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Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California.

David MOLKO, Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Appellant; Tracy Leal, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. HOLY SPIRIT ASSOCIATION FOR the UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY et al. Defendants, Cross-complainants and Appellants.

HOLY SPIRIT ASSOCIATION FOR the UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY et al., Cross-complainants and Appellants, v. Neil MAXWELL, et al., Cross-defendants and Respondents.

AO25338, AO20935.

Decided: March 31, 1986

Kelly, Leal & Olimpia, Stanley F. Leal, Sunnyvale, for appellants:  Molko et al. Friedman, Sloan & Ross, Jeffrey S. Ross, San Francisco, for appellants:  Holy Spirit Ass'n et al. Shapiro & Shapiro, Carl B. Shapiro, Alysworth C. Green, San Anselmo, for respondents:  Maxwell and Alexander.

These cases present two general questions:  (1) whether, consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, former members of a religious organization can maintain causes of action against that organization for fraud and deceit, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment and can claim restitution for financial contributions made to the organization;  and (2) whether the religious organization can maintain a cross-complaint against a former member and other persons for violation of its civil rights under federal and state statutes.

These appeals arise out of one action in the superior court and have been consolidated on this court's own motion for decision herein.   In No. AO25338 plaintiffs David Molko and Tracy Leal appeal from a summary judgment entered in favor of defendants Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity and New Education Development Systems, Inc. (hereafter collectively referred to as “the Unification Church” or “the Church”).1  Also in No. A025338, the Unification Church cross-appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered after the sustaining of a demurrer without leave to amend as to its amended cross-complaint against Molko.   In No. A020935, the Unification Church appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered after the sustaining of demurrers without leave to amend as to its amended cross-complaint against cross-defendants Neil Maxwell and Joseph Alexander, Sr.

We conclude that the court below properly granted summary judgment in favor of the Unification Church on the complaint and affirm that judgment.   We also conclude, however, that the trial court erroneously sustained the demurrers to the Church's cross-complaint against Molko, Maxwell and Alexander without leave to amend.   Consequently, we reverse the judgments of dismissal entered in favor of those parties.

I. Introduction

Molko and Leal are former members of the Unification Church, a religious organization which follows the teachings of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.2  While members of the Church, they were on separate occasions forcibly abducted from public streets by third parties and persuaded to relinquish their belief in and association with the Church.   Thereafter, on July 25, 1980, they filed the instant complaint, alleging that they had been fraudulently induced to join the Unification Church through a variety of deceptive tactics on the part of some of its members.   Plaintiffs each asserted causes of action for fraud and deceit, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.   Molko also alleged a cause of action for restitution of a $6,000 gift assertedly obtained by the Church through the exertion of undue influence.3

On April 7, 1982, the Church filed a first amended cross-cross-complaint against Molko, Maxwell and Alexander, as well as against other cross-defendants not involved in these appeals.   The cross-complaint was based essentially upon what the Church refers to as “deprogramming” activities, the conspiring to kidnap and actual kidnap of members of the Church by non-believers for purposes of forcing those members to abandon their religious beliefs and to terminate their association with the Church.   Claims for violation of the civil rights of the Church and its members were asserted against all three of these cross-defendants under federal and state civil rights statutes.  (42 U.S.C., § 1985(3);  Civ. Code, §§ 51.7 and 52.)   Additionally, a claim for full or partial indemnity was asserted against Maxwell, alleging that any damages for which the Church were liable to Molko had been caused, in whole or in part, by Maxwell, who had kidnapped and “deprogrammed” Molko.

II. The Appeal of Molko and Leal from the Grant of Summary Judgment to the Church.

On May 26, 1983, the Church filed a motion for summary judgment or, in the alternative, for summary adjudication of issues as to plaintiff Leal, and filed a separate similar motion as to plaintiff Molko.   Insofar as relevant to the present appeal, the Church urged in support of its motions that plaintiffs had not relied upon any misrepresentations of Church members which proximately resulted in any damage of which plaintiffs complained;  that any misrepresentations or failure to disclose Church members' religious affiliation, or other conduct of which plaintiffs complained, was protected by the First Amendment and could not form the basis of a claim for fraud or intentional infliction of emotional distress;  that the conduct alleged in support of the claim for emotional distress was not outrageous;  that plaintiffs had not been subject to any involuntary confinement which would support a claim for false imprisonment;  and that plaintiffs consented to participate in all conduct which they claim caused them distress or damage.   Additionally, as to plaintiff Molko, the Church urged that his claims for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress were barred by the statute of limitations;  and that the Church was entitled to judgment on his claim for restitution of a gift because the evidence demonstrated that he made the $6,000 contribution because of his then existing religious beliefs.

Although Molko and Leal purport to argue in their briefs that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because there are triable issues of fact as to each cause of action, the record and briefs herein demonstrate that, with a minor exception which we deem immaterial (see infra, p. 882, fn. 5), the facts regarding the occurrences giving rise to this law suit are essentially undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment.4  It is, rather, the legal consequences flowing from those facts which are in dispute.   We will summarize the facts with respect to each plaintiff separately.

Facts as to Plaintiff David Molko

David Molko arrived in San Francisco in December 1978.   A 27-year-old graduate of Temple University School of Law, he had recently taken and passed the July 1978 examination for admission to the Pennsylvania bar.   He had come to San Francisco thinking that he might try to find a job or take the California bar examination.   He was quite uncertain about his future at that time.

In January 1979, Molko was approached by Mark Bush and Ernest Patton at a bus stop in San Francisco.   They told him they were involved with a group called the Creative Community Project which was interested in certain environmental issues.   When Molko inquired about the associational ties of the group, he was told it was composed of an “international community” of professionals who lived together and often discussed world events and topics of interest to the community.   Molko asked whether the group had any religious affiliation and was told that it did not.   Bush and Patton invited Molko to dinner that evening at the group's house on Bush Street in San Francisco.

Molko attended the dinner, where there appeared to be a number of guests such as himself.   Molko was not allowed to have any conversation with the other guests and was spoken to constantly by members of the group during dinner and after a lecture that followed.   After viewing a slide show of a farm in Booneville apparently operated by the group, he was invited to spend a weekend there and was told a bus was leaving that evening.   Molko was interested and agreed to go.   Prior to boarding the bus to Booneville, Molko signed a form, setting forth his name, address and telephone number.5  At Booneville Molko learned that the group derived its teachings from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and many other different philosophers.   There was at that time no mention of the Unification Church or “Moonies”.   Molko was at all times free to leave Booneville and knew that buses returning to San Francisco left daily.   He saw no evidence that anyone else was being restrained at Booneville against his or her will.

During the week of January 29, 1979, Molko visited another group site known as “Camp K.”   It was during this visit that Molko first learned that his new associates were all followers of the Unification Church and Reverend Moon.   He nevertheless remained with the organization.   Molko spent approximately five to seven weeks at Camp K.   He was not physically restrained there and knew he was free to leave.

Thereafter Molko returned to San Francisco and participated in Church activities such as fund-raising and “witnessing” (recruiting new persons to join the Church).   On April 6, 1979, Molko made a donation of $6,000 to the Church.   At Church expense, Molko attended a bar review course at Hastings Law School.   He took the California bar examination in July 1979.   On July 26, 1979, upon leaving the last session of the bar examination, Molko was forcibly abducted by two persons and persuaded to relinquish his belief in the Church.   His association with the Unification Church terminated at that time.

Facts as to Plaintiff Tracy Leal

On or about June 7, 1979, Tracy Leal, then 19 years of age, was traveling by bus from her home in Santa Clara County to visit Humboldt State University, where she was considering enrolling as a student.   This trip required a bus transfer in San Francisco.   While at the San Francisco bus depot, Leal was approached by a Unification Church member named Collette Zielinski, who said she was waiting for a friend arriving from Switzerland.   Leal remarked that she loved to ski and had always wanted to go to Switzerland.   Zielinski said her friend was a skier and suggested Leal might want to meet her.

