Cultic Studies Bibliography

ICSA e-Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2004

Cultic Studies Bibliography: 2003

Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

The following is a collection of books, dissertations, articles, book chapters, and other information published in 2003 and pertinent to cultic studies, an interdisciplinary area that includes the study of manipulative influence, ethics, and abuse related to involvement in cults, new religious movements, sects, mainstream religions, and other groups. The material was assembled from online searches, data base searches, and materials that publishers and others sent to AFF. When possible, we give some information on the contents of the item. Please send us relevant items from 2003 that have not been added to this list, as well as items from 2004 for a similar list we plan to compile next year.

We thank Carmen Almendros, doctoral candidate in psychology at the Autonomous University of Madrid, for preparing a list of recent books from Spain. Andrew McMillion, a student at the London School of Economics, contributed to the English language collection.

Supplementing this bibliography and posted separately is Marie-Andrée Pelland's detailed review in French of recent French literature in this field.


Beckford, James A.; Richardson, James T. (Eds.). Challenging Religion. New York, NY: Routledge, 2003.

Chidester, David. (2003). Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown; Revised Edition.

Davis, Derek H.; Hankins, Barry. New religious movements and religious liberty in America. 2nd ed. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2003, 238 p.

  • Acknowledgments

  • Preface

  • Introduction by Barry Hankins

  • Controversial Christian Movements: History, Growth, and Outlook. Timothy Miller

  • The Cult Awareness Network and the Anticult Movement: Implications for NRMs in America. Anson Shupe, Susan E. Darnell, and Kendrick Moxon

  • A Contemporary Ordered Religious Community: The Sea Organization. J. Gordon Melton

  • Women in Controversial New Religions: Slaves, Priestesses, or Pioneers? Susan J. Palmer

  • Satanism and Witchcraft: Social Construction of a Melded but Mistaken Identity. James T. Richardson

  • A Critical Analysis of Evidentiary and Procedural Rulings in Branch Davidian Civil Case. Stuart A. Wright

  • New Religious Movements and Conflicts with Law Enforcement. Catherine Wessinger

  • Christian Reconstruction after Y2K: Gary North

  • The New Millennium, and Religious Freedom. Adam C. English

  • A Not So Charitable Choice: New Religious Movements and President Bush's Plan for Faith-Based Social Services. Derek H. Davis

  • Fighting for Free Exercise from the Trenches: A Case Study of Religious Freedom Issues Faced by Wiccans Practicing in the United States. Catharine Cookson

  • The Persecution of West Virginia Jehovah's Witnesses and the Expansion of Legal Protection for Religious Liberty. Chuck Smith

Dawson, Lorne L. Cults and new religious movements: a reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003.

Fernández Olmos, Margarite; Paravisini-Gebert, Lizabeth. Creole religions of the Caribbean: an introduction from Vodou and Santería to Obeah and Espiritismo. New York: New York University Press, 2003, 262 p.

  • Preface

  • Acknowledgments

  • Introduction

  • Historical Background

  • The Orisha Tradition in Cuba: Santería/Regla de Ocha

  • The Afro-Cuban Religious Traditions of Regla de Palo and the Abakuá Secret Society

  • Haitian Vodou

  • Obeah, Myal, and Quimbois

  • Rastafarianism

  • Espiritismo: Creole Spiritism in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States

Gurko, A. V. (Aleksandr Viktorovich). Novye religii v Respublike Belarus: etnologicheskoe issledovanie. Minsk : Tekhnalogiia, 2003, 242 p.

Hunt, Stephen J. (2003). Alternative religions A sociological introduction. University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

  • The Scientific Study of Religion? You Must Be Joking! Eileen Barker

  • The Continuum Between “Cults” and “Normal” Religion. James A. Beckford

  • Three Types of New Religious Movement. Roy Wallis

  • Cult Formation: Three Compatible Models. William Sims Bainbridge and Rodney Stark

  • False Prophets and Deluded Subjects: The Nineteenth Century. Philip Jenkins

  • The New Spiritual Freedom. Robert Wuthnow

  • Who Joins New Religious Movements and Why: Twenty Years of Research and What Have We Learned? ‘ L. Dawson

  • The Joiners. Saul Levine

  • The Process of Brainwashing, Psychological Coercion, and Thought Reform. Margaret Thaler Singer

  • A Critique of “Brainwashing” Claims About New Religious Movements. James T. Richardson

  • Constructing Cultist “Mind Control.” Thomas Robbins

  • The Apocalypse at Jonestown. John R. Hall

  • “Our Terrestrial Journey is Coming to an End”: The Last Voyage of the Solar Temple. Jean-Francois Mayer

  • Women in New Religious Movements. Elizabeth Puttick

  • Women’s “Cocoon Work” in New Religious Movements: Sexual Experimentation and Feminine Rites of Passage. Susan J. Palmer

  • Why Religious Movements Succeed or Fail: A Revised General Model. Rodney Stark

  • New Religions and the Internet: Recruiting in a New Public Space. Lorne L. Dawson and Jenna Hennebry

Levine, Robert . The power of persuasion: How we're bought and sold. New York, NY, US: John Wiley & Sons, Inc (2003). ix, 278 pp.

(from the jacket) Drawing heavily on both extensive field research and scientific findings, this book offers an incisive new take on the mindsets of those who prod, praise, debase, and manipulate others to do things they never thought they would do--and are usually later sorry they did. Professional persuaders are skilled artisans who often leave their prey unaware that they've been influenced or even conned. In researching this book, R. Levine and students went undercover to observe and expose the tactics of persuasion professionals, from hucksters selling everything from cosmetics to health, timeshares to kitchenware, as well as religious and cult leaders and others who use their skills to control others' lives. The book features vivid testimonies from individuals on the receiving end of the process, from those who are convinced they've been saved to those who believe they've been ruined by psychobabbling control freaks. Focusing on the almost invisible process of effective manipulation, this book exposes many tricks of the trade and offers rules for protecting one's self from becoming an unwitting victim of manipulation.

Lewis, James R. (Ed.). Encyclopedic sourcebook of UFO religions. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003, 530 p.

Lewis, James R. Legitimating new religions. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003., 272 p.

