The Polish government has been forced to rethink its campaign against new religious movements after complaints of discrimination by minority churches.

A senior government official told ENI that attention would now focus on "psycho-manipulative groups" rather than on religious associations which "merely offered an alternative religiousness."

"An inter-ministerial team will still be needed, because the sect phenomenon is too multi-faceted to be dealt with like other social pathologies," said Krzysztof Wiktor, secretary of the Warsaw government's Inter-Ministerial Team for New Religious Movements. "But state policy is undergoing qualitative changes, which will enable us to avoid charges of violating religious freedom."

Wiktor was speaking after announcing plans to set up a new "Inter-Ministerial Team for Psycho-Manipulative Groups" to replace the team set up in August 1997 by Polish premier Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.

He said new religious movements had been identified as the key problem when his team was formed in 1997, whereas the chief concern now was with groups using "psycho-manipulative methods."

"We will no longer deal with religious movements just because they are new," Wiktor told ENI. "Nor are we interested in the activities of this or that church. But there has been a big increase in therapeutic, health and crypto-political groups which have nothing in common with religious associations. These will be curbed as we gain knowledge and are able to catch them."

The Inter-Ministerial Team denied in a June 2000 report that religious sects posed a "big threat to society," but called on state institutions to begin training personnel in how to deal with them.

A Polish police spokesman, Pawel Biedziak, confirmed that material from Roman ...

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