CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Discussion of cults generally - not specifically related to the SES or its related organisations.
Justice
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:13 pm

CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby Justice » Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:58 pm

Anyone who is concerned that the SES might be a destructive mind control cult (including current and former SES members, and parents and pupils of St. James Independent Schools) will be interested to learn of a one-day conference to be held in central London on Wednesday 25th October 2006.

The conference is being organized by FAIR – Family Action Information Resource, a not-for-profit organization that has had 30 years experience offering advice and support
to the families and friends of cult victims.

The website address for FAIR is: http://www.fair-cult-concern.co.uk/



09.30 Registration


INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME

09.45 Tom Sackville

Tom Sackville was the MP for Bolton West from 1983 to 1997. He served as a Government Whip, then Minister in the Department of Health and at the Home Office. He has chaired the Committee of FAIR since 2000 and is Vice President of FECRIS

09.55 Baroness Bonham-Carter

Jane Bonham-Carter is a television producer and former Editor of A Week in Politics and Producer of Panorama and Newsnight. She became a peer in 2005 and is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson in the House of Lords on Broadcasting

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

10.05 Professor Stephen A. Kent Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, University of Alberta, Canada

'MECHANISMS OF CONTROL - How Cults Exploit Human Weakness'

Professor Kent teaches a graduate course at the University of Alberta, Canada, on the sociology of sectarian groups. He has published articles in numerous sociology and religious study journals and has worked extensively with the media, various government agencies and the judiciary, on issues related to controversial groups

EXPERIENCES OF CULT VICTIM FAMILIES

10.50 Paul Cooper: ‘RELATIONSHIP DIFFICULTIES WITH THE MOONIE SON I LOVE’

Paul is head of a firm engaged in seeking compensation for clients of large financial institutions. His elder son is a Moonie with a Moon-selected wife: the Coopers are in contact but fear that their son will remain within the cult





11.30 Friedrich Griess: 'CULTS ACROSS EUROPE -From the Third Reich to Present Day'

Friedrich Griess has been President of FECRIS (the European Federation of Cult Watching Groups) since 2005. Educated at the Benedictine Monastery of Melk in Lower Austria, he studied engineering at the Technical University of Vienna and later worked for the Halden OECD Reactor Project. His daughter has been a member of the Norway based 'Smiths Friends' cult for over 20 years

11.50 Jane Hamilton: 'KEEPING SCIENTOLOGY WORKING -
How this Group Maintains Influence over its members'

Jane Hamilton is a self–employed graphics designer living in Denmark. She joined Scientology as a staff member and in 1980 married a Scientologist. She separated herself from the organisation after the birth of her second child

12.10 Maria Pia Gardini : ‘NARCONON AND SCIENTOLOGY’

Maria Pia Gardini was a successful film producer working in Italy and the United States. Her daughter became involved in drugs, to which she continued to be exposed while at Narconon in Paris: she became HIV positive and was recruited by Scientology. Mrs Gardini found herself under pressure to pay Scientology large sums to continue so-called drug treatment and contact with her daughter. Following the death of her daughter she now lives in Italy

12.30 [Further speaker to be advised]



A POLICY INITIATIVE

14.00 Michael Gove MP: 'FREEDOM AND RELIGION: What Governments should do to Protect Basic Liberties'

Michael Gove writes regularly for national and local newspapers, most recently The Times. He was elected in May 2005 as the the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath, and has since been appointed Shadow Minister for Housing. He appears regularly on television and radio, notably as a panelist on Radio 4's The Moral Maze. He is Chairman of Policy Exchange, a think tank which has proposed innovative policies on policing, local government and terrorism.

THE INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE

14.15 Professor Alexander Dvorkin PhD: 'THE INFLUENCE OF ACADEMICS ON THE CULT DEBATE'

Alexander Dvorkin is Professor of Church History and President of the St Irenaeus of Lyon Centre of Religious Research, Moscow. He later graduated from the Russian Orthodox Seminary in New York. He lectures on cults in Russia and abroad, is on the editorial board of Dialog Publications' periodical Spirituality East and West and has published Sectovedenye (Cultology)

14.45 Eric Scheibeler: 'THE RISE AND EXPANSION OF COMMERCIAL CULTS'

Eric Scheibeler is a former Federal Auditor for the US Government. His book Merchants of Deception has been published in over 20 countries. Eric works with Stephen Hassan to assist victims of the direct-selling organisation Amway Corporation and related groups

15.15 Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall: 'WELLSPRING RETREAT, OHIO - Lessons for the rehabilitation of ex-cult members in the UK'

Professor Dubrow-Marshall is Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Wales. His principal research is on social influence, including the psychological effects of cult membership. He is on the committee of FAIR and the Advisory Board of the International Cultic Studies Association (USA) and the UK representative on the General Assembly of FECRIS






CULTS AND POLITICS

16.00 Julian Chater: 'THE CLASSICAL CONTEXT - Historical Evidence that Cults have not been Restricted to Religious Groups'

Julian Chater has an MA in Classics and has worked in finance and the internet industry. He is now a self-employed writer. He has studied cults in the course of examining the social and political history of the Roman Empire

