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Encyclopedia > Opposition to cults and new religious movements

Opposition to cults and new religious movements (NRMs) comes from several sources with diverse concerns. Most of the opposition are cult watchers that collect and publish critical information about one or several groups they consider cults. Other opposition comes from disaffected individuals (also known as apostates), traditional religion, the anti-cult movement, the Christian countercult movement, and skeptics. In religion and sociology, a cult is a cohesive group of people (often a relatively small and recently founded religious movement) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be far outside the mainstream. ... A new religious movement or NRM is a religious, ethical, or spiritual grouping of fairly recent origin which is not part of an established religion and has not yet become recognised as a standard denomination, church, or religious body. ... Apostasy (Greek απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is the formal renunciation of ones religion. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The Christian countercult movement, also known as discernment ministries is the collective designation for many mostly unrelated ministries and individual Christians who oppose non-mainstream Christian and non-Christian religious groups, which they often call cults. ...

Contents


History

The modern era of opposition to cults and new religious movements started in the 1960s in the United States.[citation needed] One of the first organized anti-cult groups in the USA was FREECOG founded in 1972 by concerned parents whose children were involved in the Children of God group. Opposition to NRMs grew after the mass suicide of the members of the Peoples Temple at Jonestown in 1978. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... The Children of God (COG), later known as the Family of Love, the Family, and now the Family International, is a new religious movement, widely referred to as a cult[1] by the media and some government organizations, that started in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, USA. It was part... A new religious movement or NRM appears as a religious, ethical or spiritual grouping that has not (yet) become recognised as a standard denomination, church, or body, especially when it has a novel belief system and when it is not a sect. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Houses in Jonestown Jonestown was a town in Guyana established by Peoples Temple cult leader Jim Jones, located about six to eight miles (10 to 12 km) from Port Kaituma (). At Jones directions, the inhabitants committed mass suicide in 1978. ... 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1978 calendar). ...

See Anti-cult movement and Christian countercult movement for a more detailed treatment of the history of these movements.

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The Christian countercult movement, also known as discernment ministries is the collective designation for many mostly unrelated ministries and individual Christians who oppose non-mainstream Christian and non-Christian religious groups, which they often call cults. ...

Cult watching groups

Cult watching groups (CWGs) disseminate information about purported cults with the intent of changing public and government perception of them and changing public policy regarding New religious movements. In religion and sociology, a cult is a cohesive group of people (often a relatively small and recently founded religious movement) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be far outside the mainstream. ... A new religious movement or NRM appears as a religious, ethical or spiritual grouping that has not (yet) become recognised as a standard denomination, church, or body, especially when it has a novel belief system and when it is not a sect. ...


Sociologist Eileen Barker, has identified five types of CWG:[1] Eileen Barker is a professor in sociology and is an emeritus member of the London School of Economics, and a consultant to that institutions Centre for the Study of Human Rights at. ...

  1. cult-awareness groups (CAGs)
  2. counter-cult groups (CCGs)
  3. research-orientated groups (ROGs)
  4. human-rights groups (HRGs)
  5. cult-defender groups (CDGs)

Types of opposition

Disaffected individuals (apostates)

Disaffected individuals (apostates) of a certain cult or New Religious movement (NRM) sometimes form loose networks, often with an active presence on the internet. They are concerned about harm to members of cults, including wasted time and money. They watch and criticize their former group and provide information and perspective to the public they claim is not disclosed by this group, purportedly to enable current and prospective follower to make an informed choice about joining and staying with the group. The apostates' motivations, the roles they play in the anti-cult movement, the validity of their testimony, and the kinds of narratives they construct about their previous groups are highly controversial. See also Apostasy in new religious movements. Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, a defection or revolt from a military commander, from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ...


Traditional religion

Some groups associated with traditional religions such as Christianity and Judaism have been formed to counter what they view as heretical cultic versions of their religion, to prevent current followers from joining NRMs, and to convince former members of their religion who have converted to NRMs to return. For example, the Christian countercult movement is concerned about heresy and harm to members of purported cults and society. Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recounted in the Gospels. ... This article describes the Jewish religion; for a consideration of ethnic, historic, and cultural aspects of the Jewish identity refer to the article Jew. ... Heresy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the Catholic or Orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox. ... The Christian countercult movement, also known as discernment ministries is the collective designation for many mostly unrelated ministries and individual Christians who oppose non-mainstream Christian and non-Christian religious groups, which they often call cults. ...


