Freedom Of Religion For Extremists

Let Our Children Go!, by Ted Patrick (Dutton, 1976, 285 pp., $8.95), is reviewed by Dean M. Kelley, staff associate for religious and civil liberties, National Council of Churches, New York, New York.

Let us recognize, to begin with, that this is a well-written book about an absorbing subject. Ted Patrick comes across clearly as a dedicated crusader, a (black) man on a white horse leading the charge against what he believes to be the hosts of evil. Known to a small but enthusiastic coterie as “Black Lightning,” the “deprogrammer,” he has gained some local notoriety for “liberating” young people who joined religious movements of which their parents disapproved. In less enthusiastic circles, this activity is known as abduction, imprisonment, or kidnapping. If you or I were to do it, we would soon find ourselves in jail. But Ted Patrick seems able to avoid, or at least postpone, that fate.

In this book he tells how he got into the “deprogramming” business, and how he has barely managed to keep up with the myriad demands for his services, scarcely finding time for his family or money to pay their grocery bills. Let us be more gracious to him than he is toward his opponents: I don’t believe he is in this harrowing activity for mercenary reasons, any more than his opponents are. I don’t believe he’s in it for publicity or power per se, any more than his opponents are. I think he really believes he is holding off the hosts of Satan (or, as he puts it, of communism), fighting the fore-battle of Armageddon—or something like that. I only wish he would give his opponents credit for equally principled (ir)rationality.

His targets, in the main, are five: Hare Krishna, the Children of God, Sun Myung Moon’s ...

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