By Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack

Translated from "Die wirkliche Gefahr", in "Jugendreligionen" Munich, 1979, pp. 375-380.

The real danger of the youth religions is not the individual damage they cause, although it may be painful when young people give up their future, their possessions, their availability, and subject their lives to a "Holy Master". It is not the individual damage but the fact of subjection itself that presents the real danger. The wish of assigning all decision-making power to a superfather-in-residence, the delusion of believing this to bring salvation, and the fixation of the individual on a "world plan" with its destruction of individuality are the vertices of a fatal triangle within which nothing but a society of slavery can exist.

Transferring one's will-power from that which is existentially close to a global aim is one of the steps that lead to that triangle of modern slavery. A student of pedagogy writes to her mother:

You must realize, Mommy, that my strength is utilized much better these days. I always wanted to do good. But at school there are a few hundred kids at most. Here I can contribute to do good for all of us, for generations to come. The whole wide world is my " class room" and I am privileged to help make it look nicer. (1)

The idea of a "new reality" is characteristic for this slave state of recent origin. Here I can "really" do something, here there is "reality", here there is a "genuine" and "real" chance to help, etc. This reality is, in fact, the nebulous sphere produced by ideological argumentation from which there is no way back to the day-to-day realities.

Opposed to "The Truth" are the daily truths that must be discovered and accepted anew every day. (2)

Even seemingly large y harmless groups, such as the Neo-Sannyas Movement of "Bhagwan" Rajneesh, belong to these spiritual slave states that subject the individual to the superfather figure of the Holy Master-in-residence and confine him or her to a living space within the doctrine. The subjection to the ideal taught by the Holy Master and allegedly lived up to by him and the ensuing delusion of "Leader, thou savest us and we follow thee" transform human beings into responding robots. The sustaining food is an idealism that bears upon non-verifiable, given ideals. All this is a mixture of gnosis and fascism.

Gnosis means the knowledge transmitted, accounted for and beheld solely by the leader or the Holy Master. Those who have that knowledge belong to an elite. This elite is the unit that builds the new world. It is in possession of the formula handed over by the Master and it implements it. Hence its only obligation is to this formula because this formula alone truly means "life". For this reason, all the "old" ethical rules are invalidated by this formula. The formula determines its own ethics. (3)

"Never be afraid of hurting someone in pursuing a just cause." (4) A sentence like this encompasses the whole Gnostic fascism of such systems. "There is one law only to be enacted by all governments for all people subsequently to become law-abiding of their own accord…" (5) This view is based on Gnostic knowledge of a secret formula and corresponds to the fascist concept.

There has not been and there will not be a place for the unfit. The fit will lead, and if the unfit are not coming along there is no place for them.

In the place where light dominates there is no place for darkness. In the Age of Enlightenment there is no place for ignorant people. The ignorant will be made enlightened by a few orderly, enlightened people moving around. Nature will not allow ignorance to prevail. It just can't. Non-existence of the unfit has been the law of nature. (6)

Mun's doctrines of world domination, Anandamurti's world conquering and world improving moralism, (7) Hubbard's Sea Org and Guardian troop which is to lead a totally obedient world to total freedom, once risen to power, would probably be the end of the "old world". If they came to power, they would, in fact, entirely do away with "the old". Exactly as in Rajneesh's "Buddha field", in the Knowledge world of Guru Maharaj Ji, and in a TM state, there would be no real living space for people of different persuasions and practices.

This would also be true for a Krsna ISKCON state and for a world ruled by "King" David Berg or one liberated according to the models of "Earthplay SLS" or to "Erhard-Seminar-Training Methods". The consequence would be a world of religious and political slavery.

Psychomutation is always the beginning of spiritual slavery. All psychomutational systems are eo ipso gnostic and have fascist traits. They are significantly different from religions and their sects or splinter movements.

Whereas religions are based on fixed and verifiable concepts and rules open to criticism, the psychomutational systems (either youth or new-behaviour movements, such as AAO or the Neo-Sannyas Movement) are "untouchable" and may not be criticized. Security is provided in the person of their Holy Master, whose "saving formula" is merely to be accepted but not to be worked out freely and without group instruction, or responsibly believed. Nothing goes but credulous acceptance. Moreover, the Holy Master through his hierarchy is always present - the ruler who metes out rewards or punishment. Checking up is an important part of the system.

