Mar 21, 2017

Info-Cult helps families understand groups, such as one Kayla Reid immersed in

Diane Crocker
The Western Star
March 20, 2017

Dropping the cliché, “You’re in a cult,” is one of the key things Michael Kropveld encourages families to do when they seek help.

Kropveld is the executive director of the Montreal-based organization Info-Cult, which educates the public about cults, new religious movements and related phenomena.

The Western Star contacted Kropveld in relation to the story of Kayla Jean Reid. The 21-year-old Corner Brook woman had been the subject of a missing person’s report, and is in Costa Rica with a group known as The Etherians or Melanation.

Her family believes the group — led by Eligio Bishop, also known as master teacher Natureboy — is a cult.

On Saturday, Reid, who now goes by Sun Ray, went live on Facebook to say she would not be coming home and wants nothing to do with her family. Without more information about Reid’s family situation and about the group, Kropveld said he could only talk in generalities.

He said part of working with families is helping them understand why people join groups and helping them recognize the term “cult” has a very negative connotation.

Using it, he said, basically sets up a wall to communication. Instead, the focus is more on what are the behaviours being seen and the concerns the family has.

“It’s recognizing people are involved in something,” he said, adding that they will generally join a group because they’ve either been recruited or they make some kind of a decision to get involved in what they see as a group, movement or religion.

“People are not joining ‘cults.’”

Kropveld said in any situation it’s not about diminishing the possibility that there may be an extreme group involved, but looking at all factors.

He said Info-Cult helps families see things through the perspective of the person involved. He counsels against ultimatums, and said the suggestion to just go and get the person comes from a 1970s and ’80s mentality of rushing in and grabbing someone.

Police have had some contact with Reid and she is older than 18, so she has the right to say she wants to stay there, Kropveld said.

In reading media reports about Reid, he said, there seems to be implications there was something going on beforehand and that can be a factor in how the family approaches things. And carrying on family issues in public makes it more complex.

“These kinds of situations can be extremely difficult for family and friends, and sometimes a lot of it is the unknown, not knowing exactly what is going on.”

At a minimum, the goal is to rebuild communication. Deciding who might be the best one to do that is just one decision a family has to make.

Info-Cult also encourages families to look at the pros and cons of their approach, and at the results they can anticipate from their decisions. They also have to ask if they can live with the outcome.

Messages sent to Bishop through social media by the Western Star were not returned prior to deadline.

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

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