Articles‎ > ‎

Children and Cults: A Practical Guide


Children and Cults: A Practical Guide

Susan Landa


I. INTRODUCTION

Before one can understand just how often and how seriously children are affected by their involvement in destructive cults, it is necessary to have a general understanding of cults, for "[a]ll (cults) have an impact-some benign, others destructive-on the family unit."[1] Only after acquiring such an understanding can one hope to help children victimized by destructive cults.

This paper attempts to achieve this goal by discussing the general social, legal and psychological issues surrounding children and destructive cults, by providing (1) the definition of a cult, (2) characteristics of cults, (3) recruitment and mind control practices, (4) the effect cults have on their members, (5) child abuse in cults, (b) constitutional issues involving religious cults, (7) litigating custody disputes, and (8) interviewing, counseling and psychologically evaluating children in cults.[2]

II. WHAT IS A CULT?

A cult is an organization whose stated mission is religious, political, philosophical or psychotherapeutic, with a covert mission to accumulate wealth and/or power to benefit its leadership.[3] Although all cults may appear to be based on some variation of religion, not all cults are religious. However, "the cults which have the greatest potential for creating health problems for their members are usually religious in

nature."[4]

The members of a cult generally follow a living leader. This individual is usually a dominant, paternal figure. Occasionally, there is a pair or "family" of leaders.[5] The cult leader often ensures his dominance over the followers by making absolute claims about his character, abilities, or knowledge.[6] Most cults are controlled by men,[7] and are basically totalitarian and sexist in nature. When women do gain power within a cult, the power usually derives solely from a "special" relationship with the male cult leader. The woman involved in such a relationship with the cult leader is considered to hold a place of honor. As a result, the woman's "power" derived from her place of honor may entitle her to special treatment or favors from the other members of the

cult.[8]

III. CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTS

There is not one specific sign or symptom that in and- of itself identifies a group as a cult. There are, however, certain predominant characteristics possessed by all cults. All cults manifest at least some variation of these characteristics, although not necessarily all of them are possessed by all cults.[9] These characteristics include the following:

1. The cult has, or had, a living, central, charismatic, authoritarian leader who commands absolute control, loyalty and allegiance from followers.[10]

2. The leader claims to be infallible and omnipotent, possessing special powers and insight or revelations not available to others.[11]

3. The cult will introduce to its members new and unusual beliefs, practices and values which differ from or are in violation of conventional standards of behavior.[12]

4. The cult teaches that only it possesses the ultimate truth, and creates in its members the belief that leaving the cult will put physical, mental and spiritual health at risk.[13]

5. The cult's "new" theology or philosophy is superficially coherent and appealing, while its "real truth" remains secret and concealed.[14]

6. The cult practices some form of social separatism, elitism, and isolationism. The cult leader encourages his followers to leave their current employment, schools, families, friends and activites that are not cult-related.[15]

7. The leader cultivates, and the cult maintains, a sense of "outside" persecution.[16]

8. The cult adopts its own special language often using new terms and assigning different and special meanings to common, familiar terms. [17]

9. The leader maintains tight control over members in ideological matters and all facets of everyday living through the use of mind control techniques and manipulation of the social structure of rewards and reinforcements.[18]

10. The leader maintains complete control over the members' lives; this includes their sexual practices, as well as when and if the members will have children.[19]

11. There is excessive control of the members' finances. Members may be expected to contribute large tithes, offerings or most or all of their worldly possessions.[20]

12. Children in the cult belong to the leader, with all members of the group considered their "family," and the leader, their father (or mother).[21]

13. The cult's recruitment practices may be aggressive and deceptive.[22]

14. When a cult's deviance reaches extreme levels, it may discontinue recruiting and no longer accept new members into the group. However, occasional supervised visitation from "outsiders" may be permitted.[23]

These characteristics establish a totalistic environment in which the character and identity of the individual cult member is reshaped into the new creation desired by the cult leader.[24]

IV. CULTS: RECRUITMENT AND MEMBERSHIP

A. Who do Cults Recruit?

"[T]he single most important thing to realize in dealing with . . . cults is that we are all vulnerable to conversion," given the right circumstances, time, and place.[25] Although the recruit is no different from anyone else, people frequently "look at the bizarre nature of cults and think you have to be very strange to be involved in one."[26] As a result, victims are typically blamed for their own cult involvement. It is precisely for this reason that it is important to note that almost no one is exempt from or beyond the reach of being the next cult recruit.[27]

"You don't have to be a certain kind of person to succumb to the cults."[28] Individuals who become cult members are not necessarily more insecure than the average person; they are not weak-willed, directionless, or, as a rule, young.[29] In a study of ex-members, Dr. Singer determined that at the time of joining cults, only between five and six percent of the ex-members were previously treated psychologically or suffered from a pre-diagnosed mental illness; with two-thirds of the new recruits essentially normal and enjoying positive relationships with their families. The remainder of the new recruits were experiencing age-relevant depression at the time of joining.[30] "[C]ults generally avoid recruiting people who will burden them, such as those with severe psychological or physical problems. They want people who will stand up to the grueling demands of cult life," not someone who uses drugs or is handicapped.[31]

Cult converts are often physically normal, bright, idealistic people who vary in age from the very young to the old.[32] Many recruits are well-educated and have impressive careers, people that you would normally find in leadership roles. Others, such as journalists, start out intending only to do extensive research on cults by attempting to "temporarily" join a cult for a personal experience and end up never leaving.[33]

There are several myths surrounding cult members. The first is that individuals freely choose to join and remain in the cult. Cult members do not "choose" to join, but are "subjected to mind-altering techniques which gradually induce" them to allow others to make decisions for them.[34]

The second myth is that members are weak-minded or psychopathological. In fact, the best recruits are those persons who are open, intelligent and sincere. New ones tend to be idealistic and frequently naive about the manipulative practices of cults.[35]

A third myth is that members remain in cults because they are happy and satisfied. In fact, they are not allowed to show any "negativity," whether it is discord or pain. If members fail in this, they are punished (physically or psychologically or both) by the group and may even inflict self-punishment. Guilt and fear are instilled in members through mind control; they are convinced that the group is their only way to salvation or worldly success. This fear may be maintained inside the cult's closed totalitarian system through the circulation of false tragic stories (death, institutionalization, and loss of grace) regarding the experiences of members who have left the group.[36]

B. The Recruitment Process

In attempting to obtain new members, the cult recruiter, usually a member of the opposite sex, will approach the potential recruit in the victim's own environment: college campuses, dormitories, social functions, libraries, bus stops or even on the street .[37] The recruiter is instructed by the cult to focus on individuals who appear to be alone or look preoccupied.[38] The recruiter may smile at the potential recruit, make eye contact and initiate a conversation pertinent to the surrounding circumstances, such as the victim's possessions, clothing or equipment.[39] The recruiter may attempt to discuss subjects believed to be of concern to the new recruit. The recruiter may invite the victim to some group function where one or more cult members will be assigned to stay with each potential recruit at all times.[40]

The recruit may be constantly supervised, with privacy of the body and mind denied for days or weeks into the future. This may extend even to the use of the bathroom.[41] The lack of privacy and chance to digest the surrounding stimulus deprives the recruit of the opportunity for personal integration. As a result the new recruit handles the situation by dissociating, which narrows the recruit's mental focus. This in turn makes the recruit more susceptible to suggestion and enables him to be absorbed rapidly into the cult.[42] This initial phase of recruitment has been called the seduction period.[43] The most seductive lure offered by cults to the new recruit "is the promise of love, friendship and acceptance.[44]

C. Deceptive Practices

Cults often purposely fail to inform recruits of the exact nature of their groups, concealing their true identity through the use of front names, until the recruits are fully indoctrinated.[45] By the time the recruit does realize what group he has actually joined, the new member has lost his "ability to think freely and hence cannot rationally decide whether or not he wants to join. [A] convert never has full capacity and knowledge simultaneously."[46] "The Unification Church, not the only group using deception, has previously rationalized the concealment of both its identity and objective by labeling it "Heavenly Deception."[47]

David Molko, a law student, became a cult member after he was persuaded to attend a dinner he thought was sponsored by an environmental interest group calling itself the Creative Community Project. After being reassured that the group was not religious, Molko unsuspectingly became a new recruit of the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon.[48]

When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you've ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate, and understanding person you've ever met, and then you learn that the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true-it probably is too good to be true! Don't give up your education, your hopes and ambitions, to follow a rainbow![49]

V. CULT THOUGHT REFORM/MIND CONTROL

A. Socialization

The new recruit is involuntarily coerced into becoming a cult member through the use of mind control; he or she does not "voluntarily" join the group. In fact, the cult victim may unwittingly participate in the mind control process by cooperating with the recruiters. The victim is most likely unaware of being a participant in the process of mind control since the conversion is a covert process, not involving physical harm.[50] The cult may even identify its name and jokingly refer to brainwashing and the fact the members don't "look" brainwashed, thereby falsely reinforcing the new recruit's feelings of self control. This effectively utilizes the misconception that the victims of mind control have a readily identifiable glazed look.[51]

The cult victim erroneously considers the recruiters and other cult members to be friends or peers, making the recruit much less defensive and easier to convert. This process has been referred to as "socialization," a period in which the recruit begins to think like his "new friends."[52] The victim is made to feel that if he becomes a member of the group, he will be considered "special."[53] It is during this seduction phase that the new member bonds to the cult recruiter. The cult members encourage the recruit to believe that the cult may provide a service that the recruit desires, or that the group is committed to the same goals.[54]

It is through socialization that the elements of mind control work together to create an environment in which the new recruit is isolated within a particular cultural context so that the cult environment becomes the recruit's only reality. Strict control is maintained over the amount and the interpretation of information disseminated to the new recruit. Information is revealed selectively according to the rate that the recruit will accept it without disengaging.[55] Open discussions of both new and old members' doubts or criticisms of the group, doctrine, or leader are discouraged or strictly forbidden by the group's belief system.[56]

This rigid control over disseminated information extends to all relationships. Members are instructed to spy on each other and report improper activities or comments to leaders. New converts are not permitted to talk to each other without an older member present to chaperone them. Most importantly, people are told to avoid contact with ex-members or critics. Those who could provide the most information are the ones to be especially shunned. Some groups even go so far as to screen members' letters and phone calls.[57]

This type of isolation prevents the recruit from weighing new thoughts or beliefs being taught against known reality. The individual is placed in a confusing situation, with unfamiliar rules which do not "correspond to anything the individual has previously known. . . . Being cut off from familiar reality bases, the only readily available way to comprehend the new environment is to accept the ideas and beliefs being offered:[58]

The recruit may be required to give public confessions in front of the cult members. These confessions may include the victim's life story, prior social experiences, family history, and acts that, according to the cult's standards, are transgressions. Access to this information gives the cult the weapons it needs to induce in the recruit a sense of guilt regarding the recruit's past "transgressions" and privileged social status. The recruit is then required to manifest, for the cult members, sufficient guilt and remorse for past acts.[59] If he fails to be sufficiently contrite, the recruit runs the risk of the other members withdrawing their support. This in turn results in isolation and "seemingly endless negative feedback regarding deviations from proper ideological positions and prescribed behavior."[60]

The group thus increases its power over the recruit's life by shifting "the target's social and emotional attachments to individuals who have accepted the organization's authority and rules."[61] These techniques enable the recruiter to rapidly persuade a victim to give up all familiar and loved objects (parents, siblings, home, city), and both emotionally and sometimes physically move him to a foreign environment.

