How to protect yourself and your loved ones from totalitarian
by Alexander Dvorkin
10 Questions for importunate strangers, or Guidelines for
those who do not want to be recruited.
Totalitarian sects and freedom of conscience
The renowned German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, once said about
Russia, that while other countries border on each other, Russia borders
with God. At
the Russian border, he continued, there is another strange
many of those that cross it turn into stone. Even though this stone
could be a
gem, it nonetheless is not suited for food.
terms can also be used in the concept of freedom of
conscience. Undoubtedly they present inalienable elements of a
democratic society. But the law about freedom of conscience, which is
in effect in Russia today, is
suited only for countries that are well-informed about religion to a
high level. The level of religious information in our country,
unfortunately, could be called catastrophically low. And with this as a
backdrop the existing
law gives freedom of action to groups that by and large infringe upon
the rights of our countrymen.
We begin with the infringement on the right to information. If a group
believes that during recruitment one may conceal from potential
new members some of the truth about itself, and outright lie about it,
then it is violating the constitutional right of a person's freedom to
obtain information. And without freedom of information, nobody can make
a free choice.
According to the law, even a label on a jar is supposed to describe its
contents. In the same way, is activity by an organization permitted,
which by means of
intricate psychological manipulation, combines deceit and hypnosis to
make people betray themselves? By law they prosecute cheats and frauds,
people's confidence and defraud them of money and valuables. Why should
groups remain unpunished that deprive people not only of material
(incidentally, without which nobody gets into sects), but also of their
own personalities? We step forward against denominational anonymity.
of any religious organization who propagate their teachings are obliged
from the very beginning to state it honestly, without embellishment or
omission, furthermore they are obligated to explain what place their
occupies in the many-colored palette of religious organizations. It is
and illegal for "new" sects to identify themselves with traditional
world religions. A group that practices a secret doctrine and different
of initiation in doctrine does not in principle fall under the norms
accepted in a democratic society, and the people who they invited to
join them obviously do not obtain complete information about that
which they are members. To that same end, conventional wisdom teaches
rules of joining need to comply with the right to freedom of choice.
have different degrees of truth: one for external, one for internal,
still another for deeper internal, and so on without end. This is
approximately the same thing as the notorious different degrees of
freshness for sturgeon.
If a group, which uses the law on freedom of conscience, violates the
civil and human rights of its members everyday, it ought not to freely
function in a democratic society. The law needs to provide equal
protection for citizen's freedom. And an individual citizen and society
on the whole have the right to be free from importunate influence of
totalitarian sects in
their obviously unscrupulous advertisements.
Thus the word is spoken. Sects are called totalitarian
sects or destructive cults if they violate the rights of
their members and cause them harm through use of certain methods, which
control." "Sects" are not a new phenomenon. As long as
mankind has existed, so have sects, which consist of groups of fanatics
that follow some charismatic leaders. But in the 20th century something
new appeared among them - systematic use of modern psychological
that are directed at neutralizing human will and controlling their
feelings and behavior.
Excerpt from an interview given by Alexander Dvorkin to
the newspaper "Vera" (Syktyvkar)
Before anything else it's necessary to understand
that not a single person has joined a totalitarian sect, they were
BROUGHT IN there. They were
brought in by unscrupulous advertising, by concealment of information
Our country is traditionally multi-denominational: throughout
its entire course of history, people who believe in different religions
have lived side by side with each other, with respect they regard the
their neighbors to believe what they want; they have defined their
affiliation freely and conscientiously. This is the right that
seek to deprive a person of.
Imagine you're a young person, you awake one fine morning
and think, "For some reason I've never been a sectarian. Let me go
there ..." Not
really, sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? Obviously it's an unbelievable
Or consider a situation which is more lifelike. A student is
walking on the street of his town. Let's say it's the city of Voronezh.
Two people of
his age approach him and say, "Hello! We're from a sect! You're coming
You'll like it a lot in our sect!" And they say further, "You're
what, studying at a university? Well take that and, excuse me, you may
as well throw that out. Our sect does not encourage studying in
you have a girl? Well, you can forget her. No fiancees. We are the ones
decide who and when you marry... and, of course, if you marry. We also
determine whether you have children. And when they are growing up we
think about whether you and your wife raise them or if it would be
give the kiddies to our sectarian family, which can raise them better
sectarian belief." Our hypothetical student, of course, will have his
see it's a serious situation, and what would his mom and dad say? But
new friends just routinely explain to him, "You have parents? Well,
us, but we have one parent -- our sect, it is mother and father to all
us. But this is essential, they are not real, they are satanic parents
only misfortune upon you... And in general we plan after three days for
to come with us to the city of Khabarovsk. And on the streets of
will ask people for money. The norm is three thousand rubles a day. And
that you get it. But you'll have a serious problem. The living
for our sect in Khabarovsk are -- different. We have a one-room
28 people to live in; you'll sleep on the floor but there's a shortage
sleeping bags. It's tough to sleep but we don't sleep that much. We
have a light breakfast and many of us are in poor health. We wake up
early, we study the words of
our True Father and pray to him afterwards, then out to the street to
money. And look, get the minimum sum required, but of course, the more,
What I just described are the real circumstances of the
adepts' lives of one of the more well-known totalitarian sects. And
there's much more to it
than that. That was only a small part of the big picture.
If a sect really told all this to people who they were
recruiting, well they wouldn't be putting on any pretense at all. But
neither would sects get
any bigger because nobody would join.
On that same matter, how does a totalitarian sect recruit?
For example, they simply invite you to a fine, young
company, where it will
be pleasant and cheerful, a regular get-together. They might invite you
to join a group that studies eastern philosophy, oriental martial arts,
a sociological course that helps you better to know yourself, the
environment, or attain success in life or in a group that studies the
Bible. They offer
health improvement with all kinds of doctors or invite you to work at a
interesting, high-paying job. They have a great number of other lures,
for any circumstance and for any type of person... Every fisherman
different types of fish need different bait, some take a worm, others a
while others go for a bread ball.
Often the ones who go for the bait are people with emotional
problems, or people who are undergoing a stressful circumstance. The
loss of a
relative, travel to another city and loneliness, the transition from
to the grown-up work world... There may be nothing horrible or tragic
stressful circumstance itself, we all go through them. But during this
person is more susceptible to suggestion.
The opinion has gotten around that sectarian labor
contractors need to start
zombifying people at the first meeting, and if that's not so, it means
they fear nothing, in which case everything happens differently. It
that word, "zombifying," which is not too scientific a term. Scholars
about methods of consciousness control. Concerning street recruiters,
they operate by suggestion and are not supposed to get involved. They
different, but no less important task, to use any pretext to get you to
a sect gathering. If they succeed in doing that, half the work is done.
the environment of a public rally, their victims can fall under such
psychological pressure from which it is extremely difficult to return.
consciousness control are adapted to the situation.
In order to understand how this happens, it's necessary to
keep in mind that
people are social creatures and are very dependent upon their
environment. For example, there is a standard psychological test that
is conducted in
many countries and which always has one and the same result. A group of
people are shown two pieces of paper, white and black, and then are
at a time, which color they see. In the course of this, the 10th and
be asked does not know that the other nine have an arrangement: to say
after the fifteenth time that the white paper is black and the black,
interesting that the last person, who does not know about the
repeated what the others said, that white is black. Not a single person
risked saying something different. When faced with the facts, he
an excuse about why he said that: he might say the light was bad, or
switched so many times that it was easy to forget which color was last,
This is the first psychological law that sectarians use. The
is no less effective, consists of the following: the one who controls
the conduct of a person also controls his feelings. More simply
if a person is made to behave in a strange way, then he will at first
uncomfortable. But before long his mentality, in self-defense, will
itself eliminate the discomfort, steering the way the person thinks
strange behavior. In addition, in justifying his new behavior, the
quickly starts to think in the new way. This is the way sects quickly
people into new converts.
At the end of the 1970s, American psychologist Philipp
Zimbardo conducted this sort of experiment. He assembled a control
group of 20 students
from Harvard University. He divided it in two - one team was supposed
represent prisoners and the other, supervisors. Something like a prison
built, where over the course of three weeks one team was supposed to
and the other, to guard them. However, this experiment was cut short
after only five days, because it started to be a danger for the lives
of the participants. Their masks grew on them, and they took their
seriously. The prisoners started to plan an escape and took hostages;
the guards started to apply force, even including torture. Suddenly
got too serious. This made the young people assume new roles and think
differently, they justified cruelty, which they would never have
And now imagine that a young person falls into a tightly
knit group of sectarians who behave in a certain way, but at the same
time they do
everything possible to "charm" the novice. Perhaps he does not soon
tune into their behavior and perhaps, but, quite imperceptible to him,
has nothing moved within his personality? Toward the same hard,
planned schedule of life in this sect, so that not a head is raised and
"Where am I, what am I involved in?" And with time these thoughts
from one's head altogether... It's up to the person to be a shield for
use of behavioral stereotypes: and here, instead of a living person we
into a "homo secticum," with glassy eyes, robotic behavior and not
Besides that, a number of totalitarian cults also use
hypnotic influence, which should not be forgotten, either.
Coming back to recruitment methods, the Jehovists, for
example, prefer to walk through apartment buildings and chat with
people in a household
setting. What do they get? I'll give an obvious example. In our Center
of St. Irinaeus of Lyon, at least once a week we get a call for one or
"Hello, we are Orthodox Christians, but the Jehovahs Witnesses visit
they're always walking around. What can we do so that they don't visit
so much?" Very
simple, we answer, tell them they are violating the inviolability of
your home, and once they have been given notice, tell them, if anyone
organization bothers you again, then you will send for the police and
call in the district prosecutor." And each time we get one and the same
reaction: "We cannot respond to the Jehovists like that." "Why?" we
already knowing the answer: "Because they are too polite."
There is one psychological mechanism that is called the "law
exchange." It works very simply: if we get a gift from somebody, then
we automatically feel an obligation to this person and we think of how
can do something in return. We have been rendered a service and we
discomfort during the time this service is not returned. Even simple
and kindness make the likelihood of negative response from us more
problematic. We rush down the street, we have no time, and there a
and starts to speak kindly with us; right away it's hard to break it
we start to mumble and excuse ourselves... But imagine a young person
still back in the Stone Age about these things. He arrives and is
learning a new
city, he lives in a dormitory where he has no friends, and he is
then a "friend" appears, who offers him cordial company, where
everybody is strong for
him, they are good, and intelligent... They make no demands of him,
The young person is carried away with euphoria, it seems to him that he
finally found the friends he's been dreaming of his whole life, who
cherish him. He is more than ready to accept anything they tell him. In
matter the sectarians are only using their usual method, which the
call "love bombing." It's hard to resist. Unfortunately, up to that
hasn't been taken into consideration.
For example, the Society of Krishna Consciousness aims
to establish firm control over the mass media and advocates
implementing a caste system. The Society's theory stipulates that in
the event of its coming
to power, there will be austere punishment for all those who disagree
Another totalitarian sect, Scientology, defines ethics
as the elimination of all ideas contradictory to Scientology, and once
that goal is achieved, to eliminate altogether all non-Scientology
It's difficult to call such a definition of ethics compatible with
equal rights for all and with freedom of conscience.
Totalitarian sects are constructed around a totalitarian
leader. The word "religion" means a "connection, the connection of
the person with the personal
God." In totalitarian sects the worship of God is actually replaced
by worship of a "godlike" leader or of the organization he created.
Everything begins with the
personality of the leader and everything ends with him.
For the past 10-12 years in our country, a number of
organization have made their appearance and have systematically
violated the rights of its
members and critics, resorting to various types of abuses with the goal
able to better organize for themselves the possibility to think and act
manner befitting a responsible adult citizen. These organizations
single-mindedly undermine the physical and mental health of their
replace their self-consciousness, and break their relationships to
friends and relatives.
A person who has gotten into a totalitarian sect is constantly
subjected to coercion: from being beaten and raped to exhausting, hard
15-18 hours a day, without necessary food or enough sleep. In other
members are converted into slaves, and deprived of not only financial,
and public resources that are essential for leaving the group that, on
part, does everything possible to keep people, as long as they still
of use. When they get sick or their productivity suddenly drops, they
are unceremoniously tossed out into the street.