  • Introduction

  • PART I: Legitimating New Religions

  • Religious Experience and the Origins of Religion

  • Native American Prophet Religions

  • Jesus in India and the Forging of Tradition

  • Science, Technology and the Space Brothers

  • Anton LaVey, The Satanic Bible, and the Satanist Tradition

  • Heavens Gate and the Legitimation of Suicide

  • The Authority of the Long Ago and the Far Away

  • PART II: Legitimating Repression

  • Atrocity Tales as a De-legitimation Strategy

  • Religious Insanity

  • The Cult Stereotype as an Ideological Resource

  • Scholarship and the de-legitimation of Religion

  • Conclusion

  • Appendix A: Satanist Survey

  • Appendix B: Ex-member Survey

  • Bibliography

  • Index

Martin, Walter Ralston. The kingdom of the cults. (Ravi Zacharias, general editor). Rev., updated, and expanded ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003, 704 p.

  • The Kingdom of the Cults

  • Scaling the Language Barrier

  • The Psychological Structure of Cultism

  • Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

  • Christian Science

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons)

  • Spiritism

  • The Theosophical Society (Gnosticism)

  • Buddhism

  • The Baha'i Faith

  • Unitarian Universalism

  • Scientology

  • Unification

  • Eastern Religions

  • New Age

  • Islam

  • The Cults on the World Mission Field

  • The Jesus of the Cults

  • Cult Evangelism--Mission Field on Your Doorstep

  • The Road to Recovery

  • Appendix Section

  • Appendix A: The Worldwide Church of God: From Cult to Christianity

  • Appendix B: The Puzzle of Seventh-day Adventism

  • Appendix C: Swedenborgianism

  • Appendix D: Rosicrucianism

  • Bibliography

  • Subject Index

  • Scripture Index

Mbuy, Tatah H. (Tatah Humphrey). Sects, cults & new religous movements in contemporary Cameroon : the challenge of religion in a pluralistic society. N.W. Province, Cameroon: Copy Printing Technology, Archdiocese of Bamenda, 2003, 192 p.

Okonkwo, John M. Taming a three-headed monster : how and why Nigerian students should stay away from secret cults, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS infection. Enugu: Snaap Press, 2003.

Richardson, James T. Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe. 2003, Kluwer

Regulation of minority faiths varies greatly around the globe, with some countries allowing them considerable freedom to exist, recruit new members, raise money, and use public facilities. Other societies are more closed to the presence of such groups, either native or foreign. The pattern of reactions to minority religious movements is not easily explained by reference to usual terms. Knowledge of historical factors in the various countries, coupled with a use of selected theories from sociology of religion and sociology of law, can assist understanding of the situation in various countries. Explicating these complex relationships is the challenge of this volume.

Saliba, John A. Understanding new religious movements, 2nd ed. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2003., 293 p.

  • Preface

  • Introduction by J. Gordon Melton

  • The New Religious Movements in Contemporary Western Culture: An Overview

  • The History of New Religious Movements in the West

  • The New Religious Movements in Psychological Perspective

  • The New Religious Movements in Sociological Perspective

  • The New Religious Movements in the Law Courts

  • The New Religious Movements in Christian Theological Perspective

  • Counseling and the New Religious Movements

  • Index

Siskind, Amy B. The Sullivan Institute/Fourth Wall community: The relationship of radical individualism and authoritarianism. Westport, CT, US: Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc (2003). viii, 170 pp.

(from the publicity materials) In this comprehensive study of the Sullivanian movement, Amy Siskind examines the historical and social processes that resulted in the creation of the Sullivan Institute/Fourth Wall Community and its subsequent development into a totalistic community. Over a 35-year span (1957-1992), the Institute developed from a radical experiment in therapeutic practice, with patients and therapists living together in an innovative community on Manhattan's Upper West Side, into a totalitarian society wherein leaders and therapists maintained enormous institutional and personal power over the lives of patients and group members. In The Sullivan Institute/Fourth Wall Community: The Relationship of Radical Individualism and Authoritarianism, Siskind explores generally the development of cults based on 20th century social and psychoanalytic theory, and then investigates the particulars of this one community in great detail. The result is a unique exploration of how a movement originally intended to liberate individuals from a repressive society became, over time, more repressive than mainstream society itself.

Snow, Robert L. Deadly cults : the crimes of true believers. Westport, CN: Praeger, 2003, 237 p.

Stein, Stephen J. Communities of dissent : a history of alternative religions in America. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, 159 p.

Books from Latin America

Erdely, Jorge (Ed). (2003). Sectas Destructivas: Un Analisis Cientifico. Publicaciones Para el Estudio Cientifico de las Religiones. Ciudad de Mexico.

Includes chapters by Drs. L. J. West, Jorge de la Pena, Michael Langone, Cesar Mascarenas, Elio Masferrer, Margaret Singer, John Hochman, Jorge Erdely. For more information:

Erdely, Jorge; Arguelles, Lourdes. (2003). La Nueva Jihad: Mitos y REalidades Sobre el Pan-Islamismo. Publicaciones Para el Estudio Cientifico de las Religiones: Ciudad de Mexico.117 pages.

El fracaso de la CIA y del FBI para evitar los sucesos del 11 de septiembre de 2001 se debio a una condicion psicosocial conocida como negacion interpretative. Esta fue producto de analisis de informacion deficientes, basados en metodos y modelos teoricos con fuertes prjuicios occidentals. Por ello, los avatars de la tecnologia y del capital fallaron en comprender la profundidad de la propuesta de Jihad o Guerra Sagrada de Al-Qaeda.

Guerra, Manuel. Diccionario Enciclopédico de las Sectas. Editorial: EUNSA (Pamplona). Año: 2003. Págs.: 304.

Tercera edición con más de 1000 páginas, ha hecho un gran esfuerzo de síntesis de la información para ofrecer una guía completa y muy interesante, que será útil a todo el mundo para buscar cualquier secta. Aquí va la ficha que proporciona la editorial en su web: Título: las sectas y su invasión del mundo hispano: una guía. Autor: Manuel Guerra Gómez. ISBN: 84-313-2083-4.

Books from Spain

Arroyo Menendez, Millan (2003). Cambio cultural y cambio religioso: tendencias y formas de religiosidad en la España de fin de siglo. Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Servicio de Publicaciones. 1 CD-ROM. ISBN 84-669-1204-5.