16.15 Dennis Tourish: 'BLIND-FAITH DEVOTION AND CULTISM IN POLITICS - Far Right and Left Reconsidered'

Dennis Tourish is Professor of Management at Aberdeen Business School. He has co-edited or co-written five
books including On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left, has published over 60 academic papers and book
chapters on a wide range of issues including cults, lectured widely on cult issues and recently advised the British
Medical Council. He has appeared extensively in the media, including a recent Australian Broadcasting
Corporation’s radio discussion on the cultic dimensions of the London bombings

16.45 Discussion (chaired by writer and broadcaster Virginia Ironside) and Closing Remarks

Tickets must be bought in advance from the address below:

9.30 am to 5.00 pm
entrance: £25 per person, concessions: £15

Please send Applications for Tickets, with Cheque made out to 'FAIR', to:
BCM Box 3535, PO Box 12, London, WC1N 3XX
________________________________________
BCM Box 3535, PO Box 12, London, WC1N 3XX
Telephone: + 44 (0) 1642 898412, Fax: + 44 (0) 1642 643707

Tom Grubb
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Location: London

Postby Tom Grubb » Sun Sep 17, 2006 5:09 pm

Thanks for this, Justice! It looks like a very interesting day with some quality speakers. As it's during my half-term break, I might even sign up for it.

Justice
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:13 pm

CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby Justice » Sun Sep 17, 2006 5:15 pm

Tom Grubb said:
Thanks for this, Justice! It looks like a very interesting day with some quality speakers. As it's during my half-term break, I might even sign up for it.


I think it will be a VERY interesting day. The speakers are all highly placed and speak from experience.

Spread the word!

mgormez
Posts: 501
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Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Re: CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby mgormez » Mon Sep 18, 2006 12:06 am

Justice! wrote:12.10 Maria Pia Gardini : ‘NARCONON AND SCIENTOLOGY’

Maria Pia Gardini was a successful film producer working in Italy and the United States. Her daughter became involved in drugs, to which she continued to be exposed while at Narconon in Paris: she became HIV positive and was recruited by Scientology. Mrs Gardini found herself under pressure to pay Scientology large sums to continue so-called drug treatment and contact with her daughter. Following the death of her daughter she now lives in Italy


Good find, Justice! Wish I could be there as I recognize some of the people.

Later How easy is it to reach from London Gatwick? I can arrive at 07:10 am local time. Same day departure would be at 19:35.

By the way, you can see Maria Gardini tell that chilling story on video here: http://www.xenutv.com/interviews/maria-1.htm
Mike Gormez

Justice
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:13 pm

CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby Justice » Mon Sep 18, 2006 7:11 am

mgormez wrote:

Good find, Justice! Wish I could be there as I recognize some of the people. How easy is it to reach from London Gatwick? I can arrive at 7.10 am local time. Same day departure would be at 19.35.


You can get the Gatwick Express train to central London which takes about 30 minutes and arrives at Victoria station. From Victoria station take the London Underground (Tube) to Bond Street Underground station and Vere Street is about 3 minutes walk from there.

You can see a good online map of central London at www.streetmap.co.uk

Alban
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:23 am
Location: London

Re: CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby Alban » Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:28 am

Justice! wrote:...You can see a good online map of central London at www.streetmap.co.uk


Google maps are much nicer - here is the exact location
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Vere+Street,+Westminster,+Greater+London,+W1&ie=UTF8&z=15&om=1&iwloc=A

Alban

Leontius
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:13 pm

Postby Leontius » Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:20 pm

Cheers Justice,

It looks like a gruelling schedule but well worth it I'm sure. It could be just what I'm after so I'm going to go along.

Ta very much for the link.

Leontius

Justice
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:13 pm

CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby Justice » Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:14 pm

Leontius said:
Cheers Justice,

It looks like a gruelling schedule but well worth it I'm sure. It could be just what I'm after so I'm going to go along.

Ta very much for the link.


Good luck Leontius. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Justice
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:13 pm

CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby Justice » Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:50 pm

The Conference organisers are planning to have the speeches recorded so that they can be broadcast on demand on their website and become a permanent online resource for everyone concerened about destructive mind control cults.

mgormez
Posts: 501
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:33 pm
Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Re: CONFERENCE: HOW CULTS EXPLOIT HUMAN WEAKNESS

Postby mgormez » Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:33 am

Justice! wrote:THE INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE

14.15 Professor Alexander Dvorkin PhD: 'THE INFLUENCE OF ACADEMICS ON THE CULT DEBATE'

Alexander Dvorkin is Professor of Church History and President of the St Irenaeus of Lyon Centre of Religious Research, Moscow. He later graduated from the Russian Orthodox Seminary in New York. He lectures on cults in Russia and abroad, is on the editorial board of Dialog Publications' periodical Spirituality East and West and has published Sectovedenye (Cultology)


His paper was posted to Usenet. Here's a copy:

ARE THERE OBJECTIVE AND SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF NRM?
OR
THE THEORIES OF PROF. EILEEN BARKER
AND HER ROLE IN PROVIDING IDEOLOGICAL GROUNDS
FOR THE CULT LOBBY IN RUSSIA

Prof. Alexander L. Dvorkin, Moscow, Russia

Today we increasingly encounter various shapes and forms of
totalitarian and destructive cults. Naturally, there appear more and
more specialists, professionally studying this phenomenon and there
arise more and more discussions among them as to how these new cults
must be researched, what are the goals of these studies, how they
should be treated and even what is the proper name for them (and what
they must not be called)?