Leal and Zielinski were then joined by another Unification Church member, Bradford Parker.   Zielinski and Parker told Leal about the house in San Francisco where they lived with a group of people calling themselves the Creative Community Project who engaged in various good works, such as providing food to the poor.   Leal asked Zielinski and Parker if this group were “some religious thing” and told them that if it were she did not want to get involved.   Parker responded that members of the group “all come from different religious backgrounds.”

Leal accepted an invitation to dinner that evening at the Bush Street house.   After the meal she listened to a lecture and viewed a slide show of a farm in Booneville.   The Creative Community Project was the only organization identified that evening.   Neither the Unification Church nor Reverend Sun Myung Moon were mentioned.

At the end of the evening Leal accepted an invitation to attend a weekend “seminar” at the Booneville farm.   Like Molko, she signed a form prior to the trip to Booneville which she asserts contained no mention of the Unification Church.   Although the seminar was to be held over the entire weekend, Leal was told she could return to San Francisco at any time.

On her second day at Booneville, Leal asked a co-director named Joshua whether the group was the “Moonies.”   He responded “No, but we are a form of Christian group, but we don't really want to drive anyone away.   So we are trying not to scare people away who might not be Christians.   So we are just kind of keeping quiet about it for a while.”

On or about June 11, 1979, Leal visited another Northern California encampment of the group, known as “Camp K,” with several people from Booneville.   On or about June 24, while at Camp K, Leal again inquired whether members of the group were “Moonies” and was told they were not.   Later that evening, Parker, Zielinski and another woman told Leal that the group did follow some of the teachings of Reverend Moon.

On June 29, 1979, Leal was finally informed of the true nature of the organization.   She was told that group members belonged to the Unification Church and followed the teachings of Reverend Moon.   Leal did not seek to leave the group upon learning these facts.

On approximately September 1, 1979, Leal flew with other Church members to Boulder, Colorado, where she spent the next month attending lectures, hiking and praying.   From there she went to Los Angeles where she engaged in fund-raising by soliciting contributions door-to-door.   She usually engaged in this activity alone, voluntarily returning at the end of each day to the Church facility where she was living.   On or about October 29, 1979, Leal was abducted from a street in Los Angeles by persons hired by her family and was persuaded to abandon her faith in the Church.   Leal's association with the Unification Church terminated at that time.

A. Fraud and Deceit

 With respect to their claims for fraud and deceit, Molko and Leal each alleged, in essence, that specified members of the Unification Church, knowing the falsity of their representations, told them that meetings to which they were invited were with a group of community-minded persons who maintained a farm near Booneville for recreational purposes.   The true facts were that the initial meetings each plaintiff participated in were with members of the Unification Church and were for the purpose of isolating and indoctrinating newly recruited persons.   Plaintiffs did not learn that defendants were attempting to induce them to join the Unification Church until the indoctrination program had effectively commenced.   As a result of defendants' fraud and deceit, plaintiffs were induced to join the Church and work long hours to further its purposes without material recompense.   Had plaintiffs known the actual facts, neither would have accepted invitations to the initial meetings, attended the farm in Booneville, or joined the Unification Church.

A motion for summary judgment “shall be granted if all the papers submitted show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c).)  Due to the “drastic nature of the procedure and the importance of safeguarding the adverse party's right to a trial, the moving party must make a strong showing.”  (6 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Proceedings Without Trial, § 285, p. 585.)  “In determining whether the papers show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact the court shall consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers ․ and all inferences reasonably deducible from such evidence, except summary judgment shall not be granted by the court based on inferences reasonably deducible from such evidence, if contradicted by other inferences or evidence, which raise a triable issue as to any material fact.”  (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c).6 )  We examine the trial court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiffs' causes of action for fraud, and all other causes of action, bearing this standard in mind.7

“The elements of fraud, which give rise to the tort action for deceit, are (1) misrepresentation (false representation, concealment or non-disclosure);  (2) knowledge of falsity (or ‘scienter’);  (3) intent to defraud, i.e., to induce reliance;  (4) justifiable reliance;  and (5) resulting damage.”  (4 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (8th ed. 1974) Torts, § 446, p. 2711, and authorities there cited.)   With respect to the element of justifiable reliance, it must be shown that the misrepresentation or non-disclosure was “ ‘an immediate cause of [the plaintiff's] conduct which alters his legal relations,’ ” and that without such representation “ ‘he would not, in all reasonable probability, have entered into the contract or other transaction.’ ”  (Id., at § 472, p. 2732, quoting Spinks v. Clark (1905) 147 Cal. 439, 444, 82 P. 45.)

Molko and Leal insist that, with respect to their claims of fraud and deceit, “the central issues of fact” that remain to be reviewed are the truth or falsity of the representations made to them by members of the Unification Church and the intent of those who made the representations.   We cannot agree.   Though it ultimately ruled against them, the trial court resolved these questions in favor of plaintiffs either explicitly or by necessary implication.   Thus, the trial court agreed that members of the Church “did not originally disclose that they were affiliated with the Unification Church or Reverend Moon, and there is evidence that they affirmatively misrepresented that fact, particularly to Ms. Leal.”   The record also clearly demonstrates that, as Molko and Leal contend, the misrepresentations were made to induce plaintiffs to associate with their recruiters, who feared plaintiffs would reject their overtures if their affiliation with the Unification Church or Reverend Moon were first made known.

The only genuine issue with respect to the claims of fraud and deceit is whether there is a triable issue of fact as to whether Molko and Leal justifiably relied upon the false representations initially made to them.   We agree with the trial court that this question does not present a triable issue of fact.

Preliminarily, the evidence is uncontroverted that within two or three weeks of their first contact with the group initially identified as the Creative Community Project, and before formally joining the Unification Church and engaging in its work, both Molko and Leal were informed of its affiliation with Reverend Moon.   Neither sought to leave the Church and both remained active in Church affairs long after becoming familiar with Reverend Moon's teachings.

Plaintiffs endeavor to avoid the seemingly fatal consequences of these undisputed facts by alleging that during the brief period before the truth was revealed to them agents of the Church had gained control of their minds, thereby rendering them incapable of resisting the inducements to join the Church and work diligently to further its purposes.   Plaintiffs contend, in other words, that they justifiably relied on representations they knew to be untrue because those who made the false representations first stripped them of independent judgment.   This theory, which is central not only to plaintiffs' cause of action for fraud and deceit but, as we shall see, to the remaining causes of action as well, rests entirely on the declarations of Dr. Margaret Singer, a psychologist, and Dr. Samuel Benson, a psychiatrist.

Dr. Singer states in her declaration that she had interviewed approximately 260 persons who were or had been connected with the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, which she identified as a “cult.” 8  She found a striking resemblance between the methods of recruitment and control used by “the cults” and those used on some Americans imprisoned during the Korean War whom she had also interviewed.   According to Dr. Singer, recruiters for the Unification Church engage in “systematic manipulation of the social influences” surrounding the potential recruit to the extent that the recruit loses the capacity to exercise his or her own free will and judgment.

