Report of the Task Force Summary

Cults and Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2001

Report of the Task Force to Study the Effects of Cult:  Activities on Public Senior Higher Education Institutions 


Hon. Parris N. Glendening

Governor of Maryland

State House

Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Hon. Thomas V. Mike Miller

President, Senate of Maryland

State House

Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Hon. Casper R. Taylor, Jr. 

Speaker, Maryland House of Delegates

State House

Annapolis, Maryland 21401

The Maryland Department of Legislative Support Services

Legislative Services Building

90 State Circle

Annapolis, Maryland 21401


William T. Wood, Esquire, Chair  

Del. Emmett C. Burns, Jr., Ms. Araceli G. Carrigan,  Ms. Maitland W. Dade, Staff, Del. Sharon Grosfeld, Ms. Nina Hopkins, Mr. Warren Kelley, Dr. Eric P. Kafka, Ms. Joan Marionni, Ms. Sowmya Murthy, Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, Ms. Patricia Rausch, Mr. Andrew A. Rittler, Sen. Ida Ruben, Hon. Charles B. Saunders, Jr., Ms. Roberta J. Thomas (resigned June 7, 1999), Mr. Franz C. Wilson  

This Executive Summary summarizes the content of the Report of the Task Force to Study the Effects of Cult Activities on Public Senior Higher Education Institutions including findings of fact and recommendations. This Executive Summary provides a basic outline to orient the reader to the activities of the Task Force. It is recommended that the full Report be read by all interested parties for a full and complete understanding of the work product of the Task Force. 

Joint House Resolution 22 established this Task Force. The Task Force adopted a Mission Statement which is as follows:

To determine the extent to which there are groups whose activities on the campuses of USM institutions, St. Mary's College, or Morgan State University are, intentionally or innocently, inappropriately:

and to make recommendations concerning courses of action that might be pursued by individuals or institutions to assist in the prevention and/or resolution of those problems.

Thereafter, the Task Force met 11 times from May 25, 1999 through September 15, 1999 at various locations. The Task Force heard testimony from 56 witnesses and received 91 documents into evidence during the proceedings. All proceedings were recorded on audiotape. The tapes and all exhibits are on file at the Maryland General Assembly Library and Information Services, 90 State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 and may be reviewed in conformity with applicable policy.

The Task Force examined the legislative intent behind the drafting of JHR 22 after hearing from a member of the General Assembly of Maryland who is also a Task Force member and who was very involved in the legislative process. It was determined that the Mission Statement noted above fully and completely complied with the legislative intent of JHR 22. The Task Force decided not to attempt to define the word "cult" mentioned in JHR 22. The focus from the inception was determined to be whether any groups, irrespective of type or nature, are causing harm to students, parents, faculty or administration, and if so, what recommendations, if any, should be made by the Task Force.

The Task Force reviewed the requirements of the Maryland Open Meetings Act and adopted Roberts Rules of Order regarding conduct of the meetings. The Task Force also established an "open forum" to be a part of all Task Force meetings. Although not required by the Open Meetings Act, the Task Force created a one-hour segment at all Task Force meetings for all interested persons to address the Task Force, so long as their testimony is "reasonable and relevant" in order to allow the public to participate in the process. It was also determined all proceedings would be open to the public, whether required by the Open Meetings Act or not.

The Office of the Attorney General for the State of Maryland briefed the Task Force on the requirements of law with respect to all aspects of the Task Force business. The Attorney General also briefed the Task Force, as did other expert professionals, regarding relevant U.S. Supreme Court cases pertaining to constitutional freedoms and liberties. The Attorney General advised the Task Force that individuals wishing to give anonymous testimony could lawfully do so by speaker phone or in person concealed behind a screen. However, no speaker chose either of these options.

At the conclusion of the meetings, the Task Force voted to circulate the proposed report to all USM Presidents and Chancellor Langenberg for review and written comments before the final report was issued. The reviews have taken place, written comments were considered and the Task Force has made the following:

Findings of Fact

Based upon these findings, the Task Force makes the following:        


A  complete outline of all Task Force activities may be referenced by reading the full body of the Report of the Task Force to Study the Effects of Cult Activities on Public Senior Higher Education Institutions. Minutes of the meetings and all exhibits and recorded testimony of all witnesses are available for review and inspection as stated above.

It is noted that, at its September 15, 1999 meeting, the Task force agreed that its work was concluded and voted to forward its Report and Executive Summary to the Governor, the President of the Maryland Senate, the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Department of Legislative Services to fulfill the mandate of JHR 22. All exhibits and other documentation related to Task Force deliberations have been forwarded with the Report and Executive Summary to the Maryland General Assembly Library.                                     

Respectfully submitted,

 William T. Wood, Esq.