A disinterested observer might conclude that a confrontation exists
between two sides: one of them takes a more or less pro-cult position
(the other side calls it "cult-defenders" or "the cult lobby") while
another - anti-cult (the other side calls it "the anti-cult movement"
and its partisans - "anti-cultists").

In spite of oversimplification, there is a certain amount of truth in
this observation. However, in fact, the situation is much more complex
and the range of opinions is much more varied. I would say that if
there is a real watershed, it is drawn between those who receive some
kind of support (be it in monetary or some other form)[1] from the
cults and those who would never dream of doing so. Another important
point to raise is that while there are a lot of hard facts supporting
the existence of the cult lobby, the scarecrow of the "Anti-cult
movement" (ACM) was invented by the cults themselves and by the groups
that provide PR support for them. We must state with all possible
clarity that a united, coordinated, rich and powerful ACM exists only
in the imagination of cultists, their PR workers, and the
professionals that provide intellectual support for them. I should add
that for this last group the image of two fighting fronts: New
religious movements (NRM) and an "Anti-cult movement" (ACM) is very
handy. This way the so-called "neutral" and "independent" experts turn
out to be in the middle, as the impartial side not directly involved
in the confrontation, and thus having a moral right to dismiss the
"extremists'" views and arguments.

In reality, people and groups opposing cult activity in the society
are very far from united with coordinated modes of action, but rather
they take quite diverse positions. One can even say that there are as
many opinions about this problem as there are specialists working in
the field or groups involved in it. For example, in most of the
countries there are concerned parents committees. However, even they
hold very diverse positions. Not only are these committees different
in every land, some of them are different within one country. Some are
expressly religious, others are strictly secular, some have government
connections, others cherish their totally independent status, some are
involved in the work of FECRIS, others prefer to be associated with
ICSO (formerly AFF), while still others chose to work entirely by
themselves.

No less diverse opinions are among psychiatrists, lawyers, and
journalists. The widely spread opinion that the sociologists of
religion take a pro-cult position while the theologians are anti-cult,
is not very accurate as well. Indeed, a number of sociologists of
religion familiar with this topic are doing PR work for the cults.
However, there are quite a few of their colleagues who consider
totalitarian cults a serious danger for both the individual and
society. On the other hand there are a number of very liberal and not
very liberal theologians who claim the need for dialogue and
cooperation with NRM's and proclaim that everything must be guided by
tolerance and love.

In my country, the cults have been actively working, developing and
spreading for over fifteen years, and the debates on the topic within
Russia are very close to those elsewhere. Nonetheless, we have our own
specific characteristics. The concerned parents committees, which have
appeared spontaneously, are much disorganized and still for the most
part have not been able to develop beyond the stage of formation,
though there are some very valuable individuals in them who do some
very good work.

The role of pro-cult sociologists of religion is taken in Russia by
former communist professional anti-religion propagandists. After the
fall of communism, they lost their well-paid sinecures. After looking
for new jobs a lot of them realized that the newly arriving cults
would pay well and offered their services to them. Now they call
themselves "ex-perts-religious scholars". During the last few years
though, there have begun to appear some young and newly made
sociologists of religion actively propagating their "progressive"
methodology. Many former professional dissidents human rights
activists having also lost their raison d'être in the post Soviet
period, have now decided that they must defend the rights of small and
defenseless "religious minorities" suffering terrible persecution and
discrimination at the hands of an aggressive majority. Perhaps, the
most well known of them, the Moscow Helsinki group, as it was proven
several times, has been subsidized by Scientology.

There are very few journalists who professionally explore the field.
There is a small but very noisy group of "professional revealers of
truth" and "fighters against retrogrades" which is close to dissident-
human rights defenders circles and an equally small group of
journalists who at some point have tried to honestly investigate the
situation with this or that cult and objectively report it in their
papers or programs.

As for the lawyers specializing in the area of cults, there are very
few of them and in fact, the most well known of them are those who
represent the cults in various proceedings. Some of them are tightly
connected to Scientology, while others are at least partially funded
by the State Department of the USA (the best known of these is the
Slavic Center of Law and Justice). Of course, both groups do receive
income from many sources, both cultic, and pro-cultic.

The majority of psychiatrists still know next to nothing about this
problem while those who are knowledgeable are divided into two groups:
one that studies the phenomenon of mind control and tries to help its
victims, and the other that has incorporated itself into the
Independent Psychiatric Association closely connected with the very
same former dissidents-human rights activists and being at least
partially subsidized by the cults.