Dr. Singer examined both Molko and Leal in connection with their recruitment and indoctrination into the Unification Church, and their experiences with “that cult.”   She found that the deceptive practices for both recruitment and “psychological confinement” of Molko and Leal were typical of those systematically utilized by the Unification Church.   As a result of the “tremendously sophisticated” indoctrination techniques employed by Unification Church members, Molko and Leal were both assertedly rendered incapable of exercising their own will and judgment and were unable to respond to the fact that they had been deceptively recruited by “Moonies,” with whom they would not otherwise have freely associated.   Dr. Singer further found that Molko and Leal each suffered emotional distress as a result of being manipulated and as a result of the fact that they complied with the requirements placed upon them to deceive others in either fund-raising or recruitment activities on behalf of the Unification Church.   Dr. Singer did not specify what factual information obtained from Molko and Leal led her to reach these conclusions.

Dr. Benson, in his declaration, stated that he had treated a significant number of patients suffering from psychological disorders secondary to their connection with “various cults,” such as the Unification Church.   He stated that he had found the recruitment and indoctrination methods of the Unification Church—which he, like Dr. Singer, described without elaboration as “the systematic manipulation of social influence[s]”—frequently result in the recruit being “persuasively coerced” into actions and activities in which he would not engage in the free exercise of his own will and intellect.   Dr. Benson further stated that studies of methods employed by Chinese communists under Mao Tse-tung reveal indoctrination techniques substantially similar to those used by the Unification Church and other cults.

Dr. Benson, who also interviewed Molko and Leal, found both to be so effectively coerced by the systematic manipulation employed as to be under control of their recruiters.   He concluded that they were rendered incapable of exercising their own will and judgment by the time they learned that their recruiters were acting on behalf of the Unification Church.   Dr. Benson also concluded that Molko and Leal had both lost the judgment capacity to leave the Church and suffered emotional distress as a result of the methods employed by their recruiters.   Like Dr. Singer, Dr. Benson did not indicate what, if any, specific factual information obtained from Molko and Leal supported his conclusions.

The trial court refused to permit the foregoing expert testimony to be used to establish any triable issue of fact.

Among other things, the court found that the testimony of Dr. Singer and Dr. Benson conflicted with that of plaintiffs themselves with respect to the significance of the Church's initial deception.   Thus, in a lengthy order granting summary judgment, the court specifically found that the misrepresentations of the Church and its failure to at first disclose its affiliation with Reverend Moon “cannot be deemed material or to have induced either Plaintiff reasonably to have relied upon them.   Plaintiffs' own testimony eliminates any triable issue of fact in this regard.”   Referring to the testimony of plaintiffs at deposition, the trial court observed that, “[b]y their own admissions, Plaintiffs agreed to join the group because their association satisfied personal concerns and anxieties both were experiencing.”   The admissions that they joined the group for reasons which were not dependent upon its formal affiliations were buttressed, the court found, by the fact that “when [plaintiffs] learned the group was part of the Unification Church, they did not leave or attempt to leave, although they knew they might have done so.   Their actions reflect that it was not their unawareness of defendant's affiliation that caused them to stay.”

The trial court refused to permit plaintiffs to rely on the opinions of Dr. Singer and Dr. Benson not only for the foregoing evidentiary reasons,9 but as well on constitutional grounds.   In this latter regard the trial court relied upon Katz v. Superior Court (1977) 73 Cal.App.3d 952, 141 Cal.Rptr. 234.

In Katz, the Court of Appeal was confronted with the testimony of a psychiatrist and a psychologist, very similar to that presented here, seeking to establish that the Unification Church engaged in “coercive persuasion” or “brainwashing” to gain the allegiance of recruits to the Church.   In that case, parents of five young adult members of the Church had obtained orders from the superior court appointing them temporary conservators of the persons of their children.   The parents contended their children had been subjected to “coercive persuasion” through methods such as “food deprivation;  sleep deprivation;  isolation;  the use of fear tactics;  the use of guilt feelings;  and indoctrination.”  (Id. at p. 972, 141 Cal.Rptr. 234.)   The Katz court was unwilling to inquire into the merits of these assertions, reasoning that “[w]hen the court is asked to determine whether that change was induced by faith or by coercive persuasion is it not in turn investigating and questioning the validity of that faith?   At the same time the trier of fact is asked to adjudge the good faith and bona fideness of the beliefs of the conservatees['] preceptors.   If it be assumed that certain leaders were using psychological methods to proselytyze [sic] and hold the allegiance of recruits to the church or cult, call it what we will, can it be said their actions were not dictated by faith merely because others who engaged in such practices have recanted?”  (Id. at pp. 987–988, 141 Cal.Rptr. 234, fn. omitted.)10

In overturning the orders appointing conservators, the Katz court concluded that in the absence of actions rendering the adult believers “gravely disabled,” as defined by statute,11 the processes of the state could not be used to interfere with the acts of the Church and its members without impinging upon the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.  (Id. at pp. 988–989, 141 Cal.Rptr. 234.)

Molko and Leal seek to distinguish Katz on several grounds.   They emphasize, first, that in Katz the individual right to religious freedom was asserted by then members of the Unification Church, not by the Church itself, and that Katz therefore does not speak to the ability of the Church to utilize the free exercise clause to prevent former members from subjecting its acts to judicial scrutiny.   It is additionally contended that the holdings of Katz should be limited to the context of conservatorship proceedings because the “gravely disabled criteria” set forth in the Welfare and Institutions Code were central to the decision in that case.   We are unimpressed by these efforts to constrain the meaning of Katz.   Although, to be sure, it was the “recruits” who in that case sought to protect the right to religious freedom while here it is the “preceptors” who advance that right, the applicable principles are the same.   Those fundamental principles are by no means limited to the unique facts of Katz or to conservatorship proceedings.

The trial court correctly discerned that the analysis in Katz is pertinent to the determination whether, consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, the indoctrination methods of the Unification Church (described in Katz as “coercive persuasion” and here as “the systematic manipulation of social influences”) may be the subject of judicial scrutiny;  that is, whether the methods assertedly employed by the Church to induce submission to its precepts are within the domain of religious belief, and therefore immune from scrutiny, or instead represent a form of action that may be restricted by the courts.   As we have noted, the court in Katz held that evidence that healthy adults were induced to join the Church and to change their life style as a result of “brainwashing” rather than by religious faith could not be considered because the evaluation of such evidence necessarily requires the exercise of judgment as to the validity of that faith.   (Id. at pp. 987–988, 141 Cal.Rptr. 234.)

The evidence proffered in the instant case presents precisely the same problem.   Pejoratively characterizing the Unification Church as a “cult,”12 and suggesting that its purposes are not authentically religious,13 plaintiffs' experts essentially seek to establish that the “tremendously sophisticated” indoctrination techniques employed to induce Molko and Leal to join the Unification Church destroyed their capacity to exercise free will and judgment.   However, the scientific perspective of plaintiffs' experts ignores the religious aspect of the Church's teachings and the spiritual nature of its hold on its members.   To this extent, the evidence supplied by these experts disregards the testimony of plaintiffs themselves and is incompatible with plaintiffs' position in this lawsuit.   Molko and Leal not only concede “the bona fides of the Unification Church's religious beliefs,”14 but acknowledge that, like other members of the Church, they sincerely adopted those beliefs.   Additionally, plaintiffs effectively concede the religious character of the alleged misrepresentations.   Thus, for example, Leal testified during discovery that she “believed that Moon was the Messiah and in some manner it was important to unite with him;  and if the only way to do that was to join the Church, fine, do it, and it's worth any deceit that had to be spoken or done.”   Plaintiffs' experts may not be permitted to isolate certain representations of the Church and treat them as non-religious;  for in determining whether allegedly fraudulent statements made by representatives of religious bodies are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment the statements must be viewed in the light of the doctrines of that religion.   (Christofferson v. Church of Scientology, Etc. (1982) 57 Or.App. 203, 239, 644 P.2d 577, 600, cert. den. (1983) 459 U.S. 1206, 103 S.Ct. 1196, 75 L.Ed.2d 439 and 459 U.S. 1227, 103 S.Ct. 1234, 75 L.Ed.2d 468.)

