responses to a New Religious Movement, in CULTS AND THE FAMILY 47 (Florence Kaslow & Marvin B. Sussman eds., 1982).

91 James A. Beckford, "Brainwashing" and "Deprogramming" in Britain: The Social Sources of Anti-Cult Sentiment, in V. THE BRAINWASHING/DEPROGRAMMING CONTROVERSY: SOCIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, LEGAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES 132-37(David G. Bromley & James T. Richardson eds., 1983).

92 Anson D. Shupe, Jr. & David G. Bromley, Witches, Moonies, and Accusations of Evil, in IN GODS WE TRUST: NEW PATTERNS OF RELIGIOUS PLURALISM IN AMERICA 248-29 (Thomas Robbins & Dick Anthony eds., 1981).

93 A striking example of parents who accept their child's decision is that of the Van Sinderen family, whose son Davis died in the Heaven's Gate suicides in California in March, 1997. The family, prominent in New England social and financial circles, issued a statement in which they said that While we did not completely understand or agree with David's beliefs, it was apparent to us that he was happy, healthy and acting under his own volition. It seemed to us that the group members were a supportive family unit and Davis was spiritually fulfilled in his life with them Jonathan Rabinowitz, Death in a Cult: The Relatives, N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 30, 1997, at A16.

94 Shupe & Bromley, supra note 92, at 249.

95 As Robbins & Anthony argue:

"Larger institutions have usurped the authority of the family but not its culpability. Parents continue to think of themselves as responsible for the way their children turn out because schools and psychotherapists blame them when things go wrong. It is not surprising that they react defensively when their children repudiate the social institutions with which they are identified. . . . Social science is that part of the affective control apparatus of society which has stripped the family of its status as the ultimate arbiter of affective legitimacy. Parents of converts are caught in between their own allegiance to society and their children's repudiation of it. They thus tend to use metaphors and a style of argumentation characteristic of the institutions which have usurped their authority. "

"The anticult movement's use of brainwashing imagery represents the use of social science as a rhetoric of social control. By their acceptance of this metaphor, parents tend to mask the nature of the value conflict between themselves and their children...Our children only appear to be repudiating our values because they have been driven crazy by evil men. In this way parents are able to absolve themselves of responsibility for their child's defection. Moreover, by using the social scientific style of explanation of deviant behavior, they hope to enlist the aid of those institutions to which they have ceded their authority, e.g. courts and psychiatrists, in subduing their children's desertion from themselves and their world." Anthony & Robbins, supra note 18, at 268-70.

96 Shapiro, supra note 37.

97 Interview with Harvey Cox, supra note 24, at 47.

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