We have talked a lot about brain drain, meaning the departure
of talented specialists for overseas. But there's another brain drain,
which is on
the inside and thus much more dangerous. Sectarians hunt for talented,
energetic, intelligent young men and women, the nation's best, the
future of our
country. How many of them have already forsaken science, manufacture,
family and the sphere of normal human relations altogether in order to
entirely to one or another "guru" or "messiah." I'll give just a
small example. A promise is made a the Munist service every Sunday, the
first day of every month and at each of the Munist festivals. Sect
perform three full bows to the ground (face on the ground) before the
which has a portrait of the Korean businessman, and they repeat an oath
to God, to the "true" father - Mun, and to the "true" country -
Korea. After this can they consider themselves real citizens of their
We can speak about Protestant production and business ethics,
we can speak about Roman Catholic orders of charity, we can speak about
living and family traditions. Traditional Christian denominations are
and their members strive to bring benefit to society, the country and
people. What constructive work does a capable member of a totalitarian
sect do, outside of begging on the street for many hours, but only for
the sect? Between
members of any traditional denomination and society a constant mutual
is in process, but at the same time a destructive sect not only removes
people from society, but it constantly saps it as well to its own
while giving nothing in return. A typical example of such behavior in
an organism is
a cancerous tumor.
And like cancerous cells begin impetuous growth in a weakened,
diseased organism, totalitarian sects use organizational and structural
weaknesses in a young democratic government to get established and
system of values only with that which can free a people from political
The goal of all totalitarian sects is not only to recruit
unsuspecting young people, but to come to power. They do not aspire to
they invest in the means, they increase their influence and prepare to
Therefore they do not burden themselves with attempts at managing the
masses, but they recruit leadership cadres for a future era.
This strategy was clearly and unequivocally proclaimed by Mun
in January 1990: "During the fall of the Roman empire Christians
inherited government posts of various sorts... I clearly see that if
besides the moral perfection which they attained by following Reverend
attain professional maturity too, our possibilities in Eastern Europe
Someone needs to inherit the state posts of the disintegrated Communist
empire, and the leaders presently there are extremely inadequate. So
ought to look at the 90s with hope."
Totalitarian sects do not have anything in common with
Christianity, and the use by them of Christian symbols and terminology,
to the point of calling themselves "churches," is, for us, not just
see in this one more deliberate effort to make the image of their
organizations more acceptable for public opinion and to mislead
For a secular state, the destructiveness or totalism of sects is
not defined by their beliefs, but by their methods of action.
If someone would like to believe that Mr. Mun is the messiah or that it
by the will of the late Mr. Hubbard that the planet turns, then this,
to the legislation, is their personal business. However, a citizen
protected from the influence of those who use unconscientious
advertising or conceal information to make them believe Mun is the
messiah or that
Hubbard is the lord of the universe. What route does a group use to
What is happening with people who are now in a sect? In getting the
answers to these question, one can see whether a group upholds the
right of the
person himself to choose in what he wants to believe. If fraud,
codes and other means of controlling consciousness are used for
recruitment of new
members and in subsequent guidance, then it is obvious that those very
of a person have been violated in the most brazen manner.
So as all totalitarian sects consider that the end justifies
the means, they all put their own personal interests above the law.
They all have a peculiar "double moral" and a "double standard." If
they order their
members to think the product they deliver is "fair" and "just," they do
not then stop at lying, stealing or cheating people, they resort to
controlling the consciousness of colleagues or, finally, defamation of
government personnel and public figures who offer them resistance, and
physically remove people (or a group of people) they find
essence, we are dealing with Mafia-like structures, bound with an iron
unquestioning obedience to leadership.
Sects, in the most fundamental way, violate the civil rights
of those they try to convert. They convert people who don't suspect a
thing into slaves. Experience shows that people who have gotten into a
be inflicted with serious harm. Broken families, impaired health, money
and property taken away and lost, and, when people finally leave the
problems, which they are far from being in a position to solve, arise
in learning how
to be independent in life again.
On the average, a person who finds the power within himself to
break from the sect, needs two years for full rehabilitation and return
to normal life. Some sects have more serious consequences than others,
to which this is not directly related to the number of hours spent in
activities or programming procedures. Practical experience reveals that
difficult of all to recover from is Scientology, although it requires
of its adherents less time than, for example, the Krishnas or Munists.
Krishnas spend, on the average, 70 hours a week on ritual and community
prayer, Munists 53
hours, but Scientologists a mere 43. However, for the recovery of a
departing Krishna takes an average of 11 months, former Munists take 16
but Scientologists average 25.5 months. But then "recovery" is only a
they live with long-term consequences for many more years. One
counselor, who worked with many former sect members, said that, in his
opinion, nobody could ever recover from the consequences of
Judging from everything, the consequences of the devastation
to individuals and society from our domestic "homegrowns," like
"Bogorodichniy center," and "White brotherhood," Vissarion's "Church of
Last Testament" and "Radasteya," is fully comparable with
Totalitarian sects are lethal. It's sufficient to recall the
hundreds of deaths with which ended the stories of the sects of Jim
Jones, David Koresh, or, more recently (2000), the mass murder of more
thousand cultists in Uganda. This is how the moment of history, needed
by the leader of
any totalitarian sect, can end up. We are, after all, dealing with an
unquestioningly obedient army of slaves for whom nothing is impossible.
But what can be said about the unhappy fate of the children who are
born to parents in sects! To the point, more than a third of the
Jones and Koresh were children. Did they have a choice whether they
lived or did
away with themselves?
Recalling the "White brotherhood," the organizers of this
monstrous experiment, whoever they were, decided to end it bloodlessly.
For them it was enough to verify the force of their power. Now they
have the opportunity to pick their own time ...
In 2000 in Avenkii in the city of Turi an
Orthodox clergyman, Hieromonk
Grigoriy, perished a martyr at the hands of a Krishna. This was 21
March, in the Lenten fast, in the night of the vernal equinox. The
knocked at the hieromonk's door of his room near the church. The man
opened the door
and received several stabs to the chest. When the clergyman fell, the
fanatic cut off his head with the folding knife. As experts have
determined, at the
time of decapitation the clergyman was still alive. Tears flowed down
father's cheeks, and the Krishna said to him, "Why are you crying? And
believer..." Then he carried the head around the central lectern, so
a circle of blood was left on the floor, brought it to the altar and
laid it on the communion table. The table was covered with the martyr's
When the Krishna was arrested the following day, he said that he had
committed the murder, it was done by the hands of Krishna. The motive
for the murder:
the clergyman was an objective threat in that he reminded people about
their sins and urged them to confess.
In the very beginning of the Perestroika era, one well-known
Orthodox clergyman said that now people would turn to the West in the
drinking from a pure well, however many got confused and instead of
forward toward the sewage pipes. Alas, this is still the case today.
totalitarian sects have a long history of legal violations, court
hearings, spectacular scandals and ruin. Don't let other people's
repeated. What we have now is seizing the opportunity for tension and
conflict-prone, explosive situations. We will not add another one to
them - fraught
with conflict on a religious basis with very unpredictable
Almost at once an impressive delegation of domestic Krishnas
flew into Turi from Moscow to immediately disavow being compromised by
co-religionist. Other murderers had been recognized as irresponsible
and put in private medical establishments. The religious aspect of the
incident was found to be
entirely outside the brackets of the process. The vision of the
mystic experience of the Krishna-fanatic, his ritual conduct - all this
reduced to superfluous mental disturbance. And the sect that gave birth
monster was to have had nothing to do with it.
One may recall that during the entire history of the Soviet
Union not a single member of the Communist party was ever convicted.
How would that
look? When a communist committed a crime, he was expelled from the
Party right away - and judged as a non-Party man. Astonishing how
similar this is to
Here is another example: in early 2002 in the USA, Jehovahs
Witness parents hammered their 12-year-old daughter to death. The
explained afterward that he was putting a "Biblical principle" into
the rod and spoil the child. To be sure, instead of a rod he used a
one-and-a-half meter piece of 2.5 centimeter cable. What's the
difference? Although he himself stated that he acted with his wife in
accordance with Biblical law and traditional belief, the "Jehovahs
itself was again found to be in the picture.
Ten control questions
We all have gotten used to living under new market conditions.
The market reigns in many areas of our lives, including, alas, the
religious. A vast torrent of religious information came crashing down
on us, at
times of a purely commercial character. Over and over we are confronted
choice. I think, at the present time it's unlikely that a person has
been at a
loss when it comes to finding missionaries, teachers, preachers, new
doctrines or philosophical systems. A great number of religious groups
organizations have been appearing in our cities. Some of them we knew
about before only through hearsay; many of them we had not heard of
before at all.
And each proclaims themselves to be the most authoritative bearer of
by which we can be saved and help overcome all our problems and attain
How do you know how true these promises are?
How do you know whether the person who has approached you
belongs to a totalitarian sect (destructive cult)?
How do you know you are not an object of recruitment, that
they are not luring you into the organization which you would never
enter if you had
complete information about it.
I first want to say that everything stated below does not
apply to the traditional religions in your region, the fruit of
whose work you
can see in the culture and history of our country. This relates only to
religious doctrines and theories you didn't know about before. I'm
of all to people who have not yet made their religious choice: please,
careful. It is untrue that the Orthodox Church is combating those of
other faith or
fears competition. It is only broadcasting that if we are part of a
"religious market," then we will be competent consumers. Each person,
in seriously regarding the purchase of items, directs attention to
quality and is wary of fakes. But, in purchasing a low-quality item,
lose money. In dealing with spiritual fakes, you risk much more: all
possessions, your environment, career, family, health, and eventually
even your whole existence.
So if you are approached by someone who invites you to go to a
lesson or a seminar, promises you interesting work in a foreign company
with high pay or invites you to bring a new educational course into
(institute, or business), we advise you to ask this person 10
which will help to sift out up to 90% of all sect recruiters. It's
best of all if you pose these questions in a calm, non-aggressive tone,
while still giving the person to understand that you will not be
content to be
brushed off, but you expect direct and candid answers.
You should be aware that all totalitarian sects, to one or
another degree, use fraud during recruitment. Far from all sectarians,
however, realize that they are leading a person astray when they are
trying to get a new
member for their organization. Therefore, in posing these questions,
you can spot either the recruiter concealing part of the truth from
you, or he does
not have complete information himself.
It's most likely that sectarians will try to throw you off
with: an evasive answer, "positions in general," or attempts to change
the topic of the conversation. So if you hear something like "We are
just trying to help
people solve their problems," or "We are just inviting you to an
interesting seminar where issues that all bother all mankind will be
discussed," or "We are just planning a discussion of the word of God,"
or even, "We
just want treat you to a free vegetarian supper," you are fully
justified in being on your guard. If the answers are accompanied with
evasive rebukes of the type, "I understand your skeptical attitude
I used to be that way myself before I finally came to the true
or "Really are you actually interested in that?" - these are
also red flags.
Another method sectarians often use is to change the topic of
conversation. For example, if you ask, whether a sect founder has
ever been the subject of
criminal investigation, for an answer you might get a lengthy
monologue about how all great religious figures of the world have
undergone pursuit and persecution. They might give you the example of
who was convicted for corrupting young people, or talk about Jesus
condemned for befriending whores and riffraff, and so forth. In this
should be polite, but unflinchingly cut your interlocutor short and
tell him that
at the given moment you do not intend to start a discussion about
Socrates - you want to get a straight answer about the leader of his
If a recruiter evades giving a clear, direct and specific
answer, you can be assured that he wants to conceal something from you.
And remember that you always have an argument in reserve not a
single recruiter can object to: you can always leave or,
conversely, ask him to immediately leave your apartment or office.
There is one more rule you absolutely ought to make for
yourself: never give your address or telephone number to someone
you suspect of sect
membership. If you have any doubt, but would like to get more
information before making your final decision, ask him to give you an
address and telephone
number at which further contact can occur at your initiative.
