Cult A word, that is sometimes considered to imply a group that is strange and bizarre and that brainwashes its members and is prone to violence. But, what, in fact, is a cult? A cult can be defined as a group having: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.fn 1
To understand how cults operate, like other groups that people encounter in their everyday life, Info-Cult has published this book on groups, their functioning, and the problems that can arise among members as they interact.
For a long time, Info-Cult wanted to produce a text that could be accessed via the Internet. Conceptualizing, researching and completing this project in French and then in English was a five years endeavor. This book was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Québec Ministère des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration *, and Info-Cult is grateful to the Ministère for its contribution.
We would also like to express our gratitude to Canadian Heritage for their financial support which covered part of the costs of translating this book into English. Their support has made this publication possible. We first published the French version of this book in December 2003. While going through the process of translating a decision was made to update and revise certain parts of the English version.
To produce an informative text that accurately conveys the reality of groups in a democratic society like Québec, it was necessary to enlist the cooperation of a number of people familiar with cultic groups. Info-Cult would like to thank those who shared their experiences and their thoughts on the presence of these groups in our society. They include Guy De Grandpré and Michael Crelinsten. We would like to especially thank Michael Langone for his valuable advice and comments in both the English and French versions.
The form and content of this text have changed many times since the project's first hesitant steps. Throughout the process of writing and correcting this text, several collaborators have devoted time to reading and critiquing it. Info-Cult owes a special debt of gratitude to Christine Éthier, Marie-Hélène Frappier, Johanne Gagné, Dyane Provost, Barbara Raymond, Robert Seely and Danielle Vincent.
Production of the guide required the combined efforts of many people. Info-Cult is grateful for the continued collaboration of Dianne Casoni, Caroline Mireault, Isabelle Renaud and Carolle Tremblay, who cast a critical eye on the different versions of this book or shared their knowledge of the cult phenomenon.
Collecting the information used in some sections of the text required the cooperation of specialists from outside Canada. Info-Cult thanks all those who provided us with answers to our numerous questions and to a number of colleagues in Europe who provided us with additional information that helped in updating Appendix 6
A number of other collaborators took part in preparing this book and we would like to thank all of them for their sound advice and constructive criticism.