The end result of the entire process is that the victim rapidly takes on the persona of the controllers. The drastic conversion of the new cult member, resulting in an entire personality change with a new person now inside the old one, has been defined as "snapping." The word "snapping" is used to illustrate how the intense experience may affect the brain's fundamental information processing capacities.[62]

B. Overview of Brainwashing and Thought Reform

The term brainwashing was first used in the 1940s to describe the Chinese Communists' attempts to change the political thinking of their prisoners. Their techniques were a form of

"emotional assault," aimed at annihilating the prisoner's sense of identity, reducing his reactivity to a primitive, subhuman level. The prisoner's physical and mental environments were controlled as strictly as possible. Breaking his [the victim's] spirit was made easier because he was in continual conflict with an inflexible environment, completely discordant with his natural milieu. Both in permitted behavior and in admitted standards of reality he was cut off from the "relatedness," without which he cannot survive. A "divided self" results…[63]

As cult recruiting techniques have become more sophisticated and complex, the term "brainwashing" has frequently been interchanged and replaced with the terms "mind control," "thought reform" or "coercive persuasion."[64]

These are terms used for the indoctrination process, which itself is designed to cause the victim to abandon pre-existing political, religious or social beliefs in favor of the cult's ideology and belief system.[65] The cult creates a controlled environment which heightens the victim's susceptibility to thought reform through sensory deprivation, physiological depletion, cognitive dissonance, peer pressure, and a clear assertion of authority and dominion. The aftermath of indoctrination is a severe impairment of autonomy and the ability to think independently, which induces a subject's unyielding compliance and the rupture of past connections, affiliations and associations.[66]

Various combinations of the following elements of mind control result in the cult's coercive persuasion of the unsuspecting victim. There is no one correct combination. Rather, the effectiveness of any variation depends on the nature of both the recruiter and the victim. Obviously, all of the elements listed below need not be present for

thought reform to result:

isolation and total control over the recruit's environment;[67]
control over the channels of information and communication;[68]
psychological depletion, which may occur through repetitious tasks;[69]
manipulation and exploitation of guilt and anxiety;[70]
instructions that the sole chance for survival lies in identifying with, and becoming a member of, the cult;[71]
degradation and assaults on the pre-existing self;[72]
intense peer pressure to give "all" to the cult;[73]
performance of symbolic acts of self-betrayal, confessions[74] and peer criticism;[75]
alternation of harshness and leniency.[76]

The utilization of these mind control techniques causes the individual's personality to be "totally reorganized; fundamental information processing pathways in the brain . . . may become altered or destroyed, causing the disruption of basic capacities to think, feel, and make choices."[77] The ultimate result is the rapid persuasion and conversion of the unsuspecting victim.[78] One Harvard University student described his one-week stay with the Unification Church as posing

the most severe challenge to his independence he had ever faced. After a week he was ready to join, to "give up the complexities of Harvard, my thesis and my Gen[eral] Ed[ucation] requirements and live [the] life of [a cult member]. When he announced after the first few days that he was considering leaving the cult, his "spiritual brother" threatened to break both his legs, if that was what was necessary, to win the student over to the family [the cult]. He was told that the devil was in him, and that he was damning himself and his ancestors by leaving. Although by this time he "believed [this] and felt ashamed ... [o]f the 70 recruits that joined, after 2 weeks, the author was the only one to leave; "many are still there.”[79]

Such radical conversions are apparently easy for cults to accomplish.[80] The intellectual content of the cult material used in the mind control process does not matter; it may be religious, political (left or right), therapeutic, intellectual or philosophical.[81] The conversion occurs as a result of the quality of the recruit's experience.[82] If the cult's control is “rigorous enough, it eventually becomes self-imposed—the individual continues to manipulate his or her own thought processes without the aid of external control and soon learns to manipulate others.”[83]

C. The Cult's Special Language

Cult members are also given a new vocabulary, with specific, common everyday language being given new and special meanings. For example, members of the Love Family teach their children different names for the days of the week (renamed after the seven churches in the Book of Revelations), the months of the year, (renamed after the twelve tribes of Israel), and the word Christ (interchanged with the words the family). The Love Family has even changed the calendar months to consist of thirty days, the extra days being used for the celebration of Passover.[84]

The cult slowly and deliberately changes the members' language which, since early childhood, has been a part of mind and body functions.[85] "Frequently words of any emotional importance have had some shifting of their meaning to an oversimplified, special sort of related definition."[86]

The words become highly emotionally charged, creating a sense of oneness in the group, while further separating the member from the outside world. This new language has been referred to as "loaded language," comprised of catch words and phrases which, if used by a religious cult, may include special God and devil terms.[87]

To effectively evaluate or even question the adult or child cult member, the examiner must first learn the cult's special language.[88] For example, the member may tell the examiner that he or she has "a family that shares." To the uninformed examiner, this may mean that the member's biological family (the family) borrow each other's possessions (share). To the cult member, this statement may actually mean that the cult members (the family) have sex with one another (share).

VI. THE DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS CULTS HAVE ON THEIR MEMBERS

The structure of destructive cults predisposes them "toward abusive practices in general and potentiates their propensity toward child abuse in particular."[89] In a study of the effects cult membership has on children, the following were common responses regarding the role of children as perceived by the various cults:

(1) Children from previous marriage (prior to membership) were considered

inferior--brought up communally--not much access to parents; (2) [The] role of children depended on whether they were born of a couple married by

Moon, in which case they were supposed to be sinless according to the doctrine. The children were special. . . . This is the new race Moon is creating;

(3) Scapegoated to support authority of leaders and image as saints; (4) Chil-

dren are believed to be "merely adults" who don't have their act together.

They are seen as malleable machines . . .[90]

This is particularly true since cults isolate their children both physically and mentally from the "outsiders" in society. As a result it is often difficult for an "outsider" to recognize the cult's abusive practices. Due to the lack of outside contact, the "positive front" the cult presents to "outsiders," and the fact that cult children are instructed never to tell non-members about cult activities, the cult's abuse of children may continue and possibly increase in severity. One of the prime dangers of social isolation is that children in many cults are virtually hostages, solely dependent on the idiosyncratic ideas of the cult leader.[91]

A. Physical Effect

Cult involvement may generate physical and psychological illness or degeneration in children and adults.[92] Some secondary physiological problems which have been found to develop in cult members include "extreme weight gain or loss; abnormal skin conditions such as rashes, eczema and acne; menstrual dysfunction in women and higher-pitched voices and reduced facial-hair growth in men."[93]

The physical abuse experienced by the members may include repeated beatings, torture, incest,[94] starvation, rape, denial of medical care, forced marriages,[95] prostitution, and other deviant practices. A cult's abusive practices generally apply to everyone in varying degrees of severity, depending on each member's status within the group. It is not uncommon that preferential treatment be given first to the leader's offspring, second to those born into the cult, and last to those brought into the cult by their parents. Utilizing this hierarchy, one Canadian group classified their children the New Root Race, Christ Children, or Bastards depending on their origin.[96]

In the Peoples Temple, the leader, Jim Jones, commonly ordered various forms of public punishments for innocuous activities. For example, as a result of being restless in class, one five-year-old girl was taken out at night and left one-quarter of a mile away from her living quarters. The child was told that snakes and monsters were waiting for her. As she walked home, blind-folded, a snake (a slimy rope) was placed on her bare shoulders, while hiding adults made animal sounds.[97]

One fourteen-year-old girl was kept for weeks in a plywood box with only two holes for air and a can for a toilet, while periodically taunted by adults. The plywood box was three feet wide, six feet long and four feet high.[98]

For resting at work and disagreeing on the proper amount of fertilizer, one boy had his teeth knocked out. Another boy was stretched by four adults who pulled on his arms and legs until he was unconscious.[99] The children of Jonestown were also punished for the acts of their parents. If their parents were caught talking privately, the children were forced to masturbate or have sex with someone they did not like in front of the entire congregation.[100]

Some groups physically hurt their children in order to "teach them a lesson," or "break their spirit."[101] To control the behavior of one two-month-old boy, the Garbage Eaters group wrapped a piece of wire around the child's thigh above the knee and tightened it every time he cried. His grandparents discovered the wire after they were able to obtain custody. Doctors stated that scabs around the wire were fresh, evidencing that it had recently been tightened, and had cut so deeply that skin had begun growing over the wire.[102]

These "lessons" may involve punishment that is life threatening. A survey of ex-cult members revealed that the punishment of children in cults may involve burying children up to their necks in dirt, daily spankings, locking them in rooms without windows, and depriving them of all contact with the outside world.[103]

In the House of Judah, the children live in constant danger of being placed in stockades and "beaten repeatedly with cords, switches, branches, broom handles and axe handles . . . ."[104] They are not permitted to express their feelings, "[c]rying when hit by an axe handle or seeing their brother beaten to death over a five day period is not permitted."[105] If a child's behavior is considered bad enough, as defined by the "prophet" (the leader of the House of Judah), beating the child, even until death, is condoned and considered justified.[106] For these children, making mistakes brings very serious consequences, which results in severe handicaps for later adult world functioning.[107]

B. Psychological Effect

Cult members are psychologically abused through emotional deprivation, social isolation, denial of parental nurturing and bonding, and enforced absolute obedience to the leader. The cult leader also places limitations on the cult members' language, thoughts and experiences.[108]

The manipulative techniques used in the cult induction process build up pressures, anxieties, and intense guilt, and create mental and emotional disorders in previously well-adjusted people.[109] Prior to 1987, the frequent psychological diagnosis of the cult victim was an "Atypical Dissociative Disorder." This disorder, the result of coercive persuasion and thought reform, was defined to include trance-like states, derealization unaccompanied by depersonalization, and those more prolonged dissociated states that may occur in persons who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and intense coercive persuasion (brainwashing, thought reform, and indoctrination) while the captive of terrorists or cultists.[110]

In 1987 the diagnosis of "Atypical Dissociative Disorder" was changed to "Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified." The predominant feature of this disorder remains "a dissociative symptom (i.e., a disturbance or alteration in the brain)."[111] Coerced acquiescence in the cult results in a drastic loss in the victim's decision-making capabilities. The member's thought processes become simplistic and begin to function at a lower intellectual level.[112] Almost all

ex-cultists appear To be much younger than their chronological age and display an asexual innocence. They act childlike although they may be well into their twenties. Indeed, during their time in the cult women often stop menstruating and the men's beards grow more slowly. . . Those who remained in cults for many years and did not achieve a leadership position experienced what initially appears to be a diminished ability in the areas of perception, decision making, discrimination, judgment, memory, and speech.[113]

This is demonstrated by the following example:

Edward C, a graduate from an Ivy League university, was a member of a cult for two years. After leaving the cult, he was unable to read a newspaper for several months. His inability to focus his mind provoked anxiety, which made him withdraw by falling asleep whenever he tried to read.[114]

Under these circumstances, cult leaders are able to train members to follow, while not critically thinking about or questioning orders.[115]

C. Preventing the Family Bond

In addition to limiting the members' capability to think critically, the cult also induces members to "believe that the outside world [outside the cult] is dangerous and satanical, that [their non-member] parents hate [them], and that [their] only chance for salvation lies with the group."[116] All family bonds are subordinated to cult loyalties, with the cult considered the superior ("higher") family unit.[117] In an effort

to prevent bonding, one cult leader instructed his followers that

[i]f you are not thinking of the Supreme or of me, if you are thinking of somebody else [your child], some other human being, then unless it is absolutely a mundane thought about telling that person something totally unimportant, that is your destruction. If you think of someone even with softness or tenderness, be careful: danger is approaching you. . . .[118]

The leader's objective is to obtain unquestioning loyalty, undivided devotion, and absolute control over the minds and bodies of his followers. One effective way to achieve this objective is through the "denigration of the biological parent,"[119] inhibiting, and in many cases severing, the biological family bond.[120]

To the cult member, the term "family" includes only those who are members of the group. Cult children are instructed that the leader is their true "father," and he is to have the final authority in all things.[121] The leader, as the father, is the ultimate decision maker in the "family." The "children are taught to place their allegiance with the cult leader or the group as a whole, not their parents.”[122] Since the children are frequently physically and psychologically removed from their parents and raised by the entire cult or others in the cult, it is easier for the leader to obtain their allegiance.[123]

Cult members are taught that nonmembers can and will prevent the member from obtaining the ultimate goals set forth by the cult, whatever they may be.[124] At the leader's request, members sever all ties with nonmember family and friends, particularly if the nonmember disapproves of the cult. As a result it is common for nonmembers (or ex-members) to be prevented from locating or communicating privately with cult members.

The nonmembers or ex-members are considered by the cult to be its worst enemies, particularly since the cult's members are instructed that nonmembers are satanic or agents of the devil.[125] Members of religious cults are trained to believe that all persons not members of their cult are satanic and cannot be trusted. Biblical scriptures are often used to achieve this goal.[126] Some commonly used passages are Matthew 10:36 ("A man's enemies will be the members of his own household") and Luke 14:26 ("If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple").[127]

Since the members of a cult often associate primarily with other cult members, it is common for cult children to have a number of non-member relatives of whom they are unaware. Fortunately, these individuals may prove to be a source of emotional support for the new ex-member or child recently removed from the cult by the state.

D. Parent Participation in Child Abuse

Victims of mind control are capable of being persuaded to commit acts that they would not normally do outside the cult. "The victim of thought reform typically commits criminal acts fully aware of their wrongfulness [according to society's standards]. He [or she] acts consciously, even enthusiastically, and without overt coercion."[128] The cult member "may have even felt the decision to be his own at the time; he may truthfully have said he was acting of his own free will."[129] As a result of thought reform, the member's allegiance lies primarily with the cult's leader, causing the member to adhere stringently to the leader's requests and teaching.

A parent's willingness to participate in or allow the abuse of his or her children at the leader's request is one indicator the leader uses to test the parent's devotion to the cult. It is important to remember that the cult member has absolute faith that the leader's instructions are biblically based or that the leader possesses unquestionable higher knowledge and enlightenment.[130] If the parent or child should object to their leader's commands, the member is considered to lack loyalty and allegiance to the cult, prompting public ridicule or some other punishment.[131] Abusive practices are further facilitated by the fact that the members have been taught never to question or criticize the leader. As a result, the members are unable to protect their children from the cult's child abuse practices.