Remember, you need to control the situation!
Do not permit anyone to put pressure on you for the purpose of
making you give out personal information about yourself; take the
example of the
modest girl who never gave her address and telephone number out the
she meets a guy, without finding out a little more about him. Better to
wait a little than give out your phone number and have no peace at day
unbidden sickly sweet persistent intrusions at night.
If you manage to ask these questions in the required tone of
voice, without aggression or covert taunts, they can make sectarians
think. This is
quite a bit in itself: imagine, a person sees his membership in a sect
different light and takes his first step towards leaving it.
REMEMBER THAT THE PERSON STANDING BEFORE YOU IS, ABOVE ALL, A
VICTIM, AND THAT HE REQUIRES SYMPATHY AND LENIENCY.
So, here are 10 questions to ask:
1. How long have you been a member of this group?
It's important for you to know from the very start who you are
dealing with. A person who joined the totalitarian sect less than a
year ago us usually still very inexperienced. There's less probability
that he'll resort to
lying, but in any case he will not be able to tell lies as convincingly
experienced recruiter. If the one talking to you had been a member of
the group for
many years, demand very specific answers to all your questions. If he
tries to dodge the questions, you can always show an interest in how it
about that he has been in the group all these years and still hasn't
get the answers himself.
2. Do you want to recruit me for any organization?
Most often the recruiter will answer like this, "No, I just
like you and I want to give you information about our teachings
organization, group of friends). Anything else depends on you: would
you like to take
advantage of it or not." Splendid. Remember this answer, because if
your interlocutor represents a totalitarian sect, he will all the same
be able to resort to methods of recruitment and pressure, and then will
recall the time that he lied to you and you can remind him of this and
but firmly ask him to leave you in peace.
3. Can you list the names of all the other organizations
that are connected with your group?
In posing this question you are attempting to find out whether
your interlocutor is a member of a totalitarian sect that is already
to you. Nearly all sects of that type create a number of front groups
around themselves in order not to scare off potential members. For
The "Church of Christ" often operates as a study group or an
association for studying biblical literature;
"The Family" sect (same as the "Children of God")
presents itself as the "Union of independent Christian missionary
"The Local Church" of the Li Witnesses (or just "Church in
NN") distributes its literature in the form of an independent
publication called "Living Stream";
"Living water," "New life," "Living spring," "Word
of truth," "Church of the new generation," "Church of the
testament," "Living faith," "Word of life," or even "Church
- Embassy of God" - these are the sort of pretentious names local
of the occult neo-charismatic "Movement of faith" (it's also "Theology
of prosperity") give themselves;
"Dianetics," "Narconon," "Criminon," "Hubbard
college" etc. are all different names for the so-called "Church of
"Foundation of 21st cent. Mary," "Church of the Transfigured
Mother of God," "Ecumenical Marian Church," "Orthodox Church
of the Enduring Mother of God," are all self-appellations of the
But the Munists ("The Association of the Holy Spirit for World
Unification of Christianity" is the official name) have the most front
organizations. A list of them fills a thick brochure. They include the
"International foundation for education," the "International religious
the "International association for studying the principle - CARP," the
"International Women's Foundation for World Peace," the "Academy
of professors for world peace," and many, many others.
Patiently repeat the question: is your interlocutor in an
organization or connected with a group, or has he been? If your
interlocutor says that
he doesn't know, ask him to find this out from his colleagues and write
down the names of the organizations on a piece of paper. And you will
If the recruiter replies that there are no organizations like
that, but you find out later that he lied to you, that is another good
reason to ask
this. If you don't ask this question, you risk not finding out that
4. What's the name of the founder, or if he's deceased, the
supreme leader of your group.
Try here, too, to get a complete and true answer to your
question. Don't exclude the possibility that the recruiter will make an
effort not to
tell you the name of the current group leader, because his name might
enough. As a screen your interlocutor can cite the name of the leader
of the sect office in your region, city or in Russia. Demand to hear
the full family name
of the current leader of the sect. Perhaps, if you hear it, everything
immediately become clear for you and you will not want to continue this
5. Tell about the last leader of the organization, about
the education he received. Does he have a clean record? Was he held
court? If yes, then for what?
It's important to know whether the leader was what he
pretended to be.
For example, not long ago the founder of "Herbal Life" died from an
overdose. Mark Hughes did not have either medical or pharmaceutical
training. Vissarion (Sergei Torop), a self-proclaimed "Christ," used to
work as a police officer and was dismissed for drunkenness. Even the
Mormon, Joseph Smith, began his spiritual career with spiritism and
the religious father of Jehovism, Charles Tayes Russel, a store clerk
age 11, afterwards became "famous" for financial machinations,
perjury (in which he was caught repeatedly). Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, the founder of Krishnaism, until his retirement and
the material world was an illusion, was a successful businessman; and
"divine teacher" (he was also the "spirit of truth"), Seko Asahara, the
head of the "Aum Shinrikyo" sect, began as a machine operator in the
pharmaceutical field, and then founded a chain of cheap snack bars in
Japan. Kenneth Haigin, the spiritual father of the neo-Pentecostal
"Theology of enlightenment" who named it a "true Christian movement,"
seriously involved in occult practices. Well, and it would be
impossible not to mention the founder of Scientology, the "genius of
all time and
nations," L. Ron Hubbard, who did not finish a single higher
institution, failed anything he started, was mixed up in a series of
unscrupulous financial machinations and, until he invented "Dianetics,"
ends meet by churning out low-grade science fiction for pulp magazines.
There is still the important question about the criminal past
of the sect founder. For example, the founder of the "Unification
Korean businessman San Myung Mun was twice called to account in Korea
(according to some information, for bigamy and sexual perversion). In
1985 he was
sentenced to 13 months in federal prison in the US for violating the
Naturally, just having a scandalous past does not
automatically mean the head of a sect is a swindler or a charlatan,
but, as a rule, where
there's smoke there's a fire. In most cases, it's strange how quickly
of the leader of destructive cults gets damaged.
In studying the lifestyles and pasts of sect leaders, you can
draw certain conclusions about the degree of trust you are prepared to
put in him.
For instance, if a sect suggests you take a course about how to learn
build successful and effective relations with people, it would be
you to know that its chief has been divorced three times. If the sect
took drugs and was well-known for his extremely peculiar conduct and
lifestyle, such as L. Ron Hubbard, for example, it's worth pondering
whether he is
really able, as he says, to resolve all mankind's problems. If you knew
ardent advocate of "divine love," the founder of "The Family" sect,
David Berg, as he got older, hid from the world that he was assembling
a harem of young girls around him, and collected blatantly obscene
material from the members of his sect, it's worth considering what
"prophet" calls "love." When San Myung Mun declares that all his
directed at strengthening peace throughout the world, this is an
appropriate time to recall that his movement owns a factory in Korea
manufactures M-16 rifles, and in the USA, a factory for the production
of small, but very
powerful revolvers and automatics for street warfare.
Of course, it's possible that your interlocutor does not know
anything about the past of his group leader, in so far as he himself
did not ask that
question of the recruiter when he was recruited into the sect. At that
ask, "How are you able to dedicate your entire life to this person,
knowing about him?" Remember, any destructive cult tries to recruit a
he receives significant information about that organization and about
leader, but any beneficial organization first lays out complete
information about itself and suggests that the person become a member
only after he
himself recognizes that he is ready to do so.
6. What does your group believe in? Does it believe that
the end justifies the means? Are there circumstances under which a
useful if he is tricked?
The majority of recruiters probably won't begin to discuss
sect doctrine with you right on the spot. They were instructed to
and a love of knowledge to get you carried away: listen to a lecture,
movie, take part in a seminar. They know that there, on their
will have a much better chance and a greater ability to put you under
If, in answer to your question, the person refuses to tell you
the basic position of the group's beliefs, assert that he is hiding
from you. He can tell you that he is afraid about how you would not
understand him correctly, or how you would form false ideas about the
in his brief statement. Nonetheless, insist on getting an answer. Any
worthy religious organization can briefly state its basic beliefs.
But a totalitarian sect is not at all interested in doing that, not
giving you the proper preparation it gives all its members, which
material "for internal use."
If the recruiter plain won't tell you about the sect's
doctrine, do not let him get you off his back only by using evaluative
"sublime," "upright," "true Christianity," etc. All this in only an
ordinary attempt to snow you and change the topic. Ask him to be
If after some time you find out that the description offered
to you is in itself a substantial distortion and flawed, you are fully
justified in sending the person who is speaking to you home. Cultists
effort to persuade you that you were tricked (not told the entire
you are under the influence of certain of your perceptions of the mass
and that if they told you everything right away, you would not listen
Don't get caught up in this argument, because it means only one thing:
organization recruiting you believes that the end justifies the means.
organization would resort to lying to help people.
7. If I join your organization, how will I need to change
my life? Will I have to give up my studies or work, to give you my
savings and my
property and give up contact with my friends and relatives if the speak
If your interlocutor is a member of a totalitarian sect, he
will very quickly tell you that nothing or practically nothing will be
of you and that you can continue on with the aspects of your life as
even get everything you wanted right away. However, this question will
unpleasant for the majority of sectarians and immediately put them on
the defensive. Therefore, in asking this question, carefully observe
reaction of the recruiter. After his response, ask what he himself was
before he joined the sect and what he is doing now. Permit yourself to
doubt if he self-attests to having a rare talent or being a student at
prestigious college. Again ask if members of his organization are
allowed to lie.
If it is suggested to you that you enroll in a free program,
it would be helpful to find out more precisely whether it was really
free, or after
the first, introductory course you would have to pay on an advancing
If you are dealing with an operation that works on too profitable
they will start you off with the introductory fee (pass the paid
course, then a "special" price is paid for the first part of the
Remember that in any pyramid scheme, the only ones that profit are
those at the top.
8. Is your organization's activity considered to be
someone speaks out against your organization, what arguments do they
This question shows you how well your interlocutor is informed
or how prepared he is for open dialogue. If you ask it civilly and with
friendly smile, as if this was not inconceivable, you can often hear in
answer, "You know, there are strange people who call us a totalitarian
say that we're all brainwashed and call us zombies. Can you imagine?
Here I am,
for example, do I really look like a brainwashed zombie?" To this one
ask the opposing question, "But how do you suppose a brainwashed zombie
would look? How do they act?" Probably your interlocutor will feel
uncomfortable, and if you insist on a response, he will quickly seek to
find a proper pretext and move away.
9. What do you think about former members of your
organization? Have you
ever had a chance to talk seriously with former members and found out
the reasons they left the organization? If not, why? Does your
really not allow you to associate with people who've left it?
With the reaction to this question you can find out a great
deal. Not a single worthy organization would ever forbid its members to
contact with people who've left them. Any worthy organization treats a
freedoms with respect, including the right to leave it. As sorry it
would be for them for making that decision, it would never stop them
it. But this is impossible to say about destructive cults. For them,
who leaves is a fierce enemy, betrayer and traitor. All sects instill
in their members regarding those who leave, and do everything possible
them away from those who criticize the organization, even more so from
members. Adepts of the "Jehovahs Witness" sect, for example, are
forbidden even to greet people who have been expelled from the
Although some experienced recruits can answer your questions
with, "Yes, of course, some of my closest friends have left us," try
asking them to
tell you about this in more detail, and watch them lie again. It is
appropriate to ask, "What reasons did they give as a basis for their
leave your organization?" and "Well, now that they've left you, are
better off than before?" It is improbable that the recruiter will be
able to answer this question intelligibly.
10. Name three things you don't like about this
organization and about its upper management.
We know many Orthodox who are openly critical of their Church
and its hierarchy. We know Catholics that criticize the Pope, and
who speak out very harshly about their churches. This can be looked at
number of ways, but it's a fact. But would you hear one sectarian
expressing even moderately critical thoughts about the founder of his
group, about its
management or about the group itself?
Many times in answer to this question, I've seen cultists,
whose organizations practice consciousness control, smile widely and
"Stop that, of course not." But this is exactly the same as an insane
who never sees himself as being ineffective, or an alcoholic who
passionately denies his dependence on spirits. If a person sees his
illness, then he's
taken the first step on the road to recovery.
