Reunion, Rejuvenation, Preparing for 2000
1999 CULTinfo National Conference
February 12, 13 & 14
Holiday Inn Select
Come find out what has been happening in the cult awareness movement. The last national conference held by the Cult Awareness Network was 4 years ago. It has been four years since weíve seen or heard from each other. New People have joined since then. This will be our chance to meet and---
This is an important conference, certainly one you wonít want to miss. Here are just some of the speakers you will hear from:
Janja Lalich and Ben Zablocki- Just exactly what is the process that changes our friends and family into persons we donít recognize any more? Is it called thought reform, mind control, coercive persuasion, or brainwashing? These two well respected authors and experts will also comment on new developments in their debates with apologists.
Sandra Stephon --- Hear the story of how one angry mom took on the cults in the Maryland State Legislature and won! Sandra has shown us a valuable weapon in our war against deceptive recruiting on college campuses. This encouraging development will energize you and show how you can use this tool in your state legislature.
Steve Hassan --- One of our countryís leading authorities on cults and author of the best selling book "Combating Cult Mind Control," will be joined by noted cult specialist, Joe Szimhart for an important workshop entitled "How to help a loved one in a cult."
Attorney Herbert Rosedale --- President of the American Family Foundation and nationally acclaimed legal expert on cult related issues, Herb will speak along with Larry Zilliox, Police Officer Mark Roggeman and Dr. Herbert Neiberg on the Illegal Activities of Cults. You donít want to miss this session.
Also youíll hear---
The Dr. Rev. Robert Thorton Ron Loomis Rev. Fred Miller Dr. Steven Novella Patrick Ryan Rabbi Phillip Abramowitz Grady Ward Justine Janette Bob Minton Catherine Mazur Fr. Walter DeBold Marcia Rudin Craig Branch Glenn Davis Attny. Michael StrattonLong-time cult awareness leader Dave Cole will moderate this panel. Daveís family has had extensive experience with the Children of God, now called The Family. David is Vice President and Chair of the Development Committee for CULTinfo.
A N E W A D D I T I O N
A Panel of Parents
Hear Parents tell their stories about--- Black Hebrews Rama Heavenís Gate
Conference Speakers Announced 2 A Message from Charles McAlpin 3 Workshops 4 Minton, Janette, Ward to Speak 4 Recognizing Achievement 4 Strengthening Educational Efforts 4 Conference Info & Registration 5 Conference Schedule & Topics 6 Conference Speakers Announced: Amazing Randi and Jonestown Survivor Deborah LaytonCULTinfo Board President announced the main speakers for the 1999 Conference. James Randi will be the Saturday evening Keynote speaker. James Randi is a professional magician, known as "The Amazing Randi." He is the author of eleven books and an internationally known lecturer. He appears frequently on television and has done three world tours as a performer and lecturer through the Far East, Europe, Australia and North and South America.
Mr. Randi is a founding fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), an organi-zation of academics and experts devoted to the examination of paranormal, occult and supernatural claims.
The James Randi Educational Foundation, dedicated to promoting and teaching critical thinking, is a data source for educators, students, media, and researchers. It was founded in 1996 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and offers prizes and scholarships to students, conducts seminars and workshops and also funds and originates selected, original parapsychological research.
He has been made a Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and has been honored by numerous professional, scientific and humanitarian organizations as well as by several univer-sities. James will speak about deception and manipulation. He debunks the deceiver because he himself is one. He has proclaimed himself a fraud, a cheat, a dispenser of illusions! His workshop will be on Friday and Saturday and he will be the dinner speaker Saturday.
Come catch his act in Connecticut, February 12, 13 and 14.
On November 13, 1978 Deborah Layton, recently self liberated from the Peopleís Temple in Guyana, testified before a U.S. House of Representatives panel led by Rep. Leo J. Ryan. She delivered a 37-point affidavit to "call attention of the United States government the existence of a situation which threatens the lives of United States citizens living in Jonestown, Guyana." Deborah Layton tried, with the help of Congressman Ryan, to awaken the country to action to protect people from injury and death at the hands of a mad cult leader. She is still trying to awaken this country to the dangers of destructive cults. Her book should be read by anyone who wants to understand the deceptive and destructive nature of cults.
Her story is a courageous one, which weare very glad she has shared with the world. Anchor Doubleday publishes Deborahís just published book "Seductive Poison". It will save many lives. She will be the featured speaker Saturday, February 13 at 9:00 am.
