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a241 1318 11 Feb 76
From AP Living Today
Battle of the Cults Bjt 440, Two Takes 790
By ANN BLACKMAN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The battle of the cults has come to Washington.
On one side are some parents who claim their children have been
brainwashed by some of the newly organized religious cults.
On the other side are some young people who claim their First
Amendment right to worship whom they please.
In separate hotels, the two groups held news conferences to hurl
charges and defend themselves, each claiming to be misunderstood.
A group of seven parents, arriving in town late Tuesday afternoon,
informally discussed their problem with reporters in a hotel room.
They appeared tired, worried and distraught.
The young people took out a full page ad in a local newspaper,
rented a fancy reception room, made formal statements behind
microphones and served Danish pastry and coffee. About two dozen of
them were there.
The parents have formed a group called the Individual Freedom
Foundation, which is based in Ardmore, Pa., and are appealing to
President Ford, Congress and the Justice Department to have the cults
investigated. Twenty-five members of the group marched in front of
the White House Wednesday and talked with individual congressmen.
Hundreds of these controversial, new religious cults have sprung up
across the country, but the best known and largest are the
Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Children of God
Sect, the Divine Light Mission of the Guru Maharaj Ji, which says it's
not a religion but a way of life, and the Hare Krishna movement.
Some critics have called the groups ''withdrawal groups,'' because
of their demand for total devotion of converts, many of them in their
teens and early 20s. Critics have also accused them of brainwashing
converts, and parents have had their children kidnaped from the groups
and had them 'deprogramed.''
Some of the groups, such as Hare Krishna and the Unification Church,
are big businesss, and young, idealistic converts often relinquish
their possessions and live in near poverty to hawk flowers, candles
and candy for the church.
''We want to bring to the attention of the nation the horrendous
problem of mind control and brainwashing by these cults,'' said Ben
Roeshman, president of the newly organized foundation and father of a
child who joined one of the cults. ''We want to educate the sitting
duck victims who get involved.''
Roeshman, who said he didn't want to discuss his child's situation,
claims the cults often encourage the young people to quit school, get
menial jobs to raise money for the group, work long hours and
disassociate from the family. Once under the influence of the cults,
he said, many young people lose all interest and emotional attachment
to anyone but those in the cult.