J.P.Jougla/M.Degen: Cults and European Values
CULTS AND EUROPEAN VALUES
Jean-Pierre Jougla has prepared a paper on the CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION signed on 18.12.2000 and which reaffirmed that the European Union where we live – stands for the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, of freedom, equality and solidarity.
In this document he examines, one by one, the different chapters of this charter and comments on those points where cults and cultism flout these fundamental values.
On March 1st, the European Union inaugurated in Vienna, its Agency destined to watch over the Fundamental Rights of the citizens of Europe, rights which will certainly suffer a certain number of tensions due to the very rapid enlargement since 2002 when the members of the European Union have increased in two short jumps from 15 to 27.
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The CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION signed on 18.12.2000 reaffirmed that the European Union – where we live – is stands for the indivisible and universal values of human dignity (Chap.I of the Charter), of freedom (Chap.II), equality(Chap.III) and solidarity (Chap.IV) .
This charter recalls that the Union rests on the principle of democracy and the principle of the rule of law. It places the person at the heart of its action by instituting citizenship of the Union and by creating a space of freedom, safety and justice.
The Union contributes to the safeguard and the development of these common values… and the preamble to the document specifies that it is necessary, while making them more visible by their inscription in a Charter, to reinforce the protection of basic rights in the light of the evolution of society, social progress, scientific and technological developments and … this should be enough, from our point of view, to leave far behind us obscure cultist ideologies with prospects diametrically opposed to social progress and science.
The Charter points out that the enjoyment of these basic rights involves responsibilities and duties with regard to others, with regard to the human community and to future generations.
However, force is to note that the activity of the groups which we will define here as “contemporary cults” (not to be confused with the definition, now obsolete, given by Weber), violates a certain number of these fundamental freedoms and principles (while paradoxically demanding to benefit of the very rights violated) and participates therefore in the development of a particularly significant expertise, in the member States of the Union, by associations of assistance to cult victims which should be recognized and promoted.
It is thus, today more than ever before, around these fundamental values that our associations must continue to develop their consideration and actions with regard to the contemporary cultist phenomenon.
Leaving aside the misinterpretations usually made about contemporary cults, and in particular the abusive assimilation of the concept of the modern cult to that of a religion, our urgent priority must consist in harmonizing our associative policies around this framework solemnly posed by the European Charter so as to allow, on the one hand to show how the cultist project destroys freedom, and, on the other hand to make our action more effective before both European authorities and national authorities.
The functioning of modern cultist groups, locked within the closed space of their own esotericism, ridicules, in its home base, the principles of democracy and, in each country where these groups are implanted, calls into question the principle of the State of law, which in no way prevents these same cultist groups from carrying out permanent and intensive lobbying with all the European institutions.
It is perhaps the attacks against these last two aspects of modernity, democracy and the State of law, which are most difficult to perceive by an external observer of contemporary cults, the excessive abuse of the religious mask concealing the influence link which is the main characteristic of the “power-submission” relationship around which cults are constituted.
Therefore, initially, our efforts should be to highlight how cults attack dignity, freedom and equality of the individuals who compose them to illustrate how the cultist plan is contrary to European fundamental values. This demonstration having been made, the next step would be for us to show that the contemporary cultist project has as its ultimate aim to put into question democracy and the rule of law, by cunningly throwing suspicion on the very paradigm most particularly identified by the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union.
Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected
The concept of human dignity refers to a quality inseparably related to the very being of man, which explains that it is the same for all and does not accept degrees. This concept returns to the idea which XXth Century totalitarianisms made obvious, that “something is due to the human being if only because he is human”. That means that any human deserves unconditional respect, whatever his age, sex, physical or mental health, religion, social condition or ethnic origin.
One has to admit that the hierarchical structure of cultist groups primarily founded on a power relationship and constraint between the leader and the followers confiscates the dignity of people under this state of subjection.
The concept of human dignity heads the texts relating to bioethics, such as the Universal declaration on the Human genome and human rights – Unesco – (1997), the Convention on Human rights and Biomedicine (1997) – Council of Europe. Is it necessary to be reminded of the publicity stunt that a cult recently organised in the field of cloning, thus occupying the front of the media stage during several months, the cloned child being described in the texts of the guru as a “biological robot”.
