April 22, 2013
A non-commercial center for the protection of family and personal health is being set up in Belarus. It will give systematic counseling and rehabilitation to the victims of unhealthy forms of religiosity (destructive cults and sectarian distortions of traditional religions) and quasi-religious groups (for example, commercial cults with pyramid marketing), to their families and relatives, reports the pravoslavie.bi website.
According to the St. Joseph of Volokolamsk Information and Counseling Center of the Minsk Diocese, 398 organizations connected with new religious movements have been recorded as active in Belorus, of which 101 organizations fit into the sect and cult category. Apart from this, 297 so-called consumer cults are active in the Republic. Only thirteen new religious movements have been officially registered in Belorussia as religious organizations. At the same time, on average, fourteen new religious movements have appeared in the country each year since 1988.
These new religious movements distribute 421 periodicals of which 96 are issued in Belarus. Moreover, 258 “healers”, fortune-tellers, psychics, sorcerers, magicians, chiromancers and 28 astrologers advertise their services in the Belarusian media.
“The center for the protection of family and personal health which is being set up with the support of its partner, the St. Joseph of Volokolamsk Center, is called on to carry out fully-fledged work connected with counseling cult followers and their relatives on issues of overcoming cult dependency and the consequences of “cult trauma”, says the new project’s coordinator Oleg Nagorny. The approach, which has been developed through private non-commercial counseling in the light of Russian, Ukrainian, European and North American experience, is based on personal counseling”.
Here psychological counselors friendly to the center, clerics, and social teachers will give help in solving specific problems of psychological, spiritual and social life for the victims. The center’s counselor on spiritual and theological questions from the Orthodox Church is the Rector of the St. Nicholas of Japan missionary parish church in Minsk, Fr. Paul Serdiuk. This approach gently includes the victim in the system of healing relationships with his or her relatives or a problem group.