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New Religious Movements dangers

From Ruth Lavender

Friday, 31 January 2020

Hebden Bridge naturally attracts a lot of alternative groups and NRMs.  I am posting to recommend to everyone that you check carefully what you may be joining. I have seen several “Buddhist” NRMs advertising classes in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, as well as other groups, often offering what seem to be innocuous meditation classes.  Some of these groups are known to have caused a lot of harm in the past, and a lot of them still do - ranging from financial pressures (increasing pressure to make larger donations, take expensive retreats abroad costing thousands of pounds, or to loan money that the organisation then pressures you to count as a donation for the sake of your spiritual progress) through to psychological abuses and even sexual abuses. Sometimes people are pressured into donating laptops, cars, even their house.

I’m not here to name groups, though I could name a few.  I would instead advise that everyone should thoroughly check out any group they are considering getting more deeply involved with.  Generally they start out as weekly drop in sessions or say a six week course of weekly sessions, and then  you are invited to more intense and often more expensive “deeper” or “higher” teachings and courses.  Attending weekly low key sessions is usually harmless enough, and may even be beneficial in the short term, but there is often pressure to take it further, at a cost.

These days information is so freely available; just do a few web searches and check it out for yourself. Try searches like "name of group" plus words like “controversy”, “abuse”, “survivors” and “cult”.  You could also do searches with "name of organisation leader" and those terms.

In particular be careful with teachers who won’t answer your questions about such controversies, or who say that everything negative said about them online is down to “a few disgruntled ex-members”.  If their ex-members are so “disgruntled” there are probably good reasons.