Climati, Carlo (2003). Los jovenes y el esoterismo. Magia, satanismo y ocultismo: la patraña del fuego que no quema. Madrid: Ciudad Nueva, 240 p. Persona y Familia. ISBN 84-9715-030-9

Galayo Macías, María del Carmen (2003). Sectas, ¿asesinas de la mente? Madrid: Proyectos y Producciones Editoriales Cyan. ISBN 84-8198-468-X

Guerra Gómez, Manuel (2003). Las sectas y su invasión del mundo hispánico: una guía. Pamplona: Eunsa; Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 295 p. ISBN 84-313-2083-4

Mariscal Parella, Ramón (2003). En las ramas. Saldes: Abadia Editores, 125 p. ISBN 84-933159-3-1

Moyano, Antonio Luis (2003). Sectas, amenazas en la sombra: cómo actúan, quiénes son y cómo defendernos. Madrid: Nowtilus; MEDIASAT, 239 p. ISBN 84-9763-005-X

Pascual, Roger (2003). L’ombra de les sectes. Guia bàsica de grups de manipulació mental. Barcelona: Llibres de l’índex, 159 p. Descoberta, 32. ISBN 84-95317-59-1

Vazquez Borau, Jose Luis (2003). El hecho religioso. Madrid: San Pablo, 152 p. ISBN 84-285-2564-1

Books from CESNUR.Org

Hogan, Jane Williams. Swedenborg e le chiese swedenborgiane. Elledici, Leumann (Torino) 2004, pp. 136.

Introvigne, Massimo. Fondamentalismi. I diversi volti dell’intransigenza religiosa

Piemme, Casale Monferrato (AL) 2004, 240 pp.

Introvigne, Massimo. Hamas. Fondamentalismo islamico e terrorismo suicida in Palestina. Elledici, Leumann (Torino) 2003, pp. 128.

Lopez Jr., Donald S. Il buddhismo tibetano. Elledici, Leumann (Torino) 2003, pp. 88.

Kranenborg, Reender . L’induismo. Elledici, Leumann (Torino) 2003, pp. 96.

Sedgwick, Mark. Il sufismo. Elledici, Leumann (Torino) 2003, pp. 176.

Squarcini, Federico; Fizzotti, Eugenio. Hare Krishna (Studies in Contemporary Religions). Signature Books; (February 2004). 100 pages.

Stark, Rodney; Introvigne, Massimo. Dio è tornato. Indagine sulla rivincita delle religioni in Occidente. Piemme, Casale Monferrato (AL) 2003, 160 pp.

Warburg, Margit. Baha'i. Signature Books; (February 2004). 00 pages.


Mckibben, Jodi Beth Aronoff . Sex and cult affiliation biases in the diagnosis of dependent and narcissistic personality disorders: An empirical investigation. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering. Vol 64(5-B), 2003, 2396.

Numerous research investigations have been conducted to assess if the sex of either the client or the clinician has an influence on clinicians' assessments of mental health disorders (specifically, personality disorders). The present study seeks to evaluate whether or not a client's sex and/or cult affiliation status has an effect on a clinician's formulation of correct diagnoses. In other words, would an assessment sex or cult affiliation bias be detected? Eighteen hundred male and female members of the American Psychological Association were each presented with a case study describing either a male or a female who was either a cult member, a cult leader, or had no cult affiliation status. Further, the case study described symptoms meeting the diagnostic criteria for either dependent personality disorder (DPD) or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and no other disorder. The clinicians were asked to evaluate various diagnoses regarding the extent of their applicability to the case presented. A total of 472 useable surveys were returned. The results indicated that both the sex and the cult affiliation status of the case affected the percentage of correct diagnoses assigned for both the DPD and NPD cases. The assignment of the correct diagnosis for the NPD cases was also affected by the sex of the respondent. As expected, the results showed that when cult affiliation was not a factor, females were more likely to be assigned a DPD diagnosis than were males, and that males were more likely to receive a NPD diagnosis than were females. The specific findings for the cult affiliation cases, however, were far more complex. This study has provided evidence for assessment sex and cult affiliation bias for both DPD and NPD. As such, factors aside from the client's symptoms appear to affect diagnostic decisions and a stronger adherence to the DSM, perhaps through the use of semistructured interviews and self-report inventories, is recommended. Furthermore, future research should be conducted to further understand the nature of such biases.

Wolfson, Linda Bruger . A study of the factors of psychological abuse and control in two relationships: Domestic violence and cultic systems. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences. Vol 63(8-A), Mar 2003, 2794.

This study explored the factors of psychological abuse and control, as it exists in different types of abusive relationships. A review of the literature reveals that this type of abuse has been noted in such relationships as domestic violence, cultic systems, prisoners of war and hostage detainment (Boulette & Anderson, 1986; Herman, 1992; Ward, 2000; West, 1993). However, although evidence regarding these factors of control across groups of abusive relationships is reported in the literature, it is only noted on a clinical basis without any empirical support. This study focused on the presence of these factors of abuse and control across two groups, victims of domestic violence and cultic systems. The first part of the research involved the development of an instrument, Across Groups Psychological Abuse and Control Scale (AGPAC), to measure psychological abuse and control in these two populations. A Factor Analysis derived three factors in the new scale, Verbal Abuse, Isolation and Activity Control and Emotional Abuse, each with a high degree of internal consistency. The second part of this study involved administering the AGPAC to 98 ex-cult and 100 domestic violence participants in order to determine how each of these groups related to the factors of psychological abuse and control. In addition, participants in the study were given a questionnaire on anxiety, the Multidimensional Anxiety Questionnaire (Reynolds, 1999), a frequently noted consequence of abusive relationships (Herman, 1992; Jones, 1994; Singer, 1992; Walker, 1979). Both groups were profiled as experiencing the factors of psychological abuse and control while in their respective relationships. However, the domestic violence participants were profiled as severely anxious while the ex-cult participants were mildly anxious. This study indicated that there are also differences in both groups as they relate to the subscales of the AGPAC, which warrants further investigation. This research has just begun to explore the similarities and differences in psychological abuse and control as experienced in two different types of abusive relationships. Additional investigation into a more universal understanding of this abusive behavior should provide important information for a society struggling to better serve victims of abuse.

Willey, Frank Tilghman . The quest for "personal freedom" among the apprentices of nagual Miguel Ruiz: A participant-observer phenomenology. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences. Vol 63(10-A), 2003, 3594.

