Cult Information Centre

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For the Australia based organization of a similar name, see Cult Awareness and Information Centre.
Cult Information Centre
Organization logo
Founded 1987
Founder Ian Haworth
Type Charitable organization
Focus Cult education
Location
Method Education, Research, Counseling support, Outreach resource
Key people Rev. G. F. L. Chamberlain, Dr. P. Cotterell, Rev. Jonathan Edwards, Mrs. P. Harris, Dr. D. Irwin, Alan Meale, Hardeep Singh
Website Main Web site

The Cult Information Centre (CIC) is a British organization[1] that provides information and advice to members of what the organization terms as cults, as well as affected family members,[2] members of the press and scholarly researchers. The organization also serves as a resource for information on controversial religious groups,[3][4] therapy cults,[3][5][6] and political cults.[7] The Cult Information Centre gives educational talks about cults in schools around the United Kingdom to students about to start university education.[8][9]

History[edit]

The Cult Information Centre was initially founded in 1987[10] with financial support from Christian counter-cultist Kenneth Frampton, founder of the Christian evangelical organization Deo Gloria Trust.[11] It gained charitable status in the United Kingdom, in 1992.[12] Ian Haworth, an ex-member of PSI Mind Development, Inc, a group he refers to as a cult, is founder[13] and current General Secretary of the organization, and he had previously been involved with the Council on Mind Abuse.[14] According to Arweck's Researching New Religious Movements, Ian Haworth and an associate had previously lost a court case in Canada that was brought by Werner Erhard against the Council on Mind Abuse organization.[12] Arweck writes that Haworth went bankrupt after losing the case to Erhard, and left Canada for Britain.[12][14] Later in an article in the Sunday Mercury, Ian Haworth was quoted as stating that the Cult Information Centre received complaints in Britain about the actions of Landmark Education,[15] which the article described as being linked to Werner Erhard's est movement.[15] Similar statements from the Cult Information Centre were reported in an article on The Forum.[16]

Methodology[edit]

The Cult Information Centre believes that the most striking features of post-war religious cults includes the usage of mind control techniques, and strict adherence to a leader or tight-knit leadership structure.[13] This high level of adherence helps to reinforce authority, as well as belief in the leader's doctrine, which may involve his own personal delusions.[13] According to the Cult Information Centre, these individuals are prone to suffering from forms of mental illness.[13][citation needed] The organization cites twenty-six key forms of mind control, which includes hypnosis, peer pressure and groupthink, love bombing, the rejection of old values, confusing doctrine, use of subliminal messages, time-sense inhibition, dress codes, disinhibition, diet, confession, fear, and chanting and singing.[13]

The organization has attempted to define the term cult by analyzing dictionary definitions, and psychological, religious, and secular definitions, however it has found that they are all deficient in some manner.[17] Its current definition of the term cult includes three main points: the group's identity was derived from a major religion, but its practices and belief system are dramatically different; its followers are not bound by a codified belief structure; and the group was founded by an individual who utilized fraudulent means to gain respect and acceptance.[17]

The Cult Information Centre has estimated that there are approximately 2,500 cults operating within the United States, as of 2007.[18] Intelligent students that are intellectually and/or spiritually curious were described as prime recruitment targets for cults, according to the Cult Information Centre.[19][20] The organization has stated that these religious sects are limited by very strict rules in Britain as to how they can fundraise and advertise in recruitment of new members.[21] The organization believes that the number of cults actively recruiting from college campuses has increased.[22] Though the organization has stated that college-age students and teenagers are susceptible,[23] it also believes that well-off professionals within the middle class are targeted by cults.[24] The organization states that it is a common misperception that only loners and misfits are drawn to controversial groups and movements.[25]

Council of Reference[edit]

  • Rev. G. F. L. Chamberlain - Former Master of St Benet's Hall, Oxford University
  • P. Cotterell - Former Principal, London Theological College.
  • Rev. Jonathan Edwards - General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
  • P. Harris - Former Central President, Mothers Union.
  • D. Irwin - Psychiatrist.
  • Alan Meale, MP - Former Sec. of the All-Party Committee on Cults.
  • Hardeep Singh - Press Secretary, The Network of Sikh Organisations

