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Ron Enroth's Response To Jon Trott



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My ''mysteriously undefined'' complaints and my ''vague accusations'' are not at all mysterious or vague to people who have experienced spiritual and psychological abuse. In fact, I would argue that the average reader, the average man or woman on the street, has a fairly coherent understanding of what it means when someone claims to be confused, lacking self-esteem, feeling abandoned, having difficulty making decisions, experiencing doubt and anger and feeling put down. Trott may have difficulty with those words, but the hundreds of people I have interviewed over the last thirty years understand them well.

Allow me to comment on several parts of Trott's chapter that are misleading or misrepresentations or additional examples of selective quoting. On page 160 Trott states that I have ''closely identified'' with the views of certain individuals who have employed terms like brainwashing and mind control in their writing. Included in the list are Ted Patrick and Conway and Siegelman. What is important here, as in so many passages in the chapter, is what Trott does not state. He erroneously gives the impression that I am supportive of the views of these people when in fact I have strongly criticized them. Why doesn't Trott include the following observations about Conway and Siegelman that I made in the Cultic Studies Journal, (vol. 2, No. 2, 1986):

From the perspective of the evangelical Christian cult watcher, a primary example of insensitive and ill-informed writing about cults and their supposed similarity to evangelicalism can be seen in Conway and Siegelman's book, Snapping (1978).

Elsewhere in the article I refer to the ''gross errors of fact and interpretation in their widely-read book.'' For Trott to conclude that I ''closely identify'' with these two writers is, if I may borrow the expression, a ''gross error of fact and interpretation.''

Likewise, Trott's linkage of me with the name Ted Patrick (as did one of his defenders, Alan Gomes) is unfair and misleading. The name Ted Patrick is well-known in cult-watching circles because of his notorious practice of deprogramming. Jon knows full well that I have never approved of any form of forcible deprogramming and if he is not aware of my stance on the topic, he has not read my publications carefully. In short, Trott appears to have deliberately linked me with these specific individuals simply because they have used concepts related to mind control and brainwashing in their books. Because the word ''brainwashing'' appears in the title of one of my books and because I devote considerable space to a discussion of that notion, to link me with Patrick , Conway and Siegelman is simply wrong and indicative of sloppy scholarship.

Trott identifies what he sees as a contradiction in my quoting sociologist James Beckford. He, Beckford, does not discount the stories that defectors tell. I mention this in the original book because critics of my methodology claim that I am one-sided, placing too much emphasis on the role of ex-member. Trott correctly quotes Beckford as stating that ''the testimony of ex-members should be taken just as seriously as that of practicing members.'' This all relates to my much repeated assertion that in Recovering From Churches That Abuse I was focusing on former members of churches like JPUSA, not current members. Beckford correctly notes that practicing [current] members should be taken seriously. I agree fully. If the purpose of my inquiry was the congregation of JPUSA, I certainly would give careful attention to the views of current members. But that was not the objective of my research, a point that JPUSA members and ECC officials could not seem to understand. I was not writing a book about members who did not perceive their experience as abusive. I was writing about recovery and healing, not about those who did not see recovery and healing as a priority or even as a problem! What Trott and his defenders wanted me to do was to give equal time to former and current members. He says as much on page 164. ''That was all we wanted.'' If that was, in fact, what he wanted, why didn't he insist that sociologist Anson Shupe spend an equal amount of time with some of the more than 40 ex-members I interviewed? On pages 165 and 166, Trott mentions that Professor Shupe stayed two days and a night at JPUSA. ''Two days might not have been much time . . . still it was more than we ever received from Enroth, who despite repeated invitations never darkened our door.'' How many days did Dr. Shupe spend interacting with former members, Jon? Why not require ''equal time'' of him, if indeed your standard for methodological excellence is looking fully at both sides?

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