A MESSAGE FROM
PRESIDENT OF CULTINFO
I am writing this letter to ask for your help for CULTinfo. I know first hand the damage and pain caused by cults, and I need your help to explain that to others. I was recruited into a cult and stayed for five years. As a former cult member, I know the desire to belong to an idealistic group --- to be enlightened --- can blur the judgement of even the most skeptical thinkers. Cult leaders recruited others and me because of our idealism and trust. We must work to safe-guard the well-intentioned people from exploitation and manipulation. Sixteen years ago, as an idealist seeking to change the world, I was recruited to join an idealistic group working for a righteous "kingdom on earth." Life in this group looked great from the outside. At first glance, you could see people in general respected our group. People talked about how we all looked out for each other in our "church." They expressed admiration for our volunteerism and commitment. Members of our church participated in politics, volun-teering at candidateís headquarters and making countless phone calls in partisan efforts. Our goal was to prove ourselves valuable to the outside community in many ways.
If a member of our church was sick, people cooked for them and offered to do chores around their house. No one in our church had to hire a mover; their brothers and sisters would help them move from one house to another. People might be vaguely uncomfortable with us, but no one could question our commitment or enthusiasm. We believed we must demonstrate to the "un"discipled how much better people they could be if they only submitted to "Godly authority." Life in the Shepherding Movement was much, much different than it appeared from the outside. Our days were filled with insecu-rity, fear, intimidation and manipulation. My imagination was smothered --- creative ideas would lead to "impure thoughts." Hope in anything but the beliefs of the "church" was ridiculed. To "grow in the Lord" meant increased commitment to the church --- to work harder to advance the groupís agenda.
To leave the church was to leave the "covering" of Godís authority. To believe in the Shepherding Movement was a decision (no matter how crazy the doctrine), and to doubt was a sin. So I stayed.
We were proud to be different from other churches, but we never discussed with outsiders about the more cult-like aspects of the movement.
As a "submitted disciple" in the "Kingdom of God", I still loved my parents, despite their stubborn refusal to accept Godís authority over their lives. We referred patronizingly to them as "nominal Christians." My parentís doubts or questions about my "church" merely represented that old enemy Satan trying to compromise our commitment. Our role as children was to honor our parents while witnessing to them about all that the Lord had done for us. Eventually they might see the Truth and really be saved.
It was an unspoken badge of honor to be at odds with oneís parents --- that was a sign of our true commitment to the Lord.
There was a double standard between the members and the leaders. Since our Pastors had only so much time in the day to do the work of the Lord, it was an honor for disciples to free up their time by washing their cars, mowing their lawns, cleaning their houses, and doing home improvements and repairs.
Single women lived with their pastorsí families so that the pastorsí wives could teach them how to be good wives. Those single women who worked could look forward to an evening of chores, cooking, and babysitting, if there were no prayer meetings that night. Single people did not date outside the church because only those in the church understood the importance of submission to "godly authority." No one could date without the permission of his or her pastor. Never would two single people be alone without permission from their pastors. Even at church meetings, it was considered unhealthy for single people to mingle in pairs.
More than one couple was surprised to find leadership had "heard God" and deemed the couples stay together despite their lack of attraction to each other. Eventually, faced with the frightening thought of a lifetime alone, they would "fall in love."
As for money, the elders seldom had to ask. All they had to say was that the money was needed and that those who were "led by the Spirit" should give what they could. Some disciples pledged double and triple tithes or one-time gifts they couldnít afford. The IRS audited one member whose giving was so exorbitant they felt it must be fraudulent.
Meanwhile, as the elders taught that balancing a budget was a matter of moral obedience for disciples, they themselves lived in posh new houses and drove upscale cars. Material belongings and money were blessings of God upon the righteous.
These subjects never came up in conversation with potential converts, and everyone outside the church was a potential convert. We instinctively knew that revealing the truth about life in the cult would hinder our chances of winning converts and win-ning converts was the way we demonstrated that God was really and truly working in our lives.
This experience seems like a lifetime ago. In some ways, I suppose it was. A new life began for me the day I left the Shepherding Movement eleven years ago. I woke up to a world both harder and more enriching than the fantasyland created by discipleship. Victim is not a word I use easily. I believe in individual responsibility and owning up to my mistakes. The truth is, however, that in this case, I was a cult victim. Essential information I needed to make a fully informed decision was kept from me. I was duped and deceived. Cults promise a sense of purpose and belonging. I paid deeply to learn this fleeting fraud. I paid with my freedom to think for myself. That freedom was hell to win back.
I want to build upon my experience so that one day no one else pays that cost because of ignorance or innocence. Thatís why I accepted the position of president of the Board of CULTinfo. Together, with small steps, we can make a big difference.
Please help us to be a strong voice in the public forum, a spot-light shining on the manipulative tactics of cults and extremist groups. Please help spread our message - following your heart doesnít have to mean compromising your mind.