Criticism[edit]

Some of the groups that the Cult Information Centre analyzes have criticized their methods. John Campbell of the evangelical Christian group, the Jesus Army insists they have good relations with other Christian churches, and called the Cult Information Centre "unethical" and its views "absolute nonsense".[8] The Church of Scientology felt that its message was also misrepresented by the Cult Information Centre.[8]

A complaint was made in 2010 to the Charity Commission about the organization's charitable status, regarding the centre's lack of neutrality[26]

Analyzed in secondary sources[edit]

Along with the Family Action Information Resource organization, the Cult Information Centre was cited by Wilson and Cresswell's New Religious Movements as one of the best known secular groups that monitor new religious movements.[27] Arweck also compared the Cult Information Centre to the Family Action Information and Rescue Organization, as well as to other groups such as Reachout Trust.[12]

Gurr's The New Face of Terrorism,[13] Shaw's Spying in Guruland,[28] and Mikul's Bizarrism[29] cite the Cult Information Centre's twenty-six techniques of mind control. William Shaw had contacted the Cult Information Centre in his 1993 investigation of cults, but is explicitly critical of its methods and the reliability of its research throughout the book. His opinion was that individuals had joined cults out of "their own hunger to believe" and is dismissive of "absurd scare stories".[30] These twenty-six techniques have also been cited by the press as well.[31] BBC News has cited the Cult Information Centre's five key factors that distinguish a cult, in an article on Scientology.[32] In a separate article Haworth of the Cult Information Centre was quoted as stating he was deeply concerned about Scientology's activities and use of celebrities in a global marketing campaign.[33]