 It would be entirely possible for a trial court to accept the view of Dr. Singer and Dr. Benson that Molko and Leal did not willingly submit to the religious teachings of the Unification Church because the psychological techniques of the Church deprived them of the ability to reason critically and make independent judgments, and to conclude, accordingly, that there is a triable issue of fact in this regard;  but it would not be possible for a trial court to reach this result without questioning the authenticity and the force of the Unification Church's religious teachings and permitting a jury to do likewise, which is constitutionally forbidden.  (United States v. Ballard, supra, 322 U.S. 78, 87, 64 S.Ct. 882, 886;  Founding Church of Scientology v. United States (D.C.Cir.1969) 409 F.2d 1146, 1159, cert. den., 396 U.S. 963, 90 S.Ct. 434, 24 L.Ed.2d 427;  Van Schaick v. Church of Scientology of Cal., Inc. (D.Mass. 1982) 535 F.Supp. 1125, 1142–1145.)   The idea that religious doctrine can be (or, as some would have it, invariably is) manipulatively employed to subvert reason—which, it may be noted, is an idea that has been used to condemn all religions as deceptively exploitive of certain universal human needs (see, e.g., Freud, The Future of an Illusion (1927) )—is one we may entertain as individuals but which the First Amendment forbids us to consider as judges.   Embodied in this constitutional prohibition is not simply a recognition of the value of the religious sensibility in its inevitably diverse and often conflicting forms, but as well an acknowledgement of the powerlessness of reason, and therefore the powerlessness of the law, to compass the mystery of religious faith.   As Justice Douglas has stated, freedom of religious belief “embraces the right to maintain theories ․ which are rank heresy to followers of the orthodox faiths.   Heresy trials are foreign to our Constitution.   Men may believe what they cannot prove.   They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs.   Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.   Yet the fact that they may be beyond the ken of mortals does not mean that they can be made suspect before the law.”  (United States v. Ballard, supra, 322 U.S. 78, 86–87, 64 S.Ct. 882, 886.)   Thus, from the point of view of the law, the opinions of plaintiffs' experts are neither true nor false.   As the trial court observed, these opinions are simply “veiled value judgments concerning the entire outlook of the Unification Church.”15  The court's conclusions that such opinions could not be employed to create a triable issue of fact and that such a triable issue did not otherwise appear, were correct.

 We do not, of course, mean to suggest that because it is a bona fide religious organization the conduct of the Unification Church is, as are its beliefs, entirely immune from government restriction.   As emphasized by the United States Supreme Court in Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940) 310 U.S. 296, 60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed. 1213, and reiterated in Katz, “Nothing we have said is intended even remotely to imply that, under the cloak of religion, persons may, with impunity, commit frauds upon the public.   Certainly penal laws are available to punish such conduct.   Even the exercise of religion may be at some slight inconvenience in order that the state may protect its citizens from injury.   Without a doubt a State may protect its citizens from fraudulent solicitation by requiring a stranger in the community, before permitting him publicly to solicit funds for any purpose, to establish his identity and his authority to act for the cause which he purports to represent.   The State is likewise free to regulate the time and manner of solicitation generally, in the interest of public safety, peace, comfort or convenience.”  (Cantwell v. Connecticut, supra, 310 U.S. at pp. 306–307, 60 S.Ct. at 904, fn. omitted;  Katz v. Superior Court, supra, 73 Cal.App.3d 952, 987, fn. 13, 141 Cal.Rptr. 234, and cases there cited.)

The beguiling and very intensive recruiting methods of the Unification Church, which appear primarily directed at those young people who are most emotionally impressionable and vulnerable, seem objectionable to us, as doubtless they do to most disinterested observers.   Nonetheless, there is no evidence, and indeed it is not even claimed, that plaintiffs were induced to join and remain with the Church through the use or the threat of force or through other unlawful conduct or that plaintiffs were physically harmed during the recruitment process.   Thus, we are not presented with such a substantial threat to public safety, peace or order that the state, through the judicial process, may intervene and impose liability based upon mental health experts' opinions of the methods employed by members of a valid religious organization to impress their ideas upon mentally competent adults.  (Compare Meroni v. Holy Spirit Ass'n for Unification (1984) 125 Misc.2d 1061, 480 N.Y.S.2d 706 [claim for emotional distress where it was alleged that Church members knew recruit was already emotionally disturbed could survive motion to dismiss].)   If liability could be imposed in such circumstances, any disaffected adherent of a religion could bring suit alleging that he had been “brainwashed” by the religious organization, and courts would become entangled in determining which former adherents acted out of true faith and which were subject to “mind control.”   This is a result clearly at odds with the First Amendment.  “The judicial eye cannot penetrate the veil of the church for the forbidden purpose of vindicating the alleged wrongs of excised members;  when they became members they did so upon the conditions of continuing or not as they and their churches might determine, and they thereby submit to the ecclesiastical power and cannot now invoke the supervisory power of the civil tribunals.”  (Watson v. Jones (1871) 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679, 20 L.Ed. 666;  see also Serbian Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich (1976) 426 U.S. 696, 713, 96 S.Ct. 2372, 49 L.Ed.2d 151;  Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral (1952) 344 U.S. 94, 73 S.Ct. 143, 97 L.Ed. 120.)16

B. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

 Molko and Leal contend that defendants' fraudulent representations and use of mind control techniques caused them severe emotional distress.   In support of these contentions they rely primarily upon the declarations of Dr. Singer and Dr. Benson.   For reasons just described, which we need not reiterate, these opinions cannot constitutionally be employed to impose liability upon the Church.

Additionally, Molko and Leal contend that they suffered emotional distress through threats of harm.   In her answers to interrogatories Leal described as follows the threats of harm she experienced:  “death, illness, pain and suffering, disease of all possible sorts were believed to befall anyone who left the movement and including family, regardless of their love of God in a Christian manner.”   Molko similarly described the threats of harm he experienced:  “constant expression of how important it was not to leave the church because it was spiritually devastating, in that, people became ill, they experienced difficulty in dealing with people and/or their jobs.   That people had died after leaving the church with a clear indication that there was a positive correlation between leaving the church and either becoming ill or dying in a rather peculiar way.”

 The elements of a prima facie case of intentional infliction of emotional distress are (1) outrageous conduct by the defendant, (2) intention to cause or reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress, (3) severe emotional suffering and (4) actual and proximate causation of the emotional distress.  (Newby v. Alto Riviera Apartments (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 288, 131 Cal.Rptr. 547;  Rest.2d Torts, § 46.)  “The conduct must be outrageous, i.e., beyond all bounds of decency;  ordinary rude or insulting behavior is not enough to justify an award of damages.”  (4 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (8th ed. 1974) Torts, § 234, p. 2515.)

 The trial court held that “[w]hatever value judgments one may place upon the Church's methods, Defendants' conduct was not extreme and outrageous in the sense required to support such a cause of action under California law.   See, e.g., Cortez v. Macias (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 640, 651–653 [167 Cal.Rptr. 905];  Fuentes v. Perez (1977) 66 Cal.App.3d 163 [136 Cal.Rptr. 275];  Alcorn v. Anbro Engineering, Inc. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 493, 497–499 [86 Cal.Rptr. 88, 468 P.2d 216].”

We find nothing in the record that compels us to disagree with this conclusion.   As the evidence indicates and as the trial court found, plaintiffs joined the Unification Church and remained members out of the desire to satisfy certain personal needs each was then experiencing.   There is no competent evidence either plaintiff was compelled to join the Church or prevented from leaving.   To the contrary, plaintiffs were at all times free to maintain contact with non-members, as they did, and to end their involvement with the Church and repudiate its teachings, as eventually they also did.   The techniques used to recruit and indoctrinate plaintiffs, which are not materially different from those employed by other organizations (see, e.g., Christofferson v. Church of Scientology, Etc., supra, 57 Or.App. 203, 211–227, 644 P.2d 577, 584–591), are neither so indecent nor so beyond the limits of social toleration that they provide the necessary element of outrageous conduct.  (Ibid.)

