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Letter of Steven Hassan to United Church of Christ in Japan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 07:18

The Freedom of Mind Institute
P.O. Box 45223, Somerville, MA 02145-0002
Phone: (617) 628-9918 Fax: (617) 628-8153
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March 29, 2000

Seishi Kojima
Chairman of the General Assembly
UCCJ

2-3-13-31 Nishiwaseda Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Dear Reverend Seishi Kojima,

I am writing to you at the request of Dan Fefferman of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (www.religiousfreedom.org). Even though I have told Mr. Fefferman that I do not believe in deprogramming (trying to exit a person by kidnapping or by force), he is under the impression that ministers in Japan are encouraged to do this because of my first book, lectures and media appearances.

I am recently written a new book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, and I go into great detail about my approach to helping people in cult groups like the Moon group. It is called the Strategic Interaction Approach, and it relies on teaching family members and friends better ways to effectively communicate with cult members in order to erase phobias and promote critical thinking.

I have recently started the Freedom of Mind Institute, a nonprofit educational and human rights organization. Reverend Robert Watts Thornburg and Rabbi Moshe Waldoks are on our advisory board and are enthusiastic supporters of my work. It is my hope to have respected religious leaders from around the world on our advisory board. It stands on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we want to encourage spiritual responsibility.

I am under the impression that ministers in Japan are NOT involved in any type of counseling by force. Pascal Zivi told me this morning that sometimes, albeit infrequently, a family might hold their adult child against his/her will, and then a minister might be invited to speak with them. In my opinion, no minister should get involved in something like this as a matter of policy- even if the cult member requests a meeting in writing. If a cult member would like to speak with a minister regarding their group involvement, then the individual should go to see the minister at the church or some other public location. In this way, no ministers will have any basis for accusation.

I want this letter to stand as a public record that I think that any approach to help cult members should be one of love, compassion, and positive communication, not force. Otherwise, kidnapping or involuntary detention will invariably be traumatic. As a former member of the Moon group, I have labored for 23 years to help people to think for themselves and I oppose aggressive, illegal methods. I do want you to know that sometimes I am confronted by people who were happy that they had a family that intervened by force and told me there was no other way that they could have been helped. But after speaking with them invariably I find that the family (and the individual) merely believed that there was no other way. In fact, there was always another way that would have been less traumatic. Please let me know if you have any questions. I encourage you to visit our web site and I hope that this letter helps to set matters straight.

Sincerely,

Steven Hassan

President