The cult parent's failure to prevent abuse of his or her children is characteristic of a phenomenon frequently associated with battered women and known as the "learned helplessness syndrome."[132] Learned helplessness results in the emotional numbing and a maladaptive passivity in the cult member.[133] The victim, the cult member, begins to feel that surrounding events cannot be controlled. The victimization at the leader's command combined with the belief that salvation can only be obtained by following the cult leader, both contribute to the loss of control or "helplessness" felt by the cult member.

Once the member feels loss of control of surrounding events, he or she begins operating from a belief of helplessness. In turn, this perception becomes reality and the member becomes passive, submissive and "helpless."[134] The member experiences a feeling of surrender and consequently fails to identify and realize the options available.[135] As a result, "things that appear to be out of . . . control actually . . . get out of . . . control."[136]

To the outsider the cult member, like the battered woman, does not appear as helpless as he or she perceives.[137] However, due to this perception of helplessness, the member no longer has the knowledge or ability to prevent the abuses from happening to him or herself, let alone to someone else.

VII. ARE RELIGIOUS CULTS PROTECTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT?

A. Religious Beliefs Are Protected

The first amendment to the United States Constitution provides in part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"[138] "this includes the states' judiciary."[139] The free exercise clause of the first amendment grants religious freedom to hold religious beliefs.[140] This guaranteed right prohibits "any governmental regulation of religious beliefs

. . . ."[141] Thus, the individual has an absolute, protected right to hold religious beliefs. The government is further prohibited from penalizing or discriminating "against individuals or groups because they hold religious views abhorrent to the authorities . . . ."[142]

Although not all cults are religious, the great majority have a religious basis or focus and look to the first amendment for protection. Because of this, when litigating a case involving a religious cult, it is important to refrain from litigating the validity of the cult's religious beliefs.[143] Even the religious beliefs which are "'rank heresy to followers of the orthodox faiths' are protected by the constitution"; that the "religious rite is curious, unusual, unenlightened or abhorrent" does not prevent it from characterization as religion.[144]

However, whether the cult does in fact qualify as a religion is, in most cases, not at issue. It is false to assume that if the group is religious the state will not have authority to prevent the cult's abusive practices.[145]

B. Religious Conduct Is Not Protected

There is no absolute fundamental right of total religious freedom to act. While the government cannot interfere with the individual's religious beliefs and opinions,[146] the government may prohibit religious conduct and practices motivated by those beliefs.[147] The first amendment does NOT prohibit the government from regulating and legislatively restricting the religious conduct of individuals and groups which

are prompted by and result from religious beliefs, principles and convictions.[148] "Although religious belief is protected absolutely from governmental regulation, religiously motivated conduct is subject to a balancing test that weighs the interests of the religious group against the state's interest in regulating or forbidding the activity.”[149] The state's regulation of religious acts must be justified by a “compelling state interest.”[150] "The government's ability to enforce generally applicable prohibitions of socially harmful conduct, like its ability to carry out other aspects of public policy, ‘cannot depend on measuring the effects of a governmental action on a religious objector's spiritual development."[151] No religious group has the authority or constitutional protection to act contrary to or in disregard of the law.[152] To permit illegal actions based on religion "would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself."[153]

C. Freedom of Association

Along with the freedom of religion, the first amendment also grants and guarantees the freedom of association.[154] The right of association "is connected to the fundamental right to privacy."[155] This includes the freedom to choose a spouse and to maintain family relationships.[156] Freedom of association is afforded to all groups regardless of how abhorrent their goals or interests, as long as those goals are lawfu1.[157] However, like the freedom of religion, the right of association is

not absolute.[158] The state may infringe upon one's ability to associate in furtherance of religious purposes if supported by a compelling state interest.[159]

The cult member parent involved in a custody dispute may argue that the court, by granting custody based in part on the parent's religious involvement, is violating the cult member parent's freedom of association. However, the state's interest may be sufficiently compelling if custody and restrictions on visitation are in the best interests of the child's health, safety, and welfare.

VIII. THE FAMILY RELATIONSHIP AND STATE INTERVENTION

The relationship between parents and their children is a constitutionally protected liberty, with the freedom of personal choice in matters of family life protected by the fourteenth amendment.[160] "[T]he custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder."[161] However, as with religious freedom, parental rights are not beyond limitation."[162] "Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children . . . ."[163] The fourteenth amendment does not remove or restrict the power of the state to enact laws or award custody in order to further promote the health, safety, peace, morals, education or general welfare of the people.[164] In its efforts to protect children, and in some cases the family institution, the state has both the authority and a compelling interest to intervene in the indoctrination and participation of children in religion.[165]

Parents have argued that they have a fundamental right, provided by the first amendment, to punish their children in accordance with religious beliefs. However, in order to guard the general interest of the minor, the state may limit or restrict parental authority and control over matters of conscience and religious conviction.[166] The state's authority to control the conduct of children is more extensive and goes

beyond its authority over adults.[167]

The state, in its position as parens patriae,[168] has "unlimited supervision and control over their [the minor's] contracts, occupations, and conduct, and the liberty and right of those who assume to deal with them."[169] As parens patriae in custody disputes, the state in furtherance of the best interests of the child, may determine which parent should be the primary custodian.[170]

When the state acts as parens patriae on behalf of the interests of the mental or physical health, safety, and welfare of the child, it is "not an unconstitutional interference with the parent's freedom of religion. "[171] This is true even when the state's actions are contrary "to a particular parent's religious beliefs. "[172] For "it is the interest of youth itself, and of the whole community, that children be both safeguarded from abuses and given opportunities for growth into free and independent well-developed men [or women] and citizens."[173]

IX. CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES

In custody disputes, the court's chief concern is the determination of what is detrimental to and in the best interests of the child. "[C]ourts are not particularly interested in custody or visitation rights of the parents, but are primarily interested in the welfare of the children."[174] This requires that the welfare of the child prevail over the parents' interests.[175] The court is given broad discretion and must consider all relevant factors in the determination of the child's best interests.[176]

This determination of the child's best interests should include whether continued cult involvement would be detrimental to the child.[177] The state may look to the religious tenets, practices, or conduct of the parents, even when motivated by religious beliefs and feeling, if it poses a danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the child.[178]

In awarding custody of children, it is appropriate for the court to judicially inquire into the expected religious training of the child as one element which may be considered in promoting the child's general welfare.[179] If continued religious involvement poses no potential danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the child, the establishment clause may prevent the resolution of custody disputes on the merits of the parents' religious beliefs.[180] '[I]f the [custody] decree is silent concerning which parent is authorized to make decisions about the child's care,

education, religion, or training, such authority will be attributed to the child's custodian."[181]

The child's preference may also play a factor in the determination of the appropriate custodian,[182] unless that preference is determined contrary to the child's best interests.[183]

X. LITIGATING CASES INVOLVING CULTS

A. Why Determine If It Is a Cult?

It is especially helpful in litigation for attorneys to know when they are dealing with a cult. It explains the members' unusual behavior and their intense dedication to their leaders. Since the most important thing to cult members is to keep their group together, it is common for adults and children to lie in order to protect the cult.[184] The members have a vested interest in maintaining the cult's existence.[185] This is particularly true since their lives are ruled by the laws of their leaders and not by the laws of the state."[186] Cults routinely encourage their members to disobey or disregard society's laws in favor of the group's mores.[187]

B. Litigation

"When you undertake a cult-related case, be prepared for legal, psychological" and sociological warfare.[188] When working on a case involving cult children, it has proven helpful to explain to the court (1) what is a cult; (2) why it is important to determine if the group is a cult; (3) why it is the cult's practices, rather than beliefs, which are at issue; (4) what effect the cult can have on the children who are members; and (5) what unusual cult characteristics may be expected.[189]

In such a case, the lawyer's

commit[ment] to the client, who is usually fragile because of the cult experi-

ence, must be greater Than in an ordinary case. Be sensitive to the fact that

ex-members still feel that there was something good about the group. So don't attack and say that the entire episode was an evil scam. And don't attack low level cult members who may come to court. They often don't know the whole story about the cult themselves. There is usually idealism involved in cult membership, and your understanding and support will have therapeutic value for the client and provide psychic rewards to you. Keep a cheerful demeanor; humor infuriates cults.[190]

It is a difficult psychological battle to obtain custody of children from cults.[191] The cult leader has prepared for the potential defect of the parent by fully indoctrinating the children. As a result, when the parent plans or attempts to leave the group, the parent must be prepared for one of three things. First, the fully indoctrinated child may not be willing to leave with the parent.[192] Second, the child may act as

a "pipeline," telling the leader that her parents are planning to leave the group.[193] Finally, the child may be kept as a hostage by the cult to coerce the parents into remaining with or returning to the group.[194]

The parent also should be prepared for the cult members' attempt to hide the children from the ex-member, non-cult parent or the state seeking custody. The child may be hidden within that same state, another state or even in another country.[195] Therefore, if at all possible, ex-members should take their children with them when they leave or risk spending years attempting to find them.

When litigating a case involving children, it is not as important to demonstrate that the group is a cult as it is to reveal the group's abusive practices. The focus in the litigation should be on who will do the actual parenting if the child should remain in the cult. Since so many groups separate parents and children, it is common for someone other than the biological parent to be assigned as the "caretaker" for a child. Therefore, the court's inquiry must go beyond the parent-child relationship, with the expert evaluation including issues such as:

1) who controls and directs the parent's functioning and decision-making; 2)

who, other than the parent, disciplines and cares for the child; 3) how much

time parents spend with their children and what is the nature of the interaction; 4) who, other than the parents, makes decisions about the child's up-bringing and education, and what is the basis for these decisions.[196]

If possible, once custody is granted to the ex-member or non-member parent, very strict limitations should be placed on the child's future contact with the cult member parent. The child should not be left alone with this parent, and any further contact with the cult members should be avoided at all costs.

C. Interviewing Children in Cults

The attorney should expect the cult children to be clean cut, well-behaved, disciplined and polite.[197] Cult children often appear much older than their age, due to the cult's demand that children behave like perfect adults.[198] Most cults have little sense of forgiveness for members' mistakes.[199]

If the professional has had no previous experience with cults and child abuse in cults, it may be difficult to successfully interview cult members and to determine the existence of abuse.[200] To be effective, a different, indirect approach must be taken in interviewing members. This is particularly the case since cult leaders mandate that their members maintain strict secrecy regarding cult teachings and actions.[201] The members are likely to have been coached on the appropriate responses that should be given to questions presented by nonmembers. In addition, the child knows that if she or he reveals secret information regarding the cult's practices, she or he will be severely punished or even ostracized from "the family.[202]

For a successful interview of any cult member, the interviewer must be able to identify the special language (buzz words) and mores of the specific cult's culture.[203] To obtain this information, the interviewer should consult with cult experts or ex-members of the cult in question.[204] The interview process is generally lengthy and requires that the interviewer know what questions to ask. The following list[205] may assist in determining whether the group is a cult, the amount of control the cult has over the child, and the extent of abuse. Although these questions were designed primarily to assist the interviewer in questioning and evaluating children, they may also prove valuable in evaluating adult cult members as well.

1. Is prenatal care provided for the pregnant members?

2. Are the births or deaths legally recorded?

3. Are children immunized and do they receive medical care?

4. Do they wear glasses or any special aids?

5. Does the child attend school outside the group?

6. If they attend their sect school, is it accredited?

7. If children attend public school, do they have friends who are non-members?

8. Do they participate in extracurricular activities?

9. Will the group allow outsiders to talk to the children alone?

10. Do the children exhibit emotions characteristic of children their age?

11. Do children associate with relatives outside the group?

12. Do children allow outsiders to touch them?

13. Do they answer freely and without reservations when asked about the cult?

14. Can they carry on a conversation?

15. Do they speak of their natural parents as mother and father?

16. Do they live alone with their natural parents?

17. Are they allowed to play with children outside the group?

18. Do they have their own toys?

19. Will they speak about punishment and who sets the type and performs the punishment?

20. Can these children make decisions on their own?

21. Will they answer questions freely in front of their elders without looking to them for approval?

22. Do they feel that illnesses should be medically treated?

D. Psychological Evaluation of Children in Cults

Evaluating children in cults is particularly difficult.[206] Although standardized psychological testing may prove to be helpful in the evaluation, they may not reveal that the child tested is a member of a destructive cult.[207] The tests may erroneously determine that the cult child has not been subjected to abuse[208] because standardized tests are designed to detect psychological deterioration. Unfortunately, psychological deterioration may not be as readily identifiable in a child raised in the cult's peculiar deviant behavior.[209]

A destructive cult does not abide by the norms and mores of society, but instead regiments members in the cult's standard of behavior. As a result, deviant behavior incorporated into cult doctrine is considered normal by the cult members, even though it is considered aberrant by society.[210] For example, a child in our society usually learns that deviant sexual acts are abnormal, unacceptable standards of conduct. As a consequence, the child will exhibit the coinciding psychological trauma if the sexual activity should occur. In contrast, the cult child indoctrinated in a belief system that condones deviant sexual activity may not experience the same type of psychological trauma or deterioration because the child believes that the abnormal activity is in fact normal.[211] This is particularly true in groups with members who are strictly controlled and isolated from contact and communication with non-members. Therefore, the "traditional" examination procedures may not detect the existence of the extreme abuse suffered by the cult child. As a consequence the child may be returned to the cult environment based on an erroneous determination that the child's health, safety, and welfare are not at risk.