 Additionally, the threats of which plaintiffs complain are those of divine retribution.   Such threats, certainly not unique to the Unification Church, are protected by the First Amendment and cannot form the basis for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.17  (See Fowler v. Rhode Island (1953) 345 U.S. 67, 70, 73 S.Ct. 526, [court cannot regulate or control sermons];  see also Van Schaick v. Church of Scientology of Cal., Inc., supra, 535 F.Supp. 1125, 1139 [exhortations to sever family and marital ties and depend solely on church for emotional support will not support claim for infliction of emotional distress—“They are similar to the demands for single-minded loyalty and purpose that have characterized numerous religious ․ movements over the ages.”].)   If threats of this sort were actionable, litigation against religious entities by former believers would be unconstrained and rampant.   Such a result, however, is precluded by the First Amendment.

C. False Imprisonment

 Molko alleges he was falsely imprisoned by defendants at Camp K near Healdsburg, the farm in Booneville and various locations in San Francisco.   Leal alleges she was falsely imprisoned at Camp K;  the farm in Booneville;  Boulder, Colorado;  Los Angeles;  and various locations in San Francisco.   Both allege that such false imprisonment had been accomplished by threats of harm to them and their families, deprivation of sleep and psychological manipulation.

False imprisonment is defined as “the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.”  (Pen. Code, § 236;  see Parrott v. Bank of America (1950) 97 Cal.App.2d 14, 22, 217 P.2d 89 [definition of crime and tort the same].)  “The tort of false imprisonment is the nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a person, without lawful privilege, for an appreciable length of time, however short.”  (City of Newport Beach v. Sasse (1970) 9 Cal.App.3d 803, 810, 88 Cal.Rptr. 476 [citations omitted].)   The confinement must be effected either by force or fear of force on the part of the victim.   In the absence of force, the victim must feel “compelled to obey because he fears harm or injury,” and his apprehension must be not unreasonable under the circumstances.  (People v. Martinez (1984) 150 Cal.App.3d 579, 599–600, 198 Cal.Rptr. 565.)

 The trial court found that “neither Plaintiff was falsely imprisoned as conventionally understood,” noting that both had acknowledged they were never physically seized or restrained physically.   In fact, during the period of his alleged imprisonment, Molko commuted to a bar review course.   Both plaintiffs acknowledge they were not physically restrained, but contend they were imprisoned by fraud and deceit and prevented from leaving because of the use of mind control techniques by defendants.

Plaintiffs rely upon Parnell v. Superior Court (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 392, 173 Cal.Rptr. 906 for the proposition that consent of the victim is not a defense where the consent is induced by coercion or deception.   On this basis they argue that their consent to remain on various premises owned or maintained by the Church is no defense to their claim because such consent was deceptively induced by mental coercion.

In Parnell the defendant was charged with the kidnapping and false imprisonment, lasting eight years, of a seven-year-old boy.   This court held there both that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence that the detention was effected by threat of force and that consent of the victim is no defense where the consent is induced by coercion or deception.  (Parnell v. Superior Court, supra, 119 Cal.App.3d 392, 409, 173 Cal.Rptr. 906.)   Putting aside the facts that Parnell involved a child of tender years and that the imposition of criminal liability sustained in that case did not threaten the exercise of First Amendment rights, our decision there did not eliminate force or threat of force as an element of false imprisonment.   Thus if there is no confinement by force or threat of force, the issue of consent does not even arise.

 Here, the only evidence of force or threats of force which plaintiffs seek to rely upon are the “mind control” testimony of Dr. Singer and Dr. Benson and threats of divine retribution.   As we have explained, such evidence may not in the circumstances of this case be used to create a triable issue of fact.   Consequently, the award of summary judgment on this cause of action, as on the causes of action for fraud and deceit and intentional infliction of emotional distress, was proper.

D. Molko's Claim for Restitution

 Molko bases his claim for restitution of the $6,000 which he contributed to the Church upon his allegations of being fraudulently induced to join the Church and of domination and control by defendants by use of threats, deprivation of sleep, excessively long hours of work and other activities, and psychological manipulation.

The trial court reviewed Molko's deposition testimony regarding the circumstances of his making the contribution:  “I was told that it was tax time and that the church was in desperate need of funds, and that it would be most—that the Heavenly Father would really appreciate, and really look favorably on seeing me give the money to the church.”   He had been fasting in Booneville before making the gift, but only for “a day or two.”   He was asked to travel to San Francisco, which he did by himself;  then “Got to San Francisco and was presented with the fact—oh, we are desperately in need of money.   Tax time is coming up.   Can you help us?   The Heavenly Father is asking you to help us.”

One of the Church members in whom Molko had the greatest confidence told him she “thought I should do what I thought was best” and “was pretty much leaving it up to me.”

While Molko contributed $6,000 to the Church, he was told that the Church would, as it did, pay for his tuition for the bar review course.   His explanation for giving and then receiving back a portion of the money was:  “That you gave God money and then God used your money rather than you using your money, and it worked better that way.   In other words you gave your money to God and then God can distribute your money.   And that way, the spiritual world can work for you.”   He also testified that at the time of making the gift he accepted that proposition.

Molko further testified that although he had some misgivings after agreeing to transfer the money, he did not ask to have it returned because:  “I really believed that there was [sic] evil forces lurking around.   And that if I disturbed the spiritual world enough, that something could happen.   I believed that.   And therefore, I felt a terrible sense of guilt and fear to ask for something that I had supposedly given to God.”   Molko revealed that he had other funds (amounting to “several thousand” dollars) which were available to him while he was a member of the Church, the existence of which he did not disclose to defendants.   Referring to these funds, he stated:  “I drew the line․  They [the funds] were quite under my control, but they stayed where they were.”   The trial court correctly determined that no triable issue of fact had been raised as to the question of undue influence.

Molko's own uncontroverted description of the circumstances under which he made the gift demonstrates that he did so out of a then held religious belief.   The only evidence he has attempted to rely upon in support of a contrary view are misrepresentations made to him which he claims fraudulently induced him to join the Church and the “mind control” evidence of the two experts.   As set forth earlier, the trial court justifiably determined that there was no reliance upon fraudulent misrepresentations and ruled correctly that, in the circumstances of this case, the testimony of Dr. Singer and Dr. Benson may not constitutionally be used to create a triable issue of fact.

A former member of a religious organization who, like Molko, made a gift on the basis of religious beliefs he no longer holds cannot challenge the validity of the gift without challenging the validity of his former beliefs.   Inquiry into the reasonableness of the beliefs which prompted him to make the contribution is, however, foreclosed by constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion.  (Estate of Supple (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 410, 414–415, 55 Cal.Rptr. 542, cert. den. (1967) 389 U.S. 820, 88 S.Ct. 37, 19 L.Ed.2d 70 [court cannot examine the validity or reasonableness of religious beliefs of testator], citing United States v. Ballard, supra, 322 U.S. 78, 64 S.Ct. 882 and People v. Woody (1964) 61 Cal.2d 716, 726, 40 Cal.Rptr. 69, 384 P.2d 813.