Right to life
On this point, the inventory of collective dramas which contemporary cults can be credited with is edifying. Ritual murder, purifying assassinations, evolutionary collective suicides, individual suicides, come to illustrate the sad apocalyptic designs of millennium cults:
· November 1978 the Peoples’ Temple (Guyana), 914 followers commit suicide ordered by their “Reverend” Jim Jones, who declares himself to be the reincarnation of Lénine, Jesus Christ and Buddha.
- September 19, 1985 the high priest of a tribe of the island of Mindanao (the Philippines) persuades 60 of his disciples to poison themselves.
- 1st November 1986 seven bodies of women belonging to the Church of the Friends of the Truth (Japan) are found horribly burnt on a beach.
- August 1987 after having absorbed insufficient amounts of poison, 32 followers of the “priestess” Park Soon-ja (South Korea) have their throats slit near Seoul.
- December 1991, 30 members of a Mexican cult commit suicide.
- 19 April 1993 the Guru of the Davidian cult, David Koresch, dies in the brazier of Waco (Texas) with 87 disciples.
- October 1993 the Order of the SolarTemple: 48 bodies are found burned in Switzerland, with two of their Gurus, Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret, and five other followers die in a similar way in Quebec.
- 20 March 1995 the Aum Supreme Truth cult (Japan), 11 dead and more than
5 000 intoxicated estimated by the police, in a Sarin Gas attack in the Tokyo underground. The Guru, Shoko Asahara is arrested.
- December 1995 Order of the SolarTemple (Grenoble), 16 bodies found. Two French policemen are among the victims.
- 23 March 1997 Order of the SolarTemple, 5 bodies found burned in the house of a follower in Quebec.
- 26-27 March 1997 Heaven’s Gate (California, U.S.), 39 members of this cult commit suicide in order to embark on an UFO they believe will take them to paradise.
- 17 March 2 000 Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (Uganda), estimated at nearly 1 000 victims. The gurus of this cult (Credonia Mwerinde et Joseph Kibwetere) had fled.
However, this list should not make us forget individual deaths, isolated, due to ill treatment inside similar closed groups existing in an open society which are the majority of modern cults.
- No one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed
It is, however, this kind of judgment which may be expressed by certain cults against people that they may describe as “suppressive” or harmful, as was the case for example, in the Order of the Solar Temple or in Aum Supreme Truth.
Right to the integrity of the person
- Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity.
- In the fields of medicine and biology, the following must be respected in particular:
. the free and informed consent of the person concerned, according to the procedures laid down by law,
. the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons,
. the prohibition on making the human body and its parts as such a source of financial gain,
. the prohibition of the reproductive cloning of human beings.
The reprehensible activities of modern cults cover many fields, from sordid mercantile trafficking of such or such body parts (hair, body hair or excrements, worn clothing) organised by hallucinating gurus to cloning and eugenics, cloning and eugenics which some cults would push so far as to create a dismal and distressing political project to replace the present democratic systems.
Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
There again experience acquired by cult victims’ associations, has thrown light on practices which are purely and simply acts of cruelty of another age and which are triggered by the belief according to which “purification” of the spirit should pass through “purification” of the body.
Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
- No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
- No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
- Trafficking in human beings is prohibited.
Such exploitation of the person, reminder of long forgotten times, still continues to exist behind the virtual walls of very real cults which justify these practices through doctrines and allegedly voluntary service. Sometimes such practices in certain cults are akin to forms of slavery, prostitution as initiation rites, or trafficking of human beings.
Right to liberty and security
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.
This fundamental right is however forsaken at the end of a process of allegiance which subjects the follower to the will of the Guru or to his doctrines. Total allegiance, includes all the aspects of the life of a cult member.
Respect for private and family life
Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.
Contemporary cults, one way or another, use techniques which when seen from the outside appear as variations of similar beliefs with traditional religious objectives, but are methods of institutionalised abuse within the group, making the life of believers appear transparent and thus allowing the leader to direct them by achieving an extreme form of new “smooth totalitarianism” which is characteristic of the way modern cults operate.
Protection of personal data
- Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
- Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the
person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to
data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
- Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.
Right to marry and right to found a family
The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.
Each one of us knows, having heard it from ex-adepts, how this right is baffled in a cultist group when the leading cultist authority decides on behalf and in stead of the individual subjected, with reference to higher criteria rather than personal ones which may vary according to the whim or the pathological phantasy of the leader or because of reasons linked by complicated karmic or eccentric and varied metaphysics.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom
to change religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in
private, to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
- The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with the national laws governing
the exercise of this right.
