Dr. Eileen Barker Correspondence (1)

Dear Eileen,

I know you are at DCU tonight Monday, 2nd November, 1830 (Q303): Professor Eileen Barker (London School of Economics)
Evil Cults and/or New Religious Movements? An up-to-date appraisal by an objective, value-free LSE sociologist

http://www.link.dcu.ie/newsandevents/linkseminarseries09/

and are going to Canada for Academy of Religion meetings so might not get back back to me for a while.
http://www.aarweb.org/meetings/annual_meeting/Current_Meeting/default.asp

I had planned to write to you to brief you concerning Dialogue Ireland’s exclusion from the Maynooth conference. As Ireland’s only centre for the study of NRMs I was appalled by the fact we were not invited to be part of this conference but was aware of the reasons from a very early stage. However, following the intervention by Michael Farrell during your talk last Saturday at the very end of the Conference felt I needed to to write to you with my reflections concerning our relationship  which goes back nearly thirty years. I would like to host this discussion on our blog. I would like to follow up this mail with one’s on a number of topics I have to alluded on our blog where people who were at the conference can leave their comments. Also articles will be posted.

Issues to be addressed not in any order:

 

Relevance of a UK organisation presenting at an Irish Conference without mentioning an organisation in Ireland that you have cooperated with and spoken at the first conference on “Seekers,” in 1998.

The relevance of the Inform web site in an information age.

http://www.inform.ac/

Claims made by Dr Barker in her presentation about other organisations working in the same field in the UK

Academic neutrality – Can research be value free?

Issues about Inform’s funding by the state and by the churches and the implications for your academic independence?

After the 7/7 bombings Eileen Barker seemed to endorse the notion of undue influence, brainwashing or mind control.

But then changed her mind. Debate these issues.

Why do parents generally oppose Eileen Barker and feel betrayed by her? Is her value free and objective stance a recipe for her being too close to the NRMs, and does it create an inability to call a spade a spade. The relativism inherent in her assumptions leads to her not being able to really take a stance.

Viewing apostates as a problem, and suggesting that they can’t bring a very important dimension of understanding to the inner workings of the groups they were in.Would you tend to give more credence to John Duignan than to the spokespersons of Scientology.

Studies like the RPF by Gordon Melton, Michael Yorke were flawed and totally unscientific. Your mentor Bryan Wilson wrote a review of Scientology’s religious status which was totally unethical, and posted on their web site. It was not peer reviewed and was used by Scientology to present them as a genuine religion. Also because of Wilson’s reputation many scholars endorsed it without scientific scrutiny. A kind of Socioidolatry.

When challenged Eileen Barker seems to be able chameleon like to move her argument towards her opponent’s making them think that was her view all along. This was evidenced by Eileen’s conduct following Michael Farrell’s intervention on Saturday last.

I remember when I picked you up from the airport in 1998 you told me you had last been in Dublin as an actor. I think you have a wonderful ability to master your audience. Also they have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot in the manner they attack you. You tend to get the sympathy vote… don’t hit on a woman!

The necessity of a truly Interdisciplinary approach to Cults, Sects and NRMs or as we prefer to see it cultist NRM’s. No one science can fully grasp the issue. None should be excluded all relevant should be included. Eileen Barker’s view is overly dependent on a sociological narrative. John Sabila, author of Understanding New Religious Movements makes a strong case for this and I followed this view in my thesis.  He was often a contributor to your seminars.

The role of the media and importance of tabloids in the education of the general public. In your presentations you view the media as only telling shocking stories, whereas I believe they are often an important component in society protecting the vulnerable.

I certainly do not get the impression that the primary role of academics is the protection of the weak, in case you reply that newspapers are only interested in selling papers. One could argue that the primary reasons academics produce papers for conferences is get academic preferment.

Regards

MIKE GARDE

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