The anti-cult movement

The anti-cult movement (ACM) opposes NRMs they believe to be cults, generally citing concern that the religions will cause harm to society and followers. They grew out of concerned parents whose children joined high-demand groups they considered negative in the USA in the 1970s. One of the characteristics of the ACM is their tendency to make general complaints about "cults" based on accusations of organizational hierarchical structure, charismatic leadership, thought reform, mind control, and brainwashing, instead of focusing on specific problems and abuses that take place in some of these cults. The existence of mind control is widely disputed, and sometimes dismissed as pseudo-scientific by the psychiatric establishment and social scientists. A 1983 amicus curiæ brief [2] by the American Psychological Association states that the brainwashing hypotheses are "little more than uninformed speculation, based on skewed data" and that "[t]he coercive persuasion theory ... is not a meaningful scientific concept". However, that brief was later withdrawn [3]. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1970 calendar). ... The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority, also called charismatic domination, or charismatic leadership, as resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him. Charismatic authority is one of three forms of... Thought reform is the alteration of a persons basic attitudes and beliefs by outside manipulation. ... Mind control (or thought control) has the premise that an outside source can control an individuals thinking, behavior or consciousness (either directly or more subtly). ... Brainwashing or thought reform is the application of coercive techniques to change the beliefs or behavior of one or more people usually for political or religious purposes. ... A pseudoscience is any body of knowledge purported to be scientific or supported by science but which fails to comply with the scientific method. ... Amicus curiæ (Latin for friend of the court; plural amici curiarum) briefs are legal documents filed by non-litigants in appellate court cases, which include additional information or arguments that those outside parties wish to have considered in that particular case. ... The American Psychological Association (APA) is a professional organization representing psychology in the US. It has around 150,000 members and an annual budget of around $70m. ...


Anti-cult members tend to favor the viewpoints of disaffected members, who often hold anti-NRM sentiment, rather than the information disseminated by the NRMs themselves. The anti-cult movement often supports or actively participates in a psychological intervention method known as exit counseling. Exit counseling, also termed strategic intervention therapy, cult intervention or thought reform consultation is an intervention designed to persuade an individual to leave a cult. ...


Skepticism

Skeptics are often concerned about what they consider false miracles performed or endorsed by the leadership of the group. They often criticize belief systems which they believe to be idiosyncratic, bizarre or irrational. See also Allegations against cults made by skeptics. Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism (UK spelling, scepticism) sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a scientific, or practical, epistemological position (or paradigm) in which one questions the veracity of claims unless they can be empirically tested. ... According to many religions, a miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning something wonderful, is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the operations of the ordinary course of Nature are overruled, suspended, or modified. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Opposition to cults: a taxonomy by professor Hadden

According to a taxonomy proposed by the late Professor Jeffrey K. Hadden, from the University of Virgina's Department of Sociology, there are four distinct classes of oppositions to cults.


Note: Several anti-cult groups have accused Professor Hadden of being too uncritical of NRMs, or of being a cult apologist. [4]


Religious opposition

  • Cults viewed as engaging in heresy;
  • Their mission is to expose the heresy and correct the beliefs of those who have strayed from "truth";
  • Deception rather than possession is the metaphor used;
  • Opposition to cults serves two important functions: protects members (especially the youth) from heresy, and increases solidarity among the faithful.

Heresy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the Catholic or Orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox. ...

Secular opposition

  • The autonomy of individuals is professed to be the manifest goal, achievable by getting people out of religious groups;
  • The struggle is about control (politics), not about theology;
  • Sometimes organized around families who have or have had children involved in a "cult";
  • Aim is to disable or destroy the cult or NRM organizationally.

Apostates

Apostasy: the renunciation of a religious faith. See Apostasy in new religious movements. Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, a defection or revolt from a military commander, from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ...

  • Apostates and those who engages in active opposition to their former faith;
  • The anti-cult movement has actively encouraged former members of religious groups to interpret their experience in a "cult" as one of being egregiously wronged and encourages participation in organized anti-cult activities.

