Crackdown on ‘preying’ cults

Sunday Mirror (England), Dec. 22, 2002

Brainwashing cults which prey on vulnerable youngsters are to be targeted in a Government crackdown.

Home Secretary David Blunkett is drawing up laws that will create a new legal definition of cults distinguishing them from mainstream religions.

Mr Blunkett says the law needs to protect young people who are being exploited financially and sexually.

The move follows the death in mysterious circumstances last year of a British man who claimed he had been molested by Indian mystic Sai Baba.

Groups deemed to be cults will be unable to apply for charitable status, which allows them tax perks, and they will face close financial monitoring.

Any signs that recruits are being exploited for their cash will result in prosecutions. Laws may also be made that relate to detaining people through psychological manipulation.

Other organisations that may be affected include the US-based Church of Scientology and the Moonies.

A Scientology spokesman said last night: “We are not a cult. We’re recognised as a religion all over the world.”

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This post was last updated: Friday, November 8, 2013 at 10:04 AM, Central European Time (CET)