European-American Citizens Committee
for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA
2004 Leipzig Human Rights Award
Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer
Following the 2003 ceremony and celebration, as has been our custom each of
the past four years since the Leipzig Human Rights Award began, the committee
met and selected from among a slate of nominees the recipient of the next year’s
award. The committee selected for 2004 Doctor Margaret Thaler Singer.
Not long afterward, Dr. Singer became ill, and after a five-month hospitalization,
on November 23, 2003, she passed away. Margaret lived a long, illustrious and
loving life, and she is irreplaceable.
Also following the Leipzig ceremony and committee meeting, on June 15, 2003,
Young, an award nominee and supporter, died. Vaughn was a long time top Scientology
PR official who became one of the cult’s most knowledgeable, articulate
and effective opponents.
On July 24, 2003 we lost our own dear Committee member, Dr.
Claire Champollion. A writer and professor of linguistics, Claire was, along
with her husband Dr. Guy Champollion, the founder of the Association for the Defense
of Family and Individual (ADFI) the first ant-cult parents association in Europe.
On November 4, 2003, the world lost Herbert
Rosedale, since 1988 the president of the American Family Foundation (AFF)
the foremost American professional organization researching and teaching about
cults. As a lawyer Herb helped many people in cult related legal matters, and
as an authority in the field for many years he helped to educate countless thousands
And then we all lost Margaret Singer.
While we waited and hoped those months for her recovery we were advised that
Margaret’s family did not want her hospitalization made public, so we also
kept private our discussion of her being the award winner. When, sadly, Margaret
died, the Committee had to reevaluate the 2004 award plans.
As our Charter
and our name state, we are a transatlantic organization that focuses principally
on human rights and religious freedom in the USA, and on the rise of organized
totalitarianism. There is a need to pay attention to human rights matters in the
US just because, as our charter also states, the US has taken such a staunch position,
indeed leadership role, in global human rights. It does not disrespect the US
to say that the rights of every citizen of every other nation on earth depend
in some measure on the state of human rights being practiced and defended by Americans.
The Committee recognizes that the private group that currently is the most
egregious organized abuser and destroyer of these rights in the US, although often
subtly and under color of authority, is the Scientology cult. Ominously, it is
Scientology with its rights-destroying “religious freedom” and the
group’s campaign for acceptance and control in Europe, behind which certain
US officials have thrown their government’s tremendous support. We are concerned
not only because Scientology is an American manufactured, controlled and exported
totalitarian organization, and because the US Government has criticized and threatened
sovereign countries that take reasonable measures to curtail or even expose the
organization’s rights abuses, but because the US is ignoring the rights
and the pleas of Scientology’s victims who are America’s own citizens.
The Leipzig Human Rights Award began as the “Alternative Charlemagne
Award,” in part to counterpoint the “Charlemagne Award” bestowed
in 2000 on US President Bill Clinton. The Charlemagne Award, or Karlspreis, which
has been presented in Aachen, Germany each year since 1950, honors individuals
who promote democracy, human rights and the common values of Europe. During the
Clinton Administration, Scientology was granted tax exemption and consequently
“religion status,” and federal agencies began promoting the cult and
collaborating in its attacks on America’s European allies. The presentation
of the Karlspreis
to President Clinton recognized “the close bonds between the United States
of America and the European states and peoples.” In fact, Scientology, encouraged,
absurdly, by the US Government’s support, was working assiduously to damage
the European-American friendship.