In his work Understanding New Religious Movements, Saliba notes that though the organization's definition of the term cult stems from a theological background, it incorporates sociological and psychological features as well.[17] The research on the Cult Information Centre's Website is cited as a resource by Penn's False Dawn.[34] The Cult Information Centre was also cited as a resource in British parliamentary proceedings investigating the Home Secretary's actions regarding the Unification Church and Sun Myung Moon.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Partridge, Christopher (Ed.) (2004). Encyclopedia of New Religions: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. Lion Hudson Plc. p. 76. ISBN 0-7459-5073-6. 
  2. ^ Lane, Megan (2000-07-26). "Cults: Playing for keeps". BBC News (BBC). 
  3. ^ a b Shipman, Martin (2004-04-13). "Tourist board defends pounds 11,000 cash grant to 'cult' group". Western Mail (2004 MGN Ltd.). 
  4. ^ Shipton, Martin (2004-04-02). "Storm over pounds 180,000 grant to Welsh 'cult'.". Western Mail (2004 MGN Ltd.). 
  5. ^ Staff (2001-07-22). "`Self help' cults target professionals.". The Independent (Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.). 
  6. ^ Hampshire, Mary (2000-11-28). "I was raped.. then lured into misery by church fanatics.". The Mirror (2000 MGN LTD). 
  7. ^ Kirby, Terry (March 27, 2004). "Grieving parents warn of dangers of `political cults'.". The Independent (Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.). 
  8. ^ a b c Bacon, Hanna (1999-07-16). "Sixth formers on cult alert". BBC News (BBC). 
  9. ^ Staff (August 28, 2001). "Children wooed by forces of Satanism on Internet". Irish Independent (Unison.ie). 
  10. ^ Kon, Andrea (2005-07-25). "In the Hot Seat: Just the Job". The Evening Standard (Solo Syndication Limited). 
  11. ^ Chryssides, George. 1999. Exploring New Religions. London, GBR: Continuum International Publishing.
  12. ^ a b c d Arweck, Elizabeth (2006). Researching New Religious Movements. Routledge. pp. 69, 132, 194, 442, 443. ISBN 0-415-27754-X. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Gurr, Nadine; Benjamin Cole (2002). The New Face of Terrorism: Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 134, 158, 182, 193, 308. ISBN 1-86064-825-8. 
  14. ^ a b Williams, Raymond Brady; Harold G. Coward; John Russell Hinnells (2000). The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States. SUNY Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-7914-4509-7. 
  15. ^ a b Bourke, Fionnuala (April 18, 2004). "Fears as 'life-change' firm recruits in Brum". Sunday Mercury. 
  16. ^ Braid, Mary (December 5, 2003). "Turn up, tune in, transform? - The Landmark Forum claims to change utterly the lives of its devotees - and it is spreading fast by their word of mouth. But are its 'breakthrough' sessions a good or bad thing? Some see it as education, and others as brainwashing.". The Independent (Independent News and Media Limited). 
  17. ^ a b c Saliba, John; J. Gordon Melton (2003). Understanding New Religious Movements. Rowman Altamira. pp. 4, 283. ISBN 0-7591-0356-9. 
  18. ^ Dry, Gena (May 2, 2007). "Have You Heard that Therapists and Self Development Workshops Can Cause Harm Instead of Help?". The Five Questions You Must Ask Your Therapist.com (Press Release) (www.TheFiveQuestionsYouMustAskYourTherapist.com). 
  19. ^ Wallace, Wendy (June 20, 2000). "Cult following: Evangelical groups are recruiting hard on Britain's campuses". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Limited). 
  20. ^ Coxon, Kate (November 6, 2001). "Cult following: Students may find themselves the target of religious sects seeking new members, warns Kate Coxon". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Limited). 
  21. ^ Vasagar, Jeevan; Alex Bellos (2000-08-03). "Brazilian sect buys London radio station". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Limited). 
  22. ^ Wallis, Lynne (October 1, 2003). "Let us prey: Many new students starting university are curious and idealistic. Which makes them vulnerable to the increasing number of cults targeting campuses, reports Lynne Wallis". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Limited). 
  23. ^ Staff (1998-11-08). "As the number of potentially-lethal sects in the UK tops 500, the groups are targeting Birmingham in the run up to the millennium". Sunday Mercury (Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd). 
  24. ^ Staff (1999-01-05). "Wanted: middle-class professionals". BBC News (BBC). 
  25. ^ Staff (2006-07-07). "Fact or Cult Fiction - You Decide". Aberdeen Press and Journal. p. 18. 
  26. ^ Doward, Jamie (4 March 2012). "Cults watchdog faces danger of being shut down". The Observer. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  27. ^ Wilson, Bryan R.; Jamie Cresswell (1999). New Religious Movements. Routledge. pp. xvii, 259, 272, 276. ISBN 0-415-20049-0. 
  28. ^ Shaw, William (1994). Spying in Guruland: Inside Britain's Cults. Fourth Estate. ISBN 1-85702-152-5 , ISBN 978-1-85702-152-3. 
  29. ^ Mikul, Chris (1999). Bizarrism. Critical Vision. pp. 142, 152. ISBN 1-900486-06-7. 
  30. ^ Medway, Gareth J. (2001). Lure of the Sinister: the unnatural history of Satanism. NYU Press. p. 277. ISBN 0-8147-5645-X. 
  31. ^ Staff (November 8, 1998). "Fear, coercion and control - tactics used to recruit members.". Sunday Mercury (Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd). 
  32. ^ Staff (July 13, 1999). "Cult or religion: What's the difference?". BBC News (BBC). 
  33. ^ Qualtrough, Stuart (October 13, 1996). "Stars Back Cult Crusade to Take Over the World". The People (1996 MGN LTD). 
  34. ^ Penn, Lee (2004). False Dawn. Sophia Perennis. p. 470. ISBN 1-59731-000-X.  Cult Information Centre home page.
  35. ^ The Stationery Office (2004). Immigration Appeals 2004 - 4th Quarter (Imm AR 535 - 734). p. 650. ISBN 0-11-783053-4. 

See also[edit]