Anti-cult groups riven by schism and bitter feuds: Many despise rivals - 1994-10-09
BRITAIN'S cult-watching organisations - the people who try to rescue missing sons and daughters from groups such as the murderous Solar Temple - dislike each other as much as the cults they are meant to be monitoring. Some of the leading critics of brainwashing and blind obedience have proved to be at loggerheads.
Last week hungry media accorded expert status to half a dozen cult-monitoring groups as journalists sought analyses of the massacres in Switzerland and Canada. But in speaking about each other they displayed professional rivalries and bandied allegations ranging from drink and drug abuse to collusion with the cults they are supposed to be fighting.
The groups have blossomed amid concern about the expanding influence of religious movements such as the Church of Scientology, the Moonies and the Children of God. While the FBI monitors cult activity in the United States, in Britain the task has been left to organisations with no official authority.