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Cults and Children

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Tania Young

on 17 March 2013

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Transcript of Cults and Children

Cults There are only a few cults who have been accused of openly trying to recruit children
The Way International
The Rosicrucian Christian Fellowship
The Unification Church
The Children of God

Some are born into a cult:
Some cults have existed now for 15-20 years or more, and as time passes, members get together and have children Who’s Recruiting Children? Families are joining groups such as The Way International, Church Universal and Triumphant, The Walk, the Well, and many of the Bible movements which appear to be family oriented, conventional churches
Some children become a part of the cult because their parents have joined, and some are born into the cult Families are Joining There are thousands of small children in cults
There are 5000 children in the European-based Children of God cult alone
Counter cult activists believe that cults all over North America are seeking foster children to raise in their groups
When there are children in a religious movement, you have a custom-made follower – children born and raised in a cult don’t know any different
Difficult to measure the scope of the problem as there is no scientific literature Children in Cults Adding children to the mix complicates things for the parents and the cult leaders
Much harder to break away from a cult if you have to leave your children behind
Children in cults are the subject of bitter custody battles when one parent leaves the cult, or when Grandparents seek to remove the children from the cult Having Children Changes Things.... Physically isolated from the outside world
Often separated from parents and siblings
Receive inadequate medical care
Inadequate or no schooling at all
Live in crowed and unsanitary conditions
Suffer from improper diets
Subject to sexual abuse
Subject to harsh discipline and physical abuse How are Children Treated? Three Categories of Cults and Their Unique Child Rearing Practices EASTERN MYSTICAL GROUPS
THE BIBLE CULT GROUPS E.g. Hare Krishna, Rajneesh
There appears to be a reliance on excessive meditation
Requiring all children over the age of two years to rise at 3 a.m. for a ritual of one to two hours of early morning meditation
Questionable value to a two year old
Sleep deprivation is a predictable consequence Eastern Mystical Groups E.g. the Unification Church, The Children of God, Church of Armageddon, Love Israel, The Way International, Peoples Temple Neo-Christian Groups Child rearing often occurs in the communal setting
Frequent missions and trips may preclude parents playing a significant role in their child’s growth and development Often appears to be an excessive reliance on the presumed Biblical methods of child rearing
Excessive preoccupation with sin, severe and even fatal child abuse may occur
They have taken all the harsh lessons in the Bible at face value
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” Bible Cult Groups Most cultic groups consider themselves a new and superior family unit
The leader often gives him/herself titles such as Father or Mother
Within the cult the biological family is replaced by an undifferentiated mass of siblings in which both parents and children compete for the cult leader’s approval
Very destructive when doctrine emphasizes harsh physical discipline Biological Parents Need Not Apply Control of the members behaviour is the mainstay of the cult’s existence
Discipline is rigid and often brutal
Punishment for straying or for expressing doubts is common
There may be a hierarchy of preferential treatment of children
Children who are not born within the cult may be perceived as ‘already claimed by Satan’ Control of Members "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell." Proverbs 23:13-14 In the Unification Church, taking care of the children is considered a ‘bottom of the barrel’ kind of job – children are often neglected
Mothers are sent off to do work for the Church, children are sent to boarding schools run by the Church
Members being punished often have to work at the schools
There is no screening process for criminals or pedophiles The Unification Church Sent to boarding schools called Garukulas – not necessarily in their home country
Children sleep on the floor in sleeping bags
Strict vegetarian diet (no protein)
Awoken at 3:00am for the daily 4:00am worship service – no food until after 7:00am
Girls not allowed to study with the boys as they do not have the capacity to learn  The Hare Krishnas Only allowed to see parents briefly at night
Children were rewarded for spying on parents
Over age of 6 – hard labour, construction, farming the land from 6am to 7pm The Peoples Temple Very harsh punishments
Thrown into a dark well ‘full of snakes’
Kept in plywood box for weeks at a time
Public beatings Forced to dig holes then fill them in
Girls were forced to strip naked and made to take cold showers
Children had electrodes wired on arms and were administered electric shocks
Two six year old boys had balls and chains welded to their ankles The Peoples Temple Subjected to harsh discipline from a very young age
Strict behavioural and verbal prohibitions
Often beaten with something called ‘the helper’
Restrictions of food – sometimes for days
Children who were released were terrorized into believing that everyone outside the cult was evil, and likely to hurt or kill them Children of Waco Children of God admit to 35 children dying because of medical neglect
Indiana-based Faith Assembly, whose members believe in faith healing, are forbidden to seek medical help
Other Bible-based groups such as The Overcomers in Montana, the Church of the Firstborn, the Glory Barn Faith Assembly and the Northeast Kingdom Assembly have all had multiple members die (mostly women and children) because they are forbidden to seek medical attention Inadequate Medical Care Stonegate Commune members paddled 23 month old Joey Green to death – they demand absolute obedience
12 year old John Yarbough was beaten to death in the House of Judah for insolence and incorrigibility
The River of Life Tabernacle in Montana beat to death a five yr old boy with electrical cords and a fiberglass stick
A child with The Black Hebrews of the Children of Israel was beaten and forced to eat hot chile peppers because he violated the group’s food laws Extreme Physical Abuse
David Koresh allegedly had sex with girls as young as twelve, had wives in their mid-teens
Told detailed and inappropriate sexual stories to young children in Bible study sessions
Girls as young as 11 years old from the Children of God were routinely treated for venereal diseases
In 1982 in Oregon, the leader of the Christ Brotherhood was convicted of rape and sodomy of girls in his group as young as six or seven
Jim Jones forced girls as young as fifteen to sexually serve influential Californians who he wanted favours from Sexual Abuse People who neglect children’s health should be legally accountable
Very difficult to prosecute parents for deaths resulting from medical neglect if they have acted out of religious conviction
Religious beliefs are protected – an individual has an absolute, protected right to hold religious beliefs – but religious conduct is not protected Religious Conviction Parent’s rights to raise a child according to their chosen religious faith vs. the government’s right and duty to protect the welfare of the child
In a 1944 supreme court decision, Justice Rutledge declared “Parents my be free to become (religious) martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion, when they can make that choice for themselves.” Complex Issue Should the government have the authority to take peoples children away from them if the government feels that those children are in an environment that is not safe or not healthy, strictly based on the religion that the parents are raising their children in? Should the government have the authority to take peoples children away from them if the government feels that those children are in an environment that is not safe or not healthy, strictly based on the religion that the parents are raising their children in? and Children
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