Cults in our Midst

The Threat of Intimidation

Psychological Persuassion Techniques

Jossey-Bass Publishers San Franciso
By Margaret Thaler Singer (with Janja Lalich)

Chapter 9: The threat of Intimidation

(Mentioning Eileen Barker, Anson Shupe and David Bromley)


In 1989, the Religious News service carried a story that Dr. barker's book was funded by the Unification Church, saying that Barker "freely admits that the Unification Church paid all her expenses to attend 18 conferences in Europe, new York, the Caribbean, Korea, and South America. …One member of Parliament said, "Any academic who allow themselves to be manipulated to lend credence to a cult does harm to families all over the world."

INFORM, lost its U.K. government funding in 1993 after much criticism from churches, parents, and former cult members, and Barker resigned as the organization's director and chairperson.

They also shelter the cults by trying to discredit the reports of ex-members who try to tell the world what it was like to be in a cult. The apologists disparage these former members, calling them bitter apostates, disgruntled, defectors, disloyal, and turncoats.

David Bromley and Anson Shupe, sociologists. Cult apologists blame the victims and protect the villians. Like the mad kings of old, they shoot the messenger bearing bad news.

One of the most illogical positions taken by the apologists is their claim that only current cult members tell the truth. However, the findings of many researchers, as well as my own numerous interviews with former members, show that cult members are so dependent on the group while they are in it that they dare not tell the truth, dare not complain.

Many of the large international cults have nearly unlimited financial resources and the power to intimidate publishers, newspapers, television producers, academic researchers, professionals, and any of the public who may speak up about cults.

If cults and their sympathizers block publication of scientific studies about their groups the histories of their leaders, and fair comment from scholars, the cults become the arbiters of what the world hears about them. Without a free press, scientific publications, fair comment, and the ability to express opinions, all of us are at the mercy of cult leaders who would determine what we read, what we say, and what we think.

Former CAN president Patricia Ryan, the daughter of Congressman Leo J. Ryan who was assassinated at Jonestown, said, "The American courts were never meant to be used as a weapon available to those with money to destroy with frivolous legal actions anyone perceived as their enemy. Scientology has a long history of using the courts this way, and it has to stop if justice means anything in our courts today."

There are many frightening examples of cults' stark and widespread efforts at silencing and intimidating critics. Not only have researchers, journalists, authors, and ordinary citizens been intimidated, attacked, and sued, but cults have also attempted to frighten professionals away from the courts, waging concentrated attacks on professionals who have testified on behalf of ex-members. In the hope of stifling attorneys, physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, child welfare evaluators, and any others who might aid cult victims in legal suits or child custody cases, certain cults have stooped to vicious ends and terror tactics.

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