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Deprogramming 'not on', say Scientologists

Title: Deprogramming 'not on', say Scientologists
Date: Saturday, 11 May 1991
Publisher: The Age (Australia)
Author: Jacqui MacDonald
Main source: link (555 KiB)

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THE church of Scientology defines deprogramming as "forcibly deconverting a person from their chosen faith".

Scientology's Melbourne spokesman, Mr Chris Campbell, said the practice involved forcibly making a person change their beliefs. "It resembles a psychiatric depersonalisation mind-control kind of mechanism, similar to what you would have seen used by the Koreans and Vietcong on American soldiers to deconvert them from their beliefs," he said.

"It's a similar type of practice where you continually batter a person on a mental level day in day out until they renounce their beliefs. That's what deprogramming is, and that's not on."

He said the word deprogramming was the terminology used by its advocates and was not used by the church. He said there were cases overseas where people involved in the practice had been jailed for abduction and false imprisonment.

The two Americans who deprogrammed the Australian man in the accompanying article, Joe And Sean, said they preferred to be known as "exit-consultants".

They claimed there is a stigma associated with the term deprogramming and argued that it is not necessary to abduct Scientologists. "Once we start talking to them, they will usually sit back and listen," they said. "It would be very rare for someone to try and leave and if they wanted to we would let them."

Mr Campbell said he was not familiar with the term "exit-consultants".

"Anybody can talk to anybody else," he said. "If you've got a disagreement with somebody's views, well all right you can talk, you can state those views. To actually use force or coercion, especially where abduction comes in or false Imprisonment comes in, is simply breaking the laws of the land and that's all there is to it."

Mr Campbell said he had material that indicated that at least one Melbourne man had forcibly detained people and could face abduction charges. The person concerned has denied any involvement in abductions to 'The Age'.

Mr Campbell also referred to kits and manuals distributed by deprogrammers on how to remove people from a cult. He said he was concerned the manuals referred to practices such as withdrawing food and sleep from the subject.


[Picture / Caption: Some of the jewellery worn by Scientology members.]