As for the theologians, they are divided as well - the liberals tend
to defend the cults while conservatives tend to fight against them.
But one unifying factor is that all sections of not very numerous but
very vocal, Russian cult-defending lobby cites Eileen Barker, now
retied Professor of the London School of Economics, while many of its
members consider her their teacher [2]. One of these people once wrote
that there is only one truly scholarly book on cults published in
Russia - that is New Religious Movements by Eileen Barker [3], while
another, who even happens to be an Orthodox priest, not only writes
that she is the greatest specialist in the world in the field but even
that "though she is a lay specialist her book is very Christian in its
approach and essence"[4] .

Prof. Barker is no stranger to Russia. I have seen her at least three
times in my country. The first time I encountered her was in 1994 in
the Moscow Parliamentary Center at the State Duma hearings dedicated
to proposed amendments to the law on religious freedom. She was
brought to the gathering by the Moonies, and in fact, as I've learned
later, they paid for her trip to Moscow [5] , though answering the
direct question of Rev. Thomas Gandow, she blatantly lied, saying that
her expenses were met by the Duma [6].

Her second trip (1996) was most likely paid for by Scientologists,
Moonies and Hare Krishnas, which together with several other cults
were then in the process of suing me in Moscow under the auspices of a
former dissidents' human rights group [7] Mrs Barker has offered a
testimony in court on their behalf. That court performance of the
greatest NRM specialist in the world became rather famous. When asked
directly whether one person can belong at the same time to Jehovah's
Witnesses, Mormons, Scientologist, Moonies, Hare Krishnas, Boston
Church of Christ, the Family, as well as dozen other cults (that was a
claim of one of the human rights dissidents who tried by claiming his
belonging to all the cults to remain part of the process) she answered
affirmatively.

My third Russian encounter with Mrs Barker also happened in a
courtroom. This time she was brought to Russia by the Jehovah's
Witnesses to offer her testimony in the case of The Moscow office of
the Attorney General vs. the Moscow Jehovah's Witnesses organization.
I should add that her testimonies in both cases were not taken into
consideration by the courts.

We see that the history of Mrs Barker trips to Russia is rather
questionable, to say the least, and warrants some answers on her part.
Unfortunately, we never were able to get those plain and direct
answers. Moreover, what she writes about the situation in my country,
grossly distorts the situation, playing rather on a bunch of negative
popular stereotypes [8]. Yet her books are still being read in Russia,
and frequently quoted by our cult lobby group and its sympathizers.
Perhaps the methodological ideas expressed in her books are much more
helpful and honest than the behavior of their author? Therefore, I
propose to examine this "very Christian approach" offered by "the most
scholarly and learned" lay specialist in the field [9]. It is
especially important, because she constantly complains that her
anticult adversaries while viciously attacking her rarely question
what she actually says [10].

Unfortunately, her articles are not an example of clearly defined
scholarly argument as they are overloaded with special newly made
terms and barely comprehensible graphs. "However, <as she says>
putting the elegance of language aside" [11] , it all boils down to
the following:

Eileen Barker claims that only the sociology of religion (as a
department of social science) is a truly scientific method of studying
"new religious movements" and that only the sociology of religion can
guarantee the maximum precision and objectivity in understanding this
phenomenon: " <The Sociology of Religion> is unquestionably more
scientific than its competitors" [12] and it provides "a more
balanced, objective, and accurate - or, at very least, a less biased,
subjective, and wrong - understanding of the movements" [13].
In order to prove this obviously very debatable point of view Prof.
Barker likes to draw a lot of graphs and drawings, depicting something
which she terms the "primary construction" of a NRM in the shape of a
cloud-like body. By this term, she means a sort of subjectively
objective reality collectively produced by members of each NRM. Though
it is a created reality, which has no existence outside of the
imagination of cult members, it becomes their raison d'être, shaping
their lives accordingly. Mrs Barker goes on to draw a number of other
cloud-like bodies, which she names "secondary constructions". These
are produced by groups and individuals who are trying to understand
and explain the NRM primary construction. And - here is the trick
which is supposed to convince even the most stubborn skeptic - only
the cloud of secondary construction created by "correct" sociologists
of religion almost completely coincides with the cloud of primary
construction. The others are widely off the mark.

This closest possible proximity in understanding of the primary
construction is achieved according to Mrs Barker through a special
method, which she calls "methodological agnosticism". I will not
comment on the rather freehanded use of the philosophical terms by the
Professor of the London School of Economics but will just explain what
she seems to mean by that. Mrs Barker tells us that in order to
understand the problem objectively one has to exclude ALL theological,
philosophical, and moral judgments. This approach she calls
"value-free social scientific research" [14]. Any attempt at a moral
judgment or any theological comparison of one system with another
makes a researcher unobjective and brings bias into his work. Thus,
the "anti-cult movement" whether it is based on traditional religious
values or even on general human moral values, is no more than a mirror
reflection of the NRM's [15] while "the logic of <the sociology of
religion's> approach is infinitely superior for producing balanced and
accurate accounts of NRMs than that of any of its competitors" [16].
Sociologists of religion and their secondary constructions bring peace
and harmony to society, while the anticultists' activity just
increases the violence from which even they themselves suffer. The
lawyer killed by Aum Shinrikyo or the population of Antelope, Oregon,
who were subjected to salmonella poisoning by the Rajneesh cultists,
themselves bear the responsibility for the cult violence: if they
would have left the NRM alone, they would not have suffered [17].
Later on Mrs Barker has further developed, adjusted, and modified her
scheme of all the groups studying the NRM's [18]. The new graph looks
like this:
ACM (Cult aware-ness groups)