It is obvious that for this kind of freedom to exist, it is necessary that within the individual’s group all is done to promote real freedom, which implies an open group where there is exchange of ideas, dialogue, critical spirit, a possibility to question, all that being inexistent in modern cults.
The paradox lies in the fact that cults, within the scope of their group structure demand to benefit of the protective freedom destined for individuals, for themselves as a social group, thus operating an inversion of these same values which are protected by the European charter.
Freedom of expression and information
- Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
- The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
This freedom to express an opinion and to communicate is suppressed in a cult where only the leader’s ideas are tolerated. The cult interferes in a permanent way in this freedom protected by article 11 and it does so literally speaking as the “public authority” which it represents indeed for each of its followers.
Freedom of assembly and of association
- Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association at all levels,
in particular in political, trade union and civic matters, which implies the right of everyone to form and
to join trade unions for the protection of his or her interests.
- Political parties at Union level contribute to expressing the political will of the citizens of the
This right to meet to defend a particular interest is unthinkable within a cultist group.
Freedom of the arts and sciences
The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic freedom shall be respected.
It goes without saying that the modern cult, beyond its specific characteristics which a sociologist could endeavour to describe wishes to impose “a new” paradigm thus creating a doctrinal prison, inside its ideological scope, for each member of the group which is always unimaginably poor in the fields covered by article 13.
Right to education
- Everyone has the right to education and to have access to vocational and continuing training.
- This right includes the possibility to receive free compulsory education.
- The freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for democratic principles and
the right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their
religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions shall be respected, in accordance with the national
laws governing the exercise of such freedom and right.
Although article 14 does not point this out, this right to education lies within the scope of individual development created by the demand for freedom, demand which to be exerted implies the social and professional integration of each citizen, whereas the cultist group’s objectives are diametrically opposite.
The same remarks can be made for articles 15, 16 and 17 bearing on professional freedom and the freedom of enterprise.
Right of property
- Everyone has the right to own, use, dispose of and bequeath his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss. The use of property may be regulated by law insofar as is necessary for the general interest.
- Intellectual property shall be protected.
This right of ownership is very often called in question in a number of cults when the leaders require the handing-over of possessions to their profit without counterpart other than that of illusory promises.
Equality before the law
Everyone is equal before the law.
Purely theoretical in cults, except if one considers that the followers are equal within the framework of the standard put forward by the leader which consists of depriving them of their individual rights.
- Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
- Within the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to the special provisions of those Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.
A careful analysis of the ideological contents of modern cults is edifying as their founding beliefs rest on the certainty that the cultist group is an elite invested of a mission distinguishing it from the evil outside world.
Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity
The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
This cultural, religious and linguistic diversity is systematically denied by modern cults which format their members according to the group’s uniformity in order to cut the follower from his original background.
Equality between men and women
Equality between men and women must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay. The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex.
It is obvious that this principle can have no place in the project of modern cults as the latter aim to format their followers into subjection. Certain cults, of fundamentalist obedience will give a primacy to the male followers over their feminine counterparts.
The rights of the child
- Children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. They may express their views freely. Such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity.
- In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration.
- Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.
Many examples illustrate the fact that the rights of the child whose parent is a follower, himself maintained in an infantile relationship with a guru, are ridiculed by the modern cults with regard to all three aspects specified in article 24.
The rights of the elderly
The Union recognises and respects the rights of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life.
Integration of persons with disabilities
The Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.
It goes without saying that the articles which follow do not make sense in modern cults since the follower is never considered under the angle of the application of labour legislation.
A particular observation should be made with regard to article 35 which deals with the right to health. The question of medicine in cults should be the developed in a specific manner as cults use health as their own ideological foundation constituting their “social goodwill” or they use medicine as a technique to cut their followers from the outside world. In all cases article 35 in the cult context is an illusory requirement.
Prohibition of child labour and protection of young people at work
The employment of children is prohibited. The minimum age of admission to employment may not be lower than the minimum school-leaving age, without prejudice to such rules as may be more favourable to young people and except for limited derogations. Young people admitted to work must have working conditions appropriate to their age and be protected against economic exploitation and any work likely to harm their safety, health or physical, mental, moral or social development or to interfere with their education.
