The Cult Phenomenon in the United States (1979)/Davis

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INFORMATION MEETING ON THE CULT PHENOMENON IN THE UNITED STATES, February 5, 1979, 318 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. P.74-80. of Transcript of Proceedings.

Senator Dole. Congressman Ottinger would like to introduce the next witness.

Mr. Ottinger. The next witness is a constituent of mine, Rabbi Maurice Davis. He comes from White Plains, a Rabbi of the Jewish Community Center. He is a faculty member at Manhattan College. He has been actively involved with working with young people to deprogram them from cults for over five years. He is responsible for separating some 128 young people from these organizations.

I would just like to take the opportunity to welcome a very distinguished constituent.


Rabbi Davis. Thank you, Congressman Ottinger. Thank you, Senator Dole.

There is a touch of deja vu about this gathering. Three years ago you convened just such a meeting as this is at which I was privileged to speak. I thanked you then. And I thank you now.

Between then and now the Fraser Subcommittee has published its report declaring that the laws of this land have been systematically violated by the Unification Church; we have watched the cults proliferate; we have witnessed the horror of Jonestown; and we cannot help but ask when is something going to be done.

Now, I am a Jew, and I am a Rabbi, and I cherish -- as do my people -- the grandure of the First Amendment. That amendment prevents, and properly so, the government from investigating the beliefs of any group that calls itself religious; but it does not prevent the government from investigating the activities of any group, whatever its name might be.

No man and no group in this country is above the law. Indeed, for 1000 years and more my people have lived with the Hebrew phrase, "Di nai delma cultna de nai." [Phonetic.]

"The law of the land is the law."

Unless that law is upheld and enforced, we all of us are victims and we Jews know this very well.

I have here, Senator Dole and gentlemen, resolutions from the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the New York Federation of Reformed Synogogues, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, all pointing out the very real dangers implicit in the cults that plague our land.

In the interests of time, I shall not read these, but I shall hand them to you, Senator Dole.

In fact, the Central Conference of American Rabbis has established a National Commission on Cults which it is my privilege to chair.

We are concerned, gentlemen. We are deeply concerned with cults. So let me begin by offering not a definition of cults since everyone has said you must not do this, but let me offer you a description of cults.

It seems to me that any cult has to have the following characteristics:

One, a dictatorial leader, often called charismatic, who has total and unlimited control over his group.

Two, followers who have abdicated the right to say no, the right to pass judgment, the right to protest, who have sold their souls for the security of slavery.

Three, possibly the most dangerous doctrine known to our civilization, that the end justifies the means; therefore, any thing from the Moonies' heavenly deception to the violence of Synanon to the theft of government documents by Scientology, to the brutality of the Children of God, all the way to the murder-suicide of Jonestown, all is permitted because the ends justify the means and there is no one there to tell them no.

Four, unlimited funds. The Unification Church with its some $50 million brought in each year by its mobile fund raising teams is duplicated by the Hare Krishnas dressing as Santa Claus or the Children of God sending out their women as fishers of men.

Five, the instilling of fear, hatred, and suspicion of everyone outside the camp, of the entire outside world in order to keep the victims in line.

You put them all together gentlemen --

Voice. That is not true --

Rabbi Davis. You have a prescription for violence, for death, for destruction. It is a formula that fits the Nazi Youth Movement as accurately as it describes the Unification Church.

Voice. That's a lie.

Rabbi Davis. Or the People's Temple.

I do not address myself to the responses in the audience. I do not address myself to their religious beliefs. That right they have, and I defend it; but I will not defend their right to violate the law of this land or the mind of the young.

During the last five years I have helped rescue 128 young men and women without ever once violating the law, without ever once resorting to force or restraint; but I tell you what I have done: I have peeled off the surface and entered into an underworld of madness, and you have to see what I haev seen to understand the horror of it all.

You have to see a young man hearing that his mother was dying and calling out to him and believing it, simply turning aside and saying, "Sorry, I am just too busy."

You have to hear them bragging about how they took the last dollar from a poor man by telling him lies.

You have to hear my midnight phone calls promising that I would be killed by noon because "Father says you must die."

Now the latest. You have heard what happened to Congressman Ryan, didn't you?

You have to see letters forged on my stationery calling off meetings we had scheduled, anonymous letters to my temple demanding that I be fired for having written what in fact they wrote ni my name. Or you have to see this anonymous pamphlet which has already been distributed to you entitled "Who Are Senator Dole's Experts on Cults?"

Every single statement concerning me is not only a lie, but there are -- these are lies that they know are lies with, of course, the exception of spelling my name correctly, for which I thank them, and the description of me as an incendiary or a torch, upon which I refuse to comment.


Ladies and gentlemen, every path leads somewhere. That is what a path is all about. The path of segregation leads to lynching every time. The path of antisemitism leads to Auschwitz every time. The path of the cults leads to Jonestown and we watch it at our peril.


(Chorus of boos.)

Senator Dole. Let me just caution the audience -- either side -- I understand there are some who feel very strongly on both sides. We are under time constraints. This is an information session for Senators, Congressmen, members of our staff. We will have control of the meeting.

I just caution anyone who doesn't want to abide by those rules to leave now.

Rabbi Davis. Thank you, sir.

Senator Dole, gentlemen of Congress: the primary task of a nation is to protect its citizens. That is what nations were created for in the first place. A nation that cannot protect its citizens is a failure. A nation that does not even try is a catastrophe.

Whatever the problems, whatever the difficulties, whatever the pitfalls, we have to try.

How many Jonestowns must there be before we begin to do something?

Gentlemen of the Congress: I am not here to protest against religion, or against religions. I am here to protest against child molesters, for as surely as there are those who lure children with lollypops in order to rape their bodiers, so, too, are there those who lure children with candy-coated lies in order to rape their minds.

In the name of two million victims and four million parents and a country bewildered and frightened and ashamed, I tell you this has to stop.


Senator Dole. Our next witness is Daphne Green.

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).

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