Mountain Rock Church seem (insert your own appropriate words. My linguistic range is too limited.) There are preview clips of a compelling, if very disturbing, movie about escapees – especially what happened to their children – on joinusthemovie.com.
The footage of the cult-leader’s wife was amazing. She used so many verbal mechanisms to manipulate weaker characters, in so masterly a way, that I almost assumed this whole section must have been scripted by a genius. Her use of emotional blackmail, aggression and misdirection certainly went some way to answering any questions about whether violence alone could have subdued these people so effectively. It looks more like power backed up by ideology.
One of the anti-cult people described the church as a “concentration camp for children.” There certainly seem to be some universal patterns to the way this sort of inhumanity is expressed, from the concentration camp to the child jail.
In fact I wonder if the Mountain Rock church might choose to relocate to Jersey as the behaviour sounds so similar. Terrifying kids, beating them up, dragging them by the hair and locking them in cellars. (I couldn’t watch that BBC Panarama clip, by the way. A minute or two was more than enough.)
What’s the difference? Well, there’s clearly a difference on the level of damage done, and, on the movie evidence, the Mountain Rock kids were “just” physically abused. Their parents were present, though this is perhaps even more disturbing, given that these adults let their lunatic faith override even the most basic animal instincts to protect your young.
The main obvious difference is in the “religious” justification of the Mountain Rock stuff. There could be blog-pages of discussion here as to whether abuse is inherent in religion itself or whether “religion” is just a subset of a general category of ideological support for criminal actions. Religion is certainly up there as the number one smokescreen for abusing other humans. Its effectiveness rests on a whole handy supporting belief structure, in which the human is basically required to pay constant slavish and adoring obeisance to an all-powerful superbeing who will smite whenever his wishes aren’t followed.
It may be that the Haut la Garenne child torturers had enough real power over the kids in their “care” to be able to do whatever they chose, without needing to resort to some belief system. They seem to have had control over many of the local state institutions for a start… Even so, they were supported by a generally authoritarian Jersey mindset. Plus a UK culture that demonises some children and refuses to see any disturbing reminders of how damaged they may be.
This sort of leads me to a more general point about torture. Not the torture carried out by the secret child-abusers, but the increasing resort to the same dishonourable justifications for places like Gitmo, interrogation techniques like waterboarding. So I’ll have to labour the metaphor about how society deals with troublesome kids.
Bullies, thieves, gun-toting gang members, and so on. Most of them got that way through the malevolence, greed, carelessness or stupidity of adults. When they fight back by becoming at least as repellent as the people who created them in their own image, we seem to think it’s OK to do whatever it takes to subdue them. If it sometimes involves brutality and torture, so be it. We then fail to see that this just makes the problem of there being people with no respect for others infinitely worse.
Hmm, painfully laboured metaphor coming – war on terror…….. Fill in the gaps.