The real danger is the system as such, its existence and its radiating power in a world in which responsibility becomes more and more unpopular as it becomes increasingly difficult. The true danger is the semblance of knowledge, the allegedly "inescapable" logic of subjection to the person in possession of know-how.

In a technological civilization this danger is inherent. Possibly technology itself has Gnostic and fascist traits. "Knowledge", they say, "is power." However, the ideology contained in psychomutational ideologies and religious systems combines alleged knowledge with non-verifiable belief. It subjects faith to the guidelines of the group which are then passed off for "knowledge" or "proved". Knowledge and proof, however, are governed by the individual group doctrines or norms. It is a fatal vicious circle that is thus completed.

The real danger of youth religions for the individual and for society is that they exist. The consequences in individual cases, then, are nothing but signals of this danger.

In his essay on spirituality and fascism, the psychologist Joe Hunt (Cambridge) draws parallels between the spirituality of Divine Light Mission and the early days of German fascism.

The Nazi movement was proclaimed to be a 'Revolution of the spirit' and National Socialism adopted the character of a religious cult and retained these features to the bitter end. Its executive organs conducted themselves like a priesthood, invented liturgical forms of mass adoration in the public meetings, so-called 'Graeco-Roman' rites of submission to the Führer on the part of schoolchildren, and within the Party total submissiveness on the part of members. Internally the Party demanded absolute self-control and performance of duty, the two mainstays of meditation by which every monastic community helps individuals to look worshipfully to God. But the Nazi deity was of Aryan origin, rooted in the 'people' and founded on the consciousness of race, blood and soil. In a grotesque parody of human perfection people were asked to adore themselves as icons of biologic perfection, and they did this voluntarily. (8)

Hunt then draws attention to Guru Maharaj Ji's "Millenium 73", the mass deployment of Premies in Houston, Tex as, and ends his reflections as follows:

This atmosphere of Christ's Second Coming of course brings out unpleasant associations, the Great Awakening, the camp meetings and hysterical rebirths that sporadically recur throughout history like volcanic eruptions. The whole splendid display is equally disconcerting: A seven-story stage twelve meters high, made from transparent white synthetic material and illuminated by garlands of pulsating lights; shifting rainbows on an enormous transparent canvas 40 meters high that seems to be suspend from the sky; and the 'human choreography of adoration', as Speer called it, that produces deep discomfort whether the scenario is to be Sturm und Drang or something else.

But the disturbing fact is that once history becomes theatre everyone is manipulating, and is astonished and excited when it works. And because it works, transcendence has been confirmed and the cycle is closed. Hitler and Riefenstahl manipulated reality as consciously and cynically as can be imagined, but they too, simplistically subscribed to the surprise of the dream-come-true. A cosmic melodrama - everything is pregnant with meaning for the actors and the audience, each event in a moment of truth invalidates time, each phenomenon becomes an act of definition.

Well, if the guru ever goes in for Gleichschaltung [a Nazi policy that attempted to create adherence to a specific doctrine and way of thinking and to control as many aspects of life as possible], somebody should remind him that the arrangements have already been made, the stage is set and the play can begin. The frame is antique, the subject is youth, the topic is innocence lost, the author is immortal, the actors are puppets, and the entrance ticket is submission. (9)

The possible parallels are indeed as fascinating as they are worrying. In Scientology's "Never be afraid of hunting someone in pursuing a just cause", one might recognize the spirit of that fatal idealism with which young SS followers tried to save the world after their own fashion. They also wanted to erase those impediments that still keep the planet earth from the freedom of that master race that is tied to no other ethics than the spirit of movement. (10)

And the ultimate idea of "unification" in the Moon Movement is a sinister reminder of the "Gleichschaltung" in the days of the Third Reich. Solely sworn to their leader, no longer impeded by the rules and the order of the "old world", all strength used to build up the better "new order", following the path shown by the method of the holy guide, and in absolute obedience bound to the instructions given by the paladins of the Holy Master - this might be the shortest summary of what the "youth religions" are. And it is the people of good will, those who are interested in a positive transformation of the world, who follow this call.

