Jean-Pierre Jougla

Attorney-at-law, UNADFI[1]

 

Cults AND SECTS

 THE NON-SEPARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND POWERS

 

I. HUMAN RIGHTS DETERMINE THE FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION TO HELP VICTIMS OF CULTS

 

I must first point out that a plan to fight cults does not, and cannot fall, within the scope of French politics.

            French law introduced the possibility of disbanding a cultist group in 2001, setting out that this would occur where the group had been definitively convicted on 2 criminal charges.

Thus French legislation respects and protects the freedom of belief, of belief in anything, for the majority of beliefs arise from superstition rather than reason.

French politics, as well as the actions of associations like UNADFI and CCMM[2], are based on just one premise: to protect the individual falling victim to a cult/sect or action of a cultist nature.

Weakness, some will say!  In any case, respect for the constitutional framework. Indeed, article 2 of the constitution dated 4 October 1958, well worth re-reading from time to time, reminds us that:

 

“France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic.

It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion.

It shall respect all beliefs…

…Its principle is: government of the people, by the people and for the people”

 

Article 2 of the French constitution repeats article 10 of the 1789 declaration of human rights, stating that “no-one may be bothered on account of his opinions”, (even religious ones). (I put the expression “even religious” in brackets because, when thinking about the cultist phenomena, it wrongly overshadows non-religious opinion). “No-one, therefore, may be bothered on account of his opinions, as long as the manifestation of such opinions does not interfere with the established law and order”.

These principles and others, inherited from the Philosophy of Enlightenment, elements of the paradigms on which modern law is based, have therefore been echoed and extended in both international and European law.

Respect for freedom, and for present-day fundamental rights, results in the setting of boundaries. These boundaries “must not be crossed and sometimes also point in the direction to be taken”.

It can be deduced from these principles that any action regarding cults can only be one of information, prevention and education.

Indeed the only weapon that may be used against obscurantism, preconceived ideas, and superstition, a weapon that the followers of the Philosophy of Enlightenment will tolerate, is based on reason.

It is difficult to voluntarily restrict one’s own actions, but other than opposing another belief to that of cults, which would limit the freedom of others, we have to accept this principle.

 

II. HUMAN RIGHTS DIVERTED BY CULTS

 

These fundamental freedoms, which aim to protect individuals, are always cited by cults to their own advantage, all the while claiming their morality.

And, paradoxically, these cults do not hesitate, at the same time as they cite these principles, to treat them with contempt within their own environment, to the detriment of their followers.

Other examples today sufficiently illustrate some of the real violations of human rights committed by cults, and as such there is no need for me to dwell on them here.

Whilst the individual victim must be defended against the cult oppressing him, it is even more necessary to spend time analysing the mechanisms set up to prevent non-specialist interpreters from being taken in by appearances.

The cultist setting is actually a place where its followers are deprived of their rights, whether or not the cult is described as harmful, a small group or a much larger one, and whether or not it has a religious obedience.

Leaving aside historical and religious approaches, it seems to me that it would be more useful to concentrate my study on the aspect concerning the need for influence, the insatiable thirst for power motivating the guru - influence and power which go hand-in-hand depending on the extent to which the follower is submissive.

The context of this report of human exploitation can only be understood by analysing the cultist system, the social machinery that all present-day cultist groups display.  I will concentrate my subject on this analysis.

 

III. THE CULT, A PLACE WHERE POWER IS EXERCISED, FORMS A STATE-LIKE STRUCTURE, TRAPPED WITHIN EACH STATE

 

I must emphasise the need to clarify the habitual confusion of cult and religion. Failing that, perspective can remain unintentionally or intentionally confused. This confusion is understandable since the term sect (cult) has been used as a synonym for schism and heresy for centuries, whilst at the same time the major religions represented the dominant thinking but in particular amalgamated with political power.

In my own particular secular approach to the question of present-day cults, I have had to distinguish on the one hand between the extent of power being exerted on the individual (which covers the whole range of the various psychiatric pathologies of the gurus as well as that of victimisation), and on the other hand the extent of the cult’s power perceived as a means of implementing an internal social structure within the sectarian group.

It is this mode of operation that I would like to describe now, for it is in the cultist form of administration that we can find the explanation of the cults’ denial of human rights and of all the practices undermining basic freedom.

