THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
62 Friday, August 1, 1980
'Prison or Paradise' Examines Religious Cults in U.S.
What roles do cults play
in American life, and do
they represent a danger to
the recognized religions?
Is the splitting of families
over them irreparable?
Who are the major cults to
Is deprogramming dif-
ficult, and how can it be
These serious problems
are dealt with by Rabbi A.
James Rudin and his wife,
Marcia Rudin, in "Prison or
Paradise: The New Reli-
gious Cults" (Fortress
The cults they deal with
are the Unification Church,
Hare Krishna, Scientology,
Divine Light Mission and
Children of God.
The smaller groups such
as the Church of Armaged-
don — Love Israel, Tony and
Susan Alamo Foundation,
the Way and Body of Christ,
receive due attention from
the two authors who have
made a deep study of menac-
ing aspects as well as the
manner of approach in con-
fronting the menacing de-
The Rudins indicate that
the practices by the cults
have been condemned by
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sometimes even career or pand upward to include sub-
Christians and Jews and In an age of dislocation, school advice. All the cults stantial adult education.
that they are a serious con-
promise a loving and caring Junior and senior high-
tinuing cause for concern everyone seems rootless community and a concrete school students, especially,
"to all those who are corn-
way to improve the world. should be given a detailed
mitted to the integrity and own family is seen as The traditional religions cult 'terrain map' to prepare
authenticity of both superficial and vapid, can do no less if they are them for coping with the ag-
Judaism and Christianity." , one's own religion as serious about countering ressive recruiting and pro-
Do Jews submit to the irrelevant and relativis-
selytizing techniques of
cultists? Tracing the reli- tic, and society as chaotic the "People
must be made some of the groups. At a re-
gious background of the and uncaring, the abso- aware of the rich variety of cent gathering of teenagers
cultists, the Rudins re- lute claims, guarantees life-styles and religious op- between the age of fourteen
and promises of cult life
tions that exist within con- and nineteen in the West,
"Accurate statistics are are It appealing."
is pointed out that cul- temporary Judaism and eighteen out of forty re-
by and LeBar,
often tists use the First Amend- Christianity. An individual ported that they had been
vary. to Father
communications officer of ment as means of averting can find direct, immediate approached by one of the
the Roman Catholic Ar- legal action in their claim religious experience in the cults and over half knew of a
chdiocese of New York, es- for religious freedom. It is joy of Jewish Hasidism or in proached.
friend who had been ap-
timates that about 45 per- suggested that prevention the intense emotionalism of
"We must arm thi, ,
cent of Unification Church by law of charity frauds is a Charismatic Christianity.
group with informatio, ,.
members are from a Roman way of overcoming the dan- If he seeks more structure, tensive training progr..as
Catholic background, 40 gers. It is also suggested regulation and authority in for teachers and youth-
__percent from Protestant laws insuring the proper his life he need not join one group leaders can sensitize
families, and 10 to 12 per- education of school age chil- of the
more them to the methods and
cent from Jewish families. dren should be enforced."
To avoid family tragedies personalized religious units ideologies of the various
"Galen Kelly found that
cults. Those individuals
40 percent of his deprog- linked with youth turning rather than the large, im- who have had firsthand per-
rammed subjects were Pro- to cults, guidelines are pro- personal institutions that sonal experience with the
percent posed by the Rudins, and our traditional religions cults should be utilized in
have provided over the past
Catholic, and 30 percent they are, in summary:
several decades. Especially this . massive educational ef-
Jewish. Some observers be-
in religion, bigger is not al- fort.
lieve as many as 50 percent munications with the ways better. One can be-
"All evidence indicates
of Unification Church family member in a cult. come part of the under- that it is the home which
members may be Jewish. A letter every six weeks s ground church or a Jewish chiefly transmits basic reli-
Since the Jewish commii- or even every six month
`chavurah' (fellowship) gious identity and belief.
nity is less than three per- is better than no letter at group, both committed to Rather than simply chauf-
cent of the total. American all, and the same is true small group experiences feuring the children to Sun-
population, even LeBar's for "Try
to get the cult and to spiritual renewal day school, parents also
figure of 10 to 12 percent is a
need to live out their com-
cause for deep concern member to come home for a through experimental
mitment to religious values
visit even if he is accom- liturgies, communal study so that religious traditions
"Observers estimate that panied by a "spiritual part- and the joy of true fellow- become vibrant and alive
perhaps 20 percent of Hare ner" who is another member ship.