E. Experts

It is essential in a case involving a cult that both the attorney and mental health professionals consult with cult experts.[212] Especially in this type of case, trial strategy must include the utilization of a variety of experts. At least one expert should act as the fact finder, providing information for the court regarding the lifestyle, parenting styles, conduct and various abuses of the cult.[213]

There should also be one or more ex-members of the cult in question available to testify regarding the group's practices when the ex-members were involved in the group.[214] In addition, a showing is required that the cult continues to engage in those practices. Therefore, an expert is needed to testify to that effect. Cult experts advise that cults rarely change their practices, and if they do it generally results in an escalation of the abuse and deviancy of the group.[215]

A mental health expert, preferably a child psychologist, is also necessary to testify regarding the psychological effect that the cult's activities have on the children.[216] This expert, or a second mental health expert, should have the responsibility of conducting an extensive psychological evaluation of the child.[217]

XI. LEAVING THE CULT

A. Exit Counseling/Deprogramming

Due to the many negative connotations attached to the word "deprogramming," the terms "exit counseling," "psychological recovery" and "re-entry counseling" are used interchangeably to describe formal methods of treatment for the ex-member. Exit counseling (deprogramming) is defined as supportive therapy, with an "emphasis on reeducation, restitution of ego strength that existed before the trauma and alleviation of the guilt and depression that are the remnants of frightening experiences and the loss of confidence and confusion in identity that results from it."[218] A variety of methods have been tried by families in an attempt to retrieve family members and friends from cults and deprogram them.[219] Although voluntary exit counseling has been seen as less stressful than involuntary exit counseling, both have been used. Voluntary exit counseling is legal; involuntary deprogramming is not.

Cult members are frequently warned about the possibility that their parents may attempt to involuntarily deprogram them. Several ex-members have even "reported they had been instructed in a method for slashing their wrist safely, to evade pressure by ‘satanic' deprogrammers-an instruction that alerted them to the possibility that the cult's declaration of love might have some not-so-loving aspects."[220] Some cults teach their members intensive chanting, meditating procedures and catch phrases in preparation for any situation where the members may be faced with an attack on their cult beliefs. This procedure is to aid the members in maintaining a hypnotic state, thereby preventing them from forming any thoughts and doubts about the cult. Some cult members "can apparently re-enter a trance state with a narrowed consciousness of reality the first moment that somebody questions or challenges" them.[221]

When family members have utilized involuntary deprogramming, despite its illegality, the ex-members have said that:

they were grateful for the intervention and had been hoping for rescue. These

people say that they had felt themselves powerless to carry out their desire to

leave (the cult) because of psychological and social pressures from companions and officials inside. They often speak of a combination of guilt over defecting, and fear of the cult's retaliation—excommunication--if they tried. In addition, they were uncertain how they would manage in the outside world that they had so long held in contempt.[222]

However, there are other families who have unsuccessfully attempted an involuntary deprogramming and have ended up being prosecuted or sued civilly.

Although it is extremely difficult for the member to physically leave the cult, it is even more difficult for the ex-member to leave psychologically. Cult leaders have complete control over their followers as evidenced by the numerous ex-members who have stated that "they would have killed for their cult leader, that they made such plans and even attempted to carry them out, and that they would have had no qualms about committing suicide, if told to do so."[223] Exit counseling is designed to assist the member in leaving the group psychologically. Ex-members who have had the opportunity to receive exit counseling are reported to have recovered much more rapidly than those who did not.[224] Some recovering ex-members have also benefited from attending support groups comprised of other ex-cult members. If unavailable,

others have benefited from support groups for children from dysfunctional families or survivors of incest.[225]

B. Treating the Ex-Member

For effective psychological treatment the "therapist must have a comprehensive understanding of the process of mind control and brainwashing."[226] The therapist must possess knowledge of the cult's "buzz words," language systems, philosophical teachings, specific types of behavioral controls and demands to which the victims have been subjected.[227]

Children have a particularly difficult time when leaving a cult, due to the dependence and attachment they feel for the leader and other cult members. When a child leaves the cult he or she is, in some cases, leaving the only family and friends ever known. The child knows that the current cult members are instructed to break off all contact with the ex-member, regardless of their family ties.[228]

In contrast to the adult's experience, the ex-member child may have no prior frame of reference. It would not be unusual for a child's life experience to be limited solely to what he was exposed to while in the cult. Depending on the idiosyncrasies of the cult, the child may not have a birth certificate, may never have attended school, visited a dentist or doctor, eaten meat, slept on a bed, seen a television or listened to a radio.[229] As a result, the child may experience a great deal of culture shock in attempting to adjust and function in the outside world.

Various cults isolate members in differing degrees. Some cult children may have attended public school and consequently been exposed to outsiders. Other groups may completely isolate their members physically and emotionally from the outside world. One example is Michael, a thirteen-year-old boy removed from a radical group known as MOVE. As a member of MOVE, he did not attend school, learn to write, read and count, play with toys, watch TV, ride bikes or eat cooked food, which made it difficult for him to adjust to the outside world. Consequently, Michael was unable to grasp the conceptual difference between the different valuations placed on money (i.e., quarters, dimes, nickels). Michael also has had difficulty understanding the notion of time, and learning the days of the week. On at least one occasion Michael went to school carrying his teddy bear, which he dressed in underpants, shorts and a T-shirt.[230]

Therefore a gradual integration into society may be beneficial, depending on the extent of the cult's isolation.[231] As stated by one teenage ex-cult member, "while growing up in the cult, you don't think it is wrong; it is the only thing that you have ever known.”[232] The cult "taught you that you were someone special because you were a member of the group, and that the world, outside the group, was a bad place. I feel like I don't fit into either world. I don't belong in the group any more, and I don't fit in on the outside."[233] Once out of the group, the child should be encouraged to develop his own personality without the rigid limitations imposed by cult membership.[234]

The cult leader's denigration of the family unit makes it difficult for ex-members who do obtain custody of their ex-cult member child. The ex-member parent may lack credibility in the eyes of his or her children because, while members, the children were taught that only the leader was vested with absolute and final authority.[235] Consequently, children may distrust their non-member parent or guardian due to the sudden change in rules and the distrust instilled through cult ideology. At this point, the child's parents must explain to the child why certain behaviors that were acceptable while in the cult are no longer acceptable, and discuss the new opportunities now available.[236] A surviving friend, an ex-member of the Peoples Temple, delivered the following eulogy for a young friend who died in Jonestown:

She grew up in P.T. (Peoples Temple) all her life, she didn't know what the outside world was like. And she'd wonder, she'd talk about it, she wanted to know . . . . "Just for a day," she said, she'd "like to know how it was on the outside world." It's hard for me to relate to her dying. Because I know she wanted that chance and she never got it. She had no way to get out. Nobody to turn to.[237]

XII. CONCLUSION

The key to litigating a case involving a religious cult is to remember that abusive conduct and practices of cults, which are detrimental to the child's health, safety and welfare, are not protected by the first amendment. Attorneys must be sensitive to the needs, concerns and fears specific to the ex-cult member. Children in cults, due to their inability to speak and act for themselves, as well as their isolation, are in great need of protection for they are the helpless victims of an isolated totalistic society.



*Attorney practicing in Palm Springs, California. B.A. University of Washington, 1987; J.D. Gonzaga School of Law, 1990.

The author would like to express her thanks to Shirley Landa for being a pioneer in educating the public regarding child abuse in cults.

[1] Shirley Landa, HIDDEN TERROR: Child Abuse in Religious Sects and Cults, Justice for Children 1, 2 (1989) (emphasis added) [hereinafter Landa, HIDDEN TERROR]. To obtain copies of Shirley Landa's papers or other information regarding children in cults, contact Ms. Landa at 19419 Bothell Wy. N.E., Bothell, WA 98011.

It is difficult to determine the exact number of cults in existence worldwide. It is estimated that there are between 2,500 and 8,000 cults in the United States, with their membership ranging from a few individuals to tens of thousands. Not all cults are destructive, and it may be difficult for an "outsider" to discover a cult's destructive practices if they do exist because the various groups attempt to present a positive image to the general public. Crosby, When Friends or Patients Ask About Cults, 242 J.A.M.A. No. 3, at 1 (1979); Schwartz, The Meaning of Cults in Treatment of Late Adolescent Issues, 13 Adolescent Psychiatry 188 (1986) [hereinafter Schwartz, Treatment of Adolescent]; West, Contemporary Cults - Utopian Image, Infernal Reality, CENTER MAG., Mar.-Apr. 1982, at 35; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon: Fad or Fact?, 9 N.Y.U. REV. L. & SOC. CHANGE 17 (1980-81) [hereinafter Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon]. As of 1985 the five largest groups were 1) The Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon (Moonies), 2) The Church of Scientology, 3) The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna or ISKCON), 4) The Way International, and 5) Rajneeshies. Big Five Names in the Cult Converts Business, Glasgow Herald, Apr. 2, 1985; F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, SNAPPING 16 (2d ed. 1979) [hereinafter F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN].

This paper will reference, in addition to other groups, 1) The Love Family, 2) The Garbage Eaters, 3) The House of Judah, 4) The Sullivan Institute for Research in Psychoanalysis Fourth Repertory Company, 5) The Children of God, and 6) The Peoples Temple.

The Love Family, also known as Church of Armageddon, is led by Paul Erdman, who now goes by the name of Love Israel (Love). The group lives communally in the Pacific Northwest.

Love instructs his followers that they do not need to obey any law except the law of Love, Paul Erdman. F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra, at 69-70, 156-57; Telephone interview with Henrietta Crampton (Apr. 4, 1990) [hereinafter Crampton]. Ms. Crampton's daughter and grandchild were members of the Love Family.

The Garbage. Eaters are a nomadic group who have acquired the name Garbage Eaters because they literally eat out of garbage cans. The leader of the Garbage Eaters, Jimmie Roberts, believes that, according to the Bible, "child abuse and neglect were God's way to ensure obedience . . . ." Landa, Child Abuse in Cults, presented at the Fifth International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect in Montreal, Canada (Sept. 16-19, 1984), and presented at the American Humane Association Children's Division 108th Annual Meeting and Training Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Anaheim, California (Oct. 10-13, 1984) [hereinafter Landa, Child Abuse].

In the House of Judah, children, though generally nutritionally healthy, are raised in a physically unsafe and developmentally destructive environment. Their bodies are seriously and permanently injured through repeated physical beatings. Helfer, The Children of the House of Judah, 2 (1983) (unpublished article) [hereinafter Helfer]; Landa, Family Relationships and Education of Children in Cults, presented at the First International Congress on Cults and Society in Barcelona, Spain (Nov. 27-29, 1987) [hereinafter Landa, Family Relationships].

The Sullivan Institute For Research in Psychoanalysis Fourth Repertory Company [hereinafter the Sullivan Institute] is known as a therapy cult; it is not a religious group. The Sullivan Institute is located on the Upper West Side of New York City, with the majority of its members well-educated professionals in their late twenties to early forties. The four leaders of the Sullivan Institute maintain control over every aspect of the members' lives through the ideology of "therapy." The leaders' control extends to the members "living arrangements, professional lives, finances, marriages, sex practices" and decisions pertaining to the propriety and timing of the conception of children. Reed, Two Anxious Fathers Battle a Therapy 'Cult' For Their Kids, TIME, July 25, 1988, at 46 [hereinafter Reed, Two Anxious Fathers]; Kandel, Litigating the Cult-Related Child Custody Case, CULTISM AND LAW 2 (Sept. 1984) [hereinafter Kandel, Litigating], reprinted in R. ANDRES & J. LANE, CULTS & CONSEQUENCES: THE DEFINITIVE HANDBOOK (1988) [hereinafter R. ANDRES & J. LANE]. Also see Temerlin & Temerlin, Some Hazards of the Therapeutic Relationship, 3 CULT STUD. J. No. 2 (Fall/Winter 1986).

