Rush to cults growing daily

"I don't care if a man goes out and worships a cabbage bead as long as he does it of his own free will."
-Ted Patrick

The Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO - The murders and mass suicide at the Peoples Temple compound in the steamy Guyanese jungle alarmed Americans, but San Diego religious "deprogrammer" Ted Patrick believes the rush of converts to off-beat cults will continue.

"They are growing by the day," said Patrick, 40, who has served nine months in California and Colorado jails for trying to "rescue" young people from cults.

"When I started (deprogramming) eight years ago, I knew of only a few cults. Now there are over 5,000 cults in the United States."

Patrick said he had been asked to go to Guyana and deprogram one of a cousin's in-laws, but the cousin did not have the money to pay for the trip and the Peoples Temple member was among more than 900 persons who died there.

"Jim Jones is no more dangerous than the Church of Scientology, Hare Krishna or any other cult in the nation," Patrick said.

"In fact, he wasn't as dangerous as they are. He only had about 2,000 people. These other cults have hundreds of thousands. They are well-organized and are very well-financed. Millions and billions of dollars are tied up in these cults."

Patrick, who charges up to $6,000 to deprogram a cult member, claims to have weaned 1,600 persons away from various cults since he launched his unusual crusade. He added that only 30 of those he has deprogrammed have returned to the cults.

A Methodist and father of six, Patrick began his war on cults after his then 14-year-old son, Michael, briefly embraced the Children of God sect.

Today, Patrick conducts deprogramming sessions nationwide with the help of 15 to 30 trained assistants. Usually, the sessions are paid for by distraught parents.

"When a person comes to me, I'm the bottom of the barrel. They've been to their legal adviser, spiritual leader, their congressman or senator, the FBI, the police. They've been everywhere. They've tried everything,"

Abduction is often the only means of getting a cult member to undergo deprogramming, Patrick said.

Patrick said the persons he has deprogrammed have been members of Krishna Consciousness, Divine Light Mission, the Children of God, Church of Scientology and other groups.

He said his goal is to raise $200,000, which he will use to film 10 documentaries on U.S. cults. Patrick said he also plans to train 100 deprogrammers in the near future.

Barbara Fabe, a 24-year-old Cincinnati secretary, underwent deprogramming last month and now works for Patrick.

Miss Fabe said she was a follower of Guru Maharaj Ji, the young leader of the Divine Light Mission, for two years.

"They got me to believe that Guru Maharaj Ji was the lord. I would have killed for him," she said.

The young woman said she gave the sect her $2,000 savings and a portion of each paycheck.

"I don't even know Guru Maharaj Ji. The closest I ever got to him was kissing his feet- And that's the highest thing in the cult."

Miss Fabe said that twice daily she would drink "holy water" in which the guru had washed his feet.

“I was told it would purify me.”