"Such groups have ex- for the family as a whole.
Krishnas are Jewish. Jews of the cult.
"The established reli-
"Avoid debating the cult's
constitute as much as 30
during the last decade gions and religious
percent of Divine Light ideology, methods or theol- and they continue to gain organizations are finally
Mission membership and ogy in letters, on the tele- new members, some of reacting to the challenge
there are many Jews in Sci- -phone, or in person.
of the cults, especially
If a cult member does the former cult follow- since the tragic events at
entology. The Way Interna-
tional, The Alamo Founda- leave th group, do not at- of religious energy func- Jonestown. These efforts
tion, and the Children of tempt immediately to re- flop as extended families, must be continued. Until
God draw more Christians." place the cult experience offering a secure anchor and unless the authentic
Explaining why cults with another religion. in an uncertain and corn- and traditional com-
are so attractive, the Many returnees express Alex society. Such new munities of faith are
authors of this revealing suspicion and wariness directions in religious strengthened, the exodus
study state: "There have toward all religious follow- structure should be of searching people will
always been people with ing cult involvement.
"A member needs time encouraged.
emotional problems and
"Prison or Paradise: The
ultimately the core
problems with their to be isolated from all cult of the long-term response to New Religious Cults" is a
families, and there have contact after returning the cults must be increasing timely, provocative, in-
always been vulnerable home.
"Because parents and and deepening religious structive result of a deep `
people alone and adrift in other family members are education on all levels. The and dedicated research
life, between jobs, emotionally involved with cults appeal primarily to project. The authors have
schools and romances."
the cultists they are often individuals who are unsure rendered a great service by
The attitudes towards ineffective in persuading of or ignorant aobut their bringing to light the prob-
society now contribute
own heritage, or for whom lems and suggested solu-
to leave professional
such expansive them
their own heritage has tions for many families who
interests among the de- psychological counseling for meant little. Educational are deeply hurt by the cults' '
a longer period of time may efforts must beging at the temptations to misled
The search for a caring
nursery-school level and ex- youth.
community" is accountable
Posing the question "Can
for youth motivated by
Judaism and Christianity
loneliness. Divorces, drugs
meet the challenge of the
and the danger of growing
Cults?," Rabbi and Mrs.
su i id are attributed to
NEW YORK (JTA) — works of leading interna-
Rudin state: "The dramatic
the cult problem. The
Newman, a tional authors.
rise of the cults and their
authors summarize in this
He was responsible for
ability to attract new mem-
attention to Y.S.
bers clearly shows that if an Israel, died at Kibutz Mis- Agnon, who later became
"Although it is difficult to
individual cannot find an
generalize, it appears that
the only Israeli author to
adequate spiritual response age 85.
the most vulnerable target
Born in Lodz, Poland, win the Nobel Prize.
in the local church or
group for cult recruitment is
The company wab
came to the
synagogue, he or she will
the person, young or old,
banded during World
surely look elsewhere."
who has made no meaning-
War II, but after the war
They add that "the tra- 18. During World War I, he Newman started hi vn
ful connection with an es-
tablished religion, who is in
ditional religious institu-
publishing house, M.
tions need to become the British army and served Newman Publishing Ltd.,
search of spiritual values
more flexible and to gear
and transcendent meaning,
After the war, he and two in Tel Aviv and
up to meet the challenge
who is willing, even yearn-
Jerusalem. He was also a
of the cults." Here is the other veterans of the Legion former chairman of the
ing for strict discipline and
advice given in the con-
authority, and who may be
Kupat Bank Ltd.
burdened with guilt about
clusions reached by the stores in Jerusalem, Tel
Up to his death, while liv-
affluence or sex or drugs.
ing with his daughter at
"Some cults offer coffee
"Such a person may
Mishmar Haemek, he
houses, short- and long- They founded the Mizpa maintained an apartment
term counseling services,
the sacrifices necessary
in Tel Aviv and devoted
twenty-four hour emer- 1920s and Newman was most of his time to the pub-
to maintain the love of the
gency telephone 'hot lines,'
cult leader and of his
lication of "Shnaton."
hostels for travelers, and brew translations of the
peers within the group.
Mordechai Newman, 85
Pioneer Israeli Publisher