Stopping religious lunatics is difficult under American law—and should be.

Even before David Koresh led his adherents to their horrific deaths in Waco, I heard Christians at my church ask sharply, “Why didn’t someone stop that lunatic sooner?”

Following the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, allegedly perpetrated by an Islamic fundamentalist sect, mainstream religious believers asked, “Why do such groups go unchecked? Why don’t we just stop cults?”

Ironically, far less menacing individuals have been imprisoned for their activities as religious leaders. Jim Bakker, for example, is serving a lengthy prison sentence for fraud and conspiracy. Our courts punish such offenders—who, despite their crimes, do some good in their Christian work. Yet the same courts do little or nothing to crack down on psychotic and sociopathic religious leaders who eventually bring about horrendous suffering.

If we can put Jim Bakker behind bars, why can’t we stop hostile and potentially violent religious groups? Why not stop religious groups who reportedly abuse and control the minds of their adherents? Why tolerate leaders who may repeat the heinous crimes of Jim Jones or Charles Manson?

These are all good questions. But other questions also demand answers: Where do we draw the line declaring certain religious groups illegal? What should we require them to do? Disband? Stop practicing their beliefs? Stop believing their beliefs? And which religious groups should be targeted? Only violent fringe cults? Or should we include peaceful polygamist communities? Finally, whom should we appoint to monitor, judge, and police problem religious groups? Religious leaders? Government officials?

So we are left with a problem: Is there a way to stop Koreshlike ...

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