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The Leo J. Ryan Award

Presented to Bob Minton

October 27, 2001



Priscilla Coates (President of the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation):

The first Leo J. Ryan award was given in 1981. Leo J. Ryan was a congressman from the Bay area of California, who became concerned about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. He investigated. He became more concerned. He became so concerned about his constituents and their families that he went to Jonestown, Guyana. He thought, I believe, that he was protected by the press. The press, I believe, thought they were protected by a U.S. congressman. Instead, both press and Congressman Leo J. Ryan were assassinated in Jonestown, Guyana, November 18, 1978.

I think he is the only congressman to be assassinated in the line of duty.

Congressman Ryan was caring, and he was courageous. The first Leo J. Ryan award was given, as I said, twenty years ago, in the fall of 1981. A bit of irony here: I was the first presenter. Sometimes it seems longer than that.

That first award went to an assemblyman from New York State, Harold Lasher. Howard Lasher had become concerned about the care of children in destructive cults. So he held hearings in New York City. He was harassed, and that is probably a very mild word when I think back on it. But he persevered, and he presented legislation to the New York State legislature.

The award was presented in New York City, in a building near the top floor, overlooking the United Nations and the East River. It was about 5:00 in the afternoon, and the sun was going down -- quite an interesting memory.

The individual who receives the Leo J. Ryan award is one who has demonstrated the courage and commitment that Congressman Ryan showed in the extreme; that individual who feels a duty as a human being to preserve and protect our most basic human rights.

This year we are proud, and Congressman Ryan would be proud to present the award to Mr. Robert Minton.

The award says: "In recognition of his extraordinary courage, tenacity, and perseverance in the battle against tyranny over the mind of man."

Robert Minton:

Thank you so much.

I would like to thank the entire Board of Directors of the Leo J. Ryan Educational Foundation and its Executive Director, Julia Bronder, for this distinguished award.

I am particularly honored to receive the Leo J. Ryan award from the hands of Priscilla Coates. It is, after all, through Priscilla's hands that the legacy of this award flows - from the Citizens Freedom Foundation to the Cult Awareness Network - and now the Leo J. Ryan Educational Foundation.

Thank you, Priscilla, for all you have done and for this great honor.

I remember in February 1999, the personal excitement I felt as a member of this audience when Bill and Lorna Goldberg received this award, and again in March 2000, when Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman were so honored. Those moments, like tonight, were electric moments for me, and I hope that all of you share some of my excitement. That truly makes this an award for all of us.

Since the events of September 11th, we have seen that our freedoms are under much greater attack than our complacency allowed us to believe. These terrorist acts have brought us face to face with the fundamental reality that the heritage of all our freedoms is derived from God. Complacency with our freedoms, however, is not new to us as a nation nor is the courage to right the wrongs done to our fellow men a new concept.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln asked how our nation could live half-slave and half-free. One hundred years later John F. Kennedy asked how the world could be half-free while the other half lived in slavery to a totalitarian ideology.

Today, our nation has taken up the cross yet again to defend freedom, this time against the global threat of terrorism. The embodiment of global terrorism has been focused on the Al Qaeda network since the crumbling towers of the World Trade Centers flashed before our eyes on the morning of September 11th.

Yet in our midst, there are other terrorists inextricably linked to Al Qaeda, because they too destroy towers filled with people. The only difference is that the terrorist organizations I am referring to destroy towers one human being at a time and in far greater numbers than Al Qaeda. Osama Bin-Laden does not lead these organizations; they are led or organized by like-minded terrorists with names like L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, Sun Myung Moon, Kip McKean, or David Berg.

Our collective fight against the fear and terror spread by these cults is the cross that many of us in this room tonight have freely chosen to bear. These cults adamantly refuse to accept the basic principles underlying the Constitution. Their outright attacks on our most fundamental liberties threaten to do permanent damage to the Bill of Rights, which is the bedrock of America's tradition of fairness, equality, decency and ultimately justice.

We are all in danger as a result of the successes these terrorist cults have had in cloaking themselves in the mantle of religious freedom as a means of distracting government attention from their criminal behavior, their human and civil rights abuses, their manipulation of the legal process and their outright disregard for humanity. Yet, these enemies of freedom are the ones who today howl the loudest for freedom and tolerance. Such calls for freedom and tolerance by Scientology and other cults are mere masks for their brands of slavery and terrorism.

Shortly before he was murdered, Leo J. Ryan wrote a letter to his good friend Ida Camburn, who is here with us tonight. In it he expressed his hope that a way could be found to combat these jackals that prey on human beings.

I would like to thank the Leo J. Ryan Educational Foundation for framing our fight for freedom from cults within the context of global terrorism, because by doing so Leo Ryan's wish can be more readily understood in a world reeling from the same brand of terror and fear perpetrated by cults.

Lastly, I would like to thank my two children, Katherine and Sarah Minton for their love and affection, their support and encouragement and all of our children because it is for our children that we wish to make this country and this world free from the terror of cults.

Thank you very much for this award.

Return to the Leo J. Ryan Conference Page

Learn More about Bob Minton


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