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CREDIBILITY ATTACKS AGAINST FORMER CULT MEMBERS by Stephen A. Kent FECRIS 2011, WARSAW. 1. FORCED DECONVERTS : a. Began with 1970s deprogrammings . b. group denunciations at the end of the deprogramming as signed statements or press conferences . .
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1. FORCED DECONVERTS:a. Began with 1970s deprogrammings.b. group denunciations at the end of the deprogramming as signedstatements or press conferences.
Sociologists’ reactions:a. developed non-coercive conversion modelsb. asserted that deprogrammings caused trauma, not cult involvement
Academics’ reactions:a. deprogrammed—most critical exit counseled—somewhat critical voluntary—least criticalb. all former member accounts are untrustworthy ‘atrocity tales’
3-PART (INADEQUATE) TESTA) told the same story consistentlyB) Experts confirmed that such things did happenC.) Had good character references
4. CON ARTISTSa. Never belonged, and know it. b. Lie for money/power/famec. Religious, well-intentioned people most vulnerable
5. SPIES:a. Still belong, but pretend that they don’t. b. Espionage, theft, possibly subversion c. Be kind to a caught spy—some do deconvert
6. EX-MEMBERS WITH ‘HISTORIES’:a. Want to become spokespersons against their former groups b. May have done/said things that groups will throw back at them c. Anti-cult groups must help these people make best decisions for themselves
7. PROFESSIONAL FORMER MEMBER ANTI-CULTISTS:a. Become expert witnesses, authors, exit counselors, anti-cult organizational staff, etc. b. Tough positions to maintain: little money; one’s information likely becomes datedc. Must resist the impulse to embellish/overstate/perjure
8. FORMER MEMBERS WHO BECOME PROFESSIONALS:a. Can be very effective critics because they have professional credentialsb. Credentials, however, are no necessary guarantee of producing, objective, critical work
9. CONCLUSION:a. Blanket rejection of former members’ testimony is ideological—worse than bad science b. Triangulate—try to get similar information from multiple sourcesc. What happened to anti-cult groups in North America likely will repeat (is repeating) in Europed. Bottom line—former members are valuable assets; just be careful