“Once it is conceded that [F]irst [A]mendment values are unacceptably compromised when civil courts undertake to settle religious issues, it becomes clear that allowing a legal determination about property or some other secular matter to turn on a court's answer to a religious question represents a path fraught with peril:  the path is one along which unsatisfied former believers could drag the civil courts into the theological thicket by the simple expedient of suing for a refund of their prior donations to a religious organization․  [¶ ] The existence of dissidents is a pervasive fact of religious life;  their role within religious organizations can be the healthy one of spurring continuing introspection and re-examination of doctrine.   But it is not hard to imagine what would occur if each potential dissenter were told:  contributing to a religious organization—your own or indeed that of a group you reject—will give you a judicial platform from which to air your religious differences with others and potentially win a favorable verdict;  all you need do in order to overcome the normal bar to civil adjudication of ecclesiastical matters is sue for a refund!  [¶ ] Not only would such an invitation declare open season on churches and their followers;  it could at the same time make at least some religious groups resist the very attempt to solicit donations, while inducing others—those too desperate for resources to refrain from financial appeals—to rigidify their doctrines and freeze or at least conceal their own evolution for fear that doctrinal change, ordinarily immune from censorship, could trigger refund-seeking litigation.   It is in part for reasons such as these that the [F]irst [A]mendment has been construed to mean that religious questions remain non-justiciable even when they do not reach civil courts independently but instead form preliminary or ancillary issues in an otherwise justiciable dispute.”  (Tribe, American Constitutional Law (1978) pp. 874–876.)   To permit Molko's claim to go to trial on the evidence he has presented would have numerous adverse consequences for religion which the First Amendment was designed to avoid.

For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the court below properly awarded summary judgment to the Unification Church on all plaintiffs' causes of action.18

III. The Appeals of the Unification Church From Judgments of Dismissal on Its Cross-Complaint

A. The Proceedings Below

The Church's cross-complaint alleged a cause of action for indemnity against cross-defendant Neil Maxwell and alleged separate causes of action under 42 U.S.C. section 1985(3) and Civil Code sections 51.7 and 52 against all three of the cross-defendants involved in these appeals, Maxwell, Joseph Alexander, Sr. and David Molko.19

Maxwell demurred to the indemnity cause of action on the basis that it failed to state a cause of action.   All three cross-defendants demurred to the federal and state civil rights causes of action on the ground that the Church lacked standing to sue.   Maxwell and Alexander additionally demurred to these two causes of action on the basis that they were barred by the statute of limitations.20

The trial court sustained the demurrers “on all grounds stated” without leave to amend.   Thereafter the Church filed a motion for reconsideration, urging that any defects in the first amended cross-complaint could be cured by further amendment and requesting leave to file a proposed second amended cross-complaint, a copy of which was attached to its motion.   The trial court denied the motion for reconsideration and judgments of dismissal were subsequently entered.

 A general demurrer admits the truth of all material factual allegations in the complaint or, as here, cross-complaint;  the question of the plaintiff's ability to prove the allegations, or the possible difficulty in making such proof, does not concern the reviewing court;  and the plaintiff need only plead facts showing that he may be entitled to some relief.   (Alcorn v. Anbro Engineering, Inc., supra, 2 Cal.3d 493, 496, 86 Cal.Rptr. 88, 468 P.2d 213, citations omitted.)   A demurrer should not be sustained if the pleading, liberally construed, states a cause of action on any theory.  (5 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Pleading, § 942, p. 377.)   The general rule is that it is an abuse of discretion to sustain a demurrer without leave to amend unless the complaint shows that it is incapable of amendment.   (Berkeley Police Assn. v. City of Berkeley (1977) 76 Cal.App.3d 931, 942, 143 Cal.Rptr. 255.)   We review the sustaining of the demurrers in this action under these established principles;  except that we do not review the sustaining of the demurrer with respect to the indemnity cause of action, which has been rendered moot by our earlier holding that the granting of summary judgment to the Unification Church was proper.

B. Standing of the Church to Assert Claims Under 42 U.S.C. Section 1985(3)

 The Church alleged that, as a result of their class-based animus toward the Church and its members, the cross-defendants had conspired to deprive the Church and its members of the equal protection of the laws and of “equal privileges and immunities under the laws.” 21  The allegations against Maxwell, Alexander and Molko were essentially the same, with the exception of the identity of their co-conspirators and the Church members who were allegedly kidnapped in furtherance of the conspiracy.22  It was alleged that the cross-defendants' purpose was, inter alia, to prevent members of the Church from freely exercising their religious beliefs through interstate travel.   The cross-complaint alleged that an injunction was required to prevent cross-defendants from continuing their efforts to kidnap and “deprogram” members of the Church.   It also sought compensatory and punitive damages.   The Church has abandoned the contention urged in the court below that it may assert a claim for violation of its own right and that of its members to free exercise of religion under 42 U.S.C. section 1985(3), but still contends it has representational standing to assert a violation of its members' constitutionally guaranteed right to travel.23

Cross-defendants initially respond that the Church cannot have representational standing under section 1985(3) because only a “person” can sue under that statute.   This argument is simply erroneous.   The right of an organization to sue under the statute has repeatedly been recognized.  (See, e.g., N.A.A.C.P. v. Detroit Police Officers Ass'n., Etc. (E.D.Mich. 1981) 525 F.Supp. 1215, 1218;  Vietnamese, Etc. v. Knights of K.K.K. (S.D.Tex. 1981) 518 F.Supp. 993, 1000;  see also Chico Fem. Women's Hlth. Cr. v. Butte Glenn Med. S. (E.D.Cal. 1983) 557 F.Supp. 1190, 1194, fn. 6.)

 Cross-defendants next claim that the Church fails to meet the standing requirements for an association set forth by the Supreme Court in Hunt v. Washington Apple Advertising Comm'n. (1977) 432 U.S. 333, 343, 97 S.Ct. 2434, 2441, 53 L.Ed.2d 383:  “[A]n association has standing to bring suit on behalf of its members when:  (a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right;  (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization's purpose;  and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.”24  (See also Warth v. Seldin (1975) 422 U.S. 490, 511, 515, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2211, 2213, 45 L.Ed.2d 343.   In our view, the Church has met this standard.

Unquestionably, Church members would have standing to sue for the alleged violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1985(3) in their own right.   Further, the Church's interest in protecting its members' rights to freely travel in the exercise of their religious activities is germane to the Church's purpose as alleged in the cross-complaint:  “The primary purpose of the church is the worship of God and engaging in related religious activities.   The members of the Church constitute a recognizable group of persons who are bound together by an intellectual and spiritual nexus.   Through their association, members of the Church seek to disseminate and enhance their religious beliefs through the free exchange of ideas, through interstate travel and through peaceful assembly.”   Thus the first two requirements of Hunt are met.

As to the third requirement, it does appear that the request for damages in the first amended cross-complaint would require the participation of individual members of the Church.25  (See Warth v. Seldin, supra, 422 U.S. 490, 515–516, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2213–2214;  R.I. Chapter, Assoc. Gen. Contractors v. Kreps (D.R.I. 1978) 450 F.Supp. 338, 346, fn. 3.)   The Church, however, sought leave to file a second amended cross-complaint in which damage claims were deleted and injunctive relief only was sought.26  As this amendment would have eliminated the need for participation of individual members in the action, the trial court abused its discretion in denying leave to file the proposed second amended cross-complaint.27

C. Standing of the Church to Assert Claims Under Civil Code Sections 51.7 and 52

 As to the state civil rights claims, the only arguments cross-defendants advance in addition to the standing argument just discussed are that only a “person” can sue under the pertinent statutes, and that the requirement of Code of Civil Procedure section 367 that an action be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest precludes the Church from bringing suit on behalf of its members.   These arguments are without merit.

Civil Code section 14 expressly provides that the word “person” as used in that code “includes a corporation as well as a natural person.”28  Civil Code sections 51.7 and 52, by their language, protect the rights of “persons.”   Thus a corporation can maintain a cause of action under those sections.

