|By Bob Weaver|
During the 1970s religious cults got lots of attention, some of them tragically ending in the deaths of hundreds of their followers.
The historic practice of exorcism by Catholic clergy and the arrival of the film "Exorcist" was a smash hit, which we saw and wished we had not.
Also arriving on the scene was the first cult de-programmer Ted Patrick, who got lots of TV attention where his group kidnapped the victim, taking them to a secure location, often their parents home, and instilling the process.
While living in Weston and owning a funeral home, we were fortunate to have made a number of close friends in the community, including a man and his wife, stalwart community members and devoted Catholics. The man and his father developed and manufactured molds used in the glass making industry, selling them nationwide.
The couple confided their daughter, a beautiful young woman, had been indoctrinated into a well-know cult called "The Way," and was a follower living in another state. Cults have flourished in America under the principled freedom of religion.
It would be difficult to explain their level of distress, explaining the girl's disassociation from her parents, family, friends and community, society in general.
"The Way" had an estimated 40,000 followers, more than Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Founded by Victor Paul Wierwille of Ohio, with the characteristics that distinguishes cults from religious movements, the members' devotion to and obedience to a living leader, comparing them to Jesus Christ.
It's teachings included survival training, psychological manipulation, sleep deprivation, faith healing, speaking in tongues, book burning, teaching that the Nazi Holocaust was a hoax, and recruiting members of the military.
Its tax exempt status allowed the accumulation of $30 million in assets.
The Weston family hired de-programmer Patrick and his team at a hefty cost, bringing the girl home and securing her in the family basement.
It was terrorizing to hear the process from the top of the stairs, the victim sounding much like Regan in "The Exorcist."
Following the successful de-programing, the girl went on to be a successful de-programer and have a wonderful life. The family had a garden party celebration, which Dianne and I attended. I was still suffering from alcoholism, getting overly drunk and dancing with the nuns.
Needless to say, I was in no condition to drive home and Dianne took the wheel, having little driving skill and no license. She did good, a little bothered by being followed by a law officer.
In the months that followed, that Weston family stood by me and Dianne through troublesome times, then going to treatment for re-programming, now sober 43 years years.