The Cult Phenomenon in the United States (1979)/Swope
|The Cult Phenomenon in the United States (1979)
"Statement of Rev. Dr. George Swope."
|INFORMATION MEETING ON THE CULT PHENOMENON IN THE UNITED STATES, February 5, 1979, 318 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. P.91-95. of Transcript of Proceedings.|
Senator Dole. Our next witness is Dr. George Swope.
STATEMENT OF REV. DR. GEORGE SWOPE.
Dr. Swope. Members of the Senate and of the House, we clergymen appreciate your invitation to participate in this hearing and share with you the concerns of our colleagues across America.
Obviously there are clergymen who live in ivory towers of speculation and who have never listened seriously to the charges of former cult members who allege two basic conditions that are worthy of Congressional investigation:
First, mind control of members by their leaders.
Second, illegal activities and physical and psychological damage done to members.
Theological theorists make an attempt to stop any sophisticated investigation and may even be stimulated to do so by cult leaders.
On the other hand, hosts of realistic clergymen and hundreds of thousands of active lay people want the government to use its investigative powers to look into the alleged dark and devious crannies of cult practices.
The hundreds of clergymen and thousands of lay people to whom I have spoken voiced the query repeatedly: Why doesn't the government do something?
None of us wants there to be an investigation of beliefs. The investigation should focus on alleged destructive and illegal practices and the mind control that makes these practices possible.
On February 2nd, Attorney General Bell, referring to Patty Hearst, stated that he believed she was brainwashed. If she was brainwashed by a simplistic political cult, obviously there is great probability that young adults are brainwashed in sophisticated religious cults.
I, along with some other pastors, agree with Dean John Roach of the Fletcher School of Law at Tufts University to understand the First Amendment as intended not to protect religions from people who might oppose or investigate them, but to protect people from religions that might exploit them.
I submit to you that the fears of our Founding Fathers are being realized if the testimony of hundreds of former cult members is to be believed.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, is concerned enough about the aberrations of the cults that they have a staff member, a former member of the Unification Church, to deal with this growing problem.
I can cite other denominational and ecumenical groups which are taking similar action. A small sampling of religious periodicals indicates wide concern amoung religious people in our land. Here is the Lutheran Standard, "Captive to a Cult, How I was Freed."
St. Anthony's Messenger, "Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Master of Manipulation."
Southern Baptist Royal Service, a number of articles.
The National Jewish Monthly, "What Makes a Moonie."
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia, "The Challenge of the Cults."
And then increasingly in medical journals there are similar articles :
The American Family Physician, "Destructive Cultism."
The AMA Family Health, "Beware the Man who can Manipulate the Mind," dealing with mind control specifically and not with cults as such.
As I think of these denominations who are concerned, I understand then why I have been invited to speak in Russian and Greek Orthodox churches, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Protestant churches, Jewish synagogues, Unitarian churches, and councils of churches and ministers' associations.
Why? Because clergy and laity alike are becoming increasingly concerned. You members of Congress must know that certain of the cults hold you in contempt.
An NBC documentary, aired in May of 1975, made this point regarding Mr. Moon, the messiah of the Unification Church, who sought unsuccessfully to address a joint session of Congress.
On January 17 of this year, the Unification Church repeated its contempt of you by a full page caricature of a worthy member of the House with his head mounted on the body of a chicken laying an egg in a Congressional investigation.
The statements accompanying the caricature were, as you might expect, highly selective. If a political cartoonist had drawn such a picture, we might smile. But when a purportedly religious organization spends thousands of dollars to place it in full page ads, the obvious intent is not wry humor, but insult and intimidation of others who might consider investigation.
Many Protestant clergymen and church members beg of you to investigate certain cults before there is another Jonestown on a farm purchased in an isolated area of Canada by one group or on the plantation in an isolated area of Columbia, South American, purchased by another, or on the island off the coast of South Korea, purchased by a third.
This last instance, I was told that a three-year member of the Unification Church who recently left the group, stated that the island is to be a place of retreat, should the group experience worldwide opposition; and the leader of the Unification Church is reported to have hinted broadly that pressures on the Unification Church could result in death.
Shades of Guyana. I am a Baptist minister. Members of the Congress, I tell you frankly, if you receive hundreds of accusing letters from parents of young adults who have joined the Baptist denomination, and if you receive hundreds of statements from young adults who have left the Baptists alleging mind control, the potential for suicide and murder, illegal immigration and financial practices, and other destructive physical and psychological activities, I feel it would be your duty to establish a task force to investigate these allegations against my own denomination.
The appeal to a religious domino theory, if today Congress investigates Moon, tomorrow it will investigate the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, is patent nonsense, and echoes the little boy's cry of wolf, wolf.
Responsible church leaders must think realistically and courageously and pragmatically and not become unwitting tools for dangerous cults.
It seems to many of us that the time for investigation has arrived.
Senator Dole. Again I would hope that those in the audience on either side would give us a chance -- we are about 10 minutes behind schedule. We would like to submit questions. We would hope you would all be patient. We can all applaud everybody after we finish.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).|