The Defining Characteristics of a Cult (I)
Scientology and Tom Cruise’s Questionable Marriage(II)
Kabbalah and the "celebrity-studded" Groups(III)
Cults Inside Out, written by American cult expert Rick Alan Ross, is recommended by many main-stream media, and also well received by other cult experts, scholars and professionals in press and legal circles. In 2005, Mr. Rick Alan Ross accepted the interview with Ms Mindy Bond, who was an editor, writer and journalist from Gothamist.com. In order to broaden our readers’ horizons and enrich their knowledge of the western counter-cult movement, Kaiwind.com (aka facts.org.cn) has translated the interview record into Chinese. The interview record has been divided into seven parts, and Kaiwind.com added a subheading for every part in view of its relatively independent topic.
In this Part Four, Mr. Rick Alan Ross expresses his opinions on Landmark, Dahn Hak and Al Qaeda.
What group do you get the most serious complaints about? Some of the most serious complaints I receive are about Landmark Education. Landmark has a long history of personal injury lawsuits; people have been hospitalized after breakdowns linked to their programs. Back in the 1970s singer/songwriter John Denver and TV sitcom star Valerie Harper extolled "est," which was the forerunner of Landmark Education launched by seminar guru Werner Erhard. In the 1990s Erhard supposedly sold out, though his brother now runs the private for-profit company that like Scientology essentially sells its revelations.
Even with all the complaints they are still successful?_
Landmark Forum is bigger and making more money than ever before. It has 52 offices in 21 countries and boasts that 145,000 people participate in its programs annually. I was told that before 9/11 they occupied an entire floor of one of the World Trade Center towers. Now they have quite a large operation at West 33rd St. near Penn Station.
What other groups are on your watch list? A new group that has hit the US in recent years and generated some very serious complaints is Dahn Hak led by a "Grand Master" Seung Huen Lee, who is from South Korea. Dahn Hak has a chain of exercise studios across the country including New York and is staffed largely by Lee’s often grossly underpaid devotees. They are now being sued for the wrongful death of a college professor from Queens, New York, who died suspiciously while at one of their retreats in Sedona, Arizona.
What about a group like Al Qaeda, how would you categorize them? In my opinion Al Qaeda can easily be seen as personality-driven cult. And just like other cult followers, the devotees of Osama bin-Laden depend upon him to define their reality and make value judgments. This accounts for the bizarre fantasy world bin Laden's followers inhabit, a world where office workers somehow become military targets. Osama bin-Laden has as much to do with Islam as David Koresh did Christianity. He is another lunatic leader cast from the same mold as Jim Jones. The parents of some of his followers have described how he "brainwashed" their sons and led them to destruction.