2010 | Stephen A Kent and Robin D Willey
Using examples from the US and Canada Kent and Willey observe the process that begins when a cult or sect establishes its own internal rules and procedures.
They take great care to explain not only what they mean by ‘cult’ and ‘sect’, but also how and why they form. This discussion is worth reading for the wider perspective it provides.
Alternative legal systems established by cults will likely be:
- Based on beliefs and doctrines which are not compatible with secular law.
- Assert that they are superior – that theirs is ‘a higher law’
- Are supported by believers who are prepared to break secular law in order to promote their alternative
This sets the stage for serious conflict with representatives of the civil and criminal justice system – when they are called to court, sects and cults often behave badly.
For example, in a way that,
[…] shows outright hostility to the law, and those who enforce it.
Kent and Willey are also concerned about the tendency of cults and sects to:
[..] develop or acquire professionals (such as lawyers, police, and other law enforcement personnel whose commitment to the welfare of clients may conflict with their own loyalties to the their respective groups.)
In other words, people who do not accept the authority of the law over their group for ideological reasons are liable to go to extremes when the law is used to regulate their behaviour. This may be expressed in a number of ways, ranging from outright defiance (up to including the use of violence) to the corruption of public officials and abuse of the legal process.
This paper discusses a number of cult groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Fundamentalist Mormons, Rajneeshees and the ‘sovereign citizen’ movement. It also discusses Synanon, Aum Shinri Kyo, and the events at Ruby Ridge and Waco.
However, Scientology is prominently featured, first for their extraordinary behaviour in Clearwater, Florida where they paid off-duty Police to provide ‘security’ against protesters, leading to a court case that forced an end to the practice.
On page 24 Kent and Willey discuss the case where a Toronto Crown Counsel, S Casey Hill, was sued by Scientology. The court judgement asserted that
This case is in a class of itself. Scientology decided that Casey Hill was its “Enemy” and set out to destroy him. It levelled false changes against him. It prosecuted him on those charges. It repeated those charges after a judge found them groundless. It repeated allegations in its pleadings and in open court which it knew were lies. it made additional serious false accusations against Casey Hill. In summary, the evidence suggests that Scientology set upon a persistent course of character assassination over a period of seven years to destroy Casey Hill.
L Ron Hubbard specifically required the legal persecution of perceived enemies in this way. Consequently, this kind of behaviour is a doctrine of the Church, that must always be applied, despite the law of the land.
The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.
L. Ron Hubbard, A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, 1955
There follows an extensive analysis of Scientology’s history of legal misbehaviour, including the legal (and illegal) persecution and harassment of Judges and lawyers. These are complete with quotations from Scientology’s dirty tricks manuals.
This is a substantial and varied document. A demanding read, but well worth the effort for the wide perspective that it offers.