Are the media campaign and the legislative initiatives targeting some religious movements the product of an accurate and scientific analysis? Or, instead, are there special interests taking undue advantage from State structures for questionable purposes? And the State lends itself and contributes to amplify this alarm with questionable, to say the least, initiatives.
In February 1988, the Ministry of Interior drafted the much discredited report entitled “Religious cults and new magic movements in Italy”.
This initiative was not incidental and many and curious back stories could be told to explain the genesis of a similar measure, starting from the use of the term “cult” (sect) in a somewhat unproper way, compared to the original meaning of the word.
What is certain is that, if statistics have been collected and surveys have been done, there must have been some concern about the phenomenon of “cults”.
Was it justified concern or the results of a “propaganda campaign” that succeeded in generating a very precise market demand?
Whatever would the answer to that question – legitimate and almost spontaneous, would one want to analyze the historical events that lead to such a witticism by the Ministry of Interior – it happened that the Report, originally intended for internal use, a few days after its compilation it was released to the media, in a not at all mysterious and oddly rapid way .
In fact, the same office involved in the drafting of this report for internal use of the Ministry, immediately sent copies to the members of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. From there, to its appearance on the media, the step has been very short.
The decision of publishing such a document – full of speculations, inaccuracies, undocumented and incomplete data, opinions and evaluations based on rumors and obsolete information – caused substantial damages to a number of religious groups and individuals.
Perhaps the upcoming Catholic Jubilee of 2000, in view of alarming news fabricated mainly by “anti-cult” propagandists, justified the need to publish a Government report to “assess” the existence of a “cults danger”.