The researcher studied the experience of "personal freedom" within a North American community of spiritual practitioners gathered around a contemporary nagual from Mexico named Miguel Angel Ruiz. The research objective was to describe and evaluate the structure, meaning and social value of this lived experience, one central to a contemporary New Religious Movement whose members claim to be following ancient Toltec traditions. The study was based on participation and observation and methodologically organized through a constructive exercise in philosophy of method. In the course of his own participation-observation and in-depth interviews with twelve apprentices, the researcher generated a hermeneutical-phenomenological description of "personal freedom" and its psychosocial locations, including and especially as it appeared within his own consciousness. In order to refine his attestation of "personal freedom" the researcher concluded the study with critical reflections upon the psychosocial locations of the phenomenon, associated problems related to knowledge, truth and human suggestibility, and the social value of the apprentice's quest. "Personal freedom," was found to be a subjective, interior state of consciousness. Accomplished through a particular psychospiritual program, "personal freedom" is experienced as a multiplication of options for living, a liberation and realization of one's "true self," and an openness to explore avenues of realities previously unknown. Moreover, as a religious, spiritual and/or transcendental experience, "personal freedom" refers to an opening of the self to possibilities beyond horizons formerly accepted as naturally, personally or socially given. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)


Almendros, Carmen, Carrobles, Jose Antonio, Rodriguez-Carballeira, Alvaro, & Jansa, Josep Maria. (2003). Adaptacion Psicometrica de la Version Española de la Group Psychological Abuse Scale Para la Medida de Abuso Psicologico en Contextos Grupales. Psicothema, 15(4), 132-138. [Reprinted in Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 2, No. 3 – see below for abstract in English.]

Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin . Apocalyptic Dreams and Religious Ideologies: Losing and Saving Self and World. Psychoanalytic Review. Vol 90(4), Aug 2003, 403-439.

Notes that the essential ingredients of the apocalyptic dream are first a total destruction of the world as we know it, with all its present evils, and then a birth of a "new heaven and a new earth" for the elect, who are only a remnant of humanity. These ideas appear both in schizophrenic or borderline individuals, and in many religious scriptures and doctrines. Millenarian groups promise imminent collective salvation for the faithful in an earthly paradise that will rise following an apocalyptic destruction ordained by the gods. In some cases this destruction will be hastened by human acts. In some contemporary groups, such dreams are clearly tied to acts of violence, including mass suicide. In this article, examples of apocalyptic thinking in old and new religions are examined, with particular attention to Aum Shinrikyo, the Peoples Temple, Heaven's Gate, and the Solar Temple. A case study of Brahma Kumaris, a contemporary group characterized by an apocalyptic vision (kept hidden from nonmembers) is presented to illuminate the possible psychodynamics of apocalyptic visions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved)

Bracke, Sarah. Author(iz)ing agency: Feminist scholars making sense of women's involvement in religious "fundamentalist" movements. European Journal of Women's Studies. Vol 10(3), Aug 2003, 335-346.

This article discusses ways in which feminist scholars draw upon agency in relation to the complex subject matter of women's engagement in so-called "fundamentalist" movements. While postcolonial critiques generally reject the term "fundamentalism", and in particular the way it is linked to Islam, feminist perspectives have a vested interest in looking at contemporary developments in different religions from the perspective of women's lives. Against the patriarchal reputations of fundamentalist movements, feminist scholarship increasingly tends to emphasize women's agency, thereby effectively breaking with widespread notions of "false consciousness". After briefly discussing two such examples, the question is raised whether this emphasis on agency does not risk evacuating structural constraints in the construction of subjectivity, thus neutralizing the productive tension, at the heart of women's studies, between structure and agency. In conclusion, the article joins other calls for new ways of thinking about subjectivity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Brothers, Doris . Clutching at certainty: Thoughts on the coercive grip of cult-like groups: Comment. Group. Vol 27(2-3), Sep 2003, 79-88.

This response to Richard Raubolt's (see record 2003-07265-002) article, "Attack on the Self," attempts to understand the intense and enduring connection that often develops between charismatic leaders of cult-like groups and their followers in terms of their mutual need to regulate uncertainty. After describing "the intersubjective regulation of uncertainty," a concept influenced by self psychology and intersubjectivity systems theory, a number of uncertainty regulating modes that emerged in the training program are examined including (1) the denial of difference, (2) the denial of sameness, (3) alter ego relating, (4) the inflamation of passion, and (5) faith-keeping fantasies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Lai C-T. Hong Kong Daoism: A Study of Daoist Altars and Lü Dongbin Cults. Social Compass, December 2003, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 459-470(12)

The author examines the development of Daoist institutions in Hong Kong. He focuses on the historical factors behind that development, in the context of transplantation from parent institutions in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong province since 1940. The origin of most Hong Kong Daoist temples and altars cannot be disassociated from the larger Lü Dongbin cults that flourished in Guangdong during late imperial China. Many of the Daoist institutions are volunteer religious organizations whose members are recruited from different strata in Hong Kong. Since the 1970s, in identifying themselves more as charitable societies in a modern sense, major Daoist organizations are changing their nature and integrating into the Hong Kong community.

Nishida, Kimiaki; Kuroda, Fuzuki . A study of psychological problems after leaving destructive cults: The effects of the progress period after leaving and counseling. Japanese Journal of Social Psychology. Vol 18(3), Mar 2003, 192-203.

The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological problems experienced after leaving destructive cults and the effects of the progress period after leaving and non-professional counseling. The study analyzed the psychological problems by using a questionnaire survey administrated to 157 former cult members from two different cults. The results of factor analysis revealed the following eleven factors for psychological problems. 1) tendencies for depression and anxiety, 2) loss of self esteem, 3) remorse and regret, 4) friendship building and socializing difficulties, 5) family relationship difficulties, 6) floating, 7) fear of sexual contact, 8) emotional instability, 9) tendency for psychosomatic disease, 10) concealment of past life, and 11)anger toward the group. The results of an analysis of variance showed that tendencies for depression and anxiety, tendency for psychosomatic disease, and concealment of past life decreased during the progress period after leaving the group and counseling, while loss of self-esteem and anger toward the group increased by counseling.

Norlander, Torsten; Gard, Lisette; Lindholm, Lena; Archer, Trevor. New Age: exploration of outlook-on-life frameworks from a phenomenological perspective. Mental Health, Religion & Culture. Vol 6(1), 2003, 1-20.

Examined outlook-on-life frameworks of members of the New Age religious movement from a phenomenological perspective. Four men and four women (aged 33-60 yrs), professionally active within the New-Age movement, completed in-depth interviews regarding 3 aspects with outlook-on-life conceptualization: theoretical assumptions of humans and the world, a central system of values, and an emotional foundation. Results show that New Age is a religious outlook on life which is strongly imprinted with a global outlook, processes of development and the individual. It offers a package or theme during an age of upheavals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved)

Whitsett, Doni; Kent, Stephen A. Cults and Families. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services (, vol. 84, No. 4, 2003, pp. 491-502.