The best way to show a person that he is a drug addict is to
tell him to try to refrain from taking drugs for several days. The best
way to test and
find out whether a person is under the influence of consciousness
to check to see if he has retained the ability of looking at his
a critical way.
Watch the sectarian closely when you ask him the proposed
question. He might hesitate for several moments and look dumbfounded.
nonetheless gathers his thoughts for the reply, it's unlikely that he
will be able
to tell you anything specific. This is "natural" too, because
forbidden not only to express, but even to think, critical remarks
about their organization or its leader.
What to do afterwards
If you have asked these questions, have not observed anything
wrong in the replies of the person you've asked, and you still want to
information about his organization, take a few more precautionary
measures before making the final decision. Meet with other members of
organization, ask them the same questions and check how much the
answers you get
coincide with each other. If the answers are very different, ask your
about the reasons for this and watch what he says to you.
Before you consent to take part in some sort of organizational
event, try to find something else out about it. If it calls itself
interested in what representatives of the Christian faith traditional
region think about them. If they're Muslim, ask the Muslims, or
Buddhists if they're
Buddhist, and so forth. If the organization asserts that its founder
managed to consolidate the doctrines of all existing religions within
teachings, please, be particularly careful! As many thousands of years
religious thinking show, such an artificial "merger" leads only to
division and isolation. It's no accident, either, that all the founders
of the most evil totalitarian sects of the 20th century, starting with
and Hitler and ending with Mun and Rajnesh, have declared that they
managed to find the magical formula for universal unity.
If you don't manage to find anything out about the
organization and it, as before, seems to merit your attention, take a
friend you trust with you
to its gathering (event). That way you'll have someone with whom to
impressions about what you see and hear. Really, many destructive cults
use divide-and-conquer as their main principle; those are the ones who
be trying to separate you from each other. Probably this will seem
spontaneous: somebody begins a conversation with your friend, but
person asks you a question, and after a few minutes you both end up at
different ends of the room. Some sects state at the very beginning
that, according to
seminar rules, all participants need to do assigned tasks in pairs, but
someone they don't know. Do not agree to this, demand that you not be
from your friend. If you are compelled to submit, simply leave.
If in the proceedings of the event you feel that they're
making you accept the opinion of the majority more so than your own
opinion, or submit to
one stereotype of conduct that you don't like - in other words, the
of control has begun - immediately stand up and explain that you don't
like being manipulated or attempts to control your consciousness. The
you explain this, the more quickly you'll be escorted from the room.
who knows? Several other people might take advantage of the opportunity
and go along with
If all this happens at a seminar overseas that you attended at
the invitation of one or another organization, don't be embarrassed.
Don't feel obliged
to anyone. If nothing else, if the organization paid your ticket and
expenses, it has a greater interest in you than you have in it. Remember
that in inviting you they took on themselves the obligation before the
local authorities to support you and provide you with medical help up
end of your stay in that country. I assure you, the possibility of
suddenly turning up in an unfamiliar foreign city on the street without
for substinence and a return ticket is practically non-existent. If,
contrary to all expectations, this happens anyway, go to the nearest
and report that, out of ignorance, you were a guest of an organization
applied psychological pressure to you and declined to fulfill their
before the immigration authorities. And remember that no receipt that
organization could have had you sign before your departure from Russia
of their obligation for your stay abroad. So you have nothing to be
The main thing is to show reasonable caution. Do not give in
to curiosity to the detriment of common sense. Too many people are
drawn into sects
by excessive self-confidence. They were convinced that they could keep
themselves under control in any situation and not fall under someone
influence. Like people who start smoking ("I could always quit, if I
want"), or become alcoholics or drug addicts. Sad to say,
and excessive self-confidence have brought very many people to a tragic
end. Don't give in to this temptation.
(Material used in developing this text came from Steven
Hassan's book, "Combating
Cult Mind Control," Rochester, Vermont, 1990.)
What are totalitarian sects
Totalitarian sects are authoritarian, ideocratic groups who
manipulate their members and exploit them, not infrequently causing
financial and physical harm. The leadership of totalitarian sects
goals behind a mask of religion, religious politics, psychotherapy,
care, education, scientific information, culture and other recognized
The leadership of totalitarian sects have superhuman status;
in general all the groups put themselves above society and family and
counterposition to them. Typical for sectarians is a black-white
worldview ("us - them,"
"clean - dirty," "saved - lost," "elite - docile" etc.) without
half-tones. The sectarian mentality is propagated
especially in times of economic or social crisis and can lead to
From the presentations of totalitarian sects about themselves
and about them bieng the exclusive media of absolute good, emerges
their devotion to
the principle that "the end justifies the means": they consider
that benefits the sect to be moral. Therefore totalitarian sects easily
resort to deceit, omission and importunate propaganda to attract new
Members of totalitarian sects are bound to unquestioning
obedience to their deified leadership. Questions, doubt and
dissatisfaction are eradicated
or even punished. To suppress doubt with regard to the group and its
their class of psychic narcotic is employed to stunt reason and, at the
to evoke a kind of euphoria and dependence (mechanical repetition of a
incantation, practices involving ecstasy or meditation, denunciation of
individual "guilty" members in the presence of the assembly and so
Totalitarian sects grasp for other unethical methods of
control over all aspects of the lives and personalities of the adepts.
manipulating people can be extremely effective and lead to a condition
dependence on the manipulators. These methods are founded on two basic
1. A sudden sharp change of environment can make a person especially
receptive to external influence and promote a strong, deep change in
his worldview, system of values and beliefs.
2. If you can make a person conduct himself in a way you would
like, you can make him believe in what you would like.
The group can control its members for a long time using:
Isolation. The management of a group encourage
co-residency only with other members of the group, and often make this
requirement. If you are physically separated from society and the
you're accustomed to, you can lose your own concepts of reality.
Social peer pressure. If they use your inherent sense
to the social continuum, you might start to suppress your doubts about
of the group, or oppose that which you would have expressed under
Guilt. They suggest an absolutely negative assessment
pre-sectarian life and cultivate a sense of guilt for the impossibility
adequately show appreciation to the group for salvation from the "sins"
of the past.
Fear. Loyalty to the group and subjection to its rules
can be reached by means of intimidation through negative spiritual and
consequences for breaking these rules, especially for leaving the
Love bombing. The feeling of belonging to the sect as
if it were all one family can be artificially created by frequent
touching and incessant adulation.
Intensive indoctrination. You are required to
continuously study sect publications and to look at and listen to its
In neither case are critical materials allowed, neither generally
speaking, are non-sect sources of information.
Deindividualization. If you don't have time left over
for yourself, if it's impossible for you to be alone, you can lose the
think objectively or to assess a situation "from the other side" or "in
Tiredness and exhaustion. If you don't get the
necessary rest and nutrition, you can lose the ability to adequately
environment and be particularly prone to influence, especially if
during this you are
in a new, or new to you, situation and you are given conflicting
Installation of distrust toward rational thinking. As a
result you lose the ability to critically assess the ideology and
practices of the
Control of language. Introduction of new dictionaries
and/or change of meaning for commonly used words leads to thought
Control of sexual relations. The instructions of the
group can vary:
from a full prohibition to sexual relations or appointment of a spouse
to instructions to perform perverted acts, engage in prostitution or
group sex. Any form of surveillance in the most intimate sphere of
serves as an effective means of subjugation.
A result of the aggregate actions and acceptance of control by
members of totalitarian sects is suppression of the real personality
replacement by a boilerplate script of behavior, speech, emotion and
thought - a
In their full orientation to the leader of the totalitarian
members imitate him in every way. If the head of the sect has a
crime or perversion, or suffers from psychic disorders, then the
psychological induction goes to work, a singular infection of the
and psychic pathology of the founder. It's characteristic of a
group to treat humankind as an instrument or means for attaining the
ideological, commercial or pathological goals of the leader, whereas
healthy, constructive, religious and social organizations, each person
represents the goal, but not the means.
What to do if your loved one gets into a sect
Above all, keep the peace. Yes, your family has gone through a
painful ordeal, but nothing irreparable has happened. The majority of
who've gotten into sects get out of them sooner or later. But how
loved one gets out and what shape he will be in when he gets out
large part on you and on the other members of his family.
In any case be amply prepared for a long-term effort. If your
loved one cannot be helped in the first several weeks after having been
introduced to the sect, his return to non-sect life will take an effort
by the entire family over the course of at least several months, if not
But for this each person should know well how to conduct himself.
After the original "recognition," do not try to dissuade your
loved one; that would only make your relationship worse. You've already
realized for certain that attempts to explain to your loved one about
of the sect's dogma are useless, and that chiding his behavior will
to scandal and strained relations. You should know that totalitarian
sects, as a rule, are interested in splitting the new adept off from
non-sectarian environment: then all information he gets will come from
the sect, and
his circle of acquaintances will stop there too. Such a state of
creates the ideal conditions for controlling the adept's consciousness.
order to provoke a split, sectarian "teachers" declare in advance that
victim used to be, let's say, "possessed by the devil" or was too
attached to "this evil world" and therefore his former acquaintances
will do everything possible to make the new convert "leave the path of
salvation," abandon the newly found 'true family'," renounce
liberating knowledge, etc. So your emotional reaction will only play
into the hands of the sect and serve as one more confirmation of the
his new belief.
But, on the other hand, and it's not impossible in this case
to pretend you've changed your mind and end up liking the changes that
happening with your loved one: this is either reinforce him in his
devotion to the
sect, or he will spot your lie and finally lose any trust he had in
you. Talk over
the following proposal with him: you will not criticize his "group"
word "sect", of course, will upset your loved one, so that it's better
to try to avoid it); he will not engage in propaganda at home and will
to get other family members to join. However, you can gently turn your
loved one's attention to the obvious contradictions in his conduct and
statement, but yet not make him explain these contradictions: your
objective is to
distract him from the sect.
To build a strategy of conduct, it should be understood that
your loved one is in the psychological dependence upon a group, in
his own personality has been suppressed and replaced with a boilerplate
of sectarian behavior, emotion and thought. Your problem is to preserve
even a minimal contact with his suppressed original personality. Regard
with patience and sympathy, while understanding that people have
personality disturbances, but in no case give him money - this would be
the same as giving a drug addict for drugs: any money he gets is all
it immediately gets passed to the sect.
Try to direct yourself to a constructive solution to the
problem, be pleasant and frank in dialogue. Show by your conduct that
your loved one is really on a quest and that he's made a choice,
wrongly, and that now your path is a different one from his. Plan to
more warmth and affection than rational support in talks with your
one. Try in general to bring up moments in his past life, when he was
Remember joyful episodes of your former life, when you were aware of
single family, when you went somewhere together, the business you were
involved with together, the plans and dreams that you had with each
other. Of course
you don't need to do this artificially. Operate intuitively, being
in love and compassion. And in time with any luck you'll see how the
familiar personality of your loved one shines through the detached
robot he's turned into.
This sort of tactic has two goals. The first is to maintain an
emotional "thread of Ariadne," by which, in the event of a crisis in
relations of the group or a reevaluation of his part in the sect, he
can find his
way out of its psychological labyrinth. Secondly, he will perceive you
an enemy nor as a target of recruitment, which could assist you in
your loved one to meet with specialists, especially those, such as a
or a well-informed sectologist, that are familiar with the problems of
psychological force in thought reform, or to have family consultations.
about that is that, as a rule, people who have been attracted to
sects have emotional problems (of the sort that can arise in anybody in
psychological stress). So help for the victim often begins with the
discovery and removal of the source of these problems, which would be
the job of
Understanding the essence of the psychology of totalitarian
sectarianism is possible for those familiar with Steven Hassan's book,
(2000). Besides that, it's worth reading a series published by the
"Journal of Practical Psychology" (Moscow) at the end of the '90s.
of "Sdvoenniy" magazine of 2000 are entirely dedicated to this theme.
