Special Collection - Recovery from Cults - A Pastoral-Psychological Dialogue

Cultic Studies Journal, Volume 15, Number 2, 1998, pages 107-108

Special Collection - Recovery From Cults: A Pastoral/Psychological Dialogue - Personal Accounts of Former Group Members


Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

The following articles are edited transcriptions of talks given by four former group members who participated in a joint two-day conference of AFF and Denver Theological Seminary: Nancy Miquelon, Patrick Knapp, Carson Miles, and David Clark. The conference’s title was “Recovery from Cults: A Pastoral/Psychological Dialogue. In addition to the former member talks published here, the conference included talks by Dr. Ronald Enroth, Dr. Michael Langone, Dr. Paul Martin, and Gretchen Passantino. Dr. James Beck of Denver Seminary moderated the conference. Herbert Rosedale, Esq., of AFF and Dr. Douglas Groothuis of Denver Seminary were discussants.

The talks of the former members were designed to illuminate the psychological and spiritual issues former group members frequently encounter and the similarities and differences of evangelical and secular approaches to recovery issues. Two of the former members (Clark and Miquelon) have been active in cult educational work with secular organizations and rely primarily on the thought reform model of cult conversion. Two (Knapp and Miles) initially sought help from evangelical cult educational organizations and have been associated with Denver Seminary. They also recognize the abusiveness of cultic environments, but rely on family systems and pastoral counseling models of cult conversion. All four contributors are currently practicing Christians.

AFF is grateful to Denver Theological Seminary for providing a facility for the conference and for collaborating in its design, promotion, and execution. We are grateful, in particular, to Dr. James Beck, director of the seminary’s counseling program, and Dr. Douglas Groothuis, Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. A special debt of gratitude is owed Sharon Hamm, a writer from Fort Collins, Colorado. Ms. Hamm volunteered to prepare these talks for publication. Without her patient and skillful editing, these papers would have remained rough transcriptions.

AFF also wishes to thank the speakers, whose thoughtful contributions made the conference stimulating and memorable. The papers presented here will, I hope, help readers appreciate the complexity and subtlety of the cult experience and recognize that we need more nuanced theories of cult conversion than currently exist.

Cultic Studies Journal Volume 15, Number 2 1998