 Additionally, Code of Civil Procedure section 367 has never been held to bar an association or organization from bringing suit on behalf of its members.   If cross-defendants' argument were correct, such a suit could never be maintained under California law.   Such suits, however, are clearly permissible and cross-defendants' contention erroneous.  (See Gay Law Students Assn. v. Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 458, 465, fn. 3, 156 Cal.Rptr. 14, 595 P.2d 592;  County of Alameda v. Carleson (1971) 5 Cal.3d 730, 737, fn. 6, 97 Cal.Rptr. 385, 488 P.2d 953, appeal dismissed (1972) 406 U.S. 913, 92 S.Ct. 1762, 32 L.Ed.2d 112;  Residents of Beverly Glen, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1973) 34 Cal.App.3d 117, 121–123, 109 Cal.Rptr. 724.)

D. The Statute of Limitations

 Maxwell and Alexander maintain that the Church's claims under the federal and state civil rights statutes are barred by the statute of limitations because they are subject to the one-year limitation period of Code of Civil Procedure section 340, subdivision (2) (personal injury and various other torts), rather than the three-year limitation period of section 338, subdivision 1 (action on a liability created by statute).   We need not reach this issue for, as we have noted, the Church has abandoned any claims for money damages under the civil rights statutes.   It seeks to file a second amended cross-complaint seeking injunctive relief only as to what it alleges to be an ongoing conspiracy among the cross-defendants.   If a conspiracy is actually proved to be continuing, the action is obviously timely.   If no continuing conspiracy is proven, injunctive relief will, of course, be denied.

IV. Conclusion

As we have determined that summary judgment was properly granted to the Unification Church, the judgment entered in its favor on the complaint is affirmed.   The Church's cause of action for indemnity against Maxwell (the fourth cause of action of the cross-complaint) is thereby rendered moot.

We have also concluded that the court below abused its discretion in sustaining without leave to amend the demurrers to the Church's causes of action against Maxwell, Alexander and Molko under 42 U.S.C. section 1985(3) and Civil Code sections 51.7 and 52 (the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth causes of action of the cross-complaint).   The judgments of dismissal entered on those causes of action are therefore reversed.   The court is directed to vacate its orders sustaining without leave to amend the demurrers of Maxwell, Alexander and Molko to the cross-complaint and to grant leave to the Church to file its proposed second amended cross-complaint.


1.   While these two organizations are apparently separate entities, differentiation between them is unnecessary for purposes of these appeals.

2.   The Unification Church “is one of more than 120 national Unification Churches throughout the world propagating a common religious message under the spiritual guidance of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Unification movement's founder and prophet.   The Church was organized as a California nonprofit corporation in 1961, and since 1975 has maintained its headquarters in New York City.”  (Holy Spirit v. Tax Comm. (1982) 55 N.Y.2d 512, 519, 450 N.Y.S.2d 292, 435 N.E.2d 662.)   The Church's description of its history, doctrine, dogmas and teachings is set forth in the opinion just cited at pp. 524–525, 450 N.Y.S.2d 292, 435 N.E.2d 662.

3.   The complaint set forth additional causes of action which were abandoned prior to the entry of judgment and have no relevance on appeal.

4.   In its brief, the Church noted this lack of dispute as follows:  “The facts set forth are appellants' version of the events which must necessarily be accepted for purposes of summary judgment.   Had the matter gone to trial, respondents would have vigorously contested many of these suppositions [;] however, as the [trial] court concluded, even on the appellants' version of the facts, no viable causes of action could be stated.”   The facts before the trial court at the time of the hearing on the motion for summary judgment were supported by declarations and references to extensive discovery responses.

5.   The Church claims that this form identified the program at Booneville as being associated with the Unification Church, while Molko claims that it did not.   Due to the conclusions which we reach in this opinion, this factual dispute is immaterial to the Church's entitlement to summary judgment.

6.   The word “deducible” was substituted for the word “deductible,” which appeared in the statute at the time defendants' motion for summary judgment was made, by a 1983 amendment to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c).   That amendment is obviously without substantive significance.

7.   The Church argues that, pursuant to Reader's Digest Assn. v. Superior Court (1984) 37 Cal.3d 244, 208 Cal.Rptr. 137, 690 P.2d 610, summary judgment should be deemed a “favored remedy” and viewed under a standard more favorable to the Church in this case because it involves the exercise of First Amendment rights.   That such support can be found in Reader's Digest is questionable since the California Supreme Court was there concerned only with “defamation cases involving the issue of ‘actual malice’ under the New York Times standard”, which requires proof by clear and convincing evidence rather that a preponderance of evidence.  (Id., at p. 252, 208 Cal.Rptr. 137, 690 P.2d 610.)   In any event, we need not reach this issue here since we determine that pursuant to the traditional standard the trial court properly granted summary judgment with respect to all causes of action.

8.   The “distinguishing criteria” of “cults” set forth by Dr. Singer are described infra at footnote 12.

9.   In addition to finding that the opinions of the two experts conflicted with plaintiffs' own testimony, the trial court also noted that:  “Both doctors examined the Plaintiffs long after the events in question.   They did not reach their opinions concerning Plaintiffs' state of mind based upon a contemporaneous examination independent of their views of Unification Church methods, but seem to have reasoned backwards from their disapproval of those methods to the conclusion that Plaintiffs were not thinking freely because they were persuaded by them.”

10.   We do not understand this statement to mean that a court cannot under any circumstances pass on the question of whether members of a religious organization honestly and in good faith believed assertedly fraudulent representations.   Such a judicial inquiry can be undertaken to the extent that the truth of religious doctrines or beliefs is withheld from the trier of fact.  (United States v. Ballard (1944) 322 U.S. 78, 64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148.)

11.   See Welfare and Institutions Code section 5008, subdivision (h), defining “gravely disabled” as, inter alia, a condition in which a person is unable, as a result of a mental disorder, to provide for his basic personal needs for food, clothing or shelter.

12.   According to Dr. Singer, the “distinguishing criteria” of “cults” are the following:  “Cult leaders are self-appointed messianic persons who claim to have special missions in life, which they claim have been given to them because they are unique.   The veneration of the group form is directed toward the leader rather than toward God or abstract principles such as might be done in other kinds of organizations.   Usually the cults have a double set of ethics in that a cult member is open and honest within the cult but learns that it is all right to deceive non-members.  ․  [¶]  The cults tend to be authoritarian in their power structure, in contrast to the wider society of democracy in which we live.   Cults also tend to be totalistic in the sense that they prescribe down to the tiniest detail how one should communicate with other members in the groups, non-members, the precise activities in which they should engage, etc.”It deserves to be noted that there is disagreement about the proper definition of the religious “cult” among many who have studied the phenomenon from a scientific perspective.  (Compare, e.g., Stark & Bainbridge, Of Churches, Sects and Cults:  Preliminary Concepts for a Theory of Religious Movements, 18 Jour. for the Sci. Study of Religion 117 (1979) and Martin, A Definition of Cult:  Terms and Approaches, in Fichter (ed.)   Alternatives to American Mainline Churches (1983) pp. 27–42.)   Moreover, “not all religious scholars or psychologists agree with popular writers that cults always have had unwholesome effects on their members.”   (Pavlos, The Cult Experience (1982) p. 4;  see also Shupe & Bromley, The New Vigilantes:  Deprogrammers, Anti-Cultists, and the New Religions (1980).)   In any event, as a noted sociologist has pointed out, the “cult” remains a “vague and unsatisfactory concept.”  (Eister, Culture Crises and New Religious Movements:  A Paradigmatic Statement of a Theory of Cults, in Zaretsky & Leone (eds.) Religious Movements in Contemporary America (1974) p. 613.)

