ALL GODS CHILDREN: The Cult Experience--Salvation or Slavery? by Carroll & Jo Anne Parke Stoner

ALL GODS CHILDREN: The Cult Experience--Salvation or Slavery?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There seems to be no middle ground on the Moonies, Krishnas, Children of God, or other cults that suck up youthful seekers. The authors make a feeble effort at objectivity but it's hard to be objective about a blight. Another problem is that believers in their ashrams and spiritual houses say things like, ""Did you know that if cow slaughter were ended, the bad weather in Chicago would change and the temperature would rise at least 10 degrees?"" That is, when they deign to speak with outsiders at all. The followers of Rev. Sun Moon proved most accessible (though these days they often operate under aliases), and the authors diligently traipsed around with them, selling peanuts, candy, and literature. Is it brainwashing? Yes, say Stoner and Parke, citing Robert Jay Lifton's studies of Chinese thought reform. Among the techniques of recruitment: non-drug induced ""highs,"" communal singing, ""purity"" pandering. Scanning such things as diets, sexual rules, and child-rearing customs, they conclude that the Krishnas are the most self-denying; by contrast Children of God practice promiscuity. Stoner and Parke don't have much to offer on the social and cultural impulses that drive young men and women into the cults. Alienation and idealism, after all, existed in the Sixties when they drove people into radical politics. As for the deprogrammers: they don't always succeed--their chief demerit. Press accounts of ""kidnapped"" members, IRS investigations, and court cases have covered much of this ground. Parents and ex-members contribute horror stories of malnourishment and ego destruction. But most off-putting are the devotees themselves with their ""love bombings"" and reproaches of ""being negative.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1977
Publisher: Chilton