Counter Cult Movement

Research oriented groups (Sociologists of religion)

Human rights watchdog groups

Cult defender groups

Now the "Anti-cult movement" (or "Cult awareness groups") is
proclaimed different from a "Counter-cult movement". Again, we
encounter a strange word usage. "Anti-" and "counter-" mean very much
the same. Barker and her colleagues arbitrarily put in the first
category mostly parents initiative groups and psychiatrists, while
comprise the sec-ond one of the caricature image of boring and
fanatical theologians, concerned mostly with religious truths.
Sociologists of religion are, of course placed in the middle. Then,
towards the other end of the spectrum are Human rights watchdog
groups, which, suggests Barker, being carried away by their quest for
human rights violators, might be slightly off strict objectivity.
Still less objective, according to Barker, are the groups created by
NRM's, and financed by them to do PR work for them.

So again, we see the same intention: Mrs Barker on one hand tries to
divide the anti-cult forces between themselves (and thus to conquer).
On the other hand, she is ready to admit that some pro-NRM groups
might be unobjective (she calls them cult-defenders), and by doing it,
separates them from herself and her colleagues whom she places in the
middle, thus once again stressing their impeccable objectivity and
impartiality.

Describing her methodology Mrs Barker readily admits that in order to
create a full and balanced picture of the researched phenomenon, one
must exclude a number of details, which are "not important" and "not
characteristic". She even cites the experience from her far off youth
when she tried to make her living as an actress. Then she learned that
to act a character who is, for example, a bore, the actor does not
have to act boringly - or all the spectators will be bored to death.
The professional actor has to chose and depict just a few
characteristic details of a boring person so that everyone would
recognize the main traits of the character. The rest of the real life
behavior of the real bore must be excluded.

What does Mrs Barker propose to exclude for a scientific study on
"NRMs"?

It is something, which she calls "atrocity tales", i. e. data about
crimes committed by the cults and their members, and, in fact, any
negative information about cults. Moreover, the scholar must not use
former cult members as a source of information about cults because
their information is clearly not objective. To ask an "apostate" about
the organization he has left is the same as to ask a divorced spouse
about the institution of marriage, - claims Mrs Barker. In fact,
saying this she acts like a con artist swapping one card with another.
One does not usually ask the divorcee about the institution of
marriage in general, but nobody except him or her can provide the
necessary information as to why his or her marriage came to ruin. Just
the same, we ask former cult members first of all not about their
opinion on religion in general but about their own unique experience.
She goes on and on, and the list of what has do be excluded in order
to paint a truly objective picture gets rather terribly long. Only the
sociologists of religion, according to Prof. Barker can do this
difficult but necessary task.

The professor of London School of Economics does not economize on
exalted words about her and her colleagues sharing her ideas. In spite
of her "methodological agnosticism" she is sure that "we ourselves
must be the best placed to know the truth"[19], and that those
sociologists of religion, who realize their special calling, abiding
in the highest realms in sad but proud solitude, criticized by many
and understood by a few, must carry their lofty duty according to the
meta-values which are grasped by them alone.

Prof. Barker likes this idea so much that she has described this
pompous image several times at the Aarhus conference on Dec. 3. 1999.
Unfortunately she was not able even once to answer a simple question
of Prof. Aagaard and to explain what these metavalues are and how they
are different from regular human values and moral norms. Being carried
away by her lofty thoughts and exalted spirit, Mrs Barker, following
her own scheme, excludes, as not very important, data that she and her
"objective" colleagues often receive subsidies from the cults which
they are suppose to study. She also chooses not to mention that the
"field studies" (a. k. a. participant observation - i. e. the
observation of NRM from within) is no more that visiting of the
artificial show com-munities specially created by the cults. For this
reason, one cannot help but wonder: to what degree can those benign
and laudatory expert opinions on this or that cult be objective if
they are ordered and paid for by the same very cult. Classic in its
sancta simplicitas was the answer to this question that was given by
late Oxford professor Bryan Wilson who explaining why he has accepted
payment from Scientology for writing an expert opinion on the cult. He
said that he did it, so nobody would think that he was on friendly
terms with Scientology, because one cannot charge anything to friends
[20]. I would think that Prof. Wilson was so deeply submerged in his
scholarly thoughts that he did not notice that his argument almost
verbatim repeats a defense of her professional activity by one of the
street ladies: I do it for money and it is professional, while if I
would do it for free it would be immoral fornication [21].

We also should mention that a number of cults have constructed special
"media homes" [22], i. e. communities with specially selected members
which are used for reception of journalists and scholars, who live
there for several days in the most com-fortable settings, being wined
and dined abundantly, and watch the good and happy life of intelligent
and obliging members of the NRM [23]. Then they return home and write
their books and articles in which they indignantly refute the false
and biased inventions of unscientific, intolerant, fanatical and at
the same time avaricious and mercantile, anticultists.