One can get
initial information on the web pages of psychologist Evgenie Volkov.
to those can be found on the pages of the Center of St. Irenaeus of
Lyon (http://iriney.ru). Learn the
of these publications, since consultation of the victim with a
psychologist presumes, to great measure, possession of the theory of
psychological manipulation by one of his family members. It's best if
the entire family participates in the process of helping the person.
that, though, everything needs to be organized correctly, once again
should be by a specialist in psychology.
Study the dictionary of "your" sect and its doctrine so that
you understand well what your loved one is talking about. Get in
with those who've had the same misfortune happen to them, and also with
members of totalitarian sects, responsible government officials,
employees of law enforcement agencies and lawyers. Besides that, you
all the information about the sect you can, but don't let him know
so as not to irritate him. Copy and write down everything you can,
archive and a library. Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to maintain a
weekly diary. Any alternative to the sectarian information might be of
intervention. Critical information should not be dished out a little at
a time, it won't have more effect that way.
In the ideal process of exiting a totalitarian sect through
external influence a large number of people will be involved, first a
family member working with him, and also a sectologist, (a "specialist
in the facts"; it could be this and the psychologist are the same), and
former members of the sect. Their task is to check the critical
the sectarian and to put him in a position of choice, but this time it
be informed, which is to say, free. Besides that, the relatives and
friends of the victim, together with the psychologist, should help him
victim's psychological dependence on the sect, and give him true love
sympathy instead of a sect surrogate. Get in touch with Orthodox
clergyman if that is desirable, who offers (but not imposes) a true
The majority of people who've left a totalitarian sect require
psychological rehabilitation. The thing is that a person who leaves a
sect still has the same emotional (now neglected) problem that the
recruiter took advantage of. Besides that, many of them leave the cult
so-called post-traumatic stress disorder. So help for him can come only
professional psychologist who is well versed in the subject area.
Spiritual rehabilitation for victims of totalitarian
sectarianism includes work with a priest-confessor and emotional
support from the community
of the faithful. Gradually a person learns personal contact with God
possibility of doing this outside the sect is usually denied by its
gets familiar with an inexhaustible good source of church tradition, if
leaving a sect a person rids himself of former sectarians and helps
in their efforts to reduce sect strength.
It's impossible to forget about the social rehabilitation of
former members of totalitarian sects, who often find themselves on the
society without a place to live and without work, and having lost their
skills, without an independent life. It's basically necessary to help a
start to live in society all over again. Sometimes this can't be
a lawyer or a social worker.
Unfortunately there are presently no really good programs for
rehabilitating victims of totalitarian sects operating either in Russia
or in any of
the states of the former USSR. Everybody still goes to the center
nearest to them
that is involved with the problems of totalitarian sects (see list at
they do their best to help you.
Don't despair. Pray for your loved one in the sect. Let St.
Monika the Just be an example for you; she was the mother of blessed
the bishop of Hippo. This Orthodox priest, the greatest theologian in
lived in the 5th century and until his conversion to Christianity he
was in the
Manichean sect for many years. All those years his mother did not stop
God for him, and the mother's prayers were answered.
We tried to describe the typical situations that people
in when dealing with a destructive sect, and asked a lawyer for
comment. - Ed.
My underage child went into a sect. He goes to their
"services," reads literature, they're constantly calling him, etc.
Item 5 of article 3 of the federal law "On freedom of
conscience and on religious associations" prohibits luring minors into
organizations without the consent of their parents or their substitute.
If you did not give your consent, write a statement for your state
prosecutor's office, according to where you live, and, in parallel,
according to where it
happened, let the juvenile office of the police department know.
My husband went into a sect. He's giving them things from
our apartment and money (stipends, pension).
According to article 34 of the RF family code, property
acquired by a spouse during a marriage, is common. Considered part of
that is the income of
each spouse from employment and business activities, pensions,
and other financial payments, personal belongs and real estate,
shares, deposits and shares in capital commercial organizations, and
other property independent of whether it was acquired on behalf of the
spouse or it was acquired for someone with the spouse's money." As
article 35 of the Family Code, the use and disposal of property should
be realized only with mutual consent of husband and wife. Therefore
transactions with common property that are carried out only by one of
without notification or consent on the part of the other spouse is
illegal and can be abrogated through the court.
My wife goes to a sect and, despite my negative attitude,
underage child with her. The child said repeatedly that he's not
interested. But my wife said her interests are more important.
Article 38 of the RF Constitution gives equal right for
raising and upkeep
of the children to both parents. With regard to item 2 article 65 of
Code, such questions need to be resolved by the father and mother only
mutual consent. At the same time the article notes especially that
rights cannot be realized in contradiction to the interests of the
children." Consequently, sending a child to a religious organization
can happen only in
the event he wants this himself and that the decision about this has
in agreement with his parents. In the event there is a conflict of
this account, the Family Code recommends approaching the solution to
in the organ of wardship and guardianship or in the court.
The Jehovahs Witnesses are constantly making the rounds in
building. I've told them several times that I practice a different
(atheism, I don't want to talk with them), but they continue to walk by
to start conversations and often put their leaflets in our mail box.
Unfortunately the legislation does not prohibit being involved
type of religious agitation. The only way it can be stopped is by
code lock on the building's external doors. Ask the organization that
maintenance on your building about this. If you mention the "Jehovahs
Witnesses" tracking in more dirt, using the already dilapidated
cluttering up the place and creating a fire hazard with their leaflets,
it's possible they might find a place in the budget by which such a
lock can be
A family of sectarians who hold religious gatherings in
camp out regularly in our apartment building entrance.
Item 2 article 16 of the law "On freedom of conscience and on
associations" permits divine services and other religious rites and
ceremonies to be conducted in living quarters. This is the rule cited
by sectarians. However article 10 of the currently operating RSFSR
Residential Code says they are obliged to observe the regulations of
building inhabitants and the regulations of community life. The latter
asserted by resolution of the RSFSR Council of Ministers No. 415 on 25
1985 and requires tenants of rooms or apartments not to engage in
creates excessive sound or vibration", and maintain silence in the
period from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. So if a so-called "home group" of 10-15
gathers in an apartment, for example, and engages in collective singing
with loud preaching, this sort of activity violates the regulations.
other unpleasant nuances of this sort of neighborhood should also be
addressed. For instance, during the daily mass assemblies by the
sectarians at one or
another apartment the entrance gets dirty fast, there is increased risk
fire regulations being violated, and also the sanitary standards that
violation of article 142, which requires that apartment tenants "ensure
safety of living quarters, carefully carry trash to the
observe the regulations of building support maintenance and fire
observe cleanliness and order in the entrance, elevators, in stairwells
other places of common use." Besides that, it has been observed that a
landlord's apartment was set up for a religious assembly, and they
often give their guests the number for the code lock at the building's
doors, which increases the danger of intrusion by unauthorized people.
that into consideration, the sectarians need to be asked to stop using
apartment for an assembly area. If refused, a complaint should be filed
residence-maintenance organization that is responsible for the
condition of the entrance, or a petition should be filed in court.
I often walk down X street (through a passage at a subway
station, etc.). There sectarians sell there books from a street stand."
A street location for vendors, including those who sell
different literature, is usually arranged with the local agency for
self-employment in accordance with article 4 of the federal law "On
general principles of
an organization of local self-employment." As a rule, sectarians do not
coordinate with that office. Therefore, sometimes it's enough to file a
complaint with the local authorities to put an end to the distribution
of such literature.
Sectarians hand out invitations to their meetings on the
There is nothing that can be done directly about that.
However, take a look at the invitation being handed out by the
sectarians. Item 8 article 8
of the law "On freedom of conscience and on religious associations"
that religious organizations indicate their full designation during
fulfillment of activity. That prohibits so-called denominational
However, the name of the religious organization is not usually shown on
they just report the time and the place for a "discussion about God."
alone is a basis for filing a statement with the public prosecutor
about a violation of the law by a specific organization.
Sectarians have come into the educational institutions,
conduct discussions and rites. The institution's management supports
among the teachers are also members of this sect who draw children into
religion. Sometime religious material is given out right there in the
The issue of separation of Church from schools has been
clearly established in point 5 article 1 of the RF law "On education,"
where it says that in
state and municipal educational institutions, activity by religious
organizations is not permitted. Point 2 article 2 of the same law once
again makes a requirement to preserve the secular character of
analogous position is also supported in item 2 article 4 of the federal
law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations." It requires
performance in all state and municipal educational systems: pre-school
educational establishments (kindergartens), middle schools, extended
education establishments, institutions of professional-technical
institutions of higher education. So propaganda activity of the
sectarians themselves, teachers in the educational institutions who are
sympathetic to them, as well as the distribution there of religious
illegal. To prevent such activity it's necessary to lodge a complaint
in the local
education administrative organ and to make a statement to the public
according to where the educational institution is located.
The management of a business (company) has joined a sect
and is making
all the employees go to its meetings and read religious literature.
According to item 2 article 30 of the RF Constitution, "No one
compelled to join or stay in any sort of association." In the agreement
contract between you and the administration of the business (company),
not say that your employment will be dependent on your relationship to
religion. Therefore, if management insists on you joining a sect, go to
the local office
of federal labor monitoring or to the public prosecutor, according to
business (company) is located.
Opinion of Evgeniy Mukhtarov, chairman of the social center of
secretary of the Council on realization of state religious studies
experts for the territory of
Religions that kill
In November 1978 the entire world was shocked to learn of the
dreadful end of
the "Peoples Temple" sect headed by Jim Jones. In a ghastly sequence
of pictures published in the mainstream mass media were depicted the
men, women and children in unnatural poses lying in a clearing in the
a tropical forest. Lifeless bodies. 912 people in all. They believed in
leader and followed him into the jungle of Guyana, where they began
of the ideal city, which was named after the leader of the sect,
then they obeyed his order to commit suicide by drinking poison, or to
degree by not resisting too much when shot in the back of the head.
asked the opinion of the children: the poisonous solution was injected
mouths of infants with droppers. The children trustingly drank the
their mothers offered to them in disposable paper cups. They drank so
several seconds they shook in convulsions from an awful pain that split
insides, and then it stopped forever.
So the world saw with its own eyes the mortal danger that
totalitarian sects. And before then parents and loved ones of newly
members of new religious movements complained that sects "brainwashed"
members of their family and changed them to the point of being
unrecognizable. Publications about the criminal activities of a number
of new sects and about the flagrant human rights violations that
happened in them had already been
released. The first parliamentary investigations had already been
into the activities of one or another sect that caused anxiety for the
society and government. The first court cases had already been heard,
started by the sectarians and initiated against them.
But all this was abstract enough and could be perceived with
skepticism. Now we have seen with our own eyes that sects kill.
the victims of Jonestown are in the same ranks as the photographs from
GULAGs or from Auschwitz and the photographs of the "killing fields"
of Cambodian dictator-murderer Pol Pot.
It's interesting that domestic agitation-propaganda, which
intuitively associated the "Peoples Temple" sect with Soviet communism,
a series of articles about the "socialist commune" of the progressive
figure Jim Jones, who, they say, wanted to emigrate to the USSR, for
which he was horribly destroyed by GRU agents. After all the
nature of Marxism-Leninism has been written about often enough.
Jim Jones himself, who, in the construction of his "true
Christianity," used many elements of Marxism together with occult
practices and scraps
of eastern religion and promises to his sect followers of Paradise on
earth and eternal bliss in heaven, could not contrive anything better
GULAGs themselves with the distinguishing characteristics we are so
It all began in Minneapolis, and then continued in San
Francisco, where Jones' "evangelistic group" was greatly admired by
Protestants for its "social" tendency and its attitude toward the poor
and indigent stratum of society. Even the left-wing government of the
city at first supported the "Peoples Temple" and granted its leader a
responsible social position.
Only after several years had passed did rumors leak to the
outside about the establishment of rigorous control over the believers
in the Jones sect,
about the financial exactions, the deification of the leader, the
punishment, sexual violence and other violations of human rights.
scandal, Jones announced a new divinely inspired solution - everyone
leave this morally depraved city and go to Latin America, to Guyana,
where, in the
beautiful, warm climate, in the primal forest, in the fresh air, a long
way from the filth, depravity, racism and social injustice of the
cities, the true believers would build themselves a Paradise on earth.
of the believers, who were intoxicated and intimidated by their
leader, followed him.
