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Saturday, 9 October 1999

General issue: Freedom of Religion, Human Rights and Destructive Cults


The problem caused by the Destructive Cults was deeply considered in a political, spiritual, social and economic context, during the works of the 1st European Conference
dealing with topics related to the groups which are characterized as being devoted to Destructive Cults and the Psycho-groups. The Conference dealt in global terms with the issue of: "Freedom of Religion, Human Rights, Destructive Cults and Psycho-groups". It was organized by the "Pancyprian Parents Union (PPU), the Parliamentary Committee on Orthodoxy in cooperation with the Committee on legal issues dealing with cults and parareligious dogmas. It was held under the auspices of Parliament President Mr. Spyros Kyprianou.

Alain Vivien -President of the Interministerial Mission of the Struggle against the
sects, former Minister of the French Government,
Georghios Krippas, Dr. in Constitutional Law,
Ursula Caberta, Manager of the Governmental Department in Hamburg about
Alexander Dvorkin, Professor, special researcher of the problem in Russia and

Georghios Sergides, Dr. in Private and Administrative International Law, attended
the Conference.

Mr. Christos Pourgourides, MP, addressed the Conference on behalf of the

Cypriot Parliament.
Archibishop Chrysostomos, Head of the Church of Cyprus, also addressed the Conference.

Parents Associations and Initiatives, as well as: Church, State and Society agents, participated together with other representatives of the Legal Sector and the Education System, from Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, France, Germany and Russia.

Once all the aspects of the topic were considered in detail, the participants concluded unanimously to state the following points which will be put forward before the Church, State and Society Institutions of their countries.

A. Considerations

The 1st European Conference ascertains that the action undertaken by the newly appeared totalitarian cults, sects, or destructive cults, or freedom-killing groups, is nowadays a dangerous reality in Europe. It emphasized that the same danger also exists in Cyprus.

The groups, which are described above, have the following characteristics allover the world: they almost always act under various covers, either as social or philosophical oriented non profit organisations. They penetrate all the sectors of life depositing an absolute claim, even in the case of policy and economy of a country, constituting a threat against man's personality, our civilization and democratic principles. They impose a totalitarian way of thinking. They do not recognize any human rights for their adherents, since they totally depend upon the leader or the group itself. Basic human rights like the freedom of thinking and judgment, the freedom of expression or the freedom of information, have been abolished within many of the said groups. Marriage and choosing one's spouse or even issues related to one's personal and family life or one's marriage, are determined by the leader of the group itself.

These findings were confirmed in a study published in the magazine "Cultic Studies Journal" (Vol. 16,1,1999 p. 33-51) which stated that: "...groups that often exploit members psychologically and or financially, typically by making members comply with leaderships demands through certain types of psychological manipulation, popularity ".

They do not recognize the human rights of the groups' members who make criticism within these groups. They believe that whoever makes criticism is "a criminal committing crimes against mankind" while impeding the beneficial dogma of the organization to dominate the way of thinking of all its members. Eliminating all those who make criticism is a basic goal of the reverse morals of the "Scientology" and other similar groups. These organizations keep cooperating amongst themselves, to achieve their goals, on a local, European and international level. These activities jeopardize the body and spiritual health of man owing to the anti-scientific pseudo-healing methods, which have intense characteristics of initiation and occultism.

These groups should in no case be characterized as religions or "new religious movements", which is their intention in order to benefit from any tax exemptions and other privileges.

On this occasion we welcome the Resolution 134 of 17.2.99 by the European Parliament Committee on the Political Freedoms and Internal Issues. Which "Calls on the Member States to take measures, while respecting the principles of constitutional law, to combat the violation of individual rights by certain sects which should be refused the status of religious or cultural organization under which they enjoy tax advantages and a certain degree of legal protection;"

The participants of the Conference consider that such groups cannot appeal to their right of freedom of religion since they themselves misuse the freedom of religion of the citizens, having recourse to false information and data aiming at laying traps to people especially youngsters unsuspicious of the danger .

Violation of the freedom of religion is also noted in the case of conversion methods used by these groups (efforts to penetrate, using a cheating way, the religious conscience of an individual and change their religious faith in a dogma, by means of economic and other baits) .

According to the distinguished constitutional law specialist, Dr. Georgios Krippas, law that forbids unethical conversion has never and nowhere been considered a violation of the freedom of religion.

Finally, the position adopted by Mrs. Marie-George Buffet, Youth and Sport Minister of France is herewith stated, as she expresses herself through a circular addressed by her to the district officers of her country suggesting to them to take measures against the sects, that is:

"The sects are a reality indeed. Their punishable and dangerous acts confirm the need to have the whole Government mobilized. The latest studies carried out on this topic have revealed the dangers, which the development of sectarian movements in France is pregnant with. Especially the financial reinforcement of these sects! These studies have also shown that the scenario put forward by these sects has changed. The sects invest indeed in sectors like the education, the professional training, sports and health, after having played an important role in the evolution of an absurd and xenophobe elite logic. They are now hiding behind educational organizations and organizations practicing alternative medicine. They become active under the cover of humanitarian works or appearing as a local movement".

The presence of distinguished representatives of European States who are Heads of Special Government Services on topics related to sects is deemed finally the spark for a serious consideration about the establishment of relevant services even in States where there have not yet been any.

In view of the above-mentioned, the A' European Conference welcomes with satisfaction Church, Society and other agents from Cyprus and abroad participating in its being organized and asks:
1 .a) All the institutions to be informed and sensitized in a more detailed way to cope with this serious not only "religious" problem.
b) The pupils at schools and the citizens generally to be informed by responsible institutions about the above-mentioned dangers.
c) To take practical measures complying with existing legislation or supplementing it in case there are gaps.

The initiatives taken by parents who are represented here will lead to providing this responsible information required willingly.

2. The "sects" to be obliged to respect the fundamental human rights of their fans, like the right to be informed, the right to work, to be available, to be insured at work. The children of the organizations' member-victims should have the right to study at schools that are not part of these groups' ghetto.

3. The sects to be obliged to indicate explicitly their origin on their forms. Not to use misleading titles and names.

4. The status of religious organisation not to be automatically garanted to the sects, or at least not without checking before, to groups which intensively or deceptively appear as such while they are not.

5. The foundation of a Centre of Research, Substantiation and Information about the new sects is a direct need. This Centre will be in charge of providing responsible information about the above-mentioned subject, either in global terms or specifically on the legal and administrative way of coping with it through collecting any court decisions and other official texts.

6. The subject of new sects to be a question on which a serious debate could be carried out before the Parliaments of those countries where despite the recommendations of the European Parliament such an arrangement has not yet been done.

Society and Church need to support morally and financially independent organizations, which have been established to provide information about the problem of sects. Also to support organizations that are established to assist the victims and their families. This should be done in compliance with the Recommendations of the European Parliament (1178 / 1992) and 1412 (1999) where "... the Parliamentary Assembly calls upon the Governments of the Member States, to support independent national or regional information centres on groups of a religious, esoteric or spiritual nature;


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