Entrepreneurial opposition

  • Individuals who take up a cause for personal gain.
  • Alliance or coalition to promote their agenda is ad hoc.
  • A few entrepreneurs have made careers by creating organized opposition. (See Rick Ross).

Rick Alan Ross (born November 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio) is a private consultant and lecturer in the area of so-called cults, who maintains a website with an extensive listing of articles about allegedly destructive cults, controversial groups and movements, and related research about mind control theories. ...

Academic Study

The field of cults and new religious movements has been studied by social scientists, sociologists, religious scholars, psychologists and psychiatrists since the early 1980s. The debates about a certain purported cult and cults in general are often polarized with widely divergent opinions, not only among current followers and disaffected former members, but sometimes even among scholars as well. For example, the American religious scholar J. Gordon Melton holds the view that cults rarely do serious harm and that stories of apostates cannot be relied upon. In correspondence with this view, he went to Japan just after the Aum Shinrikyo's sarin attack to declare that Aum Shinrikyo was innocent. Dr. John Gordon Melton is the founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and is a research specialist with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. ... Apostasy (Greek απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is the formal renunciation of ones religion. ... Aum Shinrikyo, also known as Aum Supreme Truth and later as Aleph, was a Japanese religious group which mixed Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. ...


All academics, including Melton, agree that some groups have been problematic and sometimes very problematic but they disagree to what extent new religious movements in general are harmful.


Academics who are more inclined to see cults as harmful and that apostates' testimonies against cults are generally to be relied upon, are the scholars David C. Lane, Benjamin Zablocki, and Stephen A. Kent. For example, according to Zablocki, cults are at high risk of becoming abusive to members, in part because members' adulation of charismatic leaders contributes to their becoming corrupted by the power they seek and are accorded. Zablocki defines a cult here as an ideological organisation held together by charismatic relationships and demanding total commitment. [5] David Christopher Lane (born April 29, 1956 in Burbank, California) is a professor of philosophy and sociology at Mount San Antonio College, USA and lecturer in religious studies at California State University, Long Beach, California. ... Benjamin Zablocki (b. ... Stephen A. Kent, Ph. ... The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority, also called charismatic domination, or charismatic leadership, as resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him. Charismatic authority is one of three forms of...


Other academics challenge the reliabity of the apostate's tesimony. Bryan R. Wilson, a professor of Sociology at Oxford University in a collection of essays he edited in 1981, writes that apostates of new religious movements, are generally in need of self-justification, seeking to reconstruct his own past and to excuse his former affiliations, while blaming those who were formerly their closest associates. Wilson introduces the atrocity story that is rehearsed by the apostate to explain how, by manipulation, coercion or deceit, he was recruited to a group that he now condemns. Wilson also challenges the reliability of the apostate's testimony by saying that "[apostates] always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to both his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader." The University of Oxford, located in the city of Oxford in England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... An atrocity story as defined by the sociologists David G. Bromley and Anson D. Shupe is the symbolic presentation of action or events (real or imaginary) in such a context that they are made flagrantly to violate the (presumably) shared premises upon which a given set of social relationships should...


While discussing the role of anecdotal atrocity stories by apostates, Bromley and Shupe propose that these are likely to paint a caricature of the group, shaped by the apostate's current role rather than his actual experience in the group, and question's their motives and rational. In studies by Lewis Carter and David Bromley, it is presented that the onus of pathology experienced by former members of new religions movements shifted from these groups to the coercive activities of the anti-cult movement. As a result of this study, the treatment (coerced or voluntary) of former members as people in need of psychological assistance largely ceased. These studies also point out that the lack of any widespread need for psychological help by former members of new religions has in itself become the strongest evidence refuting early sweeping condemnations of new religions as causes of psychological trauma.