At that time Jones had already openly proclaimed himself to be
the reincarnation of Christ, Buddha, the prophet Wahhab (founder of
Wahabism), Lenin and the Most Omnipotent God (naturally he did not
consider Christ to be
God, but a great social reformer). At meetings sect adepts danced, sang
verses in unison and drove themselves to ecstasy:
I have to tell you how Jim Jones changed my life.
The "Almighty God" began by marking off the site for the
construction of the ideal city with barbed wire and setting up towers
on the perimeter with guards armed to the teeth. He called them
warned, "If anyone wants to leave Paradise on earth, my angels will
take of them." Now in the impenetrable jungle, surrounded by armed
he had 100% control over his adherents.
used to be divided,
I was filled with despair.
But the prophet
and he delivered me.
[ ... ]
I know that he is God the
Almighty, God the Almighty, God the Almighty, God!
The work day under a scorching tropical sun and in the
suffocating humidity of the malarial district lasted twelve hours under
watch by those very
guards and under the hysterical screaming of Jones played in a
the loudspeakers. The people lived in barracks in double and triple
beds. Married couples (if they were allowed to live together) were
separated off from
the others with blankets as curtains. They were fed rice with sauce
bullion cubes and flour, and on special days they received some beans.
This went on while Jones had tens of millions of dollars in foreign
accounts in money he got from his followers, who were obliged to give
him all their
belongings, and then work for him for free.
Jim Jones himself lived in a separate structure built
especially for him, he ate sweets, he slept in and had sex with people
his sect provided him
with, both female and male. At the end of the work day he consumed a
of alcohol, went outside and started a prayer meeting that could go on
until two or three in the morning. The members of his sect had to rise
with the sun.
Naturally this did not apply to Jones himself.
Cruel punishment, which often included a physical beating or
torture, was customary for the most trivial infringement of the rules.
were not exempt from torture that was administered as punishment, for
instance, they were lowered down a well until they began to choke.
punishment was over the half-dead people had to scream out long and
loud, turned to
"Thank you, Father!"
All contact with the outside world was strictly controlled.
Correspondence was opened and inspected, and the few visitors, if they
into Jonestown at all, were not for an instant without an escort. But
the same, news about the true condition of things leaked to the
refused to believe it (we recall how long the West refused to believe
reality of the Stalinist Gulag). But all the same an inspection team
in Jonestown from the USA, composed of journalists and advocates, led
congressman Leo Ryan.
At first the members of the group were very pleased with what
they saw. Tidily swept streets, amiable people who were competing with
each to show how
very content they were with their lives, a modest but nourishing lunch,
such an occasion Jones saw fit to splurge on good food), a splendid
concert and the genuine enthusiasm of all the people they met.
Ryan was simply outraged at the slanderers who had written all sorts of
stories about such a fine commune. It wasn't until late at night when
getting ready for bed that he found in his shack several notes that
real life in Jonestown. There were several more people who availed
darkness to steal into his hut and tell him things that kept him from
to sleep. In the morning he asked Jones to assemble the people. "Who
like to go with me?," asked Leo Ryan. "Don't be afraid, I'm here and
nothing will happen to you." One person stepped forward. Behind him was
another, and still another, and another ...
"Get us out of here," implored the entire crowd, "We can't
stay here, we'll die, they'll kill us." There were many more people
could fit on Ryan's two jets. He picked the sickest, put the names of
on a list and promised to return for them. But the congressman picked
too many to fit on two small jets parked several kilometers from
Nonetheless they all made for the air strip.
This had struck a nerve for Jones. In hysteria he sent out a
team after the "traitors." The jets had not yet taken off, Leo Ryan was
with the refugees, he tried to find a place for everyone. The group in
opened fire. Ryan and several journalists were killed, but the pilots
still able to get the jets in the air under fire. Jones saw that it was
for him, and he summoned the people to the main square of the
after him, and proclaimed that one last act of faith that would being
salvation from the attacking agents of capitalism, racism and world
Everyone needed to drink the "elixir of life" and sink into sweet
die in a revolutionary suicide means to live forever," he screamed in a
breaking voice over the loudspeaker. This scene had already repeated
itself many times: Jones summoned people in an alarm, warmed up to his
appealed to them to stay loyal to him until the end and to drink what
offered. They were poured a solution of a sweet drink of a pretty
color, "Kool Aid,"
and people drank it, ready to die. Then Jones announced that this was
only a test, and everyone meekly drifted back to their barracks.
This time nobody knew if this was another one of those
exercises. People lined up in silence to wait for their drink, which
armed guards handed
out in little cups. It wasn't until the first people began to fall to
ground, writhing and screaming from the intense pain - a symptom
of potassium cyanide - that everyone understood the exercise had
made the crossover into reality. If a person showed indecisiveness, he
poison injected into his mouth with a syringe or was shot in the head.
few people managed to hide or escape. Jones and the guards were the
ones to commit suicide. According to certain information, Jones tried
but was shot by his guards.
When a detachment of Marines showed up at the site of the
tragedy the next day, it was already too late: in a clearing strewn
with corpses wafted
the sickening sweet smell of decomposing corpses... The autopsies
that no less than 700 of the 912 deceased were killed and only the
had taken their lives "voluntarily." 276 victims of "Almighty God"
Jones were children. Many of them were not identified and were buried
in communal graves.
This was the first widely known case in the modern world to
demonstrate the deadliness of religious totalitarianism. Unfortunately,
the first was
not also the last, not by a long shot...
In 1993 the world became acquainted with the name of a
hitherto little known Texas town of Waco, where the leader of an
Adventist sect of the
"Branch Davidian" doctrine, David Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell)
blew up of
the headquarters of his group, along with himself and all his
The leader of this sect, which had splintered off from
Adventism, was a dictator. There the adepts ate little and slept
little, gave all their
personal property to the organization, worked for it and took part in
Bible lessons taught by "charismatic" David Koresh, who claimed to be
ultimate prophet and messiah. He was a bankrupt rock musician, in his
youth he dreamed of stellar fame on stage, but was not to be recognized
area, so he preached a quick inevitable end to the world. In view of
approaching apocalypse Koresh declared that all the female members of
beginning with the youngest, would be his property, without regard for
or daughter they were. Every night he chose a new playmate for himself,
10-12 years of age.
The ranch where the sect was located was guarded by armed
"soldiers of the Lord," so that none of the brothers and sisters would
temptation and not renounce their salvation. All the same some of them
managed to escape, and finally the American law enforcement agencies
the ranch and demanded the surrender of illegal arms. For an answer
received gunfire. Several police officers were killed. This started a
siege at the sect center, which finally led to the fiery apocalypse for
sectarians themselves. David Koresh had prophesied too long to his
the prophesy had to come true. Of course, this insolvent messiah did
want to leave by himself. When the fires burned out, his charred body
extracted from the ruins. Along with him nearly a hundred people were
the fire, no less than 25 of them children.
In 1994 a new mass suicide/murder of sectarians occurred. At
the time this was a respectable ecological organization called "Solar
by the honorable and impressive Swiss man, Luc Jouret. Luc was a
favorite at the ladies club, which invited him to give a lecture about
pollution, healthy modes of life and about the advantages of vegetarian
There were few who suspected that within the amorphous ecological
a tough core of fanatical "devotees" who expected an early end to the
with horror. In contrast to the previous two sects, who were involved
mainly in recruitng among the lower levels of society or among restless
the majority of the members of "Solar Temple" were representatives of
highly paid professions. They did not live permanently in a single
commune, but the thread that connected them to Luc Jouret was
strong. Although they didn't live in an exotic location, like Guyana,
they all were more isolated from the outside world, which, in their
perish in fire in the near future.
Luc Jouret eventually made the decision: they also had to die
in fire to obtain a blissful existence in other worlds. Jouret revealed
fateful voyage would be executed with the help of ritualistic suicide,
would lead people to regenerate in a certain place under the name of
the only thing that remained was to receive a sign from above.
The signal was given the day before the winter solstice of
1994. On that day, 53 people of the sect (including Jouret himself)
murder and suicide in two Swiss villages in Fribourg and Valais
cantons, and also
in a ski resort in the Canadian province of Quebec. No less than ten of
killed were children. The death of the sectarians was accompanied by a
ritual, during which the sectarians took drugs and fell down
plastic bags were put over their heads and they were killed with shots
pistol. Some were shot 9 times for certainty. After this the bodies
were ritually cremated.
After a year, in December 1995, on the day of the winter
solstice, 16 sectarians, including several children, departed this life
in a remote
forest glade in the French Alps. The ritual was repeated down to the
detail. When they were discovered, the charred bodies of the deceased
were found arranged in the form of a star, feet toward the center, the
blackened by fire. In March 1997, the day of the spring equinox, five
of the "Solar Temple" committed group suicide in the province of
As of today the number of this sect's victims is 74 people, 48
of whom were shot. The Swiss police have not ruled out the possibility
By 1995 everybody knew that a totalitarian sect could bring
its adepts to mass suicide. That sects could kill their members as a
measure, as a deterrent or to silence them was also known. The public
also knew that
sects were increasingly taking tougher measures - up to and including
physical eradication - against their enemies.
Despite this an incident connected with the name of "Aum
Shinrikyo" presented the world with a new facet of totalitarian
by a half blind guru and backed by the Dalai Lama and the highest
of the Russian government, this "peace-loving Buddhist organization"
secured itself a place in history as the organizer of the first civil
terrorism operation undertaken by religious leaders.
Sect founder Seko Asahara (born Chizuo Matsumoto) began his
career as a manipulator with elements of megalomania. Even as a child
he went to a
school for the blind (the future guru was blind in one eye and the
only 20% vision). Asahara teased the children with poorer vision than
exploited their helplessness. He announced that he was going to be the
minister. When he grew up he started off in financial speculation.
After he went bankrupt several times, he decided to try his hand at
politics. Suffering a
crushing defeat in the parliamentary election, Asaha finally found
the realm of religion. The dangerously explosive mixture he developed
elements of Buddhism, pseudoscience and apocalyptic scenarios fetched
adepts in Japan, Russia and other countries and many billions of
of the sect, after giving their great guru all their savings, still
pay for every new course that brought them knowledge of the "Supreme
Aum" and ultimate enlightenment. People's money gave them the
drink a little water in which the guru had taken a bath, or that had a
his blood or sperm.
In their daily practice of faith Aum held a ritual, the
components of which wore a helmet with electrodes attached to the head
(it needed to be
worn and not removed for many days and nights), were required to dose
serum" and barbiturates, but also methods similar to those of Jim
Charles Mansen (the head of a sect of a satanic persuasion, which
bloody ritual murder - A.D.) and of the Mafia were used. Although the
financial structure of Aum resembles that of the "keirettsu" (corporate
under whose control was 37 companies in different countries with
capital in excess of a billion dollars, it was also involved in illegal
speculation in real estate and counterfeit insurance policies,
manipulations in the field
of medicine, racketeering, kidnapping and murder. Several people the
considered their enemies were brutally killed on Asahara's orders, and
their bodies concealed.
In their constantly guarded headquarters, which was located at
the foot of Mt. Fujiyama, the sectarians experimented awkwardly and
with bacteria that would spread the Siberian plague, botulism and other
deadly epidemic diseases. They dispersed bacteria near the Japanese
parliament, the imperial palace and the American base in Yokosuka. Due,
lack of scientific and practical training, the sectarians' agent of the
died and no harm was caused.
Finally the Aumians learned about the nerve-paralysis gas, Sarin, which
developed in Nazi Germany. Taking advantage of his connection to the
Russian upper level circles, Asahara, who at that time had already
soldiers on the Russian special operations base, found a way of
formula for producing Sarin and of getting a military jet to disperse
the gas over
Tokyo. This idea consisted of destroying all of the central part of
Japan, the beginning of the way Asahara had prophesied the Apocalypse,
the "great guru" would mount the emperor's throne and would install the
of "Aum Shinrikyo" over all Japan, then over the entire world. The sect
actively prepared for the future event and even created a shadow
a swift ascent to power.
