Cult expert Hal Mansfield stepping down

After 35 years of tracking cults and hate groups, counseling victims of mind control, and monitoring end-of-the-world prophecies on the Internet, cult expert Hal Mansfield is moving on, the Denver Post reports.

From a narrow basement crammed with books written about and by race-baiting and cult groups, Mansfield has helped police, communities and parents shine a light on destructive movements as director of the Rocky Mountain Resource Center.

He’s received accolades from several civic organizations and worked with the International Cultic Studies Association and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

They credit Mansfield for doggedly policing neo-Nazis, Aryan brotherhoods and ugly religious offshoots for more than three decades.

Mansfield is handing off control of the nonprofit he started in 1981 to Lisa Monroney, herself a cult survivor.

The Denver Post says Mansfield became intrigued by cults in the late 1970s after he met a member of the Unification Church.

He began researching and found that little had been written about the motivation behind someone joining a cult. About the same time, the mass suicide of the Jim Jones cult at Jonestown, Guyana, occurred, and Mansfield knew he had a new life to pursue.

“What little I could find, it only dealt with the criminal behavior of a cult follower or leader, and there was nothing else about the motivation,” said Mansfield. […]

He quickly learned that there are plenty of odd groups and organizations out there, but few are dangerous. […]

The groups that are menacing closely resemble a violent relationship, Mansfield said. There is usually underage sex, unusual control and threats of violence against members, he said.

Monroney said she encountered that type of life when she became a member of a fundamentalist, Bible based cult when she was 21. She said she was sexually abused and deprived of sleep to keep her under the group’s thumb.

Mansfield got her in touch with a counselor, and Monroney is now teaching about cults at several local colleges.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday April 22, 2011.
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