NEW YORK (Jan. 16)
Jewish youths of their parents who wish to bring suit against religious cults for imprisonment, breach of contract, violations of child labor laws and other illegal activities will be assisted by the American Jewish Congress under a new program launched in response to growing concern in the Jewish community about cult activities and their effects on impressionable young people.
The new Committee on Cults will be chaired by Harold Becker, corresponding secretary of the AJCongress and a leader of Jewish community affairs in the city.
In describing the purposes of the Committee, Becker said the AJCongress is strongly committed to religious freedom as guaranteed by our Constitution. “But some cults recruit and retain members through tactics that are clearly in violation of basic civil liberties,” he stated, “One of our primary functions will be to provide legal assistances to young people or their parents who seek redress from the courts for illegal actions by religious cults.” The AJCongress, Becker said, is enlisting lawyers across the country to serve as volunteer attorneys in this litigation.
He stated that the AJCongress would gather information on illegal activities involving the cults and report to the Jewish community, with particular emphasis on: bills pending in state legislatures and local legislative bodies dealing with cult activity in any form; investigations of cult activities by legislative committees, state attorneys general and other official agencies; other proceedings involving cults conducted by official agencies, such as tax authorities; and court cases.
Other functions of the Committee, Becker noted, will be to consult with federal officials on investigating illegal cult activities; and to prepare an informational bulletin on matters affecting the activities of cults. The Committee on Cults will work in conjunction with the Commission on Jewish Life and Culture of the AJCongress, whose director is Julius Schatz.