13.   Dr. Singer declares that “usually” the “only two real purposes” of cults are “fundraising and recruiting other members.”

14.   It may be noted in this connection that federal and state courts in addition to the one in Katz have recognized that the primary purpose of the Unification Church is religious and that its beliefs are protected under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.   As stated by one federal court, “the Unification Church, by any historical analogy, philosophical analysis, or judicial precedent ․ must be regarded as a bona fide religion.”  (Unification Church v. I.N.S. (D.D.C.1982) 547 F.Supp. 623, 628, fn. omitted;  accord, Holy Spirit v. Tax Comm., supra, 55 N.Y.2d 512, 518–519, 450 N.Y.S.2d 292, 435 N.E.2d 662;  see also, Larson v. Valente (1982) 456 U.S. 228, 102 S.Ct. 1673, 72 L.Ed.2d 33;  Ward v. Connor (4th Cir. 1981) 657 F.2d 45, cert. den. (1982) 455 U.S. 907, 102 S.Ct. 1253, 71 L.Ed.2d 445;  Troyer v. Town of Babylon (E.D.N.Y.1980) 483 F.Supp. 1135, 1137, affd. 628 F.2d 1346, affd. 449 U.S. 988, 101 S.Ct. 522, 66 L.Ed.2d 285.)

15.   In this regard, the trial court pointed out that “[t]he danger of relying upon value judgments disguised as expert psychiatric opinion has been recognized in various contexts.   See, e.g., Smith v. Schlesinger (D.C.Cir.1975) 513 F.2d 462, 474–475, and authorities cited at p. 475, fn. 45;  Wexler, Forward:  Mental Health Law and the Movement Toward Voluntary Treatment (1974) 62 Cal.L.Rev. 671, 673;  Ennis & Litwack, Psychiatry and the Presumption of Expertise:  Flipping Coins in the Courtroom (1974) 62 Cal.L.Rev. 693, 726–729.   While the limitations of expert testimony as a means of evaluating an individual's state of mind more typically have been considered in upholding the fact finder's right to reject the expert's opinion, e.g., Mills v. Kopf (1963) 216 Cal.App.2d 780, 785–786, [31 Cal.Rptr. 80], expert testimony may be excluded altogether if based on matters which may not reasonably be relied upon.   Evidence Code section 801(b), and Law Revision Commission Comment thereto.   See, e.g., People v. Luis (1910) 158 Cal. 185, 195 [110 P. 580];  Roscoe Moss Co. v. Jenkins (1942) 55 Cal.App.2d 369 [130 P.2d 477];  Long v. Cal-Western States Life Ins. Co. (1955) 43 Cal.2d 871 [279 P.2d 43];  1 Ziskin, Coping with Psychiatric and Psychological Testimony vii (3d ed. 1981).   It has also been suggested that opinions in this area are not sufficiently beyond common experience to warrant expert testimony.  Evidence Code section 801(a).   See Morse, [Crazy Behavior, Morals and Science:  An Analysis of Mental Health Law (1978) ] 51 So.Cal.L.Rev. [527] at pp. 558–560.”

16.   Since we have determined that plaintiffs did not rely upon the initial failures to disclose the Church's affiliation in joining and remaining with the Church, and that the proferred evidence of “mind control” in the circumstances of this case cannot constitutionally be used to negate the evidence that plaintiffs acted voluntarily in so joining and remaining after having knowledge of the identity of the Church, we need not consider the Church's argument that the failure to disclose the identity or affiliation of their organization in recruiting new members can never, consistent with the First Amendment, constitute actionable misrepresentations.

17.   In response to plaintiffs' suggestion that they were also prevented from leaving the Church by their fear of disappointing other Church members, the trial court correctly observed that threats of social ostracism are not impermissible and, indeed, are also constitutionally protected.  (NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. (1982) 458 U.S. 886, 102 S.Ct. 3409, 73 L.Ed.2d 1215.)

18.   Due to the conclusions we have reached here, we do not consider the Church's additional contentions, set forth in footnotes to its brief, that Molko's claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment are barred by the statute of limitations.

19.   Various claims were asserted against other cross-defendants who are not parties to these appeals.

20.   Alexander also demurred to the federal and state civil rights causes of action on the ground that they were uncertain.   He has not urged this argument on appeal in support of the judgment below and we do not consider it.

21.   42 U.S.C. section 1985(3) provides:  “If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire or go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another, for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws;  or for the purpose of preventing or hindering the constituted authorities of any State or Territory from giving or securing to all persons within such State or Territory the equal protection of the laws;  or if two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States;  or to injure any citizen in person or property on account of such support or advocacy;  in any case of conspiracy set forth in this section, if one or more persons engaged therein do, or cause to be done, any act in furtherance of the object of such conspiracy, whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, the party so injured or deprived may have an action for the recovery of damages occasioned by such injury or deprivation, against any one or more of the conspirators.”

22.   It was alleged that Maxwell participated in a conspiracy to kidnap David Molko.   Alexander and Molko were alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to kidnap a Church member named Brenna Steinberg.

23.   In Carpenters v. Scott (1983) 463 U.S. 825, 830, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 3356, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049, the Supreme Court held that an alleged conspiracy to infringe First Amendment rights is not a violation of section 1985(3) unless it is proved that the state is involved in the conspiracy or that the aim of the conspiracy is to influence the activity of the state.   The Court recognized, however, that, in accordance with its earlier decision in Griffin v. Breckenridge (1971) 403 U.S. 88, 91 S.Ct. 1790, 29 L.Ed.2d 338, section 1985(3) reaches purely private conspiracies aimed at depriving persons of the right to travel guaranteed by the federal Constitution.  (Carpenters v. Scott, supra, 463 U.S., at pp. 832–833, 103 S.Ct. at 3358.)   The Court also declined to pass on whether section 1985(3) reaches conspiracies other than those motivated by racial bias.  (Id., at p. 835, 103 S.Ct. at 3359.)   The Fourth Circuit, however, noting that “the lower federal courts have, almost without exception, extended the coverage of the statute [section 1985(3) ] to religious groups [citations],” has expressly held that a conspiracy against the Unification Church motivated by religious discrimination falls within the ambit of section 1985(3).  (Ward v. Connor, supra, 657 F.2d 45, 48;  see generally Annot., Civil Liability for “Deprogramming” Member of Religious Sect (1982) 11 A.L.R. 4th 228.)

24.   Since we determine that the Church has met this standard, we need not address the Church's contention that a more lenient state law standard (see Stocks v. City of Irvine (1981) 114 Cal.App.3d 520, 531–533, 170 Cal.Rptr. 724) governs the issue of standing in this case.

25.   We deem frivolous Maxwell and Alexander's contention that individualized participation is required because they would defend on the ground that members of the Church are “brainwashed” and do not act of their own free will.   If such a defense were available to them, they could develop it through discovery regardless whether individual members were parties to the action.

26.   Injunctive relief is available under 42 U.S.C. section 1985.  (Action v. Gannon (1971 8th Cir.) 450 F.2d 1227, 1237–1238;  Mizell v. North Broward Hospital District (1970 5th Cir.) 427 F.2d 468, 473.)

27.   We also deem frivolous Maxwell and Alexander's suggestion that the Church may not be accorded representational standing because its advocacy of its members' interests is not sincere or “bona fide.”   Certainly nothing in the cross-complaint or in the evidence before the trial court indicates that this is so, and this factual contention has no place in an argument supporting the sustaining of a demurrer.

28.   The Church alleged in its cross-complaint that it is a California nonprofit corporation.  (See also, fn. 2, ante.)

KLINE, Presiding Justice.

ROUSE and SMITH, JJ., concur.