It goes without saying that the child not being perceived in a number of cults as a child in the usual sense of the word, does not profit from any of the protections which civil society has created but that it is frequently the object of all kinds exploitation among which physical exploitation.
Family and professional life
- The family shall enjoy legal, economic and social protection.
- To reconcile family and professional life, everyone shall have the right to protection from dismissal for a reason connected with maternity and the right to paid maternity leave and to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child.
The “cultist society” recreates social bonds and frequently original family bonds are denied for the profit of fantasy ancestors passing through a genealogy rebuilt around alleged links resulting from past incarnations.
Social security and social assistance
- The Union recognises and respects the entitlement to social security benefits and social services providing protection in cases such as maternity, illness, industrial accidents, dependency or old age, and in he case of loss of employment, in accordance with the rules laid down by Community law and national laws and practices.
- Everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices.
- In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with the rules laid down by Community law and national laws and practices.
Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.
This right to health in a number of cults covers a particular vision which concerns their claim of a new paradigm. Health is no longer envisaged through modern perspectives, but will concern magic or interpretative designs which frequently constitute a true attack to the health of the followers.
Union policies shall ensure a high level of consumer protection.
It should be noted that what sociologists call the “spiritual market”, a market which however generates an important commercial activity, is protected by no regulation.
It is certainly on the level of citizens’ rights, that the European Union should examine very closely the way modern cults function, insofar as cultist groups register the follower in a completely different model than that of citizen, whilst making use of all the measures which exist to protect the individual in order to benefit of these advantages for the cult by lobbying in the institutions.
Droit de vote et d’éligibilité aux élections au Parlement européen
- Tout citoyen ou toute citoyenne de l’Union a le droit de vote et d’éligibilité aux élections au Parlement européen dans l’État membre où il ou elle réside, dans les mêmes conditions que les ressortissants de cet État.
- Les membres du Parlement européen sont élus au suffrage universel direct, libre et secret.
Right to vote and to stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament
- Every citizen of the Union has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in which he or she resides, under the same conditions as nationals of that State.
- Members of the European Parliament shall be elected by direct universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot.
Right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections
Every citizen of the Union has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections in the Member State in which he or she resides under the same conditions as nationals of that State.
Right to good administration
- Every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union.
- This right includes:
— the right of every person to be heard, before any individual measure which would affect him or her adversely is taken;
— the right of every person to have access to his or her file, while respecting the legitimate interests of confidentiality and of professional and business secrecy;
— the obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions.
- Every person has the right to have the Community make good any damage caused by its institutions or by its servants in the performance of their duties, in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the Member States.
- Every person may write to the institutions of the Union in one of the languages of the Treaties and must have an answer in the same language.
Right of access to documents
Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State, has aright of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.
Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the Ombudsman of the Union cases of maladministration in the activities of the Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role.
Right to petition
Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to petition the European Parliament.
Freedom of movement and of residence
- Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.
- Freedom of movement and residence may be granted, in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community, to nationals of third countries legally resident in the territory of a Member State.
Diplomatic and consular protection
Every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country in which the Member State of which he or she is a national is not represented, be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State, on the same conditions as the nationals of that Member State.
Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
Everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union are violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in compliance with the conditions laid down in this Article.
Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law.
Everyone shall have the possibility of being advised, defended and represented.
Legal aid shall be made available to those who lack sufficient resources insofar as such aid is necessary to ensure effective access to justice.
It would be in the interest of the European Union and the institutions of each of its member States, to study the operating modes and the internal legal structures of each cult (more or less elaborate according to the cult), structures which flaunt the principles posed by articles 47 and following.
Presumption of innocence and right of defence
- Everyone who has been charged shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
- Respect for the rights of the defence of anyone who has been charged shall be guaranteed.
Principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties
- No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national law or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than that which was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of a criminal offence, the law provides for a lighter penalty, that penalty shall be applicable.
- This Article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any actor omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles recognised by the community of nations.
- The severity of penalties must not be disproportionate to the criminal offence.
Right not to be tried or punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same criminal offence
No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again in criminal proceedings for an offence for which he or she has already been finally acquitted or convicted within the Union in accordance with the law.
Each association giving assistance to cult victims of the Union should be able to insure that the information of which it disposes will be passed on in the European institutions when there are violations to the principles of human dignity, freedom, equality, and solidarity, the principle of democracy and violations of the State of law inherent in the functioning of modern cults.