Vol. 2, No. 6|
Annual Report 1996, Letter
From the President
Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq.
Dear friend of AFF,
Although the general public believes that the cult problem
is disappearing, the unethical psychological manipulation cults often practice continues
to create serious problems for individuals and society. Cults are a worldwide problem. The
violence caused by cults such as at Jonestown,
Texas, and by the Aum Shinrikyo group in Japan is very troubling.
Experts estimate there are 3,000 to 5,000 active groups
with six million present and past members. Cults have mainstreamed themselves, so
they appeal to a broader population, from every background and age group. While they still
target young people, they also recruit older, established, and more affluent people. Small
children and the
elderly are also caught up; entire families are often involved. Abuse of children and women in these groups is
The techniques used vary from cult to cult, but the basic
method is the same: through subterfuge, skillful members convince vulnerable recruits that
salvation, a better world, self-improvement, or total happiness can be achieved by joining
the group. By selective reward and punishment, the systematic denigration of independent critical thinking, separation
from family and friends, and other mind-manipulation techniques, cults create a growing
state of dependency in members. Once a member becomes highly dependent on the group,
psychological and sometimes even physical threats strengthen the group's hold and ensure
AFF continues to respond to the desperate need for information and assistance from
more than 5,000 annual inquiries from all over the world. We provide telephone and written
information to families,
ex-cult members, the general public, media representatives,
and scholars. In 1996 we greatly expanded our information service through our extensive
new prize-winning Internet Web
site, which enables people to easily find out about AFF's resources.
During our seventeen years we have nurtured a burgeoning
professional community of volunteers and provided a place for the vital community of
mental health professionals, educators, attorneys, clergy, counselors, and others to
exchange ideas and build on their understanding of the cultic phenomenon and the risks it
poses to our society. We've helped to establish and share our expertise with a growing
network of international cult-education organizations and with individuals in Argentina,
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean,
the former Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel,
Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the former Soviet Union,
Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, among other countries.
Today millions find themselves involved in a phenomenon
that is little understood and difficult to explain -- a phenomenon that society in general
has chosen to ignore. Every day such people who believe they are alone and not understood
receive succor from AFF's professional network. And every day AFF helps former cult members to
understand what happened to them so they can get on with their lives.
This annual report will tell you about our important
accomplishments in 1996. But our real success is shown by the people whose dignity and
respect has been restored by the information and assistance we provide. Please reaffirm your support of AFF's vital work and
make a generous donation today. We thank you.