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Comment on “The Rhetoric of Religious ‘Cults’ Terms of Use and Abuse”

Comment on “The Rhetoric of Religious ‘Cults’: Terms of Use and Abuse”

Michael Kropveld

Info-Cult/Info-Secte

Montreal, Canada

Annabelle Mooney’s book, The Rhetoric of Religious “Cults”: Terms of Use and Abuse, which Matthew Forrester reviewed in Cultic Studies Review (Vol. 6, No.3, 2007), contains a disturbing error concerning Info-Cult, of which I am the executive director.

In Chapter 6 the author uses Info-Cult as an example of an “anti-cult” organization, the only such example in her book. However, in the section titled “Anti-Cult” (p.135), she states: “Info-cult (sic) is a ‘cult’ information group based in Canada (www.ex-cult.org).” The author mentions Info-Cult, but lists the Web site of another organization, ex-cult, which has no connection to Info-Cult. This error occurs again in Note 13, in which she says: “See Info-Cult www.ex-cult.org/General/identiyfing-a-cult [accessed 27th July 1998].” (Note there is a spelling error in the url “identiyfng” should read identifying.)

The URLs of Info-Cult’s websites, www.infocult.org  and www.infosecte.org, which went online in March 1999, are sufficiently different from www.ex-cult.org as to rule out a simple typing error.

I also find some irony in the book’s subtitle, “Terms of Use and Abuse.” Over the years I have become quite outspoken about the simplistic use of terms describing groups (see, for example, my article, “An Example for Controversy: Creating a Model for Reconciliation,” published in Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 2, No. 3, 2003 and available at http://www.math.mcgill.ca/triples/infocult/ICPubs.html). I am therefore perplexed that in a book addressing the use and abuse of terms related to “cults” I see the ongoing abuse of the term “anti-cult.”

There may be, as Matthew Forester states, an important message in Ms. Mooney’s book; however, the message that she hopes to make is diminished by such an oversight.

Michael Kropveld is Executive Director and Founder of Info-Cult, the largest resource centre of its kind in Canada.  Since 1980 Mike has assisted thousands of former members and members of "cults," "new religious movements," and other groups, and their families. He has spoken, in Canada and internationally, to hundreds of professional and community groups on cultic phenomena. He is also involved in counselling and is consulted on the issue by, among others; mental health professionals, law enforcement agencies, and media.  He has served as an expert witness on cult-related criminal and civil cases. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs locally, nationally and internationally. In 1992 he was awarded the 125 Commemorative Medal "in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada" by the Government of Canada. He co-authored the book The Cult Phenomenon: How Groups Function (March 2006), and its French version (Le phénomène des sectes: L'étude du fonctionnement des groupes). Both versions are downloadable at no charge from www.infocult.org, or can be purchased in print format. In 2007 he received the Herbert L. Rosedale Award from the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) in recognition of leadership in the effort to preserve and protect individual freedom”. Tel.: (514) 274-2333; infosecte@qc.aibn.com.

Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2008, Page

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