FOB (Freedom Of Belief) wishes to express their deep shock at the article “Cults and gurus grow up – the institutions turn a blind eye” by Carmine Gazzanni, published by your magazine on the 8th of January 2015. The word “cult”, whose use was already discouraged as long as fifteen years ago by the European Council, is devoid of any scientific value and is used solely to arbitrarily stigmatize some religious minorities. This kind of propaganda already generated several violations of human rights in our continent as well as in our country: since two years the Italy case is being carried out at the OSCE, due to the persecution of harmless groups labeled as “cults”.
The allegation that such “cults” are supposedly growing, is as well arbitrary. The CESNUR data about the new religious movements reveals a rather minority scene, its slight increase over thirty years definitely not warranting the alarmist attitude of the article, that refers in a non substantiated way to vague “sectarian lobbies in the palaces of the powerful”. The absence of the crime of mental manipulation (a concept with no scientific validity at all) is not due to a “normative void”, but rather to the abolition, in 1981, due to anti-constitutionalism, of the crime of plagiarism— a crime insisted upon, non accidentally, by the fascist regimen to punish dissidents. In our opinion, advocating the reintroduction in our country of fascist-like and anti-constitutional crimes is a dangerous move, since it would imply an obvious threat to the democratic system we all — believers, non-believers and atheists — participate to.
On the other hand, the need of establishing new types of crimes is not clear, since the crimes mentioned in the article, allegedly committed by individuals or groups (independently from their religious vocation, ethnic or cultural identity) are all extensively covered by the Code — from sexual abuses to fraud.
As stressed in regard to this subject by very eminent jurists and legislators, in order to establish a mental manipulation above the habitual deception or circumvention of an incapable, one would need an agreed upon standard that would measure the personality of the mental manipulator and of the mentally manipulated; a totally impossible feat.