The Children of God (also known as the Family of Love) is a somewhat nomadic group led by David "Moses" Berg. The group has lived in and been kicked out of several different countries, primarily for child abuse and prostitution. The members frequently live in a communal environment. There is no church per se. Instead the members' lives are regimented by "God" Moses Berg, through a series of letters known as the Mo-letters, written by Moses Berg. The members, both children and adult, are encouraged to have sex with one another, their siblings and their children. To obtain new recruits, the members are instructed to do whatever is necessary, including using sex. This practice is referred to as "flirty fishing." Telephone interview with Debbie Davis, an ex-member of the Children of God and the eldest daughter of Moses Berg (Apr. 8, 1990) [hereinafter Davis]. Davis has also authored a book on the subject. D. DAVIS, THE CHILDREN OF GOD: THE INSIDE STORY (1984). For further information pertaining to the Children of God, see the following pamphlets: Moses David Berg, Rape! (Apr. 24, 1974); Moses David Berg & Maria Berg, The Hooker! A Fisherman Instructs His Bait! (Feb. 2, 1974); Moses David Berg, DOES FF-ING PAY? (Sept. 6, 1977); Moses David Berg, The Basic MO Letters, (Jan. 3, 1974). See also F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra; Telephone interview with Una McManus, an ex-member of the Children of God (April 8, 1990) [hereinafter McManus interview]. Una McManus also authored U. MCMANUS & J.C. COOPER, NOT FOR A MILLION DOLLARS (1980). See also Conway & Siegelman, Information Disease: Have Cults Created a New Mental Illness, Sci. Dig., Jan. 1982, at 86; [hereinafter Conway & Siegelman, Information Disease]; Delgado, Religious Totalism as Slavery, 9 N.Y. U. REV. L. & SOC. Change 51 (1980-81) [hereinafter Delgado, Religious Totalism].

[2] The terms new member, (new) recruit, victim and target will be used interchangeably. Also used interchangeably are the terms brainwashing, mind control, coercive persuasion and thought reform.

[3]Telephone interview with Dr. Arthur Wassmer (Apr. 3, 1990) [hereinafter Wassmer interview]. Dr. Wassmer, a clinical psychologist in Kirkland, Washington, is an expert in cults, an author and adjunct professor at the University of Washington. For more information pertaining to the basic definition of a cult, see Goldberg, Cults on Campus, How Can You Help?, CAMPUS L. ENFORCEMENT J., Mar.-Apr., 1986, at 13, 14 [hereinafter Goldberg, Cults on Campus]; S. HASSAN, COMBATTING CULT MIND CONTROL 39-40 (1988) [hereinafter S. HASSAN]. Hochman, Miracle, Mystery, and Authority: The Triangle of Cult Indoctrination, 20 PSYCHIATRIC ANNALS No. 4 at 179 (Apr. 1990) hereinafter Hochman]; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism Gained Momentum Over Last Decade, 4 PSYCHIATRIC TIMES 1, 2 (Apr. 1989) [hereinafter Cidylo, Destructive Cultism] (citing Dr. Michael Langone, the director of research and education at the American Family Foundation).

[4] Gaines, Wilson, Redican & Baffi, The Effects of Cult Membership on the Health Status of Adults and Children, 8 HEALTH VALUES: ACHIEVING HIGH LEVEL WELLNESS No. 2, at 13 (Mar.-Apr. 1984) [hereinafter Gaines, Wilson, Redican & Baffi].

[5] R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-6.

[6] Id.

[7] One notable exception is the Church Universal Triumph (C.U.T.) led by Elizabeth Claire Prophet, also known to her followers as the mother, guru ma, the messenger of the ascended masters and vicar of Christ. Religion and the Law, Daily News Local, Feb. 19, 1986, at 3. The members of C.U.T. have built forty-five well-equipped bomb shelters in Montana, one of which has the capacity to hold 756 people. The bomb shelters have been built in preparation for the pending nuclear holocaust prophesied by Elizabeth Prophet. A Test of Faith, L.A. Times, Mar. 29, 1990, at E8.

[8] Position of Women in Modern Cult Movements, 1 JCRC Task FORCE ON MISSIONARIES AND CULTS No. 2, at 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1982) [hereinafter Position of Women]; F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 157-58; A. RUDIN & M. RUDIN, PRISON OR PARADISE? THE NEW RELIGIONS 24 (1st ed. 1980) [hereinafter A. RUDIN & M. RUDIN]; Telephone interview with Dr. Margaret Singer (Aug. 8, 1990) [hereinafter Singer interview]. Dr. Singer, a clinical psychologist, is an adjunct professor with the department of psychology at the University of California at

Berkeley. She has studied thought reform and intense influence since the Korean War. She has worked with numerous prisoners of war and more than 3,000 ex-cult members. Dr. Singer, an international expert and lecturer, was the recipient of the Leo J. Ryan Award (honoring the U.S. representative killed in Guyana) in 1980.

[9] Lucksted & Martell, Cults: A Conflict Between Religious Liberty and Involuntary Servitude? (Part II), FBI L. ENFORCEMENT BULL. May, 1982, at 16; S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 78-84; Telephone interview with Shirley Landa (Apr. 3, 1990) [hereinafter Landa interview].

[10] R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-6; Schwartz, Charismatic Leadership: A Case in Point, 3 CULTIC STUD. J. No. 1, at 57 (1986); Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Landa interview, supra note 9; A. RUDIN & M. RUDIN, supra note 8, at 20.

[11] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Hochman, supra note 3, at 182; A. RUDIN & M.

RUDIN, supra note 8, at 20; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-6.

[12] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note l, at 1-12.

[13] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Landa, supra note 1; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-12. See also, Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

[14] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-13; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1, at 24.

[15] R. LIFTON, THOUGHT REFORM AND PSYCHOLOGY OF TOTALISM: A STUDY OF "BRAINWASHING" IN CHINA 68-69 (1961) [hereinafter R. LIFTON]; Wassmer interview, supra note 3; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-12; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1, at 17; W. APPEL, CULTS IN AMERICA: PROGRAMMED FOR PARADISE 87 (1983) [hereinafter W. APPEL]; A. RUDIN & M. RUDIN, supra note 8 at 23; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

New recruits often “shed their old identities and take on new ones … They have a sense of rebirth, or a starting over, and so, often adopt new names, new vocabulary, and new clothing in order to purify themselves for their new lives.” A. RUDIN & J. RUDIN, supra note 8, at 25.

In the Love Family, as part of giving up their past, the members perform a ceremony during which they burn their driver’s licenses, birth certificates and all other identifying papers. Crampton, supra note 1.

[16] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-13; Landa interview, supra note 9.

[17] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Landa interview, supra note 9; A. RUSIN & M. RUDIN, supra note 8, at 25; Singer interview, supra note 8.

[18] 18 Wassmer interview, supra note 3; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 1-13; A. RUDIN & M. RUDIN, supra note 8, at 23. Goldberg & Goldberg, Group Work With Former Cultists, SOCIAL WORK, Mar. 1982, at 165 [hereinafter Goldberg, Former Cultists]. The Goldbergs' article is available by writing to the Goldbergs at 302 Van Saun Drive, River Edge, New Jersey, 07661.

[19] Landa interview, supra note 9; Hochman, supra note 3, at 180. The cult leader may either forbid sex unless it is for the sole purpose of procreation or advocate promiscuous sexual behavior.

[20] Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[21] Goldberg, Former Cultists, supra note 18, at 167.

[22] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 61.

[23] R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1; Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Landa interview, supra note 9.

When state officials investigate cults, they often find the cult's facilities clean and neat, with the members both friendly and happy. What the officials may not realize is that they have been given a "special tour," the one given to outsiders in order to make a good impression. Visitors see only what the cult wants them to see. "In fact, the visit can be compared to the visits of the Red Cross to the Nazi concentration camps. They only saw what was staged for them to see." Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 10-I1; Landa, Warning Signs, 2 AREOPAGUS 16, 21

(1989) [hereinafter Landa, Warning Signs].

[24] R. LIFTON, supra note 15.

[25] F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 184 (emphasis added); S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 49-50, 52.

[26] Kinney, Cults: What’s Happening to the Kid Next Door, MADISON MAGAZINE, May 1984, at 1 [hereinafter Kenny, Cults].

[27] Singer interview, supra note 8; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 1-2.

The following test demonstrates the individual’s vulnerability to cult conversion. Answering yes to three or more of the following questions makes one a prime candidate, regardless of age, for a cult.

All that is missing is the right time, place and a recruiter …

1. I am considered bright in most things.

2. I am a curious person about the world around me

3. I have been a leader among my friends at school, in my youth groups, and/or extracurricular activities.

4. I have been a member of a group and considered myself a follower

5. I have moments when I doubt myself and my ability to succeed.

6. I am afraid of the future from time to time.

7. I am considered idealistic by parents and/or some of my friends.

8. I enjoy being liked by those I like, and I enjoy receiving compliments from them.

R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 2-3, 2-4 (quoting Judy Israel).

[28] Collins, The Psychology of the Cult Experience, N.Y. Times, Mar. 15, 1982 at B-5 (citing Dr. Margaret Singer).



[29] Delgado, Cults and Conversion, The Case for Informed Consent, 16 GA. L. REV. 546 (1982) hereinafter Delgado, Cults and Conversion].

[30] Singer interview, supra note 8. For further information see Langone, Working With Cult-Affected Families, 20 Psychiatric Annals 194 (Apr. 1990) [hereinafter Langone, Families]. See also Martin, Cult Awareness on Campus, CAMPUS L. ENFORCEMENT J., Mar.-Apr. 1986-87, at 6.

[31] S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 50. There are some exceptions where drugs are used in cults.

[32] R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 2-11; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 54-75.

[33] Lured by "Satan," He Attacks the Cults, N.Y. Times, Nov. 22, 1981, § 2, Arts and

Leisure, col. 2, at 17.

[34] Engel, The Cult Experience: Myth and Reality, CULT OBSERVER REP., May-June 1988, at 5.

[35] Id.

[36] Id.

[37] Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 546-47.

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] '° Id.; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 82.

[41] Testimony of Steven I. Holley, Ph.D., before the Kansas House of Representatives, regarding temporary guardianship, House Bill No. 2688 by Representative Knopp (Feb. 4, 1981) [hereinafter Holley testimony].

[42] Kinney, Cults, supra note 26.

[43] Singer & Ofshe, Attacks on Peripheral versus Central Elements of Self and the Impact of Thought Reforming Techniques, 3 CULTIC STUD. J. No. 1, at 3, 7-8 (1986) [hereinafter Singer & Ofshe, Attacks].

[44] Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

[45] Schwartz & Zemel, Religious Cults. Family Concerns and the Law, J. MARITAL & FAM. THERAPY, July 1980, at 301, 305 [hereinafter Schwartz & Zemel, Religious Cults]; S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 99-100. It is important to note that not all cults have names. The Cult Awareness Network, located in Chicago, maintains lists of front names frequently used by various cults.

[46] Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1, at 25 (citing the testimony of Rabbi Laurence Gevirtz at The Assembly of the State of New York Public Hearing on Treatment of Children by Cults, Vol. II, at 110 (Aug. 9, 1979)). Testimony of Richard Delgado at the Information Meeting on the Cult Phenomenon in the United States, Washington, D.C. (Feb. 5, 1979). See also F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 29-36; S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 100; Roggeman, Officers Can Help by Being Informed, CAMPUS L. ENFORCEMENT J., Mar.-Apr. 1986, at 18.

[47] Rosenzweig, High-Demand Sects: Disclosure Legislation and the Free Exercise Clause, 15 NEW ENG. L. REV. 129, 142 (1979) [hereinafter Rosenzweig, Sects]; Schwartz & Zemel, Religious Cults, supra note 45, at 305. The Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon operates under at least seventy different "front" names.

[48] Molko v. Holy Spirit Ass'n for Unification, 109 S. Ct. 2110 (1989). The Molko Court held that ex-members may proceed with a suit for fraud against the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon for their deceptive recruitment practices.



As of 1979, the Unification Church had approximately 60,000 to 80,000 members and today is considered the largest and richest actively recruiting group. Sun Myung Moon is called the Messiah, and "claims to be a divine being sent to earth to finish the work of Jesus Christ, which he sees as the breeding of the ideal race." F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 35.