This article provides an overview of cult-related issues that may reveal themselves in therapeutic situations. These issues include: families in cults; parental (especially mothers') roles in cults; the impact that cult leaders have on families; the destruction of family intimacy; child abuse; issues encountered by noncustodial parents; the impact on cognitive, psychological, and moral development; and health issues. The authors borrow from numerous theoretical perspectives to illustrate their points, including self psychology, developmental theory, and the sociology of religion. They conclude with a discussion of the therapeutic challenges that therapists face when working with cult-involved clients and make preliminary recommendations for treatment.

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Beyer P. Constitutional Privilege and Constituting Pluralism: Religious Freedom in National, Global, and Legal Context. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2003, vol. 42, iss. 3, pp. 333-339(7)

Lori Beaman argues that religious freedom in Canada and the United States is well established in theory (or myth) but limited in practice, privileging Protestantism in particular and varieties of Christianity in general. Focusing on the treatment of other religions in the courts of the two countries, she defends the hypothesis that these legal systems tend to reinforce the hegemony of Christianity, using this as an implicit model of what constitutes a religion, and thereby maintaining the marginalization and restricting the freedom of other religions. The present article sets Beaman's arguments in a wider global context, exploring the extent to which Christianity does and does not serve as a global standard for religion; and addressing the question of why issues of religious freedom so frequently end up being the subject of legal judgment and political decision. The main conclusions drawn from this global contextualization are that maintenance of some kind of religious hegemony is the rule all across global society, not just in Canada and the United States, and that unfettered freedom of religion or genuine religious pluralization is correspondingly rare, if it exists anywhere. Moreover, it is argued that such limitations, frequently expressed in legal judgments and political decisions, are more or less to be expected because they flow from the peculiar way that religion has been constructed in the modern and global era as both a privileged and privatized, as both an encompassing and marginalized social domain. The article thereby simultaneously reinforces and takes issue with Beaman's position: the modern and global reconstruction of religion invites its infinite pluralization at the same time as it encourages its politicization and practical restriction. Religions act as important resources both for claims to inclusion and for strategies of relative exclusion.

Gill A. Lost in the Supermarket: Comments on Beaman, Religious Pluralism, and What it Means to be Free. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2003, vol. 42, iss. 3, pp. 327-332(6).

Beaman L.G. Response to Beyer and Gill. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2003, vol. 42, iss. 3, pp. 341-346(6).

Hackney C.H.; Sanders G.S. Religiosity and Mental Health: A Meta–Analysis of Recent Studies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March 2003, vol. 42, iss. 1, pp. 43-55(14).

A meta–analysis was performed in an attempt to clarify the proposed relationship between religiosity and psychological adjustment. Specific focus was given to the issue of definition, namely, whether differences in researchers’ conceptualizations of religiosity and mental health could account for the various contradictory findings by psychologists of religion. Analysis of 34 studies conducted during the past 12 years revealed that the definitions of religiosity and mental health utilized by psychologists in this field were indeed associated with different types and strengths of the correlations between religiosity and mental health. Discussion of results assesses the fit between relevant theory and the pattern of change in effect size across categories of religion and adjustment, and concludes with implications for therapeutic uses of religious involvement.

Rice T. W. Believe It Or Not: Religious and Other Paranormal Beliefs in the United States. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March 2003, vol. 42, iss. 1, pp. 95-106(12).

Paranormal beliefs are often divided between those that are central to traditional Christian doctrine, such as the belief in heaven and hell, and those that are commonly associated with the supernatural or occult, such as the belief in ESP and psychic healing. This study employs data from a recent nationwide random sample general population survey to catalog the social correlates of paranormal beliefs and to examine the relationships between religious and other paranormal beliefs. The results indicate that standard social background factors do a poor job of accounting for who believes in paranormal phenomena and that the importance of specific background factors changes dramatically from phenomenon to phenomenon. The results also show that the correlations between belief in religious phenomena and other paranormal phenomena are largely insignificant. These findings call into question many prevailing theories about paranormal beliefs.

Merrill R.M.; Lyon J.L.; Jensen W.J. Lack of a Secularizing Influence of Education on Religious Activity and Parity Among Mormons. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March 2003, vol. 42, iss. 1, pp. 113-124(12).

Research conducted in the early 1980s indicated that education does not have a secularizing influence on Mormons. Based on data from two cross–sectional surveys involving Utah residents in 1996 and 2000, we provide an updated assessment of the association between education and religiosity in Mormons and also consider this association in non–Mormons. We also evaluate the association between educational attainment and parity (i.e., number of children born to a woman) according to religious preference and religious activity. Consistent with previous research, we did not find education to have a secularizing influence on Mormons, but rather to have a positive association with religiosity for both Mormon men and women. Little or no association was observed in non–Mormons. Mean parity tended to decrease with higher education for both Mormons and non–Mormons. However, within categories of age and education, mean parity was considerably higher among religiously active Mormon women.

Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, University of California Press

Urban, Hugh B. The Beast with Two Backs: Aleister Crowley, Sex Magic and the Exhaustion of Modernity. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2004, Vol. 7, No. 3, Pages 7-25.

Infamous for his drug use and extreme sexual practices, and proclaiming himself the "Great Beast 666," Aleister Crowley remains to this day one of the most influential and yet most often misunderstood figures in the history of Western new religious movements. This article offers a fresh approach to Crowley, by placing him within contemporary debates about modernism and postmodernism. By no means the outcast enemy of modern Western society so often depicted in the media, Crowley was, I argue, a stunning reflection of some of the most acute cultural contradictions at the heart of modern Western civilization in the early twentieth century. A uniquely Janus-faced character, he reflects both the "Faustian" will of modernism as well as its tragic failure and exhaustion at mid-century in the aftermath of the two World Wars.

Flaherty, Robert Pearson. JeungSanDo and the Great Opening of the Later Heaven: Millenarianism, Syncretism, and the Religion of Gang Il-sun. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2004, Vol. 7, No. 3, Pages 26-44.

