Feb 14, 2016

Law and order: Cult-busting bill gets ministerial approval

Jerusalem Post
February 14,  2016
Proposal includes first legal definition of an abusive cult; leading a cult would be considered a crime carrying a 10-year prison sentence.
Legislation defining abusive cults and giving the authorities tools to fight them was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday.
MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu) called the bill, which she proposed, “the first step towards formulating an overarching policy and building a broad and effective system to fight abusive cults.”
If the bill becomes law, it will be the first time a cult is defined by law and differentiated from other, non-abusive religious groups.
The bill states that an abusive cut its “a group of people, incorporated or not, who unite around a person or idea in a way that takes advantage of a relationship of dependence or authority or of emotional distress of one or more members by using methods of control through thought processes and behavioral patterns and acts in an organized, systematic and sustained pattern while committing crimes according to Israeli law.”
Holding a leadership position in a cult would be considered a crime with a prison sentence of 10 years.
In addition, the bill creates a system of confiscating property obtained as a result of an abusive cult’s activities, which is similar to that in the Law to Fight Organized Crime.
The legislation also proposes that the Welfare Ministry create an online database of information about cults, their leaders, their activities and location, as well as a department for helping victims of abusive cults.
Levy-Abecasis said in the past two decades, two committees recommended that the government do more on this matter, including passing laws, but they did not till now.

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