In our Charter, we call on the American Government to confront and stop human
rights violations being committed by Scientology and to reestablish in the country
of democracy the true freedom of life, speech, religion, personality and pursuit
of happiness. Our venturesomeness in calling the US to account for its failure
to confront Scientology’s human rights abuses while promoting the cult around
the world has made the Committee and the Leipzig Award controversial, and very
naturally has made everyone involved targets of Scientology’s pernicious
Each of our past award recipients has been targeted by Scientology as an “SP”
and subjected to the cult’s notorious “fair game” policy, which
has been reprehended by numerous court of law internationally, but which nevertheless
continues as the Scientologists’ leadership-mandated treatment for such
“suppressives.” These courageous individuals – Robert Minton,
retired banker and human rights activist from the US; Norbert Blüm, former
German Federal Minister of Labor; Alain Vivien, past President of the Mission
Interministerielle pour la Lutte contre les Sectes for the Prime Minister of the
Republic of France (MILS); and Andreas Heldal-Lund, Norwegian Information Technology
professional and creator of the website www.xenu.net
– all knew what fair game is and accepted the Leipzig Award knowing it would
subject them to even more opportunities for unmerited and cruel expressions of
Margaret Singer was also the intrepid kind of soul who would have laughed
at a little more Scientology “black propaganda” for receiving yet
another award for her decades of work studying and decoding cultic systems, and
for her aid and comfort to the cults’ many victims. She would have loved
Leipzig, which all of us associated with this award have also come to love. We
treasure the times the award has brought so many in this struggle to Leipzig,
and the countless more times when only our thoughts travel to this lovely and
ironic city. To us Leipzig is the spiritual center of the human rights movement
that peacefully and ironically overgrew the dictatorship in East Germany and led
to German Reunification. Margaret would have loved that, and as a psychologist
she would have loved and laughed knowing that the Scientologists single out Leipzig
for special condemnation as the source for all that is bad on planet earth –
her profession, as Scientology calls them, the “psychs!”
Margaret understood Scientology’s totalitarian nature and saw through
the cult’s religious cloaking of its actual philosophy, policies and practices
by which it pursued its antisocial goals and sought to destroy those human beings,
those “wogs,” who countered or even questioned those goals. She was
shocked and terribly disappointed by the US Federal Government’s grant in
the 1990’s of “religion status” and tax exemption to the Scientology
corporations, which she knew, not only from her professional research but from
personal experience as a target, comprised a malevolent, autocratic cult. She
long observed Scientology’s institutionalizing, and even selling as therapy,
the psychological and physical abuse and impoverishment of US citizens. She objected
to the cult qualifying its organized anti-human rights abuses and fraud as constitutionally
protected “religious freedom,” and she deplored her government’s
acquiescence in that perversion. She was a true friend to decades of Scientology’s
fair game victims and targets, and was willing and happy to count herself among
We were all then moved by Margaret Singer’s passing, and we were moved
by the passing of Vaughn Young, Claire Champollion and Herb Rosedale. The knowledgeable
opponents of Scientology totalitarianism are much fewer than the organization
actually merits, and than we like to let on, so there’s a small group from
which to lose these rare members. We are now moved by many things: our gratitude
for there ever having been a Margaret Singer, that there had been all these four
comrade souls, for the fight we shared, and for the fight that continues, and
the humanity of us all.
The Committee really had no choice but to not select another award recipient
for 2004, because Margaret truly is irreplaceable. We also decided not to hold
a celebration this year. We will now begin the selection process from among nominees
for the 2005 award, who will be announced early in that year. It is our tradition,
which we follow as possible, that an award recipient in one year presents the
award to the recipient in the following year. We therefore invite back Andreas
Heldal-Lund, the award recipient in 2003, to present the next award, and to celebrate.
At this immediate time, still in the spring of 2004, human rights, and obviously
human rights being practiced and defended by the US, are in the global public
consciousness, and our humble cold war contribution in that consciousness is overwhelmed
by explosive white-hot war events. This period of this new war, defined by many
as a war on terror, has brought an increased threat to basic human rights both
from without from the violent and from within from those upon whom we must depend
to protect us from the violent.
The European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom
in the USA, suggests, in memory and in honor of Dr. Singer, that during this year
our members and supporters take the time to consider human rights in relation
to their lives, meditate upon the state of human rights somewhere or everywhere
in the world and what might be done, and then do something. A revolution can begin
with somebody’s letter, or some folks’ meeting. Copies of letters
written or details of actions taken in connection with this human rights endeavor
may be sent to the Committee, and will be webbed if the writer permits with due
attention to security and appropriateness.
