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Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal

Abstract

The author argues that recent exploits of religious "cults" have made them subject to a variety of legal attacks, ranging from criminal and civil actions to remedies stemming from constitutional violations. While acknowledging cult abuses and even documenting research concerning reprehensible cult activities, the author nevertheless emphasizes the need for first amendment protection for those involved in aberrant religious practices. The author argues that religious proselytizing is protected activity, and abuses may be adequately remedied under traditional tort and criminal law. After surveying various remedies already implemented or suggested by anti-cult forces, the author examines a proposal that proselytizers be required to obtain "informed consent" from potential converts before conversion activity begins. The author concludes that this proposal is antithetical to first amendment principles.

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