The APA, Margaret Singer and the brainwashing theories

In the early 1980s, some U.S. mental health professionals became controversial figures due to their involvement as expert witnesses in court cases against new religious movements, during which they presented anti-cult theories of brainwashing, mind control, or “coercive persuasion” as generally accepted concepts within the scientific community. The American Psychological Association (APA) in 1983 asked Margaret Singer, one of the most vocal proponents of coercive persuasion theories, to chair a taskforce caled DIMPAC to investigate whether brainwashing or "coercive persuasion" did indeed play a role in recruitment by such movements. Before the taskforce had submitted its final report, however, the APA submitted an amicus curiæ brief [6] in an ongoing case. The brief stated that "[t]he methodology of Drs. Singer and Benson has been repudiated by the scientific community", that the hypotheses advanced by Singer were "little more than uninformed speculation, based on skewed data" and that "[t]he coercive persuasion theory ... is not a meaningful scientific concept"[7]. The brief characterized the theory of brainwashing as not scientifically proven. The brief itself suggests the hypothesis that cult recruitment techniques might prove coercive for certain sub-groups, while not affecting others coercively. However, the brief was withdrawn less than two months later [8]. When the DIMPAC report finally appeared in 1987, the APA rejected it because it "lacks the scientific rigor and evenhanded critical approach necessary for APA imprimatur" but that it does "not believe that we have sufficient information available to guide us in taking a position on this issue" [9]. The 1980s decade refers to the years from 1980 to 1989, inclusive, informally sometimes including the years 1979, 1990 and 1991. ... The American Psychological Association (APA) is a professional organization representing psychology in the US. It has around 150,000 members and an annual budget of around $70m. ... Margaret Thaler Singer (1921 - 2003) was a clinical psychologist and emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Dr. Singer was born in Denver and received her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Denver. ... Amicus curiæ (Latin for friend of the court; plural amici curiarum) briefs are legal documents filed by non-litigants in appellate court cases, which include additional information or arguments that those outside parties wish to have considered in that particular case. ...


In their Handbook of Cults and Sects in America, Bromley and Hadden present the ideological foundation of the brainwashing theories, and demonstrate its lack of scientific support. They argue that the simplistic perspective inherent in the brainwashing metaphor appeals to those attempting to locate an effective social weapon to use against disfavored groups, and that the relative success of such efforts at social control should not detract from the lack of scientific basis for such opinions.


Psychologists, sociologists, many ex-members of purported cults, and most anti-cult activists now concede that the term brainwashing does not properly apply to the recruitment and retention techniques used by the so-called or alleged cults. Given the linguistic/semantic controversy, some anti-cult activists like Steven Hassan started using the term mind control as an alternative label. See also cults and mind control controversies. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Steve Hassan Steven Alan Hassan is an anti-cult activist and director of the Center for Freedom of Mind. ... Mind control (or thought control) has the premise that an outside source can control an individuals thinking, behavior or consciousness (either directly or more subtly). ...


Social scientists who study new religious movements, such as Jeffrey K. Hadden (see References), understand the general proposition that religious groups can have considerable influence over their members, and that that influence may have come about through deception and indoctrination. Indeed, many sociologists observe that "influence" occurs ubiquitously in human cultures, and some argue that the influence exerted in "cults" or new religious movements does not differ greatly from the influence present in practically every domain of human action and of human endeavor.


The Association of World Academics for Religious Education, states that "... without the legitimating umbrella of brainwashing ideology, deprogramming -- the practice of kidnapping members of NRMs and destroying their religious faith -- cannot be justified, either legally or morally".


Dr. James Richardson, a Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada, claims that if the NRMs had access to powerful brainwashing techniques, one would expect that NRMs would have high growth rates, while in fact most have not had notable success in recruitment, most adherents participate for only a short time, and that the success in retaining members has been limited. In addition, Tom Robbins, Eileen Barker, Newton Maloney, Massimo Introvigne, John Hall, Lorne Dawson, Anson Shupe, David G. Bromley, Gordon Melton, Marc Galanter, Saul Levine and other scholars researching NRMs have argued -- and established to the satisfaction of courts and relevant professional associations and scientific communities -- that there exists no scientific theory, generally accepted and based upon methodologically sound research, that supports the brainwashing theories as advanced by the anti-cult movement. Thomas Eugene Robbins (born July 22, 1936 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina) is an American author. ... Eileen Barker is a professor in sociology and is an emeritus member of the London School of Economics, and a consultant to that institutions Centre for the Study of Human Rights at. ... Professor Massimo Introvigne, a lawyer and social scientist (B.D. Philosophy, and Dr. Jur. ... John Hall may refer to (reverse chronological): John Douglas Hall, North Carolina politician, c. ... Anson D. Shupe American sociologist who studies religious groups and the anti-cult movement. ... David G. Bromley is a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Education and Career Bromley received his B.A. in sociology (1963) from Colby College. ... J. Gordon Melton is the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and is a research specialist with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. ... Marc Galanter was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Delhi, a Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies and consultant on legal services to the Ford Foundation in India. ...