For other personal accounts of cult involvement, see Galanti, Brainwashing and the Moonies, 1 CULTIC STUD. J. 27 (May 1984) (one woman's account of spending a weekend with the Unification Church) [hereinafter Galanti, Brainwashing]; Scharff, Autobiography of a Former Moonie, CENTER MAG., Mar.-Apr. 1982, at 25; S. HASSAN, supra note 3 (the story of a former Moonie); D. DAVIS, CHILDREN OF GOD: THE INSIDE STORY (1984); P. HEARST & A. MOSCOW, PATTY HEARST: HER OWN STORY (1982); U. MCMANUS & J.C. COOPER, NOT FOR A MILLION DOLLARS

(1980) (the story of a former member of the Children of God); M. YANOFF, WHERE IS JOEY: LOST AMONG THE HARA KRISHNA (1981) (a grandfather's struggle to find his grandson); M. SMITH & L. PAZDER, MICHELLE REMEMBERS (1981) (the story of a woman who, through the assistance of a psychiatrist, remembers her experiences as a child in a satanic cult); J. FREED, MOONWEBS (1980) (the story of a former Moonie; the movie Ticket To Heaven was based on this book); M. WHITE, DECEIVED (1979) (tells the story of the former members of the Peoples Temple); R. CONNER,

WALLED IN (1979) (the story of a boy who was raised in a cult); R. MARTIN & B. PALMER YOUNG, ESCAPE (1979) (the story of a former member of the Garbage Eaters); B. UNDERWOOD & B. UNDERWOOD, HOSTAGE TO HEAVEN (1979) (the story of an ex-Moonie and the mother who rescued her); B. CORYDON & L. RON HUBBARD JR., L. RON HUBBARD: MESSIAH OR MADMAN (1987) (life in Scientology by two ex-members).

[49] J. MILLS. SIX YEARS WITH GOD: LIFE WITH REV. JIM JONES’S PEOPLES TEMPLE (1979).

[50] Galanti, Brainwashing. Supra note 48. See Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 5 (citing Carol Giambalvo, an ex-cult member and the current national coordinator of FOCUS, a former cult-member support network.

[51] Id. At 5.

[52] Galanti, Brainwashing, supra note 48, at 30.

[53] Id. See also, Andersen & Zimbardo, On Resisting Social Influence 1 CULTIC STUD. J., No. 2, at 196 (Fall/Winter 1984); Andersen & Zimbardo, Resisting Mind Control, USA Today, Nov. 1980 [hereinafter Andersen & Zimbardo, Resisting].

[54] Singer & Ofshe, Attacks, supra note 43, at 7-8.

[55] Kinney, Cults, supra note 26.

[56] Hochman, supra note 3, at 182.

[57] S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 65.

[58] Holley testimony, supra note 41, at 1-2.

[59] Singer & Ofshe, Attacks, supra note 43, at 7-8.

[60] Id. at 7.

[61] Id. at 11.

[62] F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note l, at 134-40.

[63] T. TEAR, THE MOLDING OF MODERN MAN, A PSYCHOLOGIST'S VIEW OF INFORMATION, PERSUASION AND MENTAL COERCION TODAY 124 (19__); R. LIFTON, supra note 15; Hochman, supra note 3; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 81-84.

[64] " See S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 55-56; Galanti, Brainwashing, supra note 48.

For a historical overview regarding the process of mind control or brainwashing and cult characteristics, see Lunde & Wilson, Brainwashing as a Defense to Criminal Liability: Patty Hearst Revisited 13 CRIM. L. BULL. 341 (1977) [hereinafter Lunde & Wilson]; HAZEL, THE POWER of PERSUASION (1989); Luckstead & Martell, Cults: A Conflict Between Religious Liberty and Involuntary Servitude? (Part II), FBI L. ENFORCEMENT BULL. May, 1982, at 16; Hochman, supra note 3, at 179; Holley testimony, supra note 41; Singer & Ofshe, Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties, 20 PSYCHIATRIC ANNALS 188 (Apr.,

1990) [hereinafter Singer & Ofshe, Thought Reform Programs]; Delgado, When Religious Exercise is Not Free: Deprogramming and the Constitutional Status of Coercively Induced Belief. 37 VAND. L. REV. 1071 (1984) [hereinafter Delgado, Religious Exercise]; Rosenzweig, Sects, supra note 47; Schwartz & Zemel, Religious Cults, supra note 45.

[65] Singer & Ofshe, Thought Reform Programs, supra note 64, at 189; Delgado, Ascription of Criminal States of Mind: Toward a Defense Theory for the Coercively Persuaded ("Brainwashed") Defendant, 63 MINN. L. REV. 1 (1978) [hereinafter Delgado, Coercively Persuaded]; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1.

[66] Peterson v. Sorlien, 299 N. W.2d 123, 126 (1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1031 (1981) (referencing Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1).

[67] Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 534-35; S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 65-67; Dr. Clark, The Noisy Brain in a Noisy World, presented to the New Jersey Psychological Association (Nov. 5, 1977) [hereinafter Clark, The Noisy Brain]. See also Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

[68] Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 534-35 n.1.

[69] Id.; The Psychology of the Cult Experience, N.Y. Times, Mar. 15, 1982, at B4 Style). See also Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1; Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1; Miller, The Utilization of Hypnotic Techniques in Religious Cult Conversion, 3 CULTIC STUD. J. 243 (Fall/Winter 1986); Holley testimony, supra note 41.

[70] Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 534-35 n.1; R. LIFTON, supra note 15, at 68; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

[71] Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 534-35 n. l; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

[72] Id.

[73] Id.

[74] " S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 64; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 4; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 81, 85, 87; Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 534-35 n.1.

[75] S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 64; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 4; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 81, 85, 87; Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29, at 534-35 n.1.

[76] Delgado, Coercively Persuaded, supra note 65, at 2-3 (citing R. LIFTON, supra note 15). See Delgado, Cults and Conversion, supra note 29; Lunde & Wilson, supra note 64.

[77] Conway & Siegelman, transcript, supra note 1, at 48.

[78] Galanti, Brainwashing, supra note 48; S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 49; Delgado, Coercively Persuaded, supra note 65; Delgado, Religious Exercise, supra note 64.

[79] Delgado, Religious Totalism: Gentle and Ungentle Persuasion Under the First Amendment, 51 CAL. L. REV. 1, at 19, n.106, 23-24 (1977) (quoting I Was Brainwashed by the Followers of Rev. Sun Myung Moon (But I Wised Up), Harvard Crimson, Sept. 30, 1975, at 3, col. 1).

[80] Clark, The Noisy Brain, supra note 67, at 2.

[81] Id.

[82] Id.

[83] Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 2.

[84] F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 157.

[85] Clark, The Noisy Brain, supra note 67, at 4.

[86] Id. at 4; F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 157; Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1.

[87] Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1; Kinney, Cults, supra note 26, at 33; S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 61-62; Cidylo, Destructive Cultism, supra note 3, at 4; Cult Syndrome Has Claimed Another Victim, N.Y. Times, Apr. 24, 1983, at 30, § 11, col. 1.

[88] Singer interview, supra note 8; Kinney, Cults, supra note 26, at 2.

[89] Markowitz & Halperin, Cults and Children: The Abuse of the Young, I CULTIC STUD. J., No. 2, at 144 (Fall/Winter 1984) [hereinafter Markowitz & Halperin]. See also Rudin, Women, Elderly, and Children in Religious Cults, 1 CULTIC STUD. J. No. 1, at 8 (May 1984).

[90] Gains, Wilson, Redican & Baffi, supra note 4, at 16.

[91] Dvorchakm, Blind Faith; Teen-age Boy Starves to Death as Parents Wait for The Lord to Provide, L.A. Times, Feb. 19, 1989, at 2, part 1, col. 1. See Markowitz & Halperin, supra note Singer & Ofshe, Thought Reform Programs, supra note 64, at 189; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 112-37.89.

[92] Singer & Ofshe, Thought Reform Programs, supra note 64, at 189; W. APPEL, supra note 15, at 112-37.

[93] Conway & Siegelman, Information Disease, supra note 1, at 88.

[94] The members of the Children of God are encouraged by the leader to maintain incestuous relationships with their children and the children /siblings are encouraged to have sex with one another. Davis interview, supra note l; The Children of the Cults, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Mar. 4, 1983, at 61; Stone, Members Taught to Lie to Obtain Donations, THE BUCHTELITE (Nov. 2, 1982); McManus interview, supra note 1; MOSES DAVID BERG & MARIA BERG, QUESTIONS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO ASK! 293, 295 (1984) [hereinafter BERG & BERG, QUESTIONS].

The following is an example of a question and answer, in part, provided in a Mo-Letter sent to the members of the Children of God.

QUESTION: "What are the rules regarding sex for a 15-year-old, as well as for younger teens?"

ANSWER: "For the sake of potential problems with the System, we've set a rule for our girls that they can't fuck a seminating male after starting their period till they're 15.. (". . .") I think there's no reason to discourage them from having sex with each other until the girls begin to menstruate & boys begin to seminate. Not because there's any danger in it as far as our Family is concerned, & our ideals & mores & standards & rules, but in order not to horrify the System . . . ." BERG & BERG, QUESTIONS, supra at 295.

[95] One woman entered the Hare Krishna with her parents when she was nine years old. She was “given away” in marriage when she was twelve years old and by the age of fifteen she had been “given” in marriage three times and ordered to bear children. At twenty-one she had the equivalent of a fourth grade education. Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 11 (citing Harrison, Troubled Paradise: Krishna Site Focus of Probes, Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 9, 1987).

[96] Landa, HIDDEN TERROR, supra note 1, at 2-3.

[97] K. WOODEN, supra note 1, at 7.

[98] Id. At 8.

[99] Id.

[100] Id. at 16.

[101] New Studies in Cult Membership, AM. CULT OBSERVER, Aug.- Sept. 1983, at 1, 5 (citing Dr. Galanter's research in the International Medical News Service, in CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY NEWS (June, 1983) [hereinafter New Studies].

The children in the Love Family are raised to control all emotion. They are seriously disciplined through beatings and isolation if they cry or speak without being spoken to. They are taught not to want, because if they do, they are considered to be possessed by the devil. Love teaches that the more children want the less the children can give. Crampton interview, supra note 1; Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1 (citing Dr. Fisher's observations at the Love Family).

[102] Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 9.

[103] New Studies, supra note 101, at 5.

[104] Helfer, supra note 1, at 2

[105] Id.

[106] Id. At 3.

[107] Id. At 4.

[108] Landa, HIDDEN TERROR, supra note 1, at 2.

[109] Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1, at 10; Goldberg, Former Cultists, supra note 18, at 167. See also Conway, Siegelman, Carmichael & Coggins, Information Disease: Effects of Covert Induction and Deprogramming, 10 UPDATE No. 2, at 45 (June 1986) [hereinafter Conway, Siegelman, Carmichael & Coggins]; Clark, The Noisy Brain, supra note 67; F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1; Morse & Morse, Toward a Theory of Therapy With Cultic Victims, XLI AM. J. OF PSYCHOTHERAPY No. 4, 563 (Oct. 1987) [hereinafter Morse, Therapy; Conway &

Siegelman, Information Disease, supra note 1.

[110] AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION, DSM III: DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS 300.15 at 260 (3d ed. 1980).

[111] Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note l, at 17.

[112] Clark, The Noisy Brain, supra note 67; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 4-24.

[113] Goldberg, Former Cultists, supra note 18, at 167.

[114] Id.

[115] Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1.

The more worried we are about being seen as ignorant, uncultured, untalented, or boring and the more ambiguous events are that are to be evaluated, the more likely we are to take on the beliefs of those around us to avoid being rejected by them.

Andersen & Zimbardo, Resisting, supra note 53.

[116] Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1, at 59.

[117] Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1; Markowitz & Halperin, supra note 89, at 147.

[118] Markowitz & Halperin, supra note 89, at 145 (quoting Sri Chinmoy).

[119] Markowitz & Halperin, supra note 89, at 147.

[120] F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 39, 155-56, 214-19.

In the Garbage Eaters, to limit parental bonding, babies are taken from their mothers and nursed by other group members. Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 9.

In the Sullivan Institute; the leaders teach "that the nuclear family and all strong dyadic [sic] relationships are psychologically destructive, and that parent/child bonds in particular are the root of all evil and the mainspring of psychological maladjustment." Kandel, Litigating, supra note 1, at 2; R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 8-15. As a result children are not permitted to live with their parents. The leader's children are .the only exceptions. The children may be sent off to boarding schools at early ages. When Robert Putz, now an ex-Sullivan member, did not

want to send his three-year-old son away to boarding school, he was told that if he did not send him, the little boy would kill someone. Henican, Sullivan Institute, investigation; Sex; Children; Custody, NEWSDAY, Apr. 18, 1989, at 19; Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 8-9 (citing Conason & McGarrahan, Escape From Utopia, Voice, Apr. 22, 1986).

In the Finders, a human potential commune, members are forced to give their children to the group. The children are then raised communally, while being denied any parental association. Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 9.

In the Peoples Temple, Jim Jones physically separated the family members and then "he and his top staff systematically destroyed the family fibers. . . ." K. WOODEN, supra note 1, at 41. Children were to call their parent by their first names and call Jones and his wife "father" and "mother." "Children and parents were publicly rewarded for spying on each other." Id. at 41. Jones also was known to change the marriage partners of his followers to disintegrate the marriages. Id. at 42.