Hitler propagated that due to their race consciousness the Aryans were to produce a 'new man' of heroic will-power who would pitilessly sweep away all and everything that threatened to taint the purity of his cause. In the same breath, the 'new man' would signal the coming of a new age - a quantum leap in human evolution that was to make the world grow stronger in purity, power and beauty. It was not by accident that this claim was tailored in the first place for German youth; it was not by chance either that young people first joined the Hitler Youth, then the party and the SS; it is similar to converting to Catholicism: receiving communion, becoming a priest - steps of spiritual obligation building up on each other. Unfortunately for many young people joining the Party had the significance of a religious conversion; this luminous act of confession that so clearly divides the life of the individual into 'before' and 'after'. (11)

The mass meetings of the youth religions, "Guru Puja" and "Hans Jayanti" of Guru Maharaj Ji, the mass deployments of the Moon Movement and the large-scale events of TM, etc., could have a further consequence in addition to the actualization of the Holy Master and the tempering effect a mass experience has on small groups of adherents who as a rule live in isolation from one another:

The relations of domination and slavery are expressed by a characteristic splendour: the concentration of groups of people, their turning to objects, the massing of objects, and the grouping of people and things around an omnipotent hypnotic leader figure or power. Fascist stage management centred around orgiastic shifts of mighty powers and their puppets. Their choreography alternates between incessant movement and frozen static 'manly' posing. Fascist art extols self-denial, praises spiritlessness, glorifies death. (12)

If such observations and reflections are in keeping with reality, then all attempts to pass the movements off as harmless and approaches like "They're such idealistic and nice young people", or, what is not infrequently heard in the church, "you must always see the good things first", amount to a mental and political blindness, even spiritual blindness, with regard to dealing in religious terms with the problem of youth religions. The ideas are the enemy; not the people. It is the systems that transform an idealistic person of good will into an operating instrument of power.

At this point something needs to be added on "guilt" and "forgiveness". What was said above in no way excuses the individual. It is erroneous to see a member of a youth religion exclusively as a guileless victim and by referring to the system exculpate him or her. Exoneration from guilt was, for instance, not conceded to all those who in the years of the Third Reich allegedly acted exclusively "by order". (13) The followers of Holy Masters are in the majority of cases educated and of age. In the course of a "soul-washing" or psychomutation, there are always moments that show that the person concerned was aware of his or her own responsibility and that exercising such responsibility would have been possible and feasible.

Often people's guilt is that they implicate others in their relationship. In particular, their frequent missionary conversations, by virtue of the discussion partner's critical objections or disagreements, give them the opportunity to act responsibly and to allow their own critical thinking to assert itself. In case of a later detachment the guilt recognized in this respect is felt to be very heavy and must be taken into consideration.

A last observation concerning the long-term effect: It is not only the members of youth religions and their families who are immediately "concerned"; even a short encounter with a youth religion can have a long-term effect with regard to the ideas or techniques received. Nor a few short-term guests in training camps of the Unification Church may take away from there the political concept of a "strongman who will solve everything at one stroke and without consideration for petty scruples". Perhaps it is this infection in short stages that constitutes the most dangerous long-term effect of the youth religions.


1. Letter of October 21, 1978.

2. The question "What is truth?" Pilate asked is not answered with ideological arguments in the New Testament but with personal experience. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," says Jesus. This disputes the possibility of agitating for truth in whatever form. Truth is no longer a surreal set of ideas for whose sake one can labour and die, but is personal existence, access to which is gained solely through responsible faith.

3. Just as the SS in the Third Reich considered itself to be the crack troop for a "new world order" and realized a new ethical concept which consisted of recognizing as "good" whatever benefits the "new world order" and as bad what prejudices it.

4. From Scientology's "Code of Honour".

5. MMYogi, TV interview, transcribed in "The Western TM Reporter", Summer 1974, p. 12. The quotation continues as follows: This law would prescribe knowledge of the 'science of creative intelligence' and twice daily practice of Transcendental Meditation."

6. MIU Press 1975, p. 47, "Inauguration of the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment".

7. One might almost speak of a "Sadvipra" SS.

8. Joe Hunt, "Spiritalität und Faschismus", Zero, 12/1978, p. 10.

9. Ibid., p. 13.

10. Thus a former Scientologist entitles his settling of accounts with the Hubbard system "Supermen Among Us", Robert Kaufmann, Frankfurt, 1972.

11. Hunt, 10c. Cit., p. 10.

12. Susan Sontag, quoted in Hunt, loc. cit., p. 13.

13. It would be a worthwhile task to examine the ideological entanglements in the Third Reich and compare them with the programming and psychomutation of youth religions.