Korea's JeungSanDo is a syncretistic religion in which elements of religious Taoism, Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Roman Catholicism, and Korean shamanism are combined with a unifying millenarian vision that was initially formulated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the late Joseon Dynasty. JeungSanDo is based on the teachings of Gang Il-sun (1871-1909), who was/is regarded by his followers as the incarnation of SangJe (Shangti), the Ruler of the Universe in religious Taoism, as well as Maitreya, the Future Buddha of Buddhist eschatology. The religion of Gang Il-sun arose as a compensatory response to the defeat of the Donghak Revolution in 1894. The central belief of JeungSanDo is Hu-Cheon GaeByeok, the Great Opening of the Later Heaven, the new age of JeungSan Gang Il-Sun's millenarian vision. A glossary of Korean and Chinese terms follows the endnotes.

Geaves, Ron. From Divine Light Mission to Elan Vital and Beyond: An Exploration of Change and Adaptation. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2004, Vol. 7, No. 3, Pages 45-62.

The following article will put forward the argument that it is necessary to take into account the worldview of the insider in order to appreciate the coherence or "rationality" of actions of a religiousspiritual teacher or organization. As a case study, the article examines the transformations that have occurred in the organizational forms utilized by Prem Rawat (a.k.a. Maharaji). While bringing readers up to date with Maharaji's activities since the 1980s, I argue that these developments owe more to Maharaji's self-perception of his role as a master and his wish to universalize the message historically located in the teachings of individual sant iconoclasts, than to external or internal pressures brought to bear upon the organizational forms themselves.

Simmons, John K. Eschatological Vacillation in Mary Baker Eddy's Presentation of Christian Science. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2004, Vol. 7, No. 3, Pages 63-80.

This article clarifies a number of terms used in end-time theology with a view to illuminating the theology of Christian Science. "Eschaton continuum" refers to a range of eschatological expectations in which a prophetic religious leader vacillates between the polar extremes of apocalyptic eschatology and ethical eschatology; and between catastrophic apocalypticism and progressive apocalylpticism. The author tracks the eschatological vacillation in Mary Baker Eddy's conceptualization of Christian Science in the hope of introducing a typology useful in analyzing other emergent religious movements.

Kranenborg, Reender. Field Notes: Efraim: A New Apocalyptic Movement in the Netherlands. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2004, Vol. 7, No. 3, Pages 81-91.

At the end of 2001 an unknown apocalyptic movement, Efraim, became hot news in the Netherlands. It was reported that the members expected the end of the world and the coming of the Messiah before 2002, and had changed their lives dramatically. These Field Notes report on this new group. The article first discusses what happened and the role the media played. Second, the article provides a description of the movement, including a portrait of the leader and his teachings about the end of the world, i.e., the rapture of the Bride (the faithful), the predictions on what will happen in the future, ideas concerning Elijah and the twelve tribes ("geo-theology") and the Bride of Christ. Third, the reactions of the leader, when the rapture of the Bride did not take place, are examined. Finally some conclusions are given. It can be seen that Efraim started as a Pentecostal group, but developed into an independent Christian movement, which has a new content, due to the revelations the leader receives.

Lucas, Phillip Charles. Enfants Terribles: The Challenge of Sectarian Converts to Ethnic Orthodox Churches in the United States. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 5-23.

This article considers two case studies of collective conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy to illustrate the most pressing challenges faced by ethnic Orthodox congregations who attempt to assimilate sectarian groups into their midst. I argue that these challenges include: 1) the different understandings of ecclesiology held by former Protestant sectarians and by "cradle" Orthodox believers; 2) the pan-Orthodox aspirations of sectarian converts versus the factionalism found in ethnically-based American Orthodox jurisdictions; 3) the differing pastoral styles of former sectarian ministers and Orthodox priests; 4) the tendency of sectarian converts to embrace a very strict reading of Orthodoxy and to adopt a critical and reformist attitude in relations with cradle Orthodox communities; and 5) the covert and overt racism that sometimes exists in ethnic Orthodox parishes. I suggest that the increasing numbers of non-ethnic converts to ethnic Orthodox parishes may result in increased pressure to break down ethnic barriers between Orthodox communities and to form a unified American Orthodox Church. These conversions may also lead to the growth of hybrid Orthodox churches such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

Adogame, Afe. Betwixt Identity and Security: African New Religious Movements and the Politics of Religious Networking in Europe. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 24-41.

African New Religious Movements (ANRMs) are creating local-global religious networks to further their self-insertion (self-assertion) in the European religious landscape. Intrareligious engagement of ANRM members derives not so much from doctrinal affinities or leadership preferences, but from the quest for spiritual satisfaction, religious identity, and a place to feel at home. The complexity of the motives for participating in networks is due to religious, socio-cultural, and economic considerations. While religious communities identify this networking as a vital strategy for global mission and evangelism ("mission reversed"), such networks serve also as conduits for maintaining identity and ensuring security, as well as facilitating status improvement and legitimacy in Europe.

Reichl, Christopher A. Ijun in Hawaii: The Political Economic Dimension of an Okinawan New Religion Overseas. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 42-54.

With reference to an Okinawan new religion called Ijun and its branch on the island of Hawaii, this article analyzes the international expansion of new religious organizations from the perspective of political economy. I develop questions concerning the flow of capital and the relationship between central church and branch by the application of a center-periphery model. I argue that the development of an international organization allows the Okinawan group to become a center with respect to its overseas branches, replicating the centern

Hallum, Anne. Ecotheology and Environmental Praxis in Guatemala. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 55-70.

One can argue that religious beliefs have more influence for changing societal behavior than does scientific knowledge. Thus, the rediscovery of ecological themes in a variety of religious texts (ecotheology) can be a step toward environmental activism and conservation behavior, where science alone has been relatively ineffective. The article presents this argument, reviewing relevant literature. Next, the article tests this argument for the potential influence of religion in promoting environmentalism through a comparative case study of three Guatemalan villages: one in which religious traditions are quickly disintegrating because the population was forced to move; one in which religious traditions remain largely intact; and one in which Guatemalans, Europeans, and North Americans practice environmental preservation in a pluralistic religious setting. Shared values and the common religious theme of caring for creation can be a motin

Cowan, Douglas E. Confronting the Failed Failure: Y2K and Evangelical Eschatology in Light of the Passed Millennium. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 71-85.

