Annual Conference. ICSA’s 2014 annual conference will take place in Washington, DC, July 3–5 (preconference workshops on July 2). The conference hotel is the Sheraton Silver Spring (Maryland), which is a short subway ride to downtown DC. The program will be varied, with numerous sessions pertinent to former members of cultic or other high-demand groups, families, helping professionals, researchers, and others. A track within the program will include sessions that address aspects of the conference theme of government, human rights, and the cult phenomenon. More than a hundred speaking and poster proposals have been accepted, so there will be much to choose from. More info.
ICSA Recovery Workshop for Former Group Members. Friday, 3:00 PM, August 1, 2014, to Sunday, 3:00 PM, August 3, 2014. Where: Franciscan Retreat Center at Mount St. Francis, Colorado Springs, Colorado. More info.
Gillie Jenkinson delivered a 4-hour training on counselling cult survivors for the University of Nottingham, England to participants on two combined MA counselling courses—Adult and Children & Young People. There were 17 people in attendance. The participants were able to reflect on difficulties in defining a cult and in deciding whether or not a client is a former member. They also reflected on issues faced by both first- and second-generation former members. Ms. Jenkinson also delivered two repeated presentations on counselling former cult members at the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) conferences in London and Leeds, United Kingdom, on February 28th and March 8th.
Paul Lennon and Juan Jose Vaca, former Legionaries of Christ, and former Regnum Christi members Marita La Palm and Genevieve Kineke were featured in the Irish TV program, The Legion, in the Would You Believe series, on the evening of Sunday, March 9th. The program explains the Legion’s first contacts with the Archbishop of Dublin during the foundation phase of the order in Ireland and demonstrates the influence of the Irish in the order’s foundation, growth, and expansion. Of note is how Fr. Maciel used the Irish to bring the Legion and its Regnum Christ Movement to the United States of America, where it has been very successful in recruiting and fundraising since the 1970s. The program also explores Fr. Maciel’s decadent life and how Church authorities were incapable of stopping him. The reporter interviews some of the active members present at the Legion’s recent Chapter General and probes the issues of accountability and reform.
Juan Vaca also participated in The Secrets of the Vatican, PBS Frontline, by Antony Thomas, on March 25, 2014.
Arnold Markowitz and Bill Goldberg were interviewed by the NJ Safe and Sound website for their holiday-season articles discussing the empty-chair issues families face when they have lost a loved one to a cult situation.
CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), directed by Massimo Introvigne, will host its 2014 International Conference, entitled The Vitality of New Religions: Thinking Globally, Existing Locally, at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Program details
Carrie Buddington tells us, “I am an ex-member of The Community of Jesus, Inc., in Orleans, Massachusetts, which I left 3 years ago. I entered this religious group with my husband when I was 23 years old and we were newly converted Christians. I came from a family and social background that made me vulnerable to charismatic leaders, and I was searching for that ‘something more’ in life that so many of us yearn for. I had no previous experience with Christianity, and so had nothing to compare their teachings to. We raised our three children there and lived there for 40 years. It was a painful and difficult road that finally led to my leaving. I am now so glad to be free, and wish to speak out about my experiences there. I have started a blog with stories and musings about my life at the Community of Jesus. It will include family life, worship style, teachings and practices, life in the band and orchestra, and my time as a sister in the convent. I welcome responses and comments, and will publish stories from others also.” You can find the blog here.
Cynthia Sowers says that she has started a Facebook group called Cult Awareness and Recovery. The open page has 304 people as of now.
Gordon Neufeld was interviewed for a podcast by Julian Charles, a UK broadcaster and journalist who owns the website The Mind Renewed. The 1-hour interview can be heard here.
Lisa Monroney of the Rocky Mountain Resource Center notified us about a Mountain States Conference on Cults, Gangs, and Hate Groups on May 17th in Fort Collins, Colorado. More info here, or contact the Rocky Mountain Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-490-2032.
In December Joanne Clark posted an article on http://buddhism-controversy-blog.com: “Is the NKT a Pure Lineage of Tsongkhapa? The Problem With Root Texts Within the NKT Study Program.” (This was an article on milieu control within the New Kadampa Tradition study program.)
In March, José Miguel Cuevas Barranquero gave a talk, “Grupos manipulativos y sectas destructives,” in Ávila, Spain to a group of law-enforcement professionals. He also had two radio interviews on February 24: Criminologia y Sectas with Radio Sapiens and with Onda Cero.
Roderick Dubrow-Marshall, chair of ICSA’s Research Committee, has a new position: Professor of Psychology and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Derby, Derby & Buxton, Derbyshire, United Kingdom.
Marvin Snider has published a book, Influence: The Psychology of Influence in Practice (Mill City Press, Minneapolis, 2014).
Mary O’Connell, a high-school English teacher, tells us that the summer reading list for freshmen at her high school included Cults in Our Midst.
Nori Muster says that the University of Illinois Press has released the electronic version of her book, Betrayal of the Spirit. It is now available at Amazon.com and other e-book sellers.