 

1°/ components of THE CULTIST STATE STRUCTURE

 

The cult is a state-like structure whose operation violates a certain number of fundamental rights.

 

A / It can be described as a state-like structure because the cult is a real “micro state” to all intents and purposes, organised and administered, strictly speaking, by a government of its own.

  Each cult operates from the starting point of a number of invariables of a state-like nature:

 

a very real territory, even if most of the time this consists of a level of shared purity, a place of energy to protect, a purity which bases the superiority of the group over secular society and which explains the various separations imposed on the followers. This cultist setting is at the same time both the clan’s “earth” and “blood”, a crucible in which the follower merges into the whole group.

boundaries protecting the territory from “energy pollution” and attacks from the outside, boundaries which for followers, become prison walls.

This idea of a territory protected by boundaries explains the follower’s incessant duty and responsibility to “cleanse” himself.

a people made up of followers who will live in this territory and share it in an elitist way, with a view to creating a superior “race”.

an omniscient, all-powerful and omnipresent leader, akin to a sovereign.

an imposed cultist sovereignty of an archaic nature.

 Regarding this hijacking of sovereignty by cults, we should recall article 3 of the declaration of human rights and of the citizen dated 26th August 1789:

 

“The source of all sovereignty lies essentially in the Nation. No corporate body, no individual may exercise any authority that does not expressly emanate from it".

 

This state-like aspect, which is not immediately apparent (except in cults such as the Japanese "Aoum of Supreme Truth", famous for having used Sarin gas in the Tokyo metro and which went as far at to form its own government, with ministers and administrative institutions), does become clear as we make an in-depth analysis of the true modus operandi of the cultist institution.

This state-like structure, however many followers it may have, has all the characteristics of a State. In the eyes of its followers, therefore, this reinforces its legitimacy and ensures the guru’s sovereign role.

These royal characteristics of the cult are expressed in a few ideas:

 

B/ Typical ‘State’ powers

 

o     Legislative power: the guru, creator of the internal rules, decrees his own laws which, depending on the cult, are issued in greater or lesser detail. It is on this level that doctrine is developed, the intellectual ‘cement’ holding the group together.

The sectarian legal system rejects the law of society and places its own law well above secular law, (which, for example, justifies the use of false testimony in proceedings and the disappearance of files, etc.). It is this legislative power of the guru which in essence explains the mental manipulation and all its nuances.

o    Executive power: The guru himself is in charge of applying the laws within the group. It is here that cultist practices are implemented with “royal attributes”. It is on this level that we find the cogwheels of organised proselytising, propaganda and intellectual indoctrination. Likewise, we find an internal police force, enabling total surveillance.

Judicial power: it is the guru himself who punishes any breach of  regulations. A word in passing about the cult’s judicial power, which of course ignores the basic requirements for the protection of the person on trial, i.e. what the charges are, two levels of jurisdiction or the rights to defence or representation. These deficiencies would upset “secular” courts of law and human rights supporters.

 Absence of separation of powers

In the cult, the 3 powers (legislative, executive and judicial) are all in the hands of the one guru.

I would emphasise the lack of separation of powers within the cultist group, in that it is this combination in the hands of just one person which makes the guru into a totalitarian leader, uncontested and incontestable. At this point I shall return to the writings of Montesquieu, one of the precursors of modern fundamental rights.

It is the gathering together of the three powers under the guru’s authority which constitutes the absolute cultist power. This absolute power, exercised by just one person, in the absence of any counter power, is characteristic of one of the main elements in the idea of a guru and cult and explains why the cult has a system which is fundamentally opposed to human rights.

 

C/ Royal attributes

In addition to the constituent elements of the state-like attributes of these cultist micro-States, we can also see features resulting from the power, and more specifically the executive power:

·         A language of their own (a type of Orwellian new language)

·         A civilian state (each follower receives a new name)

·         An invented family and genealogy, often based on karmic connections

·         An system of education for children in breach of the child’s rights to education and socialisation

·         Education for adult followers

·         A medical system based on “illusory therapeutic methods”, at the same time as a pseudo knowledge practices causing health risks and weakening of the follower

·         An invented, mythical, collective history which gives each person a preordained role, including the hagiography of the guru, thus establishing hero worship

·         A specific economy at variance with social rules

·         A taxation system of its own

·         A military system and internal police force developed to a greater or lesser extent

·         Much of the time, a stereotyped aestheticism of abject poverty, sometimes including dress code

·         A sub-culture which in actual fact constitutes a real acculturation and even a destruction of the followers culture

·         Etc.

