- Inform is a non-political and non-sectarian educational charity.
- Inform believes in the importance of accurate, objective and balanced knowledge as a basis on which individuals and organisations can make their own decisions according to their own values. To this end it collects, assesses and disseminates information about minority religious movements and also political/environmental fringe groups.
- Inform does not advocate any particular ideal or goal towards which people should be directed, but it does try to minimise unnecessary suffering brought about by ignorance or misinformation.
- Inform believes in respect for the individual. It also believes that all citizens have equal rights and responsibilities, irrespective of their religious beliefs. It has an equal opportunities policy of not discriminating, directly or indirectly, against people on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. This applies equally to staff as to those with whom we come into contact.
- Inform does not believe there should be special laws that apply only to alternative religions or ‘cults’. Its position, shared with successive British governments, is that if members of alternative religions commit a criminal act or breach the civil law, they should be prosecuted for their actions.
- Inform does, however, recognise that it might be necessary to introduce new laws which, while applicable to all citizens, would cover certain issues that have arisen in connection with some of the movements. Changes might, for example, be introduced to laws concerned with:
- children in ‘closed’ communities,
- medical procedures,
- habeas corpus,
- ‘consumer protection’, allowing for a ‘cooling off’ period after large sums of money or property have been handed over to a movement, or after contracts requiring certain commitments have been signed.
- Inform recognises that some movements engage in practices which, while not criminal, are not generally considered socially desirable. As a consequence, Inform tries to educate and, where necessary, alert people with reliable information about such movements and the possible consequences of joining one or other of their number.
- Inform believes in promoting dialogue among interested parties (such as members of different religious movements, former members, concerned relatives, clergy, social workers, therapists, academics, journalists, government officials, police, members of professional bodies and the general public). One method by which this is achieved is through the organisation of workshops, international conferences and, usually twice a year, day-long seminars on a wide range of relevant topics and issues.
- Inform’s policy of initiating and maintaining contact with the movements whenever possible has a number of reasons:
(a) The movements are an important source of information about their own beliefs, practices, organisation, history etc. They are not Inform’s only source, and Inform does not necessarily agree with, condone, or even believe everything that it is told.
(b) Inform has found that direct contact rather than indirect confrontation or attacks in the media can help to ameliorate a number of difficult situations:
(i) Through facilitating dialogue between estranged parties (with the full agreement of all concerned)
(ii) By encouraging a movement to alter some of its more questionable practices.
- Inform does not knowingly accept funding from any persons or organisations that might try to influence, or be thought to influence, its policy of providing objective information.
- All personal information given by enquirers is treated as strictly confidential unless the persons concerned give permission for it to be made available to others. Inform’s confidentiality is not, however, protected by legal privilege. This means that it has no grounds in law for withholding information if it is requested to disclose it by a court of law. Nonetheless, Inform will fight (and has successfully fought) in the courts to preserve the anonymity of its informants.
- Inform firmly believes that the law in a democratic country should be implemented, and whenever it learns of allegations of serious criminal activities it informs and assists the appropriate authorities by providing information (whilst observing individual confidentiality, see previous paragraph).
- It should, however, be recognised that Inform is an educational organisation. It does not have the ability to solve all problems; nor is it a policy-making body, a law-enforcement agency or a counselling service.
- As a registered charity, Inform has a duty of care to ensure that its funds, assets and reputation are not placed at undue risk, including from becoming inappropriately associated with illegality. Its policies and procedures are designed to minimise the risk that speakers at its seminars and conferences (as well as external links to and from its website) could promote or support opinions that might encourage terrorism or incite acts of racial or religious hatred.