CBS News - New York/April 1989
A mother seeks the help of a deprogrammer in the desperate battle for the heart and mind of her teen-age son…while he clings to his beliefs in a controversial church. It is part of the growing dispute over whether the deprogramming of an individual against his will clashes with American ideals of religious freedom.
In an unusual network television report, CBS News’ 48 HOURS follows the emotional deprogramming of Aaron, a 14-year-old boy from Anchorage, Alaska – his mother’s bid to break the hold of what she calls a cult. 48 HOURS: THE DEPROGRAMMING, will be broadcast Thursday, May 18 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.
Anchor Dan Rather and CBS News Correspondent Victoria Corderi report on the gut-wrenching process of deprogramming and some of the moral and ethical questions raised by critics who feel that the right of Americans to worship as they please may be in jeopardy.
Highlights of this week’s 48 HOURS include:
THE SHOWDOWN: Correspondent Victoria Corderi is there when Aaron is lured by his mother to a rented apartment in Anchorage. To his surprise, Aaron is confronted by his mother, older brother, and a man he has never seen before for a relentless two-day struggle to hake his religious beliefs. 48 HOURS captures the drama from beginning to end.
THE MOTHER: A single-parent mother of three at first demanded her children attend the Potter’s House church to strengthen the family, but then broke away when she felt that the church was destroying their lives. Convinced that she is “possessed by the devil,” her son Aaron refuses to leave. In a last-chance bid to win back her loved one, she turns to a deprogrammer for help – a move she fears may make her son hate her forever.
THE SON: Caught with drugs in seventh grade, Aaron traded drugs for religion at The Potter’s House in Anchorage, Alaska. Aaron now find himself tormented by the conflict of family ties and the church. Corderi reports on Aaron’s past through interviews with family, friends, teachers and police.
THE DEPROGRAMMER: On a mission from Phoenix, Arizona, Rick Ross begins his assignment to save Aaron from what he calls “mind control.” His goal: to break the code that he claims the church has used to manipulate the vulnerable teen-ager.
Andrew Heyward is the Executive Producer. Catherine Lasiewicz is the Senior Producer.