In the Unification Church, parents also are separated from their children. "If parents requested to visit their children too often or if they expressed much sorrow due to separation from their child, they were chastised as people who were too attached to their fallen life." Transcript of the testimony of Christopher Edwards, a former member and leader in the Unification Church, at a public hearing on the treatment of children by cults, before the New York State Assembly, Part I, 9, 11 (Aug. 9-10, 1979) [hereinafter Edwards, transcript] (reprinted and available through the

American Family Foundation). Mr. Edwards is also the author of EDWARDS, CRAZY FOR GOD.

(1970).

In the Hare Krishna, children are removed from "their parents at the age of 5 and sent to live in ashrams." Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 4 (citing Meyer, Krishna Kids, Daily Courier News, Aug. 6, 1982). Also, telephone interview with "Diane," a pseudonym, (Apr. 25, 1990) [hereinafter Diane interview]. Diane, a seventeen-year-old girl, was born into and recently left the Hare Krishna. In ashrams, Krishna children are segregated by sex and live communally with approximately thirteen other children and one ashram teacher. The children are

rarely allowed to see their parents. If they see them at all, it is usually only their mother on Sunday for two to three hours. Further, the children are punished if they cry when their parents leave on Sunday. The children also are instructed that their parents are nothing special, and that they will have different parents in another life. They soon learn to control this emotion by blocking it out. The members are told that if they are attached to someone or something on earth, including their biological family, it will keep their spirits attached to their bodies and the world, preventing "liberation." Liberation is the spiritual sky where the members' spirits will go when they die. Diane interview, supra.

In Rajneesh, a guru hindu sect, children also do not live with parents. They live with and belong to the sect community. In this group, child bearing is discouraged. Pregnant mothers are encouraged to have abortions and sterilization is required of the members, even girls as young as twelve years. The family is considered an anathema, with the children extra trash. Rajneesh teaches that "the family has to disappear . . . . Life can become a paradise here and now. The barriers have to be removed; the family is one of the greatest barriers." Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 8 (citing Pied Piper of Poona, ETERNITY, Sept. 1981, at 14; see also PACKARD, THE PEOPLE SHAPERS at 16 (1978).

[121] Davis interview, supra note 1.

[122] S. HASSAN, supra note 3, at 51.

[123] Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1.

[124] Id. At 28-29; F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 1567; R.ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 4-15.

[125] Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1 at 28-29.

[126] F. CONWAY & J. SIEGELMAN, supra note 1, at 156.

[127] THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (1975; Davis interview, supra note 1; Delgado, Religious Totalism, supra note 1, at 27 (referencing ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK, FINAL REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD (1974)).

[128] Delgado, Coercively Persuaded, supra note 65, at 11.

[129] Id. at 26.

[130] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[131] See K. WOODEN, supra note 1, at 73.

[132] See L. WALKER, THE BATTERED WOMEN (1979) [hereinafter L. Walker]; Ramirez-

Boulett & Andersen, "Mind Control" and the Battering of Women, 3 CULTIC STUD. J. No. 1, at 25 (1986).

[133] Person, Learned Helplessness and Victimization, J. Soc. ISSUES No. 2, at 103 (1983).

[134] L. WALKER, supra note 132, at 47.

[135] State v. Kelly, 102 Wash. 2d 188, 190, 685 P.2d 564, __ (1984).

[136] L. WALKER, supra note 132, at 47.

[137] Id. At 48.

[138] UNITED STATES CONST., amend. I.

[139] In re Marriage of Hadeen, 27 Wash. App. 566, 619 P.2d 374 (1980) (citing Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948)). The court held that consideration of the parents' religion in a custody matter is not an abuse of discretion when there is a reasonable and substantial likelihood of immediate or future impairment of the child's general welfare. Id.

UNITED STATES CONST. amend. XIV, § 1 states: "nor shall any state deprive any person of . . . liberty . . . without due process of law." The freedom of religion is a right applied to the states through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) (under free exercise of religion, a Seventh Day Adventist was held to be entitled to unemployment compensation even though she refused employment that required working on the

Sabbath); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1961) (the Court held that the freedom of religious belief is absolute, but the freedom to act on those religious beliefs is not).

[140] Cantwell, 310 U.S. at 296; Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878) (upholding a law prohibiting the Mormon practice of polygamy).

For a historical background and discussion regarding the first amendment and the free exercise clause, see Delgado, Religious Exercise, supra note 64; Fernandez, The Free Exercise of Religion, 36 S. CAL. L. REV. 546 (1963); Rosenzweig, Sects, supra note 47; Bahls, Paradise Lost: When disenchanted disciples are pushed too far, does the First Amendment protect cults from lawsuits, STUDENT LAW., Sept. 1989, at 34; Shapiro, "Mind Control" or Intensity of Faith: The Constitutional Protection of Religious Beliefs, 13 HARV. C.R.-C.L.L. REV. 751 (1978).

[141] 141 Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. at 402 (citing Cantwell, 310 U.S. at 303 (emphasis added)); Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707 (1981), on remand 421 N.E.2d 642 (Ind. 1981) (Jehovah's Witness who refused to build tanks for religious reasons was entitled to unemployment compensation despite the lack of good cause under state statute); Delgado, Awaiting the Verdict on Recruitment, CENTER MAG. (Mar.-Apr. 1982) [hereinafter Delgado, Awaiting Verdict].

[142] Sherbert, 374 U.S. at 402 (citing Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953)).

[143] Green, Litigating Child Custody with Religious Cults, CULTISM AND LAW (June 1989) [hereinafter Green, Litigating].

[144] 14" Plural Marriage and Religious Freedom: The Impact of Reynolds v. United States, 15 ARIZ. L. REV. 287, 295 (1973) [hereinafter Plural Marriage].

[145] Delgado, Awaiting Verdict, supra note 141.

[146] 146 United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) (although the state may not examine the truth or falsity of religious beliefs, it may give less weight to an activity motivated by an insincere belief), rev'd on other grounds, 329 U.S. 187 (1946); United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965).

[147] "' Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 166 (1878); Bob Jones Univ. v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983) (university that racially discriminates, even for religious reasons, is not entitled to tax-exempt status). See also United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252 (1982); Mitchell v. Pil-grim Holiness Church Corp., 210 F.2d 879 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 347 U.S. 1013 (1954); Note, The Establishment Clause and Religion in Child Custody Disputes. Factoring Religion into the Best Interest Equation, 82 MICH. L. REV. 1072 (1984) [hereinafter Establishment Clause]; Towards a Constitutional Definition of Religion, 91 HARV. L. REV. 1056 (1978).

When there is a conflict between religious liberty and public safety, the latter predominates. The Court has stated that "[c]ivil liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society maintaining public order without which liberty itself would be lost in the excesses of unrestrained abuses." Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 574 (1941) (upholding non-discretionary parade licensing).

The state may impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on speech activities. However, once the state has created an open forum for speech, it may not regulate or penalize the individual on the content of the speech. The individual may not be penalized by the state for expressing religious views. Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953); Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268 (1951); Heffron v. International Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness, 452 U.S. 640, on remand, 311 N.W.2d 843 (1981) (affirming a state's police power to bar Krishnas from solictating

at a state fairground).

Courts are no longer

concerned with defining the scope of religion or determining whether governmental activity inhibits belief or action. Instead, courts consider whether religious acts can be inhibited because of some compelling state interest, and the compelling quality of society's interest is considered in light of alternative means of protecting the public.

Plural Marriage, supra note 144, at 287. For further discussion regarding limitations on religious actions see Delgado, Religious Exercise, supra note 64; Giannella, Religious Liberty, Nonestablishment, and Doctrinal Development, Part I. The Religious Liberty Guarantee, 80 HARV. L. REV. 1381 (1967).

[148] 14e Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 403 (1963); Employment Div., Dep't of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 110 S. Ct. 1595 (1990) (the free exercise clause permits the state to prohibit sacramental peyote use and to deny unemployment benefits when employee is discharged for such use); Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599 (1961) (Sunday closing law does not prohibit religious conduct nor violate free exercise of religion; it merely makes the religious practice more expensive); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1961); Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 (1890) (the Constitution does not protect cults advocating the necessity of human sacrifices); Reynolds, 98 U.S. at 145; Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) (Amish parents' interest in preserving the religious upbringing of their children was sufficient to override the state's enforcement of compulsory formal education requirement after the eighth grade); Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197

U.S. 11 (1905) (upholding compulsory vaccinations over religious objections); Cleveland v. United States, 329 U.S. 14, reh'g denied, 329 U.S. 830 (1946) (a Mormon polygamist crossed state lines with his wives for the purposes of committing immoral acts, in violation of the Mann Act); Poulos v. New Hampshire, 345 U.S. 395, reh'g denied, 345 U.S. 978 (1953) (Jehovah's Witness convicted for conducting religious services in a public park without a license).

[149] The court held the parents, who forcibly kidnapped their daughter from a religious organization in an attempt to deprogram her, not liable for false imprisonment and emotional distress. Peterson v. Sorlien, 299 N.W.2d 123 (Minn. 1980) (citing Yoder, 406 U.S. 205; Sherbert, 374 U.S. 398), cent. denied, 450 U.S. 1031 (1981).

The balancing test has evolved into a weighing process in which the importance to the individual of the practice involved is weighed against the interest of society. In order for restrictions on religiously based actions to be constitutionally valid there must be "a state interest of sufficient magnitude to override the interest claiming protection under the free exercise clause." Plural Marriage, supra note 144, at 298 (citing Yoder, 406 U.S. at 214).

[150] Sherbert, 374 U.S. 398; Cantwell, 310 U.S. 296; Founding Church of Scientology v. United States, 409 F.2d 1146, cert. denied, 396 U.S. 963 (1969); Employment Div., Dept of Human Resources, 110 S. Ct. at 1597.

[151] 110 S. Ct. at 1603 (citing Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Ass'n, 485 U.S. 439, 451 (1988)).

[152] Reynolds, 98 U.S. at 166-67.

"[W]hen the offense consists of a positive act which is knowingly done, it would be dangerous to hold that the offender might escape punishment because he religiously believed the law which he had broken ought never to have been made." Id. at 167.



"However free the exercise of religion may be, it must be subordinate to the criminal laws of the country . . . ." Beason, 133 U.S. at 342-43. See also Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942).

"[T]he courts have consistently found that the free exercise clause does not protect activities in violation of statutes which prohibit polygamy, the unlicensed practice of medicine, snake handling, obscenity, fraud, drug use, and child labor." Rosenzweig, Sects, supra note 47, at 137-38.

[153] Reynolds, 98 U.S. at 167.

[154] NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958).

[155] J. NOWAK, R. ROTUNDA & J.N. YOUNG, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 948 (3d ed. 1986).

[156] Id.

[157] Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539 (1963).

[158] Rosario v. Rockefeller, 410 U.S. 752 (1973).

[159] Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23 (1968).

[160] Stantosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, on remand, 453 N.Y.S.2d 942 (1982), appeal denied, 58 N.Y.2d 605, 445 N.E.2d 656, 459 N.Y.S.2d 1029 (1983) (the state must prove parental unfitness with clear and convincing evidence); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255, reh'g denied, 435 U.S. 918 (1978); Smith v. Org. of Foster Families, 431 U.S. 816, 845 (1977) (foster parents have a most limited liberty interest in the children placed in their care by the state, and therefore have no due process right in removal); Moore v. City of E. Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 499 (1977)

(defines the term "family"); Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632, 639-40 (1974) (mandatory pregnancy leave violates due process clause); Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651-52 (1972) (state statute denying fathers of illegimate children their due process right to a hearing prior to their child's adoption held invalid); Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 166, reh'g denied, 321 U.S. 804 (1944) (upholding state law prohibiting the distribution of religious literature by minors, even when accompanied by an adult); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) (upholding the right to start and maintain a family); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S.

510, 534-35 (1925) (state may not prohibit private schools, but it may require them to meet secular educational standards); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399-401 (1923) (parents' interests are protected by the liberty right provided in the fourteenth amendment).

[161] Quilloin, 434 U.S. at 255 (quoting Prince, 321 U.S. at 166).

[162] Prince, 321 U.S. at 166.

"There is an inherent right of the government to restrain the freedom of the individual for the good of the social whole." Id. at 158 (citing United States v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605 (1931)). See also Hamilton v. Regents of Univ. of California, 293 U.S. 245 (1934) (requirement that males take military training course held not violative of due process); Crowley v. Christensen, 137 U.S. 86 (1890); Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569 (1941) (upholding non-discretionary licensing system).

[163] Prince, 321 U.S. at 170.

