APnc 12/12 1447 Religion-Cults ASHEVILLE (AP) -- The campus ministry at the University

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APnc 12/12 1447 Religion-Cults ASHEVILLE (AP) -- The campus ministry at the University of North Carolina at Asheville is trying to draw the line when it comes to "cult" religions, and a group that practices "love-bombing" poses a special concern. David Smith, the director of religious affairs at the school, says he wants the students to be educated about the potential dangers of cult groups. Smith said the ministry board is considering adoption of a set of guidelines for recruitment and educational practices by religious groups in an effort to protect the university from legal problems that may occur if certain groups are banned or challenged on campus. The campus ministry is comprised of mainstream Christians, Jews, Ba'hais, Sufis, Quakers and members of other religious groups and is not opposed to the content of any religious organization. Instead, the ministry opposes some techniques used to recruit members, Smith said. "The most common problem, and it's not unique to UNCA, is the Unification Church, the Moonies, who are extremely aggressive with their recruitment practices," Smith said. Smith said the Moonies visit UNCA four or five times a year and also can be found selling roses at busy street intersections, at airports and other public places. He said he isn't aware of "losing" any students to the Unification Church, "but we just don't know. All we can do is identify and make public who they are." "The problems we've had have been with recognized religious groups as well as off-campus religious groups -- if we make a decision that seems to be arbitrary and capricious without having set standards, it can be a problem," Smith said. "Adopting these standards would put at arm's length any challenge of discrimination." The list of "unethical" recruitment and educational practices includes deliberate deception or misrepresentation; the use of sleep deprivation or induced exhaustion for the purpose of religious indoctrination; contrived dietary controls to induce passivity and reduce resistance; and restriction of the right of any participant to continue or withdraw from any program at any time. The first tactic of the Unification Church group, Smith said, is "love-bombing. They're instructed to hang out in the dormitories looking for students alone on weekends. They'll befriend them, offer to help them, and ask them to join them off campus to meet new friends. "When they get the student off campus with new `friends,' they'll say things like, `I can't believe you're just a freshman and you thought that up,' or "Susie, you think just like us.' Just stroking them, feeding their egos, making them feel like part of a group." The next step, Smith said, is attendance at a "retreat." The recruits have no contact with the outside world, are fed a high carbohydrate, low-protein diet, and are usually kept up 18 hours a day with strenuous physical activity, he said. "That's followed by a long, droning, rhythmic repetition by a warm, fatherlike kind of person, with no opportunity for questions, answers or interchange," Smith said. "They're never left alone, they always have someone continuing the love-bombing technique. They're encouraged to keep a journal, and the leaders will read them while they're asleep and the next day make oblique references to the person as if they know about their inner feelings." The retreat "usually gets the hook in them, then they go through the process of `thawing' -- basically trying to take the existing structure of the person and gradually melting him down until he becomes vulnerable to indoctrination. Then they're given intense instruction like not talking to other people because it will confuse them. It's always leading them away from normal social contacts and toward the group." The Rev. Dennis Orme, a spokesman for the Unification Church in Washington, D.C., when asked to respond to Smith's comments, said Smith's "imagination is close to being lunatic." "If all that were true, all I've just heard, no one would ever dream of becoming part of the Unification movement -- that must be obvious to the smallest mind," he said. "Furthermore, it's so far from, you might say, academic scholarship, that it just makes me think that if he's a representative of your university campus, you're far from the standards of academic scholarship down in North Carolina." Smith said UNCA is "an open university, and anyone can come on campus as long as they stay outside the buildings, don't obstruct the normal flow of traffic or make excess noise. They can proclaim whatever they wish, so to that extent we can't control their activities. "We don't want to restrict the content of what any group has to say," he said. "But if you have a group that uses techniques like prolonged psychological pressure and contrived dietary controls, and they misrepresent themselves, then you have sufficient justification to provide information so students can make an intelligent decision on whether they want to explore that group."


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