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Conference On “Totalitarian Sects” Held In Vinnytsia

15.10.2002, 15:29
An international scholarly conference entitled “Totalitarian Sects: A Threat to Human Rights in Eastern Europe” was held in central Ukrainian Vinnytsia from 8 to 10 October 2002. It was organized by “Dialogue,” the All-Ukrainian Center of Religious Security and Assistance to Victims of Destructive Sects, and the Vinnytsia eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP).

Famous scholars, theologians, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, priests and people who had contacts with new religious movements participated in the conference. They expressed their serious concern over the threat to human rights and democratic freedoms which is posed by what they consider to be totalitarian sects and destructive cults. “Bearing traces of undisguised expansionism, the uncontrolled activities of totalitarian sects cause irreparable damage to people’s health, disregard fundamental human rights, and pose a considerable threat to the family, society and the country in general,” reads the press release of “Dialogue.” In addition, the participants of the conference identified what they believe may be called totalitarian sects. According to them, these are special authoritarian organizations whose leaders strive for authority over their followers, exploit them and conceal their real intentions under religious, political, psychotherapeutic, sanitary, educational, academic, cultural and other purposes. The participants believe that such sects censor all external information and practice hazardous hypnotic trances, scaring and intimidation, as well as financial exploitation. It was also noted that the activities of so-called “totalitarian sects” has caused responses from public organizations and governments of Western European countries, the interference of the Council of Europe, as well as changes in legislation. Therefore, the participants of the conference believe that today what they consider religious sects have shifted their activities to the countries of Eastern Europe. During the conference, the participants passed a declaration and addressed the authorities and the general public, claiming that the current law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” does not protect citizens’ rights from so-called “totalitarian sects.” “The time has come to coordinate cooperation between Eastern European organizations that would allow the exchange of practical and academic experience and information, as well the consolidation of efforts with the Ukrainian authorities, the Council of Europe, and other international organizations in solving the problem of religious sects in Eastern Europe. The participants of the conference propose the creation of a confederative Eastern European organization and invite their colleagues from other Eastern European countries to join the initiative,” reads the declaration.

Source: www.orthodox.org.ua