Answering this we can draw a certain historical analogy. In the worst
time of Stalin's purges there were certain Western liberals (both
individuals and delegations) visiting the USSR. Some of them were even
taken to visit the GULAG, or, rather some specially created islands of
this deadly archipelago. They saw the wonderful life of a small
con-tingent of prisoners, all of whom readily confessed to having
committed some atrocious crimes, receiving amazingly lenient sentences
and who now were firmly on the way to redemption and resocialization.
These western liberals came home and wrote articles indignantly
denouncing the lies and falsehoods of anti-Soviet retrogrades who
slan-dered good "Uncle Joe" and willingly refused to see the amazing
achievements of the truly people's government of the USSR. These
people also held the very firm opinion that one must not take into any
account the testimonies of those few people who, risking their lives,
managed to escape from the "Workers Paradise", because, obviously,
these embittered apostates could not possible be objective.

The modern cults also like to produce video films about "world
renowned specialists" staying with them. These films feature kind
answers (usually in after-good-dinner mood) of these specialists to
cult interviewer's questions, describing wonderful time they had while
communicating with intelligent believers, who freely chose to live in
the commune and who are laughing at the suggestion that anyone at this
commune could possibly be mind controlled. Obviously, the cults later
use these films as their propaganda tools. Mrs Barker is present in at
least one of these cultic films, produced by "The Family" (formerly,
"The Children of God") saying highly favorable things about the cult.
Allegedly, she is also present in a Moonie one where she is shown
doing fundraising for the cult.

We cannot but mention a glaring inconsistency in Barker's position,
who simultaneously presents two completely different views of the
current situation. On the one hand, she writes about the powerful
anticult movement backed by huge amounts of money and poor and
vulnerable sociologists of religion reviled and persecuted by all,
ignored by hostile sensationalist media, disregarded by courts, and
frowned upon by governments. In other words, there is a powerful world
conspiracy against those impeccably honest and crystal-clearly
objective sociologists of religion who, though suffering from
loneliness and general misunderstandings, continue to fulfill their
lofty calling, remaining faithful to their meta-values. On the other
hand, she cannot abstain from bragging that her INFORM receives
Government grants (and anticultists do not!), that anticultists'
witness has not been taken into consideration by various courts,
unlike witness offered by her and her colleagues, and that (according
to her) the ACM has been increasingly marginalized while the
sociologists of religion are on the rise. Then again, she reverts to
the former version and complains about government support of ACM and
its huge subsidies (naturally without getting too specific) and
tactfully keeps silence about the really powerful support offered to
the cults and to cult lobby by the State Department of the USA. The
representatives of the cult lobby - friends and colleagues of Mrs
Barker can often be found at US Congress hearings, while I do not
remember any person, holding anticult positions who has been invited
to such hearings during let's say the last 15 years.

We must also note that the position of Eileen Barker and her followers
suffer from a blatant double standard. Her loud and pathetic
proclamations (presented by her as indisputable) that her method is
scientific and the methods of her opponents are not, are not supported
by anything except for the emotional tone and primitive scribbling on
the black board. But even the terms "scientific" and "unscientific",
"scholarly" and "unscholarly" themselves are emotionally charged in
the extreme and a number of people and groups use them as powerful
social weapons. Who would take seriously "unscientific inventions" of
"subjective and biased" people? Moreover, when talking about the
"counter-cult movement", Barker compares it with the inquisition [24]
(is not that an emotionally loaded comparison?). It is beyond the
point to ask her, how many people have been burned at the stake by
so-called "counter-cultists"? When writing about the hateful "ACM",
she places it in the context of such words as Auschwitz and Dr.
Mengele [25]. Is that what she calls a "Neutral evaluation based on
objective information" [26]?

Or, for example, one must not use the word "cult" while "anticult
movement" is considered not only a permissible but a desirable term.
How can an anticult movement exist if there are no cults, one wonders?
It is also permissible and desirable to call former cult members
"apostates", not paying any attention to the obvious emotional charge
of this term, not to mention the comparison of the anticult movement
with Nazism. Very revealing is the admission by Mrs Barker that an
important tool of her research is the exclusion of the part of the
information, which she considers "not important" and "not
characteristic", such as, for example, the just mentioned testimonies
of former cult members. However, the right of choosing what
information to exclude and what to include, what information is to be
pronounced as not characteristic and what, on the contrary, as
characteristic and typical, she leaves to herself. If the same is done
by the people she calls "our competitors" she cites it as an example
of their blatant unobjectivity.

So, what sources of information are permissible according to Prof.
Barker and her colleagues? It is the publicity materials of the cult,
"participant observation" of the researchers, naturally done with the
knowledge and permission of cult leadership, and the data provided by
the same cult leadership. What will be the picture, painted by these
"independent researchers", who use only and exclusively the paints
given to them by the cult, or using their language, what will be their
secondary construction, seems obvious.

