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Saturday, August 24, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Vigilantes' Termed Worrisome

Virtually no church is safe from being labeled a "cult," says Dr. George Robertson, executive vice president of Friends of Freedom, a Maryland organization that works to promote public awareness of "vigilante attacks" on individuals and religious groups.

Almost every church, he says, has had "deprogrammers" attempt to change members' minds. They include the Roman Catholic Church, the Unification Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Church of Scientology, as well as hundreds of small, fundamentalist and evangelical churches.

A recent local case involves a young man who was kidnapped by deprogrammers hired by his mother to dissuade him from belonging to Life Tabernacle, a Bellevue United Pentecostal church.

Jason Scott, 19, said he was held against his will at a condo near Ocean Shores for four days earlier this year, escaping only after he convinced his captors he was persuaded he should leave the church he had attended for the past two years.

Scott and Robertson will speak at the Northwest Religious Freedom Conference to be held today at the Mountaineers Club, 300 Third Avenue West, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In the early '80s, many deprogramming efforts were focused on members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, said Robertson, a Baptist minister who teaches comparative religion at Maryland Bible College and Seminary. "I certainly don't believe in their theology," he says. "But (deprogramming) still is wrong - I

don't care what the church group is."

For reservations for the conference, call 747-2955.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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