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1979 - 2019: 40 Years Commemorating ICSA
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This document illuminates the history of ICSA (name changed from American Family Foundation in 2004) and the cause to which its directors, staff, volunteers, and supporters are dedicated. Between now and the end of 2019, we will share news, articles, anecdotes, photos, and other information from ICSA’s long history. We trust that this historical retrospective will strengthen your support for ICSA’s important work.

Items will be in reverse chronological order of posting, so the most recent additions will be at the top of this page.

ICSA members have access to all ICSA periodicals back to 1979, as well as many other resources.

If you are not already a member, please become one.

10 August 2018

ICSA’s Earliest Years – From a Focus on Government to Education, Assistance, and Research 

Left: Kay Barney, founder and first president of ICSA/AFF, was an executive with Raytheon Corporation. He currently enjoys an active retirement.

The earliest issues of The Advisor demonstrate that much of the activism of the day was directed toward legislators to affect public policy. The first issue (1979), for example, includes reports on: 
  • recommendations of a congressional investigative group looking into the implications of the Jonestown tragedy 
  • hearings of the Mass. State Senate 
  • the setting up of a legislative committee by the Illinois House 
  • legislation introduced in NY to investigate mind control methods 
  • hearings held on Pennsylvania House resolution 
  • NC law on solicitation licenses struck down 
In contrast, the last issue of The Advisor (1984), which had 16 pages versus the 8 pages of issue 1, had one article on government actions, an article on Oregon state and county attempts to deal with the problems posed by the Rajneesh commune in Antelope. This issue also had 
  • articles on specific groups 
  • articles related to court cases (e.g., “Alamo Labor Exploitation Checked by Court,” “Synanon Refused Exemption,” “Krishna Palace and Development Not Tax-Exempt,” “Cult Leader Found Innocent of Cruelty in Child’s Death,” two articles on new approaches to litigation) 
  • campus and international news sections 
  • several articles on topics of interest (e.g., part 1 of “Destructive Cult Conversion: Questions and Answers,” Margaret Singer’s proposal on SMPSI – Systematic Manipulation of Psychological and Social Influence, and Part II of “Shepherding/Discipleship: Personal Accounts of Excesses”). 
During the 5 years between 1979 and 1984, activists had all but given up on persuading government to pass laws related to mind control or other ways to curtail cultic groups. The inherent ambiguity of concepts such as “mind control,” “cult,” and “brainwashing”  defeated attempts to find governmental remedies that would reconcile the sometimes opposing imperatives of justice for victims and religious freedom for people in new religious movements, controversial or not. 

Hence, by the mid-1980s, those concerned about the victims of cultic dynamics began to focus their efforts on education, assistance, and research. Legal and governmental remedies were not ignored, but they were no longer a prime focus. ICSA maintains an extensive collection of articles pertinent to legal and governmental issues.

Subpages (1): 1979-2019 Hold