Alternatives to deprogramming.

The announced retirement of Ted Patrick, the father of the modern anticult movement comes at a moment when the movement he founded is undergoing significant changes and his technique of coercive deconversion (deprogramming) of cult members is becoming increasingly obsolete. Patrick became the focus of the legal, financial, and emotional pressures that are forcing anticultists and other cult critics to seek a more effective response to the visible presence of so many diverse religions some so bizarre that it is difficult to recognize them as religions.

The growth of cults, those groups that either champion traditional Christian heresies (primarily Gnosticism or Arianism) or operate totally outside the Western religious tradition, experienced a quantitative leap after 1965 when the Oriental Exclusion Act was repealed and many Asian religious teachers took the opportunity to migrate. Korean Sun Myung Moon made his first visit in 1965, and Swami Prabhupada came in early 1966. Thus new forms of Eastern religion were already established when the great revival of the early 1970s swept the country. While evangelical Christianity, particularly the Pentecostal and Jesus People movements, gained the most from the revival, the Eastern faiths were strengthened by a flood of new adherents, and America experienced a significant increase in religious pluralism.

As these strange and unfamiliar forms of faith emerged, angry, frightened parents of the mostly youthful converts formed the first anticult groups. Patrick appeared to provide a practical program of action, one that could, they believed, not only retrieve family members but also destroy (or at least outlaw) the cults.

But the cults could not be destroyed ...

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