PS - I was lucky. I walked away from the Shepherding Movement. Tens of thousands are still locked in mental slavery to cults and extremist groups, unable to free themselves. When they look for alternative information about how their cults work, there must be an independent place for them to turn. CULTinfo is now that place. Donít delay, send as generous a donation as you can today!
PPS - Hope to see you at the Conference.
EXCITING AND REWARDING WORKSHOPS
1. Cults and the Internet: Promise and Problems
2. Brainwashing, Mind Control, Thought Reform, or Coercive Persuasion?
3. Cults on Campus
4. Fronts and Finances: Follow the Dollar Research
5. Critical Thinking: Cult Proof You and Your Kid
6. Potential Law Breaking Activity of Cults and other Extremist Organizations
7. How to Help a Loved One in a Mind Control Cult
8. Deceit and Manipulation
9. How to Explain the Difference between a Cult and a Religion
10. Cult Apocalypses - into the next Millennium And beyond
Defending the "New Frontier"
Minton, Janette, Ward to Speak
The Internet, which provides instant, inexpensive, and complete-ly uncensored communication between millions of people around the globe, has been likened to a "New Frontier." The tremendous potential of the Internet for warning society about the dangers of destructive cults was recognized early on by Larry Wollersheim when the Worldwide Web was in its infancy in the early 1990ís. In 1993 Wollersheim and Gerry Armstrong founded FACTNet for the purpose of warning the public of the dangers that harmful cults pose to society.
Since that time FACTNet has endured Scientology led and police-assisted seizures of computers and files from several private citizenís homes. Three national leaders in the fight to preserve free speech on the Internet will speak at the CULTinfo National Conference in February. FACTNet Board of Director Robert Minton and Webmaster Grady Ward will join Justine Janette, Executive Director of FACTNet in sharing their experiences of disseminating information on destructive cults via the Internet.
Justine Janette has been the Executive Director of FACTNet for two years and will share her experiences in publishing information in print and electronically concerning destructive cults. Grady Ward will recount his long history of battling against restriction of his rights of free speech, particularly measures posed against him by the Church of Scientology. He will detail some of the legal actions taken by the Church of Scientology and their allies. Robert Minton, recently profiled on Dateline, A&E, and 20/20 for his fight against the Church of Scientology, was first introduced to the cult awareness movement when he witnessed the Church of Scientologyís efforts to restrict free speech on the Internet. He will speak on his personal experiences, including harassment he has endured since he became active.
CULTinfo ContinuesTradition of Recognizing Achievement
Award to be Given at Conference Dinner
Description of Awards:
Leo J. Ryan Award:
Named in honor of Congressman Leo J. Ryan, assassinated November 18, 1978 in Guyana by member of the Peopleís Temple cult lead by Jim Jones. This is CULTinfoís highest award and is given annually to an individual who embodies the courage and vision of Congressman Ryan in the fight against cults.
Community Action Award:
CULTinfo is an action-oriented organization. We are always in search of ways citizens can fight constructively and non-violently against the horrors of cults. This award holds up a person or group who has waged a successful battle against a cult in hopes that we can learn from their experience and emulate them. This award focuses attention on CULTinfoís citizen action mission.
These awards will acknowledge and support those members of the media, at various levels, in print or electronic media, who have researched and produced valuable information to the public. These awards recognize that public information is our main weapon in alerting the public to the deceptive recruiting and manipulation of cults. If you have suggestions please send them in writing to CULTinfo.
ORGANIZATIONS JOIN TO STRENGTHEN EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS
This conference is co- sponsored by FACTNet and the New England Skeptics Society. Both groups join with us in our goal of educating the public about the deceptive practices of cults and the harm they perpetrate. We all join in the effort to alert those who may be recruited by a destructive group to the duplicitous nature of the group and urge everyone to employ their powers of critical thinking to discern for themselves what is best for them. Information is power and to be forewarned with information and critical thinking is to be forearmed. Please join us for a terrific conference.
Your choice of 10 highly educational workshops with such noted experts as Janja Lalich, Steve Hassan, Mike Flynn, Attny. Herbert Rosedale, Ben Zablocki and Dean Robert Thornberg.
Lunch and Dinner both Friday and Saturday, including the Saturday Awards Dinner. Meet the wonderfully entertaining James Randi --- The Amazing Randi. Conference Price: $225 with meals $125 without meals
Conferees, not purchasing the meal plan, may attend the Friday and Saturday after-dinner program for free; Non conferees pay $25 to attend the after-dinner program.
Saturday Special: attend the Saturday major address, workshops, and the Awards Dinner for $75.
