The term "anti-cult movement" was coined as part of the controversy surrounding religious cults. In the 1960s some young middle-class people in the USA started to follow new religious movements that were strange for their families and often at odds with the traditional middle-class values and ideas. The families of these young people became worried about the behavior of their childeren and organized themselves what grew into the anti-cult movement.
Various groups frequently accused of being cults often claim that they are being persecuted by a number of individuals, groups, and organizations that are specifically dedicated to eradicating them. These groups have subsequently been labeled "anti-cult groups."
One organization that fit the description of an "anti-cult movement" is the American Family Foundation (AFF), and the closely associated Cult Awareness Network (CAN). Some AFF advisors are or were Margaret Singer, Louis Jolyon West, Maurice Davis, and Robert J. Lifton, who coined the term thought reform. Jolyon West performed an experiment with LSD-25, where he injected an elephant with a dose that was powerful enough to be lethal; this was alleged by the Church of Scientology to be part of the CIA'sMK-ULTRA project ; the Church mentions the incident whenever West is referenced, as part of their Dead Agenting policy . CAN was bankrupted as a result of lawsuits resulting from a policy of kidnapping and involuntary deprogramming of alleged cult members, and is now controlled by Scientology.
Supporters of purported cults state that the term "anti-cult movement" is an attempt to create a grand conspiracy theory, which suggests that there is a vast, organized network of individuals and groups who are dedicated to wiping out these organizations solely because they are considered cults.
The opponents of cults (most of them are ex-members) have greatly benefited from the internet. Many new religious movements are now the targets of web sites on which ex-members warn the public of their purported dangers. Before the popularity of the internet, ex-members had far more difficulty coming into contact with other ex-members and gathering and spreading information.
Some anti-cult activists are very critical of scholars who are less critical than they about cults. Anti-cult activists use the word cult apologist for them. These anti-cult activists accuse the cult apologists of being naive, bad scholars and above all reproach them of not warning people who should be warned. Scholarly cooperation between these anti cult-activists and cult apologists seems to be virtualy non-existent.