Social scientists who study minority religions have observed that the main activity of the anti-cult movement is to create a moral panic around a targeted minority religion strong enough to make governments react.
Members of the anti-cult movement accomplished this in Waco in the 1990’s, and the resulting catastrophe woke up people in government to their responsibility to use their lethal power wisely when it came to dealing with ‘cults’. Many studies were commissioned in Europe and the US in the late 90’s, asking social scientists to weigh in with real quantitative analysis on the issues surrounding “cults” in their countries.
It became clear that the anti-cult movement (ACM) was mostly made up of Ex-members, some with real stories of abuse, some with a flipped anti-religious fervor against their former religion. The ACM was also composed of fervent believers of mainstream religions who felt that a particular ‘cult’ was immoral or violated their own mainstream religious beliefs. They found journalists in the ACM whose job was to sell newspapers and books and, unless there was something salacious to promote, their stories about ‘cults’ would never sell as news. They found psychologists in the ACM who needed to promote their psychological practices for “cult recovery”. And they found atheists who were just as fervently against the minority religions based on their atheistic beliefs as were the members of mainstream religions. All these disparate interests were working together, for their own reasons, to “raise awareness” of the abuse in the minority religion – only some of which was real.
Too often these governments found that the ACM repeated the same decades old, sometimes centuries old, atrocity stories over and over, to whomever would listen. They would characterize the targeted minority religion as evil, usually omitting the time frame and other vital info from their stories. Conversion to the minority religion was described by the ACM as “being hypnotized” or “brainwashed”, never as a conscious or self-determined decision which simply turned out to be a mistake. Social scientists who studied minority religions which were accused of using “mind control techniques” found no evidence for those accusations. Leaving the religion for a member of the ACM was always described as “escape”, even though only some of them used the term accurately.
Moreover, it was found that the anti-cult movement vigorously fought against social scientists who applied scientific observational and statistical disciplines because, very often, these objective techniques deflated the panic the ACM was trying to whip up.
These governments learned that depending on the anti-cult movement to get you information about abuse that was allegedly occurring in a minority religion could get you into legal trouble if you allowed them to make you too hysterical. And, as in the case of Waco, you could get people killed.
So governments learned to focus on the law. They knew that human beings are prone to prejudice and hysteria to groups and beliefs and morals that are different from their own. And so they stick to legal issues only. Now when these governments act it will be safer for everyone – including the rights and lives of the members of the minority religion.
This is why Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath will never get her federal investigation if Season 2 continues to focus on moral outrages committed by Scientology, and not on any illegal or criminal activity. The federal government, quite rightly, has no power to enforce morals. They have to enforce the law, and to protect the rights of minorities.
And THAT is a good thing.
Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath, Season 2
After observing Leah Remini lie about the beliefs of Scientologists, and blame mothers for their daughters’ suicides, it’s clear that she needs to be watched, and questioned, and scrutinized for every word she says. The emotional manipulation she is engaging in, in pursuit of a moral panic to get her federal investigation, is quite obvious now.
It’s one of the most disappointing things I have seen in my 18 years as a critic of Scientology. The reason to become a critic of Scientology is to tell the truth about it – never to lie, or to obfuscate, or to over-simplify in order to use your information as a weapon. But to tell the truth to ensure that real abuses get reformed and that the rights of these minorities are not violated.
Where Scientology is not breaking the law, no matter how morally repugnant to some people, they must be allowed to practice their religion without interference. In fact, the government must protect Scientology from those who would harm it simply because their morals are not the same as Scientology’s.
The anti-cult movement can become a pernicious and insidious conjurer of deep-seated tribal intolerance. And for ex-members who fall into its worldview on their former selves, that worldview can become very self-destructive. It is very important not to let this self-destruction of Ex-members become destructive to others, as well.
I want a federal investigation of Scientology for the right reasons.
But so far, Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath has not provided any.
For more on the history I’ve given above, see “The Politics of Religious Apostasy” by David Bromley and “‘Brainwashing’ Theories in European Parliamentary and Administrative Reports on “Cults” and “Sects” by James T. Richardson & Massimo Introvigne
Watch these videos for yourself. See how important it is to not let the anti-cult movement succeed in creating so much unchecked hysteria around minority religions that they can get governments to over-react act with lethal power.