Special Discount Hotel rate of $75 for a single or double! Have your run of the house at this outstanding hotel located in beautiful downtown Stamford, Connecticut just 45 minutes from LaGuardia Airport or 15 minutes from Westchester County Airport. This hotel has just finished an $11 million renovation and it is very comfortable and stylish. Direct flights to LaGuardia are available from most major airports.
Service to Westchester is available from many major eastern cities including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Ground transportation is available to the hotel from both air-ports.
Hotel Reservations: Please Call 1-203-358-8400 or 1-203-356-0576
R E G I S T R A T I O N F O R MThe CULTinfo is a private association and reserves the right to decline or refund any registration. Any person attending the confer-ence who engages in demonstrations, outbursts or harassing activ-ities will be removed from the conference. Application to come to the conference is consent to being removed by conference security for such activity. If an application is not accepted, full registration will be refunded. Cancellations may be subject to a $40 handling fee. No refunds will be given if requested after 2/1/99.
Please call us at 203-338-9776 with any questions.
Please mail your conference registration and check made payable to: CULTinfo - National Conference P.O. Box 1180 Bridgeport, CT 06601 Conference Prices $225 with meals x ___________ = $ ____________ $125 without meals x ___________ = $ ____________ $75 Saturday Special x ___________ = $ ____________ Yes, I am enclosing an additional ____ $10 ____ $25 ____ Other as a contribution toward the John Gordon Clark Scholarship Fund. I understand that my total contribution will be used exclusively to cover meal & lodging costs for former members. In appreciation for my tax deductible contribution, CULTinfo will provide free registration for these scholarship recipients. TOTAL ENCLOSED $ ____________ (Hotel costs are not included.) CONFERENCE SCHEDULE Friday, February 12 8:00 am Registration and Coffee 10:00 am Committee Meetings Board Meetings 12:00 pm Luncheon Ron Loomis, History of Cult Information Organizations 1:30 pm Workshop #1 3:00 pm Break 3:15 pm Workshop #2 4:45 pm Workshop ends 6:00 pm Dinner - Speaker TBA 7:30 pm Ex-Member Social Saturday, February 13 8:00 am Registration and Coffee 9:00 am Featured Speaker: Deborah Layton 10:15 am Break 10:30 am Workshop #3 12:00 am Luncheon Cult Info Board Member Remarks 1:30 pm Workshop #4 3:00 pm Break 3:30 pm Workshop #5 6:30 pm Gala Banquet Major Speaker Awards "The Amazing Randi" Sunday, February 14 9:00 am Breakfast 10:15 am Ex-member Panel 12:15 pm Adjournment Board Announcements (2000 Conference) CONFERENCE TOPICS1. Brainwashing, Mind Control Thought Reform, or Coercive Persuasion?' Moderator: Cynthia Lilley Presenters: Janja Lalich, Ben Zablocki
2. Panel of Parents Moderator:David Cole Presenters:The Meaders(Heavenís Gate),Mickey and Dorothy Rooney, Judy Delaney (Rama),Frantz Wilson (Black Hebrews)
3. Cults on Campus Moderator: Ron Loomis Presenters: Glenn Davis, Organizer of Maryland State Legislative effort, Sandra Stephon,Dean Robert Thornberg
4. Fronts and Finances: Follow the Dollar Research Moderator: Thomas Derr Presenters: Larry Zilliox, Attny. Michael Stratton, Rev. Fred Miller, Robert Parry
5. Critical Thinking: Cult Proofing Yourself and Your Kid Moderator: Perry DeAngelis Presenters: Dr. Steven Novella,Sheila Gibson, John Blumenfeld
6. Potential Law Breaking Activity of Cults and other Extremist Organizations Moderator: Larry Zilliox Presenters: De. Herbert Nieberg, Officer Mark Roggeman, Denver, CO, Attny. Herbert Rosedale
7. How to explain the difference between a cult and a religion: A practical guide Moderator: Dan Feaster Presenters: Fr. Walter DeBold, Craig Branch, Watchman Fellowship, Rev. Dan Feaster, Marcia Rudin, Patrick Ryan
8. How to Help a Loved One in a Mind Control Cult Presenters: Steven Hassan, Joe Szimhart
9. Cult Apocalypses - into the next Millennium and beyond Presenters: Rabbi Philip Abramowitz, Mike Flynn
Review of Cult Mass Murders: Applewhite to Manson. Prognostications and Projection
10. Cults and the Internet:Promise and Problems Moderator: Stacy Young Presenters: Grady Ward, Bob Minton, Justine Janette
11. Deceit and Manipulation Presenter: James Randi
12. Panel of Former Cultists Moderator: Charlie McAlpin Presenters: TBA
Charlotte L. Kates
OFFLINESonline: Freedom from Scientology