By Jody MacPherson
Fort McMurray Express, June 25, 1986
Note: Art Tassie has written a book called “Profound Impact” about his experiences with cults and about his brother’s rescue. It is available for download here.
Art and Pat Tassie say they are not experts on cults but they have had first hand experiences with them and are very concerned with helping the victims.
They say there are up to a dozen cults operating in this city.
The Tassies are leaving Fort McMurray in the middle of July to live in Lloydminster. The local newspaper there has already called to interview them, anticipating their arrival, and the contribution they will make to the community.
The couple deliver talks to the schools and other community organizations about cults. They tell of their own personal experience rescuing a family member from the Unification Church whose followers are known as the “Moonies.”
They also act as a source of information on cults. In trying to understand why people belong to cults, the Tassies have amassed newspaper clippings, videotapes and any information on cults they can get.
“I think there is more cult activity than ever before,” says Pat Tassie, “and the problem is more serious becuse there’s more power and money involved.”
The couple have been monitoring cult activity in Fort McMurray and they estimate a dozen or so cults in the city alone. They say they hesitate however, to label any group as a cult.
“Everyone must decide for themselves,” she says.
She recommends investigating any group very carefully before getting too involved with it.
Tassie says there is a lot of satanic worship in the city, in particular one group that started as a “dungeons and dragons” group. Dungeons and dragons is a popular role-playing game.
The dungeonmaster of the group, known as “White Witch,” has been using hypnosis techniques on young people in the group, who are aged 12 to 15 years, says Tassie.
She says there are also a number of therapeutic cults which offer miracle cures and mysterious techniques which are often forms of hypnosis. They advertise their methods in the newspapers under different names such as autosuggesion, guided imagery, relazentration, and meditation, says Tassie.
As well, she says the larger groups often travel to the city to raise money or recruit new followers.
The Hare Krishnas were in the city a few years ago selling paintings door-to-door. They had not received a business permit and were told to discontinue selling their wares.
The Tassies say they have seen police-confiscated maps of the city with their house marked with an “X” through it to indicate they are not receptive to the groups.
Pat Tassis also says that innocent participants in charismatic prayer groups can find themselves part of a cult.
They visited one such prayer group here in the city to find out what it was like. That was years ago and now that small prayer group has grown to include quite a large following, she says.
“The cults also recruit among the young people at the mall,” she says.
Over the summer, the cults are the most active, says Tassie. She says they begin to get more telephone calls from concerned parents in the fall when they have noticed a change in their sons and daughters.
Tassie says parents should check out summer camps advertised in the newspapers very carefully before sending their children. A number of cults operate summer camps for children.
She says a good rule of thumb when judging summer camps, job and travel opportunities is, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably has something to hide.”
“Lots of times we would like to get out of all this,” says Tassie, “but too many people are getting hurt by these groups.”
Rescuing his brother from the Moonies
Art Tassie kidnapped his own brother.
Tassie hired two security guards and a deprogrammer to rescue his brother from a cult.
His brother, Ron says he owes him his life.
Tassie was recovering from the death of his mother when he decided to take a vacation. He wanted to experience other cultures and see how other people lived.
He hitchhiked to San Francisco and had plans to continue on through to Mexico.
Tassie was approached by two people saying they were with a group called Creative Community Projects.
The group was actually one of the many fronts for the Unification Church, set up by Reverend Moon. Moon was recently convicted of tax evasion in the United States and has massive holdings and a vast financial fortune.
Tassie was told not to question any of the group’s practices. He was asked to put his negativity in the closet and taught a technique of self-hypnosis called “centering.”
“It became a habit for him to go into a trance whenever we asked him questions,” says Tassie, “even after we had him deprogrammed he would still lapse in and out of trances all day.”
His family had begun to worry more about Tassie. His father called a cult information number in the United States after watching a special on television.
“Ron’s superior called him in and told him that we were planning to kidnap and deprogramme (sic) him,” he says. “Somehow they had traced us through that phone call.”
After that, Tassie became suspicious of his family and became withdrawn on the telephone. He usually called once a month.
“It was soon afterwards we decided to take a chance on rescuing Ron,” says Tassie, “we felt if the group was legitimate, we would ask for his forgiveness later.”
Tassie hired two security guards and a deprogrammer from the U.S.
“I was scared, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I didn’t want to hurt my brother.”
Finally, Tassie says their chance came to grab him. At his suggestion, a match was stuck in the lock of the van after he had parked it in a parking lot and gone on an errand.
When he returned, the two security guards jumped out from behind some bushes and pushed him into a car.
Tassie says he brought his brother to live with his family Fort McMurray while he recovered.
Now, his brother is living on his own again and helping others who have escaped or been dumped from cults.