The Murder-Suicide Mass Deaths of the Solar Temple

The Murder-Suicide Mass Deaths of the Solar Temple

“I was A Moonie Cult Leader”

In Emine Saner’s story “ I was a Moonie Cult Leader,” The Guardian, 3 September 2012, ( The Unification Church has had an impact on various people’s lives today. For example Steven Hassan decided to join the Unification Church in the 1970’s and was a devoted follower for just over two years. He mentions various points about the nature of this particular movement, including the knowledge of brainwashing. Hassan ended up dropping out of college, and ultimately completely restructuring his life to fit the ideas of the Unification Church. Hassan had been picked out of a group of people to join a movement where he had little to no information. He was taken and isolated away from his community, family and friends, after nearly 40 days with little to no sleep; he was told that if he left he would regret this decision for as long as he lived. He then began to loose the urge to leave and started to feel like the movement had begun to become a part of him. Hassan felt selfish leaving the group and returning to his old life. He felt he had some kind of purpose to serve here.

It did not take long for Hassan to embrace the “Moonies” to the fullest; within a mere three months he was a leader for the cult. He was to raise at least one hundred dollars a day in order to be granted rest. Hassan ended up in an accident, which resulted in his family performing measures to try to get him out of this cult, however Hassan had already been programmed to think of his family members as similar characters to Satan. Hassan did not realize the extent to which he has been brainwashed by the cult of the Moonies. The Moonies believe in moon and that this is what they are to lookup to. One day Hassan began to think that “moon” maybe was not the truth teller of all things and this was ultimately Hassan’s breaking point, there he knew that he truly did not know what he believed in and what he didn’t. After his realization, he went through a deprogramming process where he tried to ground and reconnect with his own genuine beliefs. Today Hassan works to protect people from the brainwashing of these cults and protecting people against the belief that the “moon” is the ultimate and great being.

Brainwashing is a common aspect of many religious cults. As mentioned by Hexham and Poewe (1986), brainwashing is characterized by a personality changes to produce a conversion to a certain religion. The question still remains if people can truly be changed by the process of deprogramming, as Hexham & Poewe (1986), explain that deprogramming is a process where people are able to save people from their brainwashed state. For deprogramming to be effective people must believe that they have been forced to joint that religion against their free choice. (Hexham & Poewe, 1986). Overall I do believe that some forms of brainwashing do occur amongst new religious movements and cults. As discussed in class cults are often categorized as a group that performs brainwashing techniques, which is evident in this particular article. The extent to which it is believed is still questionable, however I do think that people should be able to affiliate with whatever religious movement they may choose and to have to freedom to dissociate from that group without any long lasting negative psychological impacts.

-MC #uwreligions #341


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