AN ecumenical group of Catholic and Protestant mission leaders from 30 countries has declared that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement is a "politically dangerous movement" that is "elitist and semifascist, ignoring the world's social and economic problems."

The assessment was contained in a final report of a workshop of the International Association of Mission Studies (JAMS) meeting at the Maryknoll Catholic Seminary here. Some 200 mission experts from the United States, Europe and the Third World participated.

The workshop on "new religious movements" and said that "although TM comes out of the Hindu tradition, it does not have integrity with that tradition." The report maintained that, "contrary to official contention that the movement is a neutral technique, TM is a religion to be rejected because of its inhuman anthropology" that leaves no place for the weak.

The report charged that some 1 million Americans have been initiated into the TM movement "by paying at least $100 to receive a mantra which could be read in any public library."

JAMS is an international organization which promotes study and research of mission questions and develops ecumenical cooperation among Christian groups involved in mission activity.

The report recognized that the popularity of new religious movements stems both from the fact that they respond to "the deeply felt needs of mankind" and the fact that Christian rituals and liturgies often "do not adequately serve as meeting points of the holy and the human." But the report added that many of the new religious movements "exploit the spiritual needs of humankind with their manipulative techniques and often enslave people to the power of individual leaders."