Concluding remarks by Friedrich Griess

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,

 

I think it became evident during these two days that our matter is highly political, not in the sense of party politics which FECRIS will keep away from, but in the sense of care for society and in the sense of cooperation with the political authorities.  FECRIS will do this at European and international levels. We have already achieved excellent cooperation with the Council of Europe, we are present at the OSCE [1], we have made attempts to make the European Union aware of our existence and hopefully we will be able to do so at the level of United Nations.[2]  It is up to you, the associations in your respective countries, to speak to your governments and members of parliament. If you need support from FECRIS, please let us know. I note with great pleasure the Russian authorities and several other State representatives from Cyprus, Belgium, France, Germany and Slovakia joined us at this conference.

Cooperation in this field is very important because cults operate globally and our efforts to keep them within limits must also be global. It is counterproductive for us if one of these groups is recognised in some European countries as a religion, while other countries consider it as a commercial or even as a criminal entity. Sometimes the cooperation may seem to be difficult due to cultural diversities and language problems. This should be solved with utmost care. We should keep in mind that FECRIS wants to be a supporting structure and not a dominating one.

We must understand that the world we are facing is not black/white. There are gradual differences and there may even be cultic tendencies in traditional religions. We should not be superficial but study matters thoroughly. We are not fighting against people and not even against groups. Our aim is to eliminate behaviour which denies human rights and freedoms, as professor Dvorkin explained in his key note, and for which our French friends have found a very appropriate expression: “dérive sectaire”: cultic/sectarian deviation.

Cults act through emotions. We should not throw rationalism overboard, but rationalism alone will probably not solve the problem.

Finally, we should be aware that laws alone, even good laws like the French About-Picard, law, will not solve the problem either. As Jean-Pierre Jougla pointed out, exaggerated laws would also violate human rights. Our most important weapon is information. The success of cults is based on lies. Unfortunately, people like to believe lies. Through information the lies can be exposed.

Thanks again to the University of St. Petersburg that enabled this conference, the travel agency that made our stay so comfortable, the excellent interpreters, all the speakers and finally all of you who came from near and far. Welcome to the next conference which hopefully will be in London in 2010.


[1] Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

[2] A few days later, on 20 May 2009, FECRIS was granted Special consultative status by the United Nations Organisation’s Department of Social and Economic Affairs, ECOSOC