Author: Anson D Shupe Jr and David G Bromley
In the 1970s a new occupation briefly emerged – that of ‘deprogrammer’. At this time, there was a widespread belief that the New Religious Movements of the time (such as the ‘Moonies’, which were prominent at the time) owed their converts to a programme of ‘brainwashing’. This implied that converts were not responsible for their actions.
Deprogrammers took this belief to its logical conclusion, and were prepared (for payment) to kidnap people who had joined New Religious Movements and submit them to coercive ‘deprogramming’ tactics to remove their allegiance.
The authors critique the ‘brainwashing’ thesis, examine the strange period when anti-cultist ‘deprogrammers’ behaved at least as badly as the cults that they opposed, and consider the most appropriate response to the rise of controversial religious movements.