After they produced the Sarin, the sectarians decided to test
it on people. The first test was carried out in June 1994 in the open
air in the outskirts of the city of Matsumoto; it took the lives of
seven people and left
hundreds sick. Then the police did not detect those guilty. The next
time the gas was used in a Tokyo subway in March 1995, 12 people died
and more than 5,500 became
ill. It was only through a stroke of luck that the number of victims
turn out to be significantly higher.
After these incidents the police quickly came across Asahara's
trail. All the sect's management were arrested, and its property
legal proceedings are in process to this day. Many sectarians have been
to be accessories and received lengthy terms. Asahara is conducting
in a challenging and destructive manner, has refused to cooperate in
to confess to or regret anything. "Aum Shinrikyo," however, has already
recovered from the initial shock and has again begun to grow and
spread. At the end of 1997 the sect had 26 centers in Japan that
cumulatively house no
less than 500 people. There are almost another 5,000 sect members that
continue to live independently. The sect's financial power has very
In Russia, back when the activity of the Aumians was still
"legal," they managed to start many front companies and now operate
them. The "Aum" Internet page in the Russian language (which by the way
very expertly and attractively) is staggering in size. The sect has
settlements in several villages in central Russia; they've bought land
there and are
building their "monasteries." At any moment the sect could burst out of
cellar to the surface and begin operating openly, so that a repeat gas
attack is not ruled out. This supposition was corroborated by a recent
2001 a group of "Aum Shinrikyo" soldiers were arrested in Vladivostock
they were preparing to conduct a mass terrorist operation in Japan for
the purpose of liberating their adored "teacher" from prison.
It could be that the most frightful occurrence of the cult
practice of suicide happen in spring 1997. That's when the police were
called to a
luxurious mansion, the Rancho Santa Fe, in an elite suburb of the
southern California city of San Diego, where they found 39 corpses.
been men and women of ages 26 to 72. Each of them were neatly laid out
beds with arms at their sides. Each was dressed in a black jersey,
trousers and in brand-new black Nike sports shoes. Over the head of
been put a plastic bag, and the upper part of the bodies' faces were
a purple scarf. Next to each bed was a bag neatly packed with travel
in the pockets of each body was a five dollar bill and some quarters.
that wore glasses had laid them beside themselves on the bed. An
the corpses showed that 6 of the male member of the sect had been
All of these people who lived in the commune were top-notch
programmers; many of them worked on the Internet and were involved with
computer web pages. They had their own web page, which was called the
they called themselves, "Heaven's Gate." On it they had many letters
UFOs, about the probably early destruction of Earth, about
extraterrestrial civilizations whose task it was to save our world, and
themes their guru and teacher was interested in. That was sect founder
ideologist Marshall Applegate, who the sectarians called Do. "You want
to get to
heaven? I was sent to carry out this mission." "Who's on your side?
Do you want to keep moving to the next level or do you prefer to be
turned into dust?" "I am desperately trying to help you out of here."
were the sort of questions and offers Applegate made to potential
converts on his web pages.
Way back before that time, Marshall Applegate taught music,
but then he was expelled from the university for homosexual encounters
students. In 1970 he found himself in a psychiatric hospital with
was seeing "sexual demons" and heard all sorts of voices. Applegate was
convinced that he was experiencing an attempt to leave his own body. In
the hospital he met the nurse Bonnie Lou Nettles, who later became his
platonic wife. They called themselves Do and Ti (Si), asserting, of
names did not have any significance. The two of them worked out a
theory about life on Earth and about getting from here to another
thought of themselves as newcomers from another world who resembled
in appearance. They had come here in a spaceship from the "next
level," from the Heavenly Kingdom. Their mission consisted of bringing
as large a number of people back "home" as they could.
Do and Ti steadily published articles about their visions in
various UFO magazines. Both of them were very well traveled and
conferences on UFOs, the ecological crises, etc. They came into contact
with the most
diverse people and tried to recruit them. Those who wished to ascend
to heaven had to disown everything that attached them to life on earth.
Among other things, this included castration (the first to be castrated
Applegate - by all appearances, he made this decision because his
bothered him about his homosexuality, but we've already seen such
people are not
fond of going it alone) and an extraordinarily ascetic way of life, the
for which were worked out by Do himself.
The rules of the sect went like this: all money earned, and
this was considerable, was put at Applegate's bidding. Everyone had to
most Spartan life - all 39 people lived in a luxurious mansion with an
enormous yard and pool, with several people in each room, they slept in
one - and
double bunkbeds, women and men separated. The food was strictly
basically fruit juice and cereal. Nobody used the pool, and it was
Nobody rested in the shade of the trees in the yard. The sectarians
never went out during the day.
Sect members worked on computers for many hours, night and day
- they had to make money. They stayed up to two or three in the
morning, at which
point everybody went into the yard, looked at the stars and spotting
UFOs. (The neighbors recalled that sometimes at night they saw the
entire group in the yard, staring intently at the stars in the sky.) In
the morning they
breakfasted on juice and water, after which no food was usually taken
until late evening. Now and then, on a holiday, Applegate permitted the
some sort of indulgence - a slice of vegetarian pizza. Sometimes the
sectarians treated their neighbors to very tasty homemade cookies and
which, however, they themselves never partook. After supper,
students scoured the Internet, searching for remarks about the
The sectarians thought of themselves as "cybermonks" and
"cybernuns," they dressed absolutely identically - stressing
sexlessness - in baggy
pants or overalls. Their hair was cut short - crew-cuts. In Applegate's
sex was terribly evil, and everything possible should be done to
the possibility of any sexual impulse in a person. There was supposed
nothing that externally distinguished men from women or women from men.
actually, in the photographs of the dead celestial brothers and
sisters, it is
often impossible to tell with certainty which they are - male or
Having avoided the light of day, the sectarians were extremely pale.
often referred to Applegate as the "pale god."
The Heavens-gaters believed that creatures who lived in
cyberspace were liberated from their bodies. Even their souls did not
belong to them,
but were sent into their bodies as "senior members from the next
level." They considered the physical body to be a container or a ship
in which people only lived temporarily. The sectarians called
invaders," because their "souls" could, at any time, move into them and
their physical body. Applegate himself believed that his new soul moved
into his body in 1975. On the whole, the doctrine they worked out for
reincarnation had no connection with a new birth.
Like the managers, the sect's rank-and-file members thought of
themselves as representatives of an extraterrestrial civilization who
were sent to
Earth in the capacity of teachers and educators of humanity. But in
this, Do and Ti believed that they had already been to Earth before in
Christian era. They had supposedly left their reserve of energy there
so they could use it now - the next period of their earthly lives.
Applegate identified himself with Christ, who had again been sent to
earth. "Nobody will approach My father or get to the Kingdom of Heaven
unless it be
through Me," wrote Applegate about himself, beginning personal pronouns
letters. The mythology of the "Heaven's Gate" he worked out was a
shattering mix of neo-Hindu ideas and popular agnosticism, combined
of UFOs - typical post-modern eclectic in the spirit of the "New Age"
Members of "Heaven's Gate" believed that the world that we
know today was approaching the end of a long cycle of development. They
expected the destruction of Earth and its conversion for the second
Humanity would perish together with its planet. The sole chance to
avoid such an
end was to listen to representatives of extraterrestrial civilization
(Applegate) and "leave" with them. Without contact to them all would be
Applegate's suicide note was typical of his message, "We
profited from the next Superhuman Level from a remote cosmic country,
and now we have
left the bodies we carried to return to the world from which we come.
mission is complete." It another of his messages it read, "We live in
the end of
an Age or in the end of another civilization... in trying times... Our
cumulative choice in the time of our stay here defines a court
Members of "Heaven's Gate" aspired to leave this world, but
not to revive it. They wanted to leave earthly life behind them, and
it. The sectarians saw many signals that the time was coming. For
1994 on the streets of Los Angeles, several of them distributed
announcements about the early end to earthly civilization. By a quirk
of fate, a couple of days later the city was shook by an earthquake.
hours after the earthquake began the sectarians were back on the
This time their leaflets said, "We warned you!!!"
Applegate's mind began to revolve around an unexpected early
demise after 1985, when a good friend of Ti's died from cancer. As a
he decided that he had a fatal disease. He didn't want to go away by
himself - his cosmic command had to follow him. The only thing left was
to await a
sign from those flying above in a space ship.
When the Haley-Bopp comet was approaching the planet and
became visible from earth, some Internet jokester wrote that a huge
spaceship was hidden in
its tail. The Heavens-gaters took note of this report and reported it
their leader. Applegate unhesitatingly said, "It's time! Finally the
we've been waiting for is here." The announcement appeared on the
pages of the sect, "We are happy that our Senior Member on an
Superhuman Level clearly gave us to understand that the approaching
Haley-Bopp comet is the sign we've been waiting for ... We are happy
and ready to
leave this world and fly together with Ti's company."
The day before the assigned day, sect members jumped into
several minibuses and made for the nearest movie theater, where their
favorite movie was
playing, "The Empire Strikes Back" (the second part of the popular
Wars" hit space series). Having seen the movie for the 48th time, the
sectarians took off for the pizzeria, where they arranged a feast; each
person ordered themselves a whole vegetarian pizza. (Later, when
recalled seeing 39 absolutely equally unhealthy pale people in baggy
they decided that this was a group of mortally ill people from some
hospital.) Having eaten, each member of "Heaven's Gate" paid 7
dollars and 39 cents (tip included) and took their place in the
Upon returning to their magnificent villa, the sectarians
began the ritual of "flying to another planet." Each of them wrote a
on the Internet and recorded their last statement on videotape. On
videotape the Heavens-gaters looked very pleasant and even joked
these jokes seemed funny to anyone, it was only to themselves).
They departed in parties of fifteen people. Each drank a
helping of sweet cream that had dissolved barbiturates (a strong
soporific) in it and
washed it down with vodka, to give it greater effect. Then the galactic
lay down in their beds. When they fell asleep, their brothers put a
bag over their heads and covered them with a silk scarf.
On the following day, another fifteen people "took off." After
24 hours another seven. The last two finished themselves off on the
day and were probably already suffocating with the putrid smell, left
bags on their heads. There was nobody to put them on ...
"Movement for the revival of the Ten
A terrible record for number of adepts killed was made in 2000
in the small town of Kanungu, 320 kilometers from Campal, the capital
There was talk of a totalitarian sect that split off from the Roman
Church, the "Movement for the revival of the Ten Commandments of God."
The founder of the Ugandan sectarian murderers was former
prostitute Kredonia Mverinda, who announced in 1989 that while in a
trance on a
sacred mountain, she received an order from the Virgin Mary to be her
messenger. Shortly thereafter, Mverinda discovered two of her first
followers: Joseph Kibvetere, a wealthy landowner and unsuccessful
politician and Dominik
Katapibabo, a Roman Catholic clergyman who was possessed with
bitterness. This trio was able to attract a hundred adepts, who
resettled on Kibvetere's
As became known afterwards, several years prior to that
Kibvetere was under observation in a psychiatric hospital located in
the country's capital.
According to the doctors. their former patient showed the classic
symptoms of manic depression and megalomania. He still stopped going to
hospital before long. The country's authorities, in registering the
sect as a
non-governmental organization, asserted that they were not aware of the
of its management.
People who had survived the shock of ethnic cleansing and the
AIDS epidemic were quick to join a sect that promised to forever rid
them of all
difficulty and tragedy. Mverinda preached in the Kataribabo Roman
that God's patience was approaching an end, the world was nearing its
destruction and only those in their movement, called "For the revival
of the ten
commandments of God," would be saved from destruction.
Membership in the movement meant unquestioning obedience to
the leader and long hours in prayer. Although sect members formally
Catholic, they submitted utterly to Kredonia Mverinda and even moved
their own children who were kept separate from the adults in a
Many of them were seriously ill and suffered from malnutrition.
