Hundreds of parents from across the country brought their case against Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and other “cults” to Washington, D. C., last month. They jammed into a Senate caucus room for a meeting arranged by Republican Senator Robert Dole of Kansas. Here they addressed representatives of the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Labor Department, the Postal Service, and the Federal Trade Commission.

The parents asked about possible violations of the tax-exempt status of the religious groups. Some wondered whether deceptive fund-raising practices of the groups are subject to FTC regulations. Youthful ex-members of cults related their experiences. And psychologists reported alarming findings in their studies of members and former members. But deep down, the main question was: “Can you help us get our children back?”

There were no assurances or clear-cut answers from the government officials. For the most part they merely advised persons with a complaint to put it into writing along with documentation and mail it to the appropriate agency.

The conference grew out of a meeting last year between Dole and one of his constituents, Mrs. Jean Tuttle, a parent who had “lost” a child to one of the cults. Back home, Mrs. Tuttle helped to organize a letter-writing and petition campaign. Armed with a petition bearing 14,000 names and with hundreds of letters inquiring about the activities of the Unification Church, Dole set up the informal hearing. A few other congressmen and a number of congressional staffers listened in, while more than 100 of Moon’s followers stood quietly at the rear of the room.

A week before the meeting, three dozen representatives of several parental anti-cult ...

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