Cults: A Reference Handbook, Second Edition (Contemporary by James R. Lewis

By James R. Lewis

Over half U.S. religions have shaped considering 1960, however the time period "cult" applies in basic terms to a couple high-demand spiritual teams. within the Nineties, a sequence of violent incidents related to replacement spiritual teams reactivated the talk within the usa, Europe, and East Asia. High-profile terrorist violence similar to the September eleven assaults has triggered curiosity within the factor of faith and violence, which in flip has encouraged new paintings at the cult issue.This quantity surveys the cult controversies from the early Seventies to the current. integrated is an in-depth examine brainwashing and the problem of other religions and violence. The relevant debatable religions, hobbies, and members that experience made the headlines also are tested.

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By James R. Lewis

Over half U.S. religions have shaped considering 1960, however the time period "cult" applies in basic terms to a couple high-demand spiritual teams. within the Nineties, a sequence of violent incidents related to replacement spiritual teams reactivated the talk within the usa, Europe, and East Asia. High-profile terrorist violence similar to the September eleven assaults has triggered curiosity within the factor of faith and violence, which in flip has encouraged new paintings at the cult issue.This quantity surveys the cult controversies from the early Seventies to the current. integrated is an in-depth examine brainwashing and the problem of other religions and violence. The relevant debatable religions, hobbies, and members that experience made the headlines also are tested.

Show description

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Clearly, the intention was to appeal to readers and viewers with sensationalism rather than to produce a balanced picture of the Branch Davidians. More generally, the journalistic penchant for sensationalism has been a decisive factor in promoting the stereotype of “evil cults” to the larger society. The mass media are not, of course, motivated primarily by the quest for truth, although some reporters have more integrity than others. Instead, the mainstream media are driven by market forces and by the necessity of competing with other newspapers, TV news shows, and so forth.

In addition to shaping public opinion by recounting stereotypical atrocity tales, deprogrammees feed into the cult controversy in a number of other ways: In a variety of different court battles, ex-members recruited by anticultists provided negative testimony against their former movements, such as in child custody cases in which one of the parents is a “cult” member and in cases where governmental agencies need evidence for “cult” violations of various governmental regulations. The testimony of a deprogrammed Branch Davidian was, for example, part of the evidence used to obtain a search warrant before the assault on the Davidian community.

In another important study, Canadian psychiatrist Saul Levine (1984) found that, out of a sample of more than 800 people who had joined controversial religious groups, more than 80 percent dropped out within two years of membership. These are not the kind of statistics one would anticipate in groups wielding powerful techniques of mind control. In the face of these and other empirical studies, social scientists have asked these further questions: Given the lack of empirical support, where does the brainwashing notion originate?

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