These royal attributes lead to the demand for a new paradigm

 

2°/ CONSEQUENCES OF THE STATE DIMENSION OF SECTS

 

A/ Change of paradigm with a hegemonic objective

 

The sectarian, state-like structure, is a hegemonic structure in as far as it implies a supremacy, a political and social superiority, over other institutions (hence the need to penetrate external social structures, when not taking part in a puerile project to participate in a “world government by intellectuals”).

The artificial and fantasy-like construction of this “new” form of State is based on several constituent elements, reinvented according to the guru’s delirious good will. He structures it around the colourful “new age” concept of “change of paradigm”.

      This concept of a change of paradigm readily brings all the “new methods” (education, health, personal development, well-being, politics, government, economy, etc.) into line. These new methods themselves sometimes contain “sectarian tendencies” and are only revealed as the old revamped procedures upon taking a closer look. They are, however, used by the cults with a view to overthrowing the paradigms on which secular society is based.

This hegemonic state structure can only be classed as totalitarian, given that its powers are entirely in the hands of a single party (that of the guru) and also because any opposition is forbidden.

These aspects alone, which could easily be illustrated by many examples taken from present-day sectarian groups, should immediately enable comprehension of exactly how the sect, the sectarian plan of “government”, challenges democracy and fundamental freedom.

The sects’ invasion of Eastern European countries illustrates this process of seizing power under the pretence of participating in the establishment of democracy. These really were only attempts to replace a collapsed order with an archaic clan-type order, namely the cultist order.

 

A utopian plan

But the hegemonic state structure of the cult could not exist if the group in charge were not driven by a utopian plan.

 

Creation of a fantasy society

It is vital to be aware of the cultist utopian plan. This plan aims to create a fantasy society over which the guru, “God” incarnate on earth, rules.

It is an ideal society, science-fiction style, organised according to a preordained model, consisting of docile, obedient and robotic subjects, following the dictates of the guru's fantasies, to the letter.

By playing games on the Internet like “Second life” it is easy to see how followers live in a cultist society.

 

B/ Worldliness subordinated to the spiritual

It goes without saying, although essentially in the esoteric message reserved only for followers, that this ideal society means that worldliness must be subordinate to the spiritual, automatically referring to the guru; “spiritual” here meaning ideological content.

Subordination of worldliness, which exists not only within the cultist State, but also extends into the external world, as illustrated by the incident with the Japanese cult Aum of Supreme Truth, and by the scientology plan with its hegemonic objective.

This, therefore, is the return to the historical confusion between worldly power and spiritual power, known in the past by civil society. This is what constitutes the main cultsit social and political danger, in as far as the model mission is to duplicate itself and take over the entirety of all secular structures, under the pretence of purporting a “change of paradigm”.

The idea, used by the cults, of a change of paradigm, remains silent for most of the time. However it is this idea that is at work through the “new age” phenomenon underlying the spheres of health, education, well-being, politics, etc., areas favoured by those of “sectarian tendencies”.

 

CONCLUSION

 

I hope to have been able to show at least two things:

            Firstly, the urgency needed to tackle the issue of cults in a secular light, starting with a grid explaining the mechanisms behind the exercise of power.

Secondly, I also hope to have shown that the new paradigm, extolled by the cults and directed at all human activity worldwide, also aims, beyond a doubt, to try to overturn the foundations of modern society, rooted in human rights and fundamental values.

Vigilance is all the more necessary because the legitimacy of national structures today often loses some of its clarity, and the electoral basis is gradually giving way to lobbyist influences, for which the cults have a particular liking.

            The debates led by the associations helping cult victims are, from this point of view, essential for both the politician and the citizen.

There is a danger that at any moment the regressive political model advocated by the cults will be put into place in real life, and that is exactly what every European should fear.

I would very much like my exposé to be seen as a continuation of those of other writers, and do hope that it shows that in order to exercise human rights there must be: democracy, respect for mankind and the exercise of reason.



[1] National Union for the Protection of Families and Individual Victims of Cults

[2] Centre for the Documentation, Education and Action against Mental Manipulation