Bishop John Baptist Kabuki accused the leaders of the sect of
heresy and declared them anathema. In response, they declared Bishop
anathema, and Mverinda proclaimed Kibvetere the new bishop. Kibvetere
moved into an
apartment with Mverinda, so as "to receive heavenly visitors together
When Teresa, the wife of the "bishop," accused him of conjugal
infidelity, Mverinda viciously beat her and burnt all her possessions.
Teresa and her son ended up leaving the sect.
After this incident, Mverinda declared that all her followers
had to leave the farm and move to Kanungu, "New Jerusalem," which had
for them by "God and Jesus." At the same time, in 1993, Kibvetere's
money dried up. Adepts were supposed to give back to the sect all their
belongings, and money from sales which had been used to sustain the
sect. At night the sect members had to pray in a self-made church by
the name of
"house of the Virgin Mary." Prayers went on all night without
group of guards, who were called "God's blessed," maintained
discipline with cruel beatings.
Mverinda first declared that the end of the world would come
about 9 May 1994. Then the end of the world was pushed back to 25 May,
that point the date was regularly postponed. The Roman Catholic priest
former member of the sect, now asserted that the organization was led
by Satan and he
summoned people to leave. He finally fled the sect with seventy
time other adepts began to worry. Since the end of the world had not
begun, the question arose about returning the money they had donated.
adepts relied too much on the leaders to leave the sect.
It was declared that the end of the world would come on
January 1, 2000. When nothing happened this time, either, complaints
began being openly
expressed. Kredonia managed to the quell the dissatisfaction by stating
an absolutely certain and definitive date - 17 March 2000. Any of the
donated belongings that could be sold was sold, and the rest burned.
building was declared a shrine. An absolute fast was declared, as well
as uninterrupted prayer in church, because everybody who was not
when the end of the world came would be destroyed along with the
Young Peter Ahimbesnibve, who did not have the strength to
endure the hunger, slipped out of the building and saw how "God's
nailing the church windows shut. Shortly after that an intense
explosion was heard, but not even that could muffle the horrible wails
Nearly a hundred gallons of gasoline, which the sect leaders had called
for a trip to heaven," was burning. More than 500 members of the sect
The original theory about mass suicide was rejected when the
police made one horrible discovery after another: six bodies slain with
Mverinda's home, 81 bodies in a mass grave and 47 buried on the
property at Kataribabo.
Those victims were strangled with their own rosaries.
Neighbors said that the sectarians had put up a high fence
around their property. They saw how the buses filled with people drove
up to the
gate at dawn and the passengers disappeared behind the high fence. The
neighbors felt a certain uneasiness because the number of people
arriving exceeded the
number of people leaving.
A hundred other corpses were discovered on property belonging
to the sect. Hardly any were left alive. Kibvetere's son supposed that
his father died with
the rest. Regarding Kredonia Mverinda, it was thought she was still
alive. Soon after the catastrophe she was seen driving her own car to
the north. If that is so, then she escaped with all the money she could
There is one more aspect to this frightening story: the sect's
victims, who were so fiercely exploited in their lives and who died in
dreadful manner, were also deceived after they died. Their bodies were
a mass grave and buried without prayers as bodies of heretics and
So we examined six altogether different totalitarian sects.
One of them came from liberal Protestantism, another from radical
third from a Marian Roman Catholic group. The "Solar Temple" had
occult-ecological roots and "Aum Shinrikyo" neo-Buddhist.
Concerning the ideological base of "Heaven's Gate" we said
only that it is similar to a sect, such as Scientology, which is based
the belief of spirit-"thetans," having fallen into the trap of physical
need to be liberated from them. The spaceship is also an integral part
of Scientology belief. Today in many countries of the world,
has been accused of fraud on a particularly large scale, in driving
psychotic breakdown, suicide, and even the deaths of its members.
many of the members of "Heaven's Gate" had previously tried their hand
Members of the "Family" sect (formerly known as "Children of
God"), which is known to have abused children and to be lecherous, also
are waiting the arrival of an enormous spaceship. This aspect of their
belief is reflected in many of the sect's posters and flyers, as well
as in their
texts for internal use.
Totalitarian sects can be very diverse, nevertheless they have
characteristics in common. For example, they have no regard for either
the lives of their members of the lives of other people. Violence in
has become customary and a common occurrence. In the second half of
We learned of the self-immolation of members of an Apocalyptic
sect in Korea and about the deaths by beatings, inflicted by
instruction of the
leader, of members of a neo-Pentecostal charismatic sect in Brazil.
with a report about violence and murder in a neo-Pentecostal sect in
Yakutsk city of Aldan. And this leads to the most sorrowful reflection:
who will be
next? What ordinary "inspired spirit," having gotten tangled up in his
own contradictions, would want a "slam of the door loudly" on his fans?
Will this be the "Church of the Last Testament" under the
false Christ, Vissarion, even further removed in the Siberian taiga
"People's Temple" was in the jungle? Or would it be the "Bogorodichnyi
whose leader, "the last prophet," Johann Bereslavskiy (who published a
photograph of Kredonia Mverinda on the cover of his periodical with a
number of other "divine figures"), like the "prophet" David Koresh,
quite often talked of a fiery end to the world? Will it be members of
the "Society for Krishna Consciousness," which routinely survives
splintering, which has a group of members that have already spoken
about their willingness to commit collective suicide? Will it be the
"messiah" finally began to realize that his life is approaching an end
could "move to the spirit world" without doing what he promised - be
everywhere as Lord of heaven and earth?
Today nobody can answer these questions. We can only pray that
a new tragedy does not occur, that people come to their senses and
vile shackles that connect them to the leaders of totalitarian sects,
once again find their lost individuality, dignity and freedom. And we
people who have not yet made their religious choice about the mortal
totalitarian sectarianism and about what awaits them on the other side
of the shiny covers of sect advertising brochures and the sickly sweet
of sectarian recruiters. This is the task the book at hand is dedicated
Summary document of the International scientific-practical
conference "Totalitarian sects - threat of the 21st century," held in
Nizhny Novgorod 23-25 April 2001
We, the participants of the international scientific-practical
conference "Totalitarian sects - threat of the 21st century," express
urgent concern about the
activities of totalitarian sects (destructive cults), which are
disposed to: unlimited expansion, infliction of irreparable harm to
violating fundamental human rights, and creating a threat to family,
We deem that the state should be interested in protection and
prosperity for traditional, cultural religions and in rendering them
aid and support.
The experience of Russia has shown that a country in which the
spirituality of ethical monotheism is eradicated, is exposed to the
developing the most primitive heathen superstition and practices,
both within and from abroad. We bitterly recognize that these groups of
are deserting Christ in western countries today carry on the
their pseudo-Christian, neo-heathen and occult doctrines in Russia.
with that we should note that many occult, neo-heathen and totalitarian
have risen in Russia.
Totalitarian sects are clearly defined as separate authoritarian
organizations whose leader strive for power over their adherents and
for their exploitation, who conceal their intentions under religious,
political-religious, psychotherapeutic, health, educational,
cultural, or other type of screens.
Totalitarian sects resort to fraud, suppressing information
and importunate propaganda to attract new members, employ censorship of
persecuting their members, they resort to other unethical means of
individuals, to psychological pressure, intimidation and other forms of
members in the organization. Thus, totalitarian sects violate the human
freedom of an informed choice of worldview and lifestyle.
Besides that, the sectarian character of one or another
association permits a person to be denied all accumulated culture by
which he could have
set his personal bounds.
At the present time, totalitarian sects (destructive cults)
are actively attempting to infiltrate and settle in organs of
care, state administration, production and commerce. In doing this they
change names and mimic others, resort to denominational anonymity and
they often operate under the cover of the front organizations they
advertising the fact and not concealing their connections to the cult.
We appeal to the mass media to warn citizen of the threat of
destructive cults. We believe that teachers in schools and institutions
education need to have a working knowledge of the existence and
We think that the legislation of our country on the freedom of
conscience and religious operations so far has not been effective
Traditional religions are not in need of the government's protection
totalitarian sects, rather it is the citizens of Russia who are in
need. We come
forward with an initiative about introducing an amendment or an
addition to the
legislation of the Russian Federation, or about passing new legislation
on the direct activity with the goal of strictly controlling,
even forbidding the operations of totalitarian sects (destructive
groups that have fallen under their influence. The legislative
European countries, like France, Belgium, Germany and Austria can be
We emphasize that, in speaking about totalitarian sects
(destructive cults), we do not have new religious movements in mind,
but we are talking
about groups who ideology and practice is dangerous to individuals and
the participants of the conference, are citizens of diverse countries,
people of various nationalities and convictions, who profess different
and belong to different Christian denominations, we are united in one
thing: the threat, which arises from totalitarian sects, needs to be
for that it is necessary to unify the efforts of government,
religion and civil society. We express the hope that the 21st century
become the century of pseudo-religious totalitarianism, but the century
freedom of speech, belief and practice of religion.
The most well-known and dangerous of contemporary destructive
cults are as
"Church of Scientology" and other Hubbardist organizations
centers, "Narconon," "Criminon," etc.), the "Jehovahs
Witnesses," the "Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints"
(Mormons), "Unification Church" and other Munist organizations
of Families for World Peace," CARP, etc.), "Society for Krishna
Consciousness" and other neo-Krishna mission in the West,
Meditation" and other Mahareesh organizations, "Ananda Marga," "Sahaja
Yoga," the Shri Chimnoy cult, "Brachma Kumaris," the Sati Sai
Babi cult, 3 NO, Osho Rajneesh cult, "Aum Shinrikyo," "Soka
Gokkai," "Falun Gung," "Family" ("Children of God")
"Church of Christ" (so-called Boston movement), the Witness Lee
(Local) church, "Movement of Faith" (neo-Pentecostal, includes sect
like "Church of the New Generation," "Word of Life," "Church
of the Testament," "Living Faith," "Living Water," "Church
on the Rock," "New Life," "Rosa," "Blagodat,"
"Gorshechnika," "Church of the Love of Christ," various "full
Gospel churches," etc.), "Brotherhood of the Violet Flame," "New
Acropolis," Koslov's "Sinton," "Church of the Enduring
Mother of God" ("Bogorodichnyi Center"), "White Brotherhood,"
"Revniteli istinnogo blagochestiya" (Peter's sect), "Church of
the Last Testament" (Vissarion sect), Porfiriya Ivanov's cult,
cult, "Shkola Shchetinin," Evgeniy Berezikov's sect, "Radasteya,"
Stolbun's sect, "Tetrad," Tolgat Akbashev's sect, "Strana Anura,"
Olga Asaulyak's sect, "Shkola Lkhasy" (A. Chervonenko's sect), "Zolotov
Academy of Frontal Problems," "Troyanova Tropa," "K
bogoderzhaviyu" (retired general Petrov's sect), pseudo-tantric sects
of Lapin and Rudnev, "Astral Karate," "Reiki," OTO, "Landmark
International Education - Forum" (formerly EST - Werner Erchard
"World center of interrelations" (Bill Ridler's "Violet"),
various commercial cults and many others.
We testify about the anti-Christian and destructive character
cults, which have arisen from the basic movements of "New Era" ("New
Age"), theosophy, anthroposophy, movement of the adherents of the
family, astrology and UFO cults, neo-heathen and nativist cults,
sorcery, neo-shamanism, Luciferists and satanism.
We speak of impermissible imposition on school and college
occult-magic and amoral ideas and practices in the form of different
pseudo-scientific disciplines (valeology, "Basic vital functions in
educational space," different pseudo-psychological lessons, etc.).
Moreover, a school cannot be a site for propagation of pseudo-religious
Passed unanimously 25 May 2001 by the participants of the
representation from Germany, Denmark, Canada, Cyprus, China, Russia and
and 22 dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church gives notice: Sects are a threat to your
Contact info for Moscow, Novosibirsk, Tver, Yekaterinburg,
Zaporozhe (Ukraine) abbreviated in the English translation as follows:
Source: Center for Religious Research,
Russian Orthodox Church.