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1979 the Cult Phenomenon in the United States - Congressman Richard Ottinger

1979 the Cult Phenomenon in the United States - Congressman Richard Ottinger

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Published by Frederick Bismark
The Cult Phenomenon in the United States - 1979 - Joint-Congressional Proceedings, Chaired by Senator Bob Dole. IFORMATION MEETING ON THE CULT PHENOMENON IN THE UNITED STATES, February 5, 1979, 318 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
The Cult Phenomenon in the United States - 1979 - Joint-Congressional Proceedings, Chaired by Senator Bob Dole. IFORMATION MEETING ON THE CULT PHENOMENON IN THE UNITED STATES, February 5, 1979, 318 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

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Published by: Frederick Bismark on Sep 25, 2007
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10/26/2011

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The Cult Phenomenon in the United States (1979) (Congressman Ottinger, Statements)Joint-Congressional Proceedings, statements by Congressman Richard OttingerINFORMATION MEETING ON THE CULT PHENOMENON IN THE UNITED STATES, February 5, 1979,318 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. P.11-13. of Transcript ofProceedings.Senator Bob Dole: Congressman Ottinger?Mr. Ottinger. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I will try to be brief because we have a great many witnesses today.I think the cult phenomenon presents many very serious human and legal problems. Isuppose I have been historically as strong a civil libertarian as anybody. I havebeen prevailed upon by my friends in the Civil Liberties Union and my friends whomI greatly respect in the religious community to say we should not hold thesehearings, the very inquiry into the problems surrounding cults is a violation ofthe First Amendment and is unfriendly to religion.I would just like to say I feel very strongly that isn't the case. Indeed, afailure to root out some of the illegal activities that have been alleged tend tohave been covered by a religious cloak of protection, present a great deal ofdanger to our society and to religion itself.Our effort has to be to try to get at the illegal activities without infringingthe basic religious freedom that's guaranteed by our Constitution.I don't think it's easy, but I do think it's necessary. The Jonestown massacre Isuppose illustrates the extremes and the dangers that can be presented by the cultphenomenon. But we have had accusations made by parents that their children havebeen coerced into entering cults, that once there they have been physically andmentally abused, subjected to drugs; they have been physically prevented fromreturning to society; that immigration laws have been violated; that the laws withrespect to weapons have been violated; that the tax laws have been violated.These were all very serious matters that I don't think we can, as a government,ignore because they are attempted to be cloaked in religious activity.They represent a tremendous amount of human suffering to the families of thepeople and the friends of the people who are involved.With respect to tax exemption, we have a situation where we are going to have toget into drawing the fine lines. I give you the example of the community inupstate New York where virtually the entire town is gaining tax-exempt statusbecause every single property owner became ordained ministers by mail order fromthe Universal Life Church, which is based in California.People received ministry cerfificates by mail.Do we really believe that the First Amendment protects this kind of what appearsto be out and outright fraud?Whether or not all the citizens of that town are indeed deep believers in theUniversal Life Church, does the fact that they received a piece of paper in themail mean that they should be excluded from taxes?So you have a whole range of very serious problems that do raise very seriousFirst Amendment questions. I think that we are going tto have to be sensitive to

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