The most recent example of this came when I looked up some information about the Bruderhof after a friend of ours', who was one of the first of the Bruderhof brothers to go to Paraguay, died. I remember his saying that he was not allowed to contact his wife, who was still in the Bruderhof commune, after he himself left.
Looking around on the internet, I saw that there is an information war going on, similar to the wiki-wars of the BKWSU, where the Bruderhof are trying to silence all criticism from the ex-Bruderhof people. Who are in turn asserting their First Amendment rights to free speech. I will copy and past three short extracts from an academic study of the Bruderhof here and then you might want to have a look at the ex-Bruderhof web site, KITfolk, for yourself.
Julius H.Rubin, Professor of Sociology wrote:In March 27, 1997, CBS New magazine 48 Hours televised a report critical of the Bruderhof, broadcasting this piece together with a sensational breaking story about the Heaven's Gate religious suicide. As background to this news story, The Malek Group, a Manhattan public relations firm then contracted by the Bruderhof, had contacted CBS in October,1996, urging 48 Hours to film a short piece on the beauty of Advent and Christmas at the Bruderhof. I received a telephone call from the executive producer who had just returned to her offices in Manhattan following a visit to the Woodcrest Bruderhof outside of Albany, New York. The news crew taped a Christmas musical program with Cardinal John O'Connor in attendance as the Bruderhof's 350 voices united in four part harmony to celebrate Advent. She told me that she found the performance transporting, moved to tears by their simplicity, unity, and joyous religious brotherhood.
The producer demanded to know how I had the audacity to criticize this group or to associate their spirituality with depressive illness. "Why are you their enemy? Why do you oppose their commitment to Jesus?" she demanded."You know nothing about this group and yet you persist in attacking them!"This harangue continued for thirty minutes until she had vented her anger. The Bruderhof had supplied her with my name and telephone number, characterizing me as an "enemy." The Bruderhof leadership had urged CBS to contract me and KITfolk, apparently, believing that the national media might effectively discredit my work. I urged CBS staff to investigate a variety of news sources both critical and supportive of the Bruderhof when they researched their story.
The Bruderhof strategies in dealing with KIT and academic critics first attempted to quiet them by private persuasion or manipulating the media to discredit them. When these efforts failed, the Bruderhof mobilized the Internet, and influential friends to bring pressure upon the media to retract critical stories and apologize. When these efforts proved unsuccessful, the Bruderhof began a series of lawsuits intended to punish their critics and to prevent the publication of my book.
'You Do Not have Permission to Study Us'
(interview with two Bruderhof corporate spokespersons, Yale University, October 24, 1995)
The contested narrative of the Bruderhof and their critics is neither new nor unique. American religious innovation in the past two centuries has fostered the emergence of a seemingly unending diversity of sects and utopian experiments from the Second Great Awakening in the first decades of the nineteenth century until the counterculture of the 1960s. New religious movements, formed in response to ethical prophets who have proclaimed that they serve as the instrument of divine will or as the emissary of a transcendental other, have institutionalized their charismatic messages, actively proselytized, gathered new converts and issued challenges to the wider society. Not infrequently, public controversy, contested narratives, and litigation result. The charismatic origins of the Shakers and Mother Ann Lee, the Mormons and Joseph Smith, the Oneida Perfectionists and John Humphrey Noyes, and Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy, are four groups from a list that could include many lesser known sects. Each exemplifies the common theme of contested narratives, public controversy, and conflict between true believers and critical outsiders.
I would be most interested to hear of any other comparisons that members of this forum have found. It seems to me that there are many common veins running around all of the NRMs and cults.
To find and investigate these resemblances has been very enlightening for me. I see how the BKWSU are not alone in their techniques and attitudes.