Cults and New Religious Movements: A Reader (Blackwell by Lorne L. Dawson

By Lorne L. Dawson

What's a cult? Why do they emerge? Who joins them? And why do tragedies equivalent to Waco and Jonestown happen? This reader brings jointly the voices of historians, sociologists, and psychologists of faith to deal with those key questions about new spiritual pursuits.

  • Looks at theoretical causes for cults, why humans subscribe to and what occurs once they do.
  • Brings jointly the simplest paintings on cults by means of sociologists, historians, and psychologists of religion.
  • A broad-ranging, balanced and obviously geared up number of readings.
  • Includes assurance of topical concerns, comparable to the 'brainwashing' controversy, and cults in cyberspace.
  • Section introductions through the editor situate the character, worth, and relevance of the chosen readings in context of present discussions.

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Extra info for Cults and New Religious Movements: A Reader (Blackwell Readings in Religion)

Sample text

Just try to conceive for a moment the potency of a political candidate running for office having spiritual advisers who are telling him that his only goal should be to serve Krishna. (Judah 1974: 119) The Unification Church, too, has sought to gain a role for some of its members as advisers to, and confidantes of, prominent American politicians. The Children of God have also seen themselves as aides and counsellors to rulers and, more especially, to the world-ruler they believe to be about to rise.

The intensity of today’s cult controversies has to be understood partly in terms of the simultaneous application of communications technology by NRMs and by their opponents. 1 There is no reason why a small world should be less conflictual than a larger one. In other words, we should expect that religious controversies of all kinds will become more intense in the future. Indeed, one might go further and speculate that religion will continue to be a major contributor to global disputes because it is one of the places where the “colonization of the life-world” by “the system” (Habermas 1987) can be challenged.

The Children of God, for example, expect a progressive movement toward the prophesied End Time with the rise of the Anti-Christ shortly to occur or even now under way, the confirmation of the Covenant in 1985 and the inauguration thereby of the final seven years of world history. In 1989 the Tribulation will begin as the Anti-Christ demands to be worshipped as God, turning against the saints; and in 1993 Jesus is to return. Many members of the Unification Church, too, regard themselves as living in the Last Days (Edwards 1979: 80–9) in which the Lord of the Second Advent is destined to take up the task which Jesus failed to complete because of his crucifixion.

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