The Evangelical Alliance has strongly denied allegations by a multi-faith organisation that a conference held in Hertfordshire last week on the "Challenge of the Cults" was "clandestine and bigoted." And It rejected the suggestion that it was advocating the use of force in "deprogramming" cult members. The charges came from the Society for Religious Peace and Family Unity, who delivered letters protesting about the Conference both to Mr Gordon Landreth, the secretary of the Alliance, and to the Home Secretary, Mr Merlyn Rees.
The main cults under discussion were the Unification Church, Transcendental Meditation and the Children of God.
The SRPFU had taken par
ticular exception to the idea of "conservatorship," which involves the placing of an adult by court order in the care of his parents. A spokesman said that this could very easily be used in such a way as to seriously threaten individual freedom.
But at the Press conference, several speakers said that it was extremely difficult to get such a court order: proof that personality changes had taken place was necessary before one would be issued.
The Alliance has now affirmed its belief in religious tolerance, and its abhorrence at manipulative mental pressure, the use of violence or threats of any sort in the propagation of religious beliefs. It has also rejected forceful techniques of reorientation.