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a statement in 1977 related to brainwashing and mind control. In this statement the ACLU opposed certain methods "depriving people of the free exercise of religion". The ACLU also rejected (under certain conditions) the idea that claims of the use of 'brainwashing' or of 'mind control' should overcome the free exercise of religion. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a major national non-profit organization based in New York City, whose stated mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. ...


Pressure from cult-watching groups

Other scholars challenging some of the premises of the anti-cult movement such as the existence of mind control and the reliability of apostate testimonies, include Brian R. Wilson, Massimo Introvigne, and Anson Shupe. David G. Bromley questions the veracity only in case the former members are pressured by a countermovement to put them in a theoretical or religious framework, such as the brainwashing theory. Apostasy (Greek απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is the formal renunciation of ones religion. ... Bryan R. Wilson, born 1926, is the Reader Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Oxford and was President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion between 1971 and 1975. ... Professor Massimo Introvigne, a lawyer and social scientist (B.D. Philosophy, and Dr. Jur. ... Anson D. Shupe American sociologist who studies religious groups and the anti-cult movement. ... David G. Bromley is a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Education and Career Bromley received his B.A. in sociology (1963) from Colby College. ... Brainwashing or thought reform is the application of coercive techniques to change the beliefs or behavior of one or more people usually for political or religious purposes. ...


Some anti-cult activists, like Anton Hein, are highly critical of scholars, like Melton, that do not agree with their views and use the word "cult apologist" for them. They accuse them of being naive, bad scholars and above all reproach them of not warning people who should be warned, as well as of being funded by the cults themselves. Hein is quoted by Douglas Cowan as writing: Apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position. ... Douglas E. Cowan Ph. ...

A cult apologist is someone who consistently or primarily defends the teachings and/or actions of one or more movements considered to be cults—as defined sociologically or theologically . . . Cult apologists generally defend their views by claiming to champion religious freedom and religious tolerance. However, they tend to be particularly intolerant toward those who question and critique the movements they defend. [10]

Scholarly cooperation between these anti cult-activists and scholars accused of being "cult apologists" seems to be virtually non-existent.


In a paper presented to the 2002 Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Conference[11], Douglas Cowan presents the political, ethical, economic and personal impact of such distinction and the range of opinion about what "cult apologist" means in the context of three basic domains as follows:

  1. The Evangelical Christian countercult: [I]n the context of the evangelical countercult, it seems that one does not actually have to "defend cults" to be labeled a "cult apologist." Rather, in the manner of "the one who is not for us is against us," as a second indicator simply critiquing the critics is sufficient.
  2. The secular anti-cult: While the evangelical Christian countercult has very little use for the brainwashing or thought control hypothesis, the secular anticult movement's deployment of "cult apologist" is almost exclusively concerned with maintaining either the viability of that hypothesis or the validity of ex-member testimony as part of its anecdotal mainstay.
  3. The secular scholarship: I take it as a simple axiom that we, as a scholarly community, are probably not going to come to consensus on most of these issues. We are not going to agree in our assessments of new and controversial religious movements, and in our own personal scholarly scales, the balance of freedom of religion vs. the potential danger posed by groups or "types of groups" is going to weigh differently.

Brainwashing or thought reform is the application of coercive techniques to change the beliefs or behavior of one or more people usually for political or religious purposes. ... Mind control (or thought control) has the premise that an outside source can control an individuals thinking, behavior or consciousness (either directly or more subtly). ...

Opposition in the media

It is very often the case that the only view the public gets of a new religious movement, controversial group or purported cult is the commonly negative, and often sensationalized reports by the media. One recurring theme, that manifests as opposition to new religious movements, is what some sociologists call negative summary event. In the words of James A. Beckford, negative summary events "[...] refers to the journalistic description of a situation or event in such a way as to capture and express its negative essence as part of an intermittent and slow-moving story. An apparently isolated happening is thereby used as an occasion for keeping the broader, controversial phenomenon in the public mind." James R. Lewis writes in his book Cults in America that the tendency of the media to focus on negative events is a general trait of the media and also applies for other subjects treated by them.