Vega Gonzalez let us know that AIS’s latest newsletter was posted in February.
David Cole of Bay Tree Publishing announces the publication of Undue Influence: Cons, Scams and Mind Control by Patrick O’Reilly and Phyllis Rosen ($18.95 paperback, available from Amazon). Patrick O’Reilly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Phyllis Rosen has been a member of the California Bar since 1991, and received her JD degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Both studied with Margaret Singer at UC Berkeley. Patrick spoke at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on March 24 to a sold-out house on the subject of “Cons, Scams and Undue Influence.”
Raffaella Di Marzio participated both in a plenary and a side event in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) 2013 in Warsaw on September 26th, a day dedicated to freedom of religion and belief. Raffaella participated in this event in order to inform OSCE representatives about the violation of freedom of religion and belief. She also gave a talk entitled “Institutional Discrimination of Religious Minorities in Italy” at the OSCE side event organized by the NGO Soteria International.
On October 14th, 2013, Raffaella presented a poster at the conference hosted by Catholic University of Milan and SIPR (Italian Society of Psychology of Religion), La psicologia della religione: ambiti di ricerca e prospettive di applicazione (Psychology of Religion: Fields of Research and Perspectives of Application). The subject of Raffaella’s poster was Nuove religioni e sette: persuasione coercitiva? (New Religions and Cults: Coercive Persuasion?).
On November 1st, 2013, she participated at the conference “I Diritti umani e la forza del cambiamento (Human Rights and the Strength of Changing), where she gave a presentation for college students at the Italian Adventist University “Villa Aurora” in Florence. The presentation was entitled “Minoranze religiose e libertà di credere” (“Religious Minorities and Freedom of Believing”); it explored the problems that could arise from approving a new law for punishing the proposed plagio (brainwashing) crime in Italy.
On December 10th, 2013, she participated in a videoconference at the Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference, cohosted by Soteria International (NGO) and five other European NGOs in Copenhagen. The subject was Freedom of Conscience and Belief at a Crossroads in Europe—Self-Determination and Spiritual Teachings. Raffaella spoke about “Laws Against Cults and Mental Manipulation in Italy. Minority Religions, Social Change, and Freedom of Conscience.”
Two publications by Jacob Suissa: Suissa, J. A. (2013). Gambling as a social problem. Canadian Social Work Review, 30(1), 83–100. Suissa, J. A. (2013). Addictions and medicalization of social conditions: Context and paths of reflexion. Journal of Addictive Behaviors, Therapy and Rehabilitation. 2(2),1–7.
In December, Teresa Manca and Steve Kent were cited in a Huffington Post blog with regard to their work on Scientology: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/scientology-religion_b_4453306.html
NPR’s Here and Now program has aired an interview with Rita Swan about the EACH bills in Congress that would give everyone an exemption from health insurance if they have sincere religious beliefs against medical care: http://childrenshealthcare.org/?page_id=2165. EACH stands for “equitable access to care and health.”
Steve Hassan gave a 5-hour workshop, Mind Control and Exploitation: Lessons Learned From Working With Cult Victims, on Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the Family Justice Center in Boston. The workshop was part of My Life My Choice, a “nationally recognized, groundbreaking initiative designed to reach adolescent girls most vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation.” Steve was also the keynote speaker at the Ohio National Human Trafficking Day Conference and contributed to the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Hospital’s Victims of Violence Program on January 14, 2014.
Flora Jessop’s work to rescue people from the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints Church is documented in a six-part series that premiered January 7 on TLC and the Discovery channel: http://blogs.discovery.com/tlc-new-now/2013/12/coming-january-7-escaping-the-prophet-featuring-ex-flds-member-and-social-activist-flora-jessop.html
The World Religions and Spirituality Project of Virginia Commonwealth University posted an online interview with Eileen Barker, “How to Be Informed About Minority Religions: Celebrating INFORM on Its Twenty-Fifth Anniversary”: http://www.has.vcu.edu/wrs/FORUM/Interview%20with%20Eileen%20Barker.pdf
The Washington Post had an article (December 31, 2013) on Human Rights Without Frontiers’ (Willy Fautre, Chairman) report on eight countries that restrict religious freedom: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/report-8-countries-on-un-human-rights-council-restrict-religious-freedom/2013/12/31/20ac8dd2-7244-11e3-bc6b-712d770c3715_story.html
Glori L. Williams, President of the Board of Directors for Move Forward Inc., told us that Move Forward’s first annual cult-awareness conference will take place in Fairbanks, Alaska on August 14 and 15. Move Forward expects between 80 and 100 attendees. Individuals interested in submitting an abstract for the conference should send it to email@example.com by May 1, 2014. Move Forward is unable to assist with traveling expenses. However, speakers get free registration to the 2-day conference, free transportation from the airport, and the option of staying in a board member’s home during the conference. We are also working with the hotel to get reduced conference rates for those wanting to stay at the hotel.