Dr. Marc Galanter, a psychiatry professor at the New York University School of Medicine, has noted that the anti-cult movement itself functions like a cult, with "those who were de-programmed" exhibiting a "much more negative attitude toward the sect" than those who simply left the cult of their own accord. Galanter points out that the deprogrammed cult members generally become involved in the deprogramming movement and end up the most "articulate and active critics of sects such as the Moonies and the Hare Krishnas, in contrast to the majority of ex-members who had left on their own initiative." Galanter seems bemused when he notes that the deprogrammed members' "animosity toward the new religious movements in general paralleled the intensity of feeling found in the sects they opposed." This fascinating revelation has clear implications for the phenomenon of neo-traditionalists communities: The anti-cultists form, in a way, their own community devoted to being anti-cult. It's a cult against cults that may be no less enticing than the original neo-traditional community they now gather together to oppose.
While other posts around the bloggernacle have mentioned pretty much this same idea, I think the quote nicely illustrates some of the problems that come by attacking institutions for being well, institutional like.
For one, I always smirk when people want institutions to publicize ways in which they may be wrong, even if these mistakes may only appear from within limited paradigms or perspectives. Because verbal admissions are seen as so easy, it is often assumed that failure to do so is either because of spite, a belief in infallibility, a deep cover up, or as a net result of cultish indoctrination. It seems to be a contest of "just admit that you are wrong, and then I will let you go on believing that you are right." Personally, I think the attitudes necessary to create something substantial carry a natural consequence that makes these types of admissions difficult. It is not that many organizations don't believe they are ever wrong, instead it is probably because many mistakes are assumed to be part of a large process. Thus many controversial subject, like the war in Iraq for instance, can really only be judged long after the fact. Of course, then they are often judged from a winning perspective. This causes things to appear blatantly obvious, and neglects the other perspectives, whose perceived validity made the issue so controversial in the first place.
An article from the Maryland Cult Task Force adds to this idea.
A problem arises, however, when terms like "fraud" and "deception" are broadly defined, and interpreted by individuals hostile to the group under scrutiny. For example, it’s not unusual, when first visiting an "establishment" church, to receive a subsequent home visit from a pastor or lay leader. The pastor or leader will likely exude warmth and concern, inviting the newcomer to join a supportive community. It may only be in subsequent visits to the church that financial obligations are discussed, and target percentages of income identified as a worthy contribution. A cynic might call this kind of recruitment "love-bombing," and deception (i.e., failing to mention financial expectations at the outset). Others would see it as an established and well-understood practice, with no harmful intent. Again, the suggestion is not that the tactics of new religious groups are beyond examination or censure. What should be considered is the possibility that practices of "favored" groups can easily be seen as benign, while similar or identical practices of "unfavored" groups are portrayed as malicious and destructive.
Perhaps the last sentence that I highlighted is the key. People's underlying propensities rarely change quickly. Forcing belief to something that is personally incongruent requires fanatical conviction. As the first quote states, this propensity is carried into the ironic pursuits of some anti-cultists. So what's the solution? I think it is a congruence of thought and practice. The melding of these two is a long slow process of embodiment. One consequence of this may be to make problems that other's find obvious, appear innocuous. Of course from an anti-cultist's perspective, as from a believing member, they are jsut acting in harmony with what they think. In a world with such a myriad of perspectives, where everything will be wrong from one view point or another, I guess the big question is, is one embodying a position that enables exterior to one's self to be good or bad. Perspectives of attack seem to embody the latter. Perspectives embodying the former would seem one to allow one to believe in a god who could view the earth, and all the bad things in it as ultimately good.