Larry R. Moffitt, Vice President of the Tiempos del Mundo newspapers (owned by Sun Myung Moon), asserts that after an entire body of believers runs afoul of the law in a dramatic and sensational manner such as the mass suicides at Jonestown, the Branch Davidians and the suicide of the Heaven’s Gate group , "[...] it doesn’t take many of these episodes for the public to view any religion whose founding prophet is currently living, as being of one this dangerous ilk."


Newspaper columnist Cal Thomas makes reference to stereoptypes in journalism dictated by "[...] a raging, unforgiving, imposing, intolerant, arrogant secularism that claims that any idea or authority that comes from a source higher than the mind of humankind is to be a priori overruled as unconstitutional, immoral, illegal and ignorant."


Michael Horowitz, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, characterizes the dominant culture as an environment of religious persecution: "Today's elites find it hard to believe that Christians can possibly be the persecuted rather than the persecutors … Believing Christians have been patronized as polyester bigots against whom a modern, thinking, caring culture must protect itself."


In a survey conducted in 1983 by John Dart and Jimmy Allen it was found that an "unhealthy distrust exists between religionists and journalists. Religious figures fear being misunderstood and misrepresented; journalists fear making mistakes and incurring religious wrath.[...] The resulting apprehensions inhibit the free flow of information and only add to misunderstanding."


Scientology's opposition on the internet

In the mid 1990s, Scientology tried by legal and technical means to close down several critical sites and especially the usenet news group alt.religion.scientology. This brought them into conflict with service providers and with users who took up the cause of freedom of speech on the Internet. Some of these people, e.g. Karin Spaink, David S. Touretzky, and Ron Newman had a history of free speech activism, but according to Boston Herald journalist Joseph Mallia most of them knew little about Scientology until they were angered by the punitive actions of Scientologists. (Mallia, 1998) During the next years some of the most active critics of Scientology came out of this group, e.g. Andreas Heldal-Lund, Zenon Panoussis, or Keith Henson. The newsgroup alt. ... Karin Spaink (born December 20, 1957 in Amsterdam) is a journalist, writer and feminist. ... Dr. David S. Touretzky is a research professor in the Computer Science Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University. ... Ron Newman is a computer programmer. ... Andreas Heldal-Lund. ... Zenon Panoussis (born 1956) was a naturalized citizen of Sweden who gained notoriety in large part because of his dispute with the Church of Scientology, as well as his novel legal tactics. ... Keith Henson in Clearwater, Florida Howard Keith Henson (b. ...

"When the RTC first approached the Court with its ex parte request for the seizure warrant and Temporary Restraining Order, the dispute was presented as a straight-forward one under copyright and trade secret law. However, the Court is now convinced that the primary motivation of RTC in suing Lerma, DGS and The Post is to stifle criticism of Scientology in general and to harass its critics. As the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric of its briefs and oral argument now demonstrates, the RTC appears far more concerned about criticism of Scientology than vindication of its secrets." -- Memorandum Opinion of November 29, 1995, by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, (Religious Technology Center v. Arnaldo Lerma, Washington Post, Mark Fisher, and Richard Leiby)

See also Scientology versus The Internet. The Religious Technology Center (RTC) is a non-profit organization established in 1982 by the Church of Scientology to control and oversee the uses of all of the trademarks, symbols and sacred texts of Scientology and Dianetics, including the copyrighted works of the religions founder, L. Ron Hubbard. ... Arnaldo (Arnie) Pagliarini Lerma (b. ... ... Scientology versus the Internet is the colloquial term for a long-running online dispute between the Church of Scientology and a number of the Churchs online critics. ...