[164] Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. at 511; Boston Beer Co. v. Massachusetts, 97 U.S. 25 (1877); Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U.S. 27, 31 (1844); Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U.S. 623, 666 (1887) (substantive due process should be used to determine the constitutionality of governmental regulatory measures); In re Kemmier, 136 U.S. 436, 449 (1890); Crowley, 137 U.S. 86 (1890); Jones v. Brim, 165 U.S. 180, 182 (1897); Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) (upholding the government's compulsory vaccination program over religious based objections); Interstate Consol. St. R.R. Co. v. Massachusetts, 207 U.S. 79 (1907); McLean v. Arkansas, 211 U.S. 539 (1909); Middleton v. Texas Power & Light Co., 249 U.S. 152 (1919); New Orleans Gas Light Co. v. Louisiana Light, 115 U.S. 650 (1885); Stone v. Mississippi, 101 U.S. 814 (1879) (state legislature must allow the state to exercise its police powers); Sanitary Dist. of Chicago v. United States, 266 U.S. 405 (1925).

[165] Jehovah's Witnesses v. King County Hosp., 278 F. Supp. 488, 504 (W.D. Wash.) aff' d, 390 U.S. 598 (1968); Reynolds v United States, 98 U.S. 145, 165-66 (1878); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399-403 (1923); Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. at 534-35; Moore v. City of E. Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 503-04 (1977).

[166] Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972); Reynolds, 98 U.S. 145; Jacobson, 197 U.S. 11; Jehovah's Witnesses, 278 F. Supp at 504; Prince, 321 U.S. at 166-67.

[167] Prince, 321 U.S. at 170.

[168] Parens patriae "is a concept of standing utilized to protect those quasi-sovereign interests such as health, comfort, and welfare of the people . : . ." BLACK'S LAw DICTIONARY 579 (5th ed. 1983).

[169] Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. at 511.

[170] Mangrum, Exclusive Reliance on Best Interest May be Unconstitutional: Religion as a Factor in Child Custody Cases, 15 CREIGHTON L. REV. 25, 30 (1981) [hereinafter Mangrum].

[171] Prince, 321 U.S at 166.

[172] Id.

[173] Id. at 165; Jehovah's Witnesses, 278 F. Supp. at 498; Mangrum, supra note 170, at 65.



[174] Joslin v. Joslin, 45 Wash. 2d 357, 364, 274 P.2d 847, 851 (1954).

[175] Eitzen, A Child's Right to Independent Legal Representation in a Custody Dispute. 19 FAM. L.Q., No. 1, 53, 57 (Spring 1985) [hereinafter Eitzen].

Section 402 of the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act provides the definition of "best interests." In order to establish which parent will be the appropriate primary custodian, the court shall determine custody by looking to the best interests of the child. The following are the most common characteristics courts look to:

(1) the wishes of the child's parent or parents as to his custody; (2) the wishes of the child as to his custodian; (3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest; (4) the child's adjustment to his home, school, and community; and (5) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

UNIF. MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE ACT § 402, 9A U.L.A. 197 (1979).

For further information regarding obtaining custody of children, see Kandel, Litigating, supra note 1; Green, Litigating, supra note 143. Both articles are available through the American Family Foundation.

[176] In this process there is an "increased emphasis on the psychological parent-child relationship as distinquished from the biological relationship." Pearson & Ring, Judicial Decision-Making in Contested Custody Cases, 21 J. FAM. L. 703 (1982-83).

[177] In re Marriage of Hadeen, 27 Wash. App. 566, 619 P.2d 374 (1980). Cochran, The Search for Guidance in Determining the Best Interests of the Child at Divorce. Reconciling the Primary Caretaker and Joint Custody Preferences, 20 U. RICH. L. REV. 1 (1985); Pearson & Ring, Judicial Decision-Making in Contested Custody Cases, supra note 176.

Minnesota law specifically considers "the capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child's culture and religion or creed," and "the child's cultural background." MINN. STAT. § 518.17(1)(a)(10)(11) (1990).

[178] Marriage of Hadeen, 27 Wash. App. 566, 619 P.2d 374.

[179] Munoz v. Munoz, 79 Wash. 2d. 810, 813, 489 P.2d 1133, 1135 (1971) (citing with approval Wojnarowicz v. Wojnarowicz, 48 N.J. Super. 349, __, 137 A.2d 618, 621 (1958)); Boerger v. Boerger, 26 N.J. Super. 90, __, 97 A.2d 419, 423 (1953); Note, "Suffer the Little Children . . . ". Toward a Judicial Recognition of a Duty of Reasonable Care Owed Children by Religious Faith Healers, 16 HOFSTRA L. REV. 165, 181 (1987).

[180] The first amendment to the Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ." U.S. CONST. amend. 1. Therefore, the establishment clause prohibits the promotion of religion through governmental policies. Such policies are upheld unless they violate any prong of the following three-pronged test: 1) the government's act must have a secular purpose, 2) the primary effect must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and 3) the government must avoid any excessive entanglements with religion. Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13 (1971). See Note, Establishment Clause, supra note 147.

[181] CLARK, THE LAW OF DOMESTIC RELATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, § 19.2, at 790 n. 11 (2d ed. 1988) (referring to Burge v. San Francisco, 41 Cal. 2d 608, 262 P.2d 6 (1953) (discussing the right to settle a child's tort claim); Griffin v. Griffin, 699 P.2d 407 (Colo. 1985) (discussing the right to control a child's education); Bentley v. Bentley, 86 A.D.2d 926, 448 N.Y.S.2d 559 (1982) (concerning parental control over a child's religious training).

[182] Note, Establishment Clause, supra note 147; Mangrum, supra note 170.

"The weight given to the child's preference must necessarily be dependent upon the age and maturity of the child as well as other factors; there can be no uniform weight given to that preference." Eitzen, supra note 141.

[183] Note, Establishment Clause, supra note 147, at 1728.

[184] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[185] Id.

[186] Id.

[187] Rudin, The Cult Phenomenon, supra note 1, at 31.

[188] Address by attorney Garry McMurry, Litigation Advice From Experienced Attorneys at Los Angeles Seminar, CULTISM AND THE LAW l, 2 (Sept. 1986) [hereinafter Litigation Advice]. See also Cults and the Law A Report of the National Legal Seminar, 111, AMERICAN FAMILY FOUNDATION REPORT (Oct. 29, 1987).

[189] Wassmer interview, supra note 3. "Do not assume that the judge knows anything about the first amendment issues; they simply do not come up that often." Litigation Advice, supra note 188.

[190] Id. at 3.

[191] See the following for accounts of custodial disputes involving children in cults: McManus, The Children of God (Feb. 10, 1989, unpublished manuscript) [hereinafter McManus, Children; Reed, Two Anxious Fathers, supra note 1, at 46; Rychkman, How Jonestown Snared a Child, L.A. Times, Nov. 17, 1988, § 5 (View), at 1, col. 3; Glanton, Fathers Get Custody in Cult Case, L.A. Times, June 29, 1988, § 2 (Metro), at 3, col. 2.

[192] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[193] Id.

[194] Id.

The child kept as a hostage, even if not initially willing, may become a willing participant redirecting her anger at her absent parents. White, Too Scared to Go Home, PARADE MAG., Aug. 23, 1987, at 6. This reaction is much the same as the psychological bond formed by the abducted child with his abductor.



Abducted children . . . do not need to be tied up or locked in closets. Within days, a child forms a strong psychological bond to his abductor - a bond that the child alone can never break. The first thing an abductor does . . . is destroy the child's ties to his family by telling him that his parents don't want him anymore. . . . A child trusts adults unquestioningly, so he accepts what the abductor says as true - even though he feels tremendous despair. . . . The child's anger shifts from the abductor to his parents.

Id. at 6.

[195] Robbins, Religious Movements, The State, and the Law. Reconceptualizing "The Cult Problem," 9 N.Y.U. REV. L. & SOC. CHANGE 33, 47 (1979-80).

April Richert, her husband Mark, and their children left the Children of God in the late

1970's. The couple divorced and had joint custody of their two children. Eight years later, in 1985, Mark rejoined the cult taking both of the children with him. After a long search, April eventually regained custody after locating her daughter in Mexico and her son in Lima, Peru. There are many similar stories, but with less successful endings. McManus, Children, supra note 191, at 3-4.

[196] Kandel, Litigating, supra note 1, at 5.

[197] Landa interview, supra note 9.

[198] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[199] Id.; Landa, Warning Signs, supra note 23, at 17.

[200] Singer interview, supra note 8; Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[201] Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[202] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[203] Id.; Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Morse, Therapy, supra note 109, at 566. To learn the special language you may need to contact an ex-member of that particular cult.

[204] Singer interview, supra note 8. Contact the American Family Foundation, to obtain names of ex-members and cult experts.

[205] Landa, Warning Signs, supra note 23; Landa, Child Abuse, supra note 1.

[206] Singer interview, supra note 8; Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[207] Singer interview, supra note 8; Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[208] Singer interview, supra note 8. A successful and accurate evaluation of the cult child requires that the evaluator be trained to recognize "types of inefficiencies, narrowness and constriction in the mental, emotional and social development" in the child. Id.

[209] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Singer interview, supra note 8.

[210] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Singer interview, supra note 8.

[211] Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Singer interview, supra note 8.

[212] Singer interview, supra note 8; Wassmer interview, supra note 3; Telephone interview with Randy Frances Kandel, J.D., Ph.D. (Apr. 1990).

[213] Wassmer interview, supra note 3. This may be an anthropologist, sociologist or someone with a mental health background.

[214] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[215] Id.

[216] Id.

[217] Id.; Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[218] R. ANDRES & J. LANE, supra note 1, at 5-3, -4. See Barogas, Children of Purgatory: Reflections on the Concentration Camp Survival Syndrome, 21 INT'L J. SOC. PSYCHOLOGY No. 2, at 87 (Summer 1975), for information regarding comparable characteristics of concentration camp survivors.

[219] See Delgado, Religious Exercise, supra note 64; Delgado, Coercively Persuaded, supra note 65; Katz v. Superior Court, 73 Cal. App. 3d 952 (1977); United States v. King, 840 F.2d 1276 (6th Cir. 1988); Eilers v. Coy, 582 F. Supp 1093 (4th Cir. 1984); Peterson v. Sorlien, 299 N.W.2d 123 (Minn. 1980); Langone, Deprogramming: An Analysis of Parental Questionnaires, 1 CULTIC STUD. J., No. 1, at 63 (May 1984); Eichel, Eichel & Eisenberg, Mental Health Interventions in Cult-Related Cases: Preliminary Investigation of Outcomes, 1 CULTIC STUD. J. No. 2, at

156 (Fall/Winter 1984).

[220] Singer, Coming Out of Cults, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY 72 (Jan. 1979) [hereinafter Singer, Coming Out]; Goldberg, Former Cultists, supra note 18.

[221] Clark,The Noisy Brain, supra note 67, at 5.

[222] Singer, Coming Out, supra note 240, at 75.

[223] 223 Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman, testimony given before Senator Dole, Senator Zorinsky, Congresspersons Ottinger, Fish, Gianimo and Whitehurst at the informational meeting in Washington, D.C. on the Cult Phenomenon in the United States 49 (Feb. 5, 1979) [hereinafter Conway & Siegelman, Transcript] (The transcript has been reprinted by and is available through the American Family Foundation, P.O. Box 336, Weston, Massachusetts 02193).

[224] Conway, Siegelman, Carmichael & Coggins, Information Disease. Effects of Covert Induction and Deprogramming, 10 UPDATE No. 2, at 45 (June 1986); Singer interview, supra note 8.

[225] Landa interview, supra note 9.

[226] 226 Morse, Therapy, supra note 109, at 566 (citing Singer, Coming Out, supra note 240, at 82); R. LIFTON, supra note 15.

[227] 227 Schwartz & Zemel, Religious Cults, supra note 45, at 303. See also Morse, Therapy, supra note 109; Singer, Coming Out, supra note 240.

When treating the adult, the therapist should take a psycho-educational approach, describing three worlds: the world before the cult, the world during the cult, and the world after the cult. Singer interview, supra note 8.

For further information on the psychological effects of cult involvement and treatment see Singer & Ofshe, Thought Reform Programs, supra note 65; Langone, Working with Cult-Affected Families, 20 PSYCHIATRIC ANNALS No. 4, at 194 (Apr. 1990); Sirkin & Wynne, Cult Involvement as Relational Disorder, 20 PSYCHIATRIC ANNALS No. 4, at 199 (Apr. 1990); Halperin, Psychiatric Perspectives on Cult Affiliation, 20 PSYCHIATRIC ANNALS No. 4, at 204 (Apr. 1990); Bloch & Shor, From Consultation to Therapy in Group Work with Parents of Cultists, SOC. CASEWORK 231 (Apr. 1989).

[228] Wassmer interview, supra note 3.

[229] Diane interview, supra note 120.

[230] Landa, Family Relationships, supra note 1, at 7 (citing Schwadel, A Child of 'MOVE’ Begins a New Life, Philadelphia, Nov. 1, 1988).

[231] Diane interview, supra note 120.

[232] Id.

[233] Id.

[234] Davis interview, supra note 1.

[235] Id.

[236] Singer interview, supra note 8.

[237] K. WOODEN, supra note 1, at 208 (emphasis added).