If the Y2K "bug" entered the collective consciousness of evangelical Christians, two principal patterns of response emerged: either evangelicals acknowledged Y2K as a problem that required the readiness and reply of Christians, but rejected it as a component of prophetic fulfillment; or they interpreted it in some measure as a fulfillment of prophecy and a part of God'splan to facilitate the endtime. For those who believed Y2K to be a part of the eschatological schema, its status as a non-event required a variety of dissonance management techniques. This article explores the methods deployed by dispensationalist Christians to manage the cognitive dissonance generated by Y2K's "failed failure." Following a brief summary of evangelical predictions regarding Y2K, I offer a typology of responses ranging from denial that Y2K had ever been a problem to declaration that the Y2K problem occurred exactly as predicted. In each response, the central organizing principles of evangelical dispensationalism hold firm, and the cognitive dissonance created by the "failed failure" is successfully managed.

Stephenson, Denice A., Hollis, Tanya M. Before and After Jonestown: The Peoples Temple Collection at the California Historical Society. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 86-91.

The California Historical Society is the chief repository for materials pertaining to the Peoples Temple. There are five collections that together form the Peoples Temple Collection, and each represents a unique perspective on the membership and the events leading up to the tragedy on 18 November 1978 at Jonestown, Guyana. Ongoing efforts at the Society to make these collections more accessible to researchers have resulted in new approaches for research into the Peoples Temple, its membership, and the nature of the church as a new religious movement.

Moore, Rebecca. Drinking the Kool-Aid: The Cultural Transformation of a Tragedy. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 92-100.

The expression "drinking the Kool-Aid" has entered the American idiom with little reference to its origins in the Jonestown tragedy of 18 November 1978. Instead, people are using Jonestown, the event, and Kool-Aid, the phrase, to signify a number of contradictory meanings and values. This is because those who died in Jonestown were ritually excluded from cultural consideration. The more traumatic the original incident, the more likely memory of that event will be forgotten or repressed. The author identifies the ways Kool-Aid and Jonestown are used in the news and on the Internet, and catalogues four main groups of uses: cult disasters, including 9/11; political uses; entertainment; and business uses. The categories of cult disasters and politics use Jonestown references negatively, thereby indicating a tenuous connection with the origins of the concepts. The entertainment and business worlds, however, use the references both negatively and positively, thus revealing dissociation and amnesia about the reality of Jonestown.

Wrights, Stuart A. A Decade After Waco: Reassessing Crisis Negotiations at Mount Carmel in Light of New Government Disclosures. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 2, Pages 101-110.

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the disastrous federal siege of the Branch Davidians, the tragedy is revisited in light of new government disclosures regarding negotiations during the 51-day standoff. Some of the newly available records - post-incident interviews with negotiators conducted by Justice Department investigators and memoranda written by negotiators or members of the FBI command structure - were concealed by the government for six years because they contained incriminating information. The new evidence reveals the degree to which negotiators at Mount Carmel recognized and roundly condemned the actions taken by the Hostage Rescue Team during the standoff that ultimately led to the insertion of deadly CS gas. Some negotiators even predicted the violent and fatal outcome of the siege weeks before it ended. Indeed, two veteran negotiators challenged the decisions of FBI commanders and were banished from Waco for their remonstrance.

Pinn, Anthony B. Introduction: African American Religion Symposium. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 7-10.

This essay introduces five articles in a Nova Religio symposium focusing on African American Religion. The essays provide some means for re-imagining the study of African American religion in ways that allow for a much better understanding of African American participation in traditional and new religious movements.

Long, Charles H. African American Religion in the United States of America: An Interpretative Essay. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 11-27.

This essay addresses the problematical nature of the meaning of religion as it is related to the formation and destiny of peoples of African descent in the United States. Moving beyond a narrow understanding of the nature of religion as expressed in much of Black Theology, for example, this essay proposes a "thick" and complex depiction of religion in the African American context through recognition of its relationship to the contact and conquest that marked the modern world.

Anderson, Victor. A Relational Concept of Race in African American Religious Thought. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 28-43.

This essay is a critical exploration of the ways that race is being constructed in the contemporary climate of postmodern philosophical discourse. The author seeks to forge an ongoing conversation among black philosophers and African American theologians around race in each discourse. Race is understood by the author as a deep symbol of Western culture that is paralleled to the primitive/civilization symbols that have structured Western intercultural encounters with African peoples. The essay proceeds by developing the concept of race as a deep symbol, drawing on the work of Edward Farley. It explicates how race is debated in contemporary black philosophy by focusing on Kwame Anthony Appiah's and Lucius Outlaw's conceptualizations. By turning to the hermeneutical theory of Charles H. Long, the essay attempts to construct a relational theory of race that synthesizes both Appiah's and Outlaw's perspectives and then connects the relational theory of race to black religion and theology.

Callahan, Allen Dwight. Perspectives for a Study of African American Religion: From the Valley of Dry Bones. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 44-59.

In "Perspectives For a Study of African American Religion," Charles Long wrote of "three interrelated perspectives for the study of black religion": "Africa as historical reality and religious image," "the involuntary presence of the black community in America," and "the experience and symbol of God." I essay to show how Long's categories illumine a celebrated instance of African American biblical appropriation, the prophet's vision of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14, as emblematic of the perspectives of symbolic African absence, involuntary American presence, and collective theological experience of the slaves and their descendents.

Perkinson, James W. Trancing Terror: African American Uses of Time to Trick the Evil Eye of Whiteness. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 60-75.

This essay engages the ideas of historian of religions Charles Long to examine the significance of African American work with creative uses of time and timing as a survival tactic inside the regimes of enslavement and racialization. The modern form of domination that has taken shape in the history of European colonization and imperial aggression has clearly elevated the disciplines and technologies of the eye as its modus operandi - nowhere more evident than in the emergence of racialization schemes as the primary form of social shorthand governing the on-going project of accumulation and control. The struggles of African heritage peoples in the "New World" against such have regularly interrupted the controlling monologue of the eye with ever reinvigorated and re-innovated polyphonies of the ear.The resulting consciousness is a primary modality of a profoundly religious creativity.

Pinn, Anthony B. Black Bodies in Pain and Ecstasy: Terror, Subjectivity, and the Nature of Black Religion. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 76-89.

This article argues that at its core, black religion involves a quest or struggle for complex subjectivity. It is a wrestling against efforts to dehumanize those of African descent historically documented through the process of slavery, disenfranchisement, etc. This depiction of the nature of black religion does not promote a static reality, unchanged through the ages. Religion is not essentialized in that sense. Rather, religion's core is responsive to changing existential conditions and is manifest through ever-evolving institutions, doctrines, rituals, and so on. Scholarly attention to this theory of black religion requires a new method of study. Pushing beyond conversation regarding method most often presented in terms of a hermeneutic of suspicion, this article concludes with the outline for a new hermeneutic of style.