See also

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

References

  1. Bromley, David G., Ph.D. & Anson Shupe, Ph.D., Public Reaction against New Religious Movements article that appeared in Cults and new religious movements: a report of the Committee on Psychiatry and Religion of the American Psychiatric Association, edited by Marc Galanter, M.D., (1989) ISBN 0-89042-212-5
  2. Hadden, Jeffrey K., The Anti-Cult Movement Available online
  3. Wilson, Bryan R., Apostates and New Religious Movements, Oxford, England 1994
  4. Thomas Robbins and Dick Anthony, Cults in the late Twentieth Century in Lippy, Charles H. and Williams, Peter W. (edfs.) Encyclopedia of the American Religious experience. Studies of Traditions and Movements. Charles Scribner's sons, New York (1988) Vol II pp. ISBN 0-684-18861-9
  5. Thomas, Cal, remarks at a conference, Religious Liberty in America: Crossroads or Crisis?, sponsored by the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, March 16-17, 1993
  6. Horowitz, Michael J., Breaking the Chains Around the Gulags of Faith, acceptance speech on receiving the William Wilberforce Award, February 5, 1997.
  7. Dart, John and Allen, Jimmy; Bridging the Gap: Religion and the News Media, Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, Vanderbilt University, Sept. 1993
  8. Beckford, James A., Cult Controversies: The Societal Response to New Religious Movements, London, Tavistock, 1985, p. 235
  9. Moffitt, Larry R., Media and Religious Intolerance: A Clash of Alien Cultures, Presented at the conference of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, October 10-12, 1998 – São Paulo, Brazil
  10. Anthony, Dick. 1990. "Religious Movements and 'Brainwashing' Litigation" in Dick Anthony and Thomas Robbins, In Gods We Trust. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Excerpt available online
  11. Hadden, Jeffrey K., The Brainwashing Controversy
  12. Anthony, Dick, Brainwashing and Totalitarian Influence. An Exploration of Admissibility Criteria for Testimony in Brainwashing Trials, Ph.D. Diss., Berkeley (California): Graduate Theological Union, 1996, p. 165.

  Cult David G. Bromley is a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Education and Career Bromley received his B.A. in sociology (1963) from Colby College. ... Bryan Ronald Wilson, (25 June 1926 Leeds - 9 October 2004 Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire), was the Reader Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Oxford and was President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion between 1971 and 1975. ... In religion and sociology, a cult is a cohesive group of people (often a relatively small and recently founded religious movement) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be far outside the mainstream. ...


Opposition to cults and NRMs | Christian countercult movement | Cult apologists | Cult debate | Political cult The Christian countercult movement, also known as discernment ministries is the collective designation for many mostly unrelated ministries and individual Christians who oppose non-mainstream Christian and non-Christian religious groups, which they often call cults. ... A cult apologist is a term to describe a scholar of cults and/or new religious movements perceived as responding to the movements they study with advocacy instead of with neutral scholarship. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The word cult is almost never used in regard to political parties, even if they were to share many or most other characteristics associated with religious cults. ...


Charismatic authority | Mind control | Brainwashing | Exit counseling | Deprogramming | Post-cult trauma The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority, also called charismatic domination, or charismatic leadership, as resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him. Charismatic authority is one of three forms of... Mind control (or thought control) has the premise that an outside source can control an individuals thinking, behavior or consciousness (either directly or more subtly). ... Brainwashing or thought reform is the application of coercive techniques to change the beliefs or behavior of one or more people usually for political or religious purposes. ... Exit counseling, also termed strategic intervention therapy, cult intervention or thought reform consultation is an intervention designed to persuade an individual to leave a cult. ... Deprogramming refers to actions to force a person to abandon allegiance to a religious group. ... This article is in need of attention. ...


Religious intolerance | Apostasy | Witch hunt | Bigotry Religious intolerance is intolerance motivated by ones own religious beliefs, generally against anothers religious beliefs. ... Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, a defection or revolt from a military commander, from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ... A witch-hunt was traditionally a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, which could lead to a witchcraft trial involving the accused person. ... A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from his or her own. ...


Cult of personality | Cult checklists | List of groups referred to as cults | Cult suicide This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A cult checklist is a group of factors proposed to identify objectively which groups, cults, or new religious movements are spurious, or likely to abuse or exploit or otherwise harm its members. ... This list indexes a number of groups that have been referred to: as a cult directly by specific listed sources; as a sect directly by specific listed French-language or United Kingdom sources; as such within the last 50 years; as the group has existed within the last 150 years. ... Cult suicide is that phenomenon by which some religious groups, in this context often referred to as cults, have led to their membership committing suicide. ...


 
 

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