Cults are on campus and they’re targeting students.
That’s the message that Ron Loomis, an internationally recognized expert on cults and mind control, is bringing to Purdue. At 7 tonight in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall, Loomis will discus the harmful effects of mind control and psychological manipulation as used by cults and other related groups. Admission to the talk, which is sponsored by the Purdue Student Union Board, University Residences and the Student Activities and Organizations Office, is free.
“There are cults that are actively recruiting students on every major campus in the U.S. and Canada, including Purdue,” Loomis, who’s been delivering lectures about cults for more than 25 years, said via telephone from his Connecticut home.
Loomis said he spent much of his life knowing very little about cults. “I vaguely remember hearing things about cults during the Vietnam War, but I didn’t think that they were that big of a problem.”
But it wasn’t until Loomis, as director of the student union at Cornell University, heard a presentation about the dangers that cults possess that he decided to start speaking out against them.
“I was blown away by presentations by former cult members who talked about their experiences,” Loomis said. “It led me to studying more and learning more about cults; led to me decide to educate others against them.”
Loomis said cults are especially active in recruitment on college campuses, where many new students find themselves alone, unsure and looking for answers.
“Most of the cults that are active on campus look like mainstream born-again Christian organizations,” Loomis said. “Most students would not view them as cults or as being dangerous to them.”
According to Loomis, cults are distinguishable from mainstream religions by several criteria including: If they use deception in the recruitment process; if they use mind control or brainwashing techniques during recruitment; if they exploit the people they’ve recruited; and if it is extraordinarily difficult for people to leave the group.
During his talk, Loomis will highlight different recruitment techniques used by cults and discuss the history of cult-related groups.
“Once students become involved in a cult, it has a very adverse effect on their academics, personality and family,” Loomis said. “And they have difficulty recovering.”