Hogan, Jane Williams. Field Notes: The Swedenborgian Church in South Africa. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 7, No. 1, Pages 90-97.

The Swedenborgian Church, also called the New Church, was established in South Africa among English-speaking settlers in 1850. It is based on the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Swedenborg's "new" Christianity emphasizes, among other things, the internal meaning of the Bible, life after death, and the special spiritual qualities of black Africans. These field notes are based on a trip to South Africa in August 2000, and examine how the two primary types of Swedenborgian churches are adjusting to post-apartheid South Africa today. The English-speaking New Church is associated with the General Church of the New Jerusalem headquartered in the United States. Also affiliated with the General Church are a number of Zulu and Sotho congregations. The General Church has a hierarchical structure, a male priesthood, and primarily white leadership. One of the English-speaking societies has a school from preschool through eighth grade, and a Zulu-Sotho congregation sponsors a preschool. The New Church was established among black Africans independently from the General Church in 1909. Today that group is called the New Church of Southern Africa. It is congregationally structured, has a male priesthood, but a strong Women's League

Wessinger, Catherine. Falun Gong Symposium Introduction and Glossary. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 215-222.

This essay introduces eight articles in a Nova Religio symposium on Falun Gong, a new religious movement that is being suppressed in the People's Republic of China. A glossary of Chinese terms that relate to Falun Gong is provided.

Ownby, David. A History for Falun Gong: Popular Religion and the Chinese State Since the Ming Dynasty. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 223-243.

This article seeks to place Falun Gong - and the larger qigong movement from which it emerged - into the long-term context of the history of Chinese popular religion from the midMing (1368-1644) to the present. The argument developed is that Falun Gong and qigong are twentieth-century elaborations of a set of historical popular religious traditions generally labeled by scholars as "White Lotus Sectarianism." This article attempts both to look forward at the Falun Gong from a perspective informed by an understanding of its historical antecedents, and to look backward at the historical traditions on the basis of what we know about Falun Gong and qigong. The ultimate objective is to arrive at a re-characterization of a popular religious phenomenon which has been incompletely understood.

Irons, Edward. Falun Gong and the Sectarian Religion Paradigm. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 244-262.

The sectarian paradigm places newly formed religious groups not sanctioned by the state into a category of sectarian (jiaopai). In imperial times such groups were treated as heterodox and banned officially. They nevertheless traditionally survived well in the margins of society, in provincial centers, or allied with newly ascendant social groups. This paper discusses Falun Gong in light of this paradigm. Falun Gong is compared with two other religious groups that to some extent also reflect the sectarian paradigm, Three in One and Yiguandao. The paper first introduces each group's history, then focuses on ideology as contained in doctrinal statements and writings. The sectarian model is found to be inadequate in analyzing newly arisen popular religions and trends in contemporary China. There are no apparent genetic links between many such groups, and ideas do not consistently overlap. The paper proposes an alternative model of new syncretic movements. This model looks beyond the adversarial stances implied by the sectarian rubric.

Lowe, Scott. Chinese and International Contexts for the Rise of Falun Gong. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 263-276.

This study first provides an overview of the most frequently cited reasons for the incredibly rapid growth of Falun Gong since its modest beginnings in 1992. The results of an eight-question Internet survey of Falun Gong practitioners, administered over ten days in June 2000, are then presented and analyzed. The answers given to the survey questions by 85 self-selected respondents suggest that, at least before the recent governmental crackdown on Falun Gong, the Internet was not a significant factor in attracting potential practitioners to the group. The influences of family and friends, as well as the prospect of better health, seem far more important in establishing initial interest. As practitioners mature in faith, the complex gnostic system of the founder's teachings appears to play a growing role in sustaining practitioners' interest.

Bell, Mark R., Boas, Taylor C. Falun Gong and the Internet: Evangelism, Community, and Struggle for Survival. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 277-293.

In this paper we argue that studying Falun Gong's use of the Internet is essential to understanding the movement as a whole. Falun Gong has made skillful use of the Internet for three of its most important functions. In the area of information distribution, the Internet has become an important vehicle for disseminating Li Hongzhi's teachings. To strengthen the integrity of a globally-dispersed community, it has proven useful for organizing face-to-face gatherings and for online experience sharing. In Falun Gong's struggle for survival as a movement, the Internet has helped practitioners bring pressure against the People's Republic of China (PRC) government, especially at the international level. But Falun Gong's Internet use has not guaranteed success in these tasks. Reliance on the Internet has paved the way for the emergence of a splinter sect and challenges to Li's authority, and the PRC government has effectively countered much of Falun Gong's Internet use within the country.

Fisher, Gareth. Resistance and Salvation in Falun Gong: The Promise and Peril of Forbearance. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 294-311.

In Falun Gong forbearance (ren), along with truthfulness (zhen), and benevolence (shan) makes up one of basic characteristics of the universe and forms an essential part of any practitioner's soteriology. In order to gain good karma, a practitioner must learn to forbear the suffering inflicted by others while not shirking from her faith in Falun Gong teachings. Forbearance has become an extremely effective means of resistance by Falun Gong practitioners of the ban imposed by the People's Republic of China authorities. The movement has been successful in representing the ban as a means for true practitioners to advance in their spiritual development. The importance of forbearance within the group's doctrine has also led to a split within Falun Gong, however, by providing a Hong Kong splinter group with the theological tools to challenge the hierarchical structure of the Falun Gong organization and its leadership in New York.

Edelman, Bryan., Richardson, James T. Falun Gong and the Law: Development of Legal Social Control in China. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 312-331.

In 1999 the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) labeled Falun Gong an "evil cult" and began a campaign to eliminate the qigong movement of which it was a part. The West was quick to condemn the PRC's action as a violation of human rights. In response, the PRC government criticized the West for interfering in its internal affairs, and using "human rights" as an excuse to impose its will upon the PRC. Rather than formulating an attack on the PRC government using Western principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, this article analyzes the legality of the PRC's campaign against Falun Gong within the framework of the legal and political systems developed in the PRC Constitution, other relevant documents and international treaties to which the PRC is a signatory nation. It is argued that the PRC government acted outside of its constitutional authority, violated citizens' basic rights, and overstepped its own boundaries in its war against Falun Gong and its practitioners.

Burgdoff, Craig A. How Falun Gong Practice Undermines Li Hongzhi's Totalistic