Table of Contents




Chapter 1: History of Info-Cult

Cult Project
Cult Project's objectives
Initial understanding of the cult phenomenon
Nature of the information available on the cult phenomenon
Services offered
Prevention and awareness programs
Documentation centre
Telephone service
Active listening and support to families and ex-members
Employees and volunteers
Cult Project's clientele

Transition from Cult Project to Info-Cult
Understanding of the cult phenomenon in the 1990s
Special activities and projects organized by Info-Cult in the 1990s
Info-Cult services
Centre's clientele
Info-Cult and its contacts
Contact with government and non-profit organizations
Contacts with the international community
Info-Cult and the choice of vocabulary
Assessment of the 1990s
Info-Cult in the 21st century: Current views

Chapter 2: The Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

The goal of adopting the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
The Charter's guiding principles
Who is protected under the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms?
Intrinsic rights and freedoms
Exercising fundamental rights
Right to equality
Political rights
Judicial rights
Economic and social rights
The Charter is a living text! The example of religious freedoms

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse
Who can file a complaint with the Commission?
Children and groups

Chapter 3: How groups function

Internal functioning
Definition of a norm
The role of norms in a group
How group norms affect individuals
Adapting to the group: from socialization to conformism
Avoiding conflict through acquiescence
Violating norms
The importance of deviant or nonconformist members
Evaluating the power of individuals in a group
Members and their personalities
Leadership and the leader
The leader's personality
Group communication
The decision-making process in a group
Mistakes in decision-making
Reasons for becoming a member of a group
Becoming a member to satisfy a need
Becoming a member for reasons of similarity, reciprocity or social status
Social status
Interpersonal relationships in a group
Leader-follower relationship
Relationship with a good guru
The condescending guru
The spiritual abuser
The swindler guru
Interdependent relationship
Group relationships: possible effects on members
Feeling depersonalized
Feeling threatened
Feeling dependent
Group illusion

External functioning or intergroup relations
Creating prejudice and its effect on group relationships
Intergroup competition
Social identity of members
Stereotypes in groups
Discriminatory behaviour
Identifying an external scapegoat
Escalating conflicts
Intergroup conflicts
Sources of intergroup conflicts

Chapter 4: Examples of problematic group functioning

Roch “Moïse” Thériault's group
Group history
Daily life: the beginnings of group life
The end of the world
Roch Thériault's problems with the law and social services
Departure from Quebec
Roch Thériault's situation in 2005

Analysis of the internal and external functioning of the group
Group norms
Double standard
The leader's role
Leader-follower relationship
Relationships between members

The Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the members of Roch Thériault's group

Order of the Solar Temple (OTS)

Group history
Golden age of the OTS
Foundation of the OTS: The active period
Conflicts and decline
Social reactions
Preparing for transit
The desire to communicate a message: Preparing for what will be bequeathed
The transits
1st transit
In Quebec
In Switzerland
2nd transit
3rd transit

Analysis of the internal and external functioning of the group
Group beliefs and their influence on the transit
Transformation of discourse and beliefs: From survival to the apocalypse
The chosen people
Actualization of apocalyptic belief
The leadership
Relationship between the group and society

The Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and protection of the rights of members of the Order of the Solar Temple

Heaven's Gate

Group history
Meeting of the two group leaders
Formation of the group
Becoming a member
Daily life: Quest for the purity of the soul
Emergence of conflicts

Analysis of the internal and external functioning of the group
Basic beliefs and their influence on the norms
Chosen people
Division of the world
Submission to authority

The Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the protection of the rights of members of Heaven's Gate

Chapter 5: Frequently Asked Questions

Is the group I or a member of my family belongs to a cult? Is the group dangerous?

What is a cult?

How can I find information on a particular group?

Can groups, in certain situations, be harmful to their members?

Who becomes a member?

Why join a group?

Circumstances that can influence an individual's decision to join a group

A question of relationship

A process of influence

Which aspects of a group's functioning can influence a child's development and safety?

The image of children in the group

The role and meaning of family in the group

What possible kinds of harm can members of a group suffer?
Types of harm

Why does an individual leave a group?

How can I assess if the group I belong to or plan to join corresponds to my needs?
Leadership and power
The group
The members
The financial participation of members
Perception of the world
Women in the group
Intimate relations



Appendix 1: Mind Control and Groups: Definition and Controversy
Mind control
Milieu control
Mystical manipulation
The demand for purity
The cult of confession
The “Sacred Science”
Loading the language
Doctrine over person
The dispensing of existence

Some criticisms

Processes of influence
Acquiescence or how to obtain consent
Commitment and consistency
Social proof

Appendix 2: Definition of “Cult” and “New Religious Movement”

Definition of cult

“Cult” as defined by Weber

“Cult” as defined by Troeltsch

“Cult” as defined by Wilson

A “destructive cult” as defined by Abgrall

Historical study of the use of the term “cult” by Isser

American Family Foundation (AFF) and the use of the term “cult”

Definition of “new religious movement”
“New religious movement” as defined by Wilson
Three different types of religious organizations according to Melton

Appendix 3: Types of Groups

What is a group?
Small groups

Possible contrasts among groups

Appendix 4: The Developmental Phases of Small Groups

Phase 1: Group formation and orientation

Phase 2: Conflict

Phase 3: Group cohesion

Phase 4: Group performance or productivity

Phase 5: Dissolution

Appendix 5: Process of group Socialization

Contact between the group and the individual: Getting to know each other


The adaptation process

Maintaining the relationship between the member and the group


Departure or expulsion from the group

Appendix 6: Governments and the cult phenomenon

Modern historical context

The State's position with regard to religious groups
Secular state
Laic state
Countries with a State religion

Table: The State's position with regard to religious groups

Reports on cults
Common Conclusions Drawn by Parliamentary Commissions in European Countries
Dangers related to being a member of a cult

Table: Selected parliamentary commission reports and government interventions

The definition of cult in legislation or parliamentary reports
Table: Terms used in various reports to describe the groups being examined