The anti-cult movement today is targeting non-religious groups, as well as dealing with a greater diversity of former “cult” members than was the case in its early years.
Those of some of the conclusions of veteran anti-cult activist Marcia Rudin in recounting the history and challenges of the movement in the Cult Observer, (March/April), a publication of the anti-cultist American Family Foundation. Rudin is reflecting on changes in the AFF, but suggests that many of these changes are found in the wider movement. Rudin writes that anti-cultists are now as concerned with the psychological, business, political and New Age groups as they were with the strictly religious groups more prevalent in the 1960s and 70s.
AFF is finding clients now among the middle-aged, senior citizens, as well as minorities — a departure from the young affluent, whites of earlier years. This change in demographics has led to new patterns of family involvement and new kinds of complaints: problems of young people raised in these groups; and child custody battles between members and non-members of cults or new religious movements. Rudin adds that only a “tiny percentage” of ex-cult members have received any kind of intervention.
Deprogramming is rare nowadays and even older notions of brainwashing are being rethought and replaced by a “more nuanced analysis of mind manipulation and totalistic milieu dynamics.” There has been an increase of demands and requests for assistance in the AFF, although Rudin thinks that may be because of the easier access to her group through the Internet.
Anti-cult education programs for young people are also expanding around the world. The formation of groups around the world and networking between the different organizations is aiding the international reach of anti-cult leaders and activists.
(Cult Observer, Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 34133)