So a question naturally arises: why Eileen Barker and her colleagues
need to so loudly proclaim over and over their "objectivity"? Maybe
this is done in order to cover up the facts; some of which were cited
above which obviously suggest the engagement by the cults of these
sociologists of religion?

One thing can be said for sure: in research of this kind, real
objectivity and impartiality can never be achieved by anybody. In
fact, no honest scholar would ever claim that his approach and
methodology are impeccably objective. Every researcher bases himself
upon certain presuppositions from which he/she views the object of
his/her study. Even if a person tries very hard not to express his
opinion and only to describe the group he examined, he still has to
select the information, singling out characteristics, phenomena, and
events, which he deems seminal and significant. Out of them, a scholar
creates his description, analyzing them he comes to his conclusions.
In this way his subjectivity will be revealed in the criteria of this
selection - another researcher might chose as representative and
important quite other events and facts.

However, "subjective" does not mean, "biased": an honest researcher
would necessarily describe his worldview and his criteria in the
opening of his study, so every reader might take it into consideration
and make necessary mental corrections while forming his own opinion.
On the contrary, the propagandist who wishes to manipulate his/her
readers would keep repeating one after another the incantations of
his/her "scientific objectivity". This way the conclusions are forced
upon the reader and he is not given a chance to think for himself.
Just as Eileen Barker's "objectivity", equally nonsensical are her
"methodological agnosticism" and "value-free approach". Every person
willingly or unwillingly refers to certain criteria according to which
he/she estimates the events described. Otherwise, it would not be
possible to describe anything at all. The presence of these criteria
is proved by the fact that Barker and her colleagues, in spite of all
their "methodological agnosticism" always appeal to their own higher
values (which for them ironically take almost religious significance)
and always demand recognition of their scientific objectivity.

It is obvious that for an honest researcher this nonexisting
"methodological agnosticism" is unacceptable. The agnosticism of Mrs
Barker operates by conspiracy theory, trying to frighten everybody
with the mythical sinister "anticult movement", which by definition
cannot be right, and cynically lays the blame for cultic violence on
the victims of this very violence. She, together with her colleagues,
develops and disseminates cultic "atrocity tales" (using her own term)
about anti-cultic forceful deprogramming. Under the cover of loud
incantations about their alone scientific and objective methodology,
the group of sociologists of religion and their accomplices create a
"secondary construction" of the cults which is as far from reality as
Stalinist socialist realism propaganda posters are removed from the
factual grim reality of the GULAG. This group, of which Prof. Barker
is one of the most prominent spokespersons, refuse and try to forbid
others to use the term "cult", let alone "totalitarian or destructive
cult", deny the phenomenon of mind control, refuse to consider
information coming from the former cult members, categorically refuse
to speak about the criminal activity of many cults or about any
unfavorable episodes in the biographies of their leaders. They
cynically refuse to recognize the tragedy, which the cults bring into
the life of enticed and recruited members and their loved ones and
blame the death toll of cults to those whom they call "anticultsts".
Building their "secondary constructions", they see their task in
copying as closely as possible the illusionary "primary constructions"
created by the cults, i. e. in reality their glossy advertisement
image. What the position of Barker and her associates boils down to is
that the only groups that have the right to study the cults and to
write about them are the cults themselves and those whom the cults
have hired and whose writings the cults approve of. Naturally, this is
as far from objectivity and true scholarship as can be. The position
voiced out by Prof. Barker cannot be called anything but a deceptive
and biased cults PR project and it should be treated as such.

[1] As Eileen Barker elegantly though somewhat understating puts it:
"accept their <the cults> hospitality (be it a cup of tea or an
expenses-paid conference)…" "The Scientific Study of Religion? You
Must Be Joking!"//Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, 1995, 34
(3), P. 305.

[2] Among the most prominent members of the Western cult lobby
circles besides Prof. Barker are deceased Oxford Professor Bryan
Wilson, Americans Gordon Melton and James Richardson, Italian Massimo
Introvigne, German Hubert Seiwert and some others. Many interesting
facts can be mentioned about each one of them, which would support our
position, but Mrs Barker is known better in Russia than all of them
together, and this paper is dedicated primarily to her.

[3] Shterin M., New Religions, Cults and Sects in Russia: Critique
and Brief Summary of Problems.
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lo ... sht-w.html

[4] Foreword of Archpriest V. Fedorov to the Russian edition of New
Religious Movements, SPb, 1997, p. XXXIX.

[5] The information received from a former Moonie.

[6] The Duma did not reimburse the expenses of any participant of
these hearings. Moreover, it must be noted that Mrs Barker was
escorted into and out of the hall by Moonie functionaries and that her
interpreter was a Moonie.

[7] Technically, it was this group that paid Mrs. Barker's trip.
However, they did not make a secret of the fact that they did not have
their own budget and that their court expenses were met by the cults
they represented.