We cannot control when someone dies or we will die, or control the weather,
or control the tides, or control a great deal of life, but we human beings control
absolutely human rights. Whatever any human does, no matter how apparently small,
to improve human rights, human rights improve. Margaret would have appreciated
the hopefulness, even assurance of this idea, and would welcome we believe her
name being associated with this simple project that seeks to get good people to
speak up for human rights. The committee will decide whether this idea will become
a contest and if there will be perhaps a Margaret Singer Prize.
Thank you all for your support. We look forward to working with you throughout
this year to continue to keep human rights in the public consciousness, and we
hope to see everyone together another time in 2005.
We remember Margaret again with this tribute published in the San
Margaret Singer -- expert on brainwashing
Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Margaret Singer, the soft-spoken but hard-edged Berkeley psychologist and expert
on brainwashing who studied and helped authorities and victims better understand
the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, Unification Church and Symbionese Liberation
Army cults, has died.
Professor Singer, 82, died Sunday after a long illness at Alta Bates Medical
Center in Berkeley.
"She's one of a kind, the foremost authority on brainwashing in the entire
world,'' said lawyer Paul Morantz in an interview last year. Morantz led the effort
against the Synanon cult in the 1970s. "She is a national treasure.''
She testified in the 1976 bank robbery trial of newspaper heiress Patricia
Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and at the 1977 hearing
for five young members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church whose parents
sought to have them "deprogrammed.''
On the witness stand or in the kitchen of her Berkeley hills home, where Professor
Singer did much of her work, she was calm, authoritative, smart, unshakable, funny
and unfailingly polite.
She interviewed more than 3,000 cult members, assisted in more than 200 court
cases and also was a leading authority on schizophrenia and family therapy.
"I might look like a little old grandma, but I'm no pushover,'' she told
a reporter last year, just before tossing back another shot of Bushmills Irish
whiskey, her libation of choice.
"My mom spent her whole life assisting other people -- victims, parents
or lawyers -- and often for free,'' said Sam Singer, a San Francisco publicist.
"Nothing gave her greater joy than helping to get someone unscrewed up.''
She was occasionally threatened by cult leaders and their followers, and she
never backed down. Professor Singer liked to tell how, at the age of 80, she frightened
off a stalker who had been leaving menacing notes in her mailbox.
"I've got a 12-gauge shotgun up here, sonny, and you'd better get off
my porch, or you'll be sorry!'' she hollered out the window. "And tell your
handlers not to send you back!''
She was born in Denver, where her father was the chief engineer at the U. S.
Mint. She received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University
She began to study brainwashing in the 1950s at Walter Reed Institute of Research
in Washington, D. C., where she interviewed U.S. soldiers who had been taken prisoner
during the Korean War. She came to Berkeley in 1958 and found herself in a prime
spot to study the cult scene of the 1960s and 1970s.
"I started hearing from families who had missing members, many of them
young kids on our campus, and they all would describe the same sorts of things,
'' she said. "A sudden change of personality, a new way of talking . . .
and then they would disappear. And bingo, it was the same sort of thing as with
the Korean War prisoners, the same sort of thought-reform and social controls.
"You find it again and again, any time people feel vulnerable,'' she said.
"There are always sharpies around who want to hornswoggle people.''
She dispensed much of her advice over the phone, which always seemed to be
ringing with anxious parents, victims or lawyers from around the world, all seeking
advice. For decades, she also held court at a large table near the front door
of Brennan's bar and restaurant in West Berkeley, where she and her husband, Jerome,
were Tuesday night regulars and where she would treat friends and admirers to
corned beef, cabbage and multiple rounds of Irish coffee.
She was the author of "Cults in Our Midst,'' the authoritative 1995 study
on cults that she revised earlier this year with analysis of the connection between
cults and terrorism. She was the winner of the Hofheimer Prize and the Dean Award
from the American College of Psychiatrists and of achievement awards from the
Mental Health Association of the United States and the American Family Therapy
Association. She was a past president of the American Psychosomatic Society and
a board member of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute Review Board and the
American Family Foundation.
She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Jerome, and by two children, Sam
and Martha, all of Berkeley.