Steven Hassan writes a letter to Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives
01 Mar 2001
Letter from Steve Hassan to
John J. DiIulio Jr., of the
Office of Faith-Based &
Community Initiatives at the
The Freedom of Mind
Resource Center Inc.
P.O. Box 45223
Phone: (617) 628-9918 Fax:
February 23, 2001
John J. DiIulio Jr.
Office of Faith-Based & Community
The White House
Washington, DC 20502
Dear Mr DiIulio,
I am deeply interested in the faith-based initiative that your office is undertaking. One of your most serious challenges will be to distinguish authentic faith-based organizations from fraudulent and destructive ones. The task is serious because you and your colleagues will be called upon to account for the spending of tax-payers' money. Support of questionable groups could inspire enormous controversy.
Already my local paper the Boston Globe has run several stories questioning the support of destructive groups such as Scientology and the Moonies. Even more serious, a decision to fund a destructive group could do enormous damage to those who seek the services of such organizations.
Faith is a powerful tool for behavioral change and many of these organizations use this to their own advantage. Such groups often recruit members through such "helping initiatives." I know this first hand. I was recruited into the Moonies in 1974 through such a front group. During my two and half years of slavish devotion to the "Messiah Moon" I personally recruited many people through a variety of front groups promising to help alleviate the suffering of humanity. I have a long list of Moonie fronts on my web site.
Since leaving the group in 1976, I have devoted my life to fighting the threat of destructive groups as an author and activist, as well as a mental health counselor. My mission has been to help families get their loved ones out of destructive groups and also to get the word out. I have appeared on hundreds of TV and radio programs--Nightline, 60 Minutes etc.. My message? Mind control and social influence techniques exist and can be used unethically by totalitarian figures and institutions to undermine free will. People who are in great need or are in transition are the most vulnerable to destructive cult recruitment.
It is precisely those who seek help from faith-based initiatives that are at greatest risk of being recruited into such groups. Again, I speak as a former recruiter of such individuals. The good news is that it is possible to identify a destructive group based on its behaviors, and not beliefs. I have developed a model of destructive mind control. It can be found online at my web site at
It is a practical model that can be applied to any relationship or organization, not just one with a religious orientation. I would like to emphasize that it is not a group's beliefs that are the criteria for deciding whether or not a group is destructive but, instead, its practices.
I am enclosing copies of my two books and a few related materials. I would also like to request a meeting with you to more fully express my concerns and to offer my expertise. I believe that I have much to offer you and your colleagues.
In fact, I know many other respected academic and clinical researchers who have been working on the subject of destructive group practices. Among them are Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Dr. Margaret Singer, Dr. Louis Jolyon West and Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the President Elect of the American Psychological Association.
The military as well as intelligence agencies are well aware of mind control techniques and practices used by such groups. Your office should be able to draw upon vast resources to protect and preserve religious freedom as well as civil liberty for all citizens.
I look forward to the possibility of assisting you.
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