[8] See, for example in: Barker E. "Watching for Violence A
Comparative Analysis of the Roles of Five Types of Cult-Watching
Groups". http://www.cesnur.org/2001/london2001/barker.htm

[9] The views of E. Barker relayed here are based upon her article
"The Scientific Study of Religion? You Must Be Joking!"//Journal for
Scientific Study of Religion, 1995, 34 (3) and upon the paper with the
same name delivered at the Conference at Aarhus University, Denmark on
Dec., 3, 1999; and Barker E. "Watching for Violence A Com-parative
Analysis of the Roles of Five Types of Cult-Watching Groups" (a paper
delivered at CESNUR 2001 London Conference).
http://www.cesnur.org/2001/london2001/barker.htm.

[10] Sf. Barker, "The Scientific Study of Religion"… p. 291.

[11] Ibid., P. 288.

[12] Ibid. P. 301.

[13] Ibid., P. 288.

[14] Mrs Barker refers, among others, to Friedrich Max Mueller, one
of the pioneers of scientific studies of religion, who believed that
religious scholars, as opposed to theologians, must describe religious
systems factually, without entering into religions critique, which
should be left to the latter. But, first of all, Mueller never
suggested that the researcher, describing the phenomenon, must free
himself (and his studies) from all moral values. In fact, in his
studies he is guided by and constantly refers to his strong moral
values. And secondly, the scholar described the methodology for the
study of bona fide religious systems, rather than para religious and
pseudo religious totalitarian cults. See, for example, Introduction to
the Studies of Religion. For Lectures delivered at Royal Institution
in Febru-ary and March, 1870 by F. Max Mueller. Bharata Manisha,
India, 1972.

[15] Barker E. "The Scientific Study of Religion…", p. 297. For
example, says Eileen Barker, "there are, however, also "charismatic
leaders" in the NRMs and "leading experts" in the ACM, both of whom
may reap enormous financial benefits from having their constructions
of reality accepted". In other words, both types, if people buy their
social constructions gain huge monetary profit. This argument does not
seem to be very becoming for the scholar who after every second phrase
repeats that she is absolutely objective and impartial. In reality, if
we use the terminology of Mrs Barker, we can see the obvious example
of creating wealth by her "primary construction" of ACM. As for the
stories of the huge financial gains of ACM, it reminds me of a Russian
proverb about the situation at a country fair where those who scream
the loudest: "There is the thief! Get him!" are the pickpockets
themselves.

[16] Ibid, p. 301.

[17] Barker E. "Watching for Violence…".

[18] See, for example: Barker E. "Watching for Violence…"

[19] Barker E. "The Scientific Study of Religion…", 306.

[20] The words of Wilson were quoted by Margitte Valbourg - professor
of religious studies of Copenhagen University at the Conference at
Aarhus University, Denmark on Dec. 3, 1999.

[21] Scientology often orders and pays for the expert opinions by the
local scholars in every country it operates in. In Russia we have
quite a number of these paid for "expert opinions" all written by
former professional atheism propa-gators mentioned before.

[22] It is a term of the cult "Family" (formerly "Children of God").
For further reading on them see writings of Prof. Steven Kent.

[23] I personally witnessed that Gordon Melton while attending the
conference in Denmark in 1994, spent his nights with the "Family". The
members of the cult drove him into the Conference premises every
morning and every evening would pick him up to drive him back.

[24] See, for example: Barker E. "Watching for Violence…"

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

Prof. Alexander L. Dvorkin
Center of Religious Studies
Ozernaya st 42, office 428 Moscow 119361 Russia
Tel./Fax: (+7 495) 785 3634
Mike Gormez

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Sam Hyde
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Postby Sam Hyde » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:19 pm

I heard tickets were selling like hot cakes, too bad I couldnt get mine!

oh btw, uni life is amazing!
thats old now, like me, only 4 weeks to go!!!!!
"I've never let my schooling interfere with my education"

Goblinboy
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Postby Goblinboy » Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:48 pm

Sam Hyde wrote:I heard tickets were selling like hot cakes, too bad I couldnt get mine!

oh btw, uni life is amazing!


Good to hear from you Sam. Which uni, and how amazing?

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Sam Hyde
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Postby Sam Hyde » Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:50 pm

hey mike,
its Reading uni..was on tv tonight (BBC2) and its THIS amazing

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:D I have to admit its nice to be in a new environment :D

sam xox
thats old now, like me, only 4 weeks to go!!!!!

"I've never let my schooling interfere with my education"

mgormez
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Postby mgormez » Wed Nov 01, 2006 1:26 am

Sam Hyde wrote:hey mike,
its Reading uni..was on tv tonight (BBC2) and its THIS amazing

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:D I have to admit its nice to be in a new environment :D


Howdy Sam! I am not GB but I am glad you like the new place. I've missed the BBC broadcast though. But the important question is; any pretty girls there? :p
Mike Gormez

Goblinboy
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Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:07 am

Postby Goblinboy » Wed Nov 01, 2006 5:42 am

mgormez wrote:
Sam Hyde wrote:hey mike,
its Reading uni..was on tv tonight (BBC2) and its THIS amazing

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:D I have to admit its nice to be in a new environment :D


Howdy Sam! I am not GB but I am glad you like the new place. I've missed the BBC broadcast though. But the important question is; any pretty girls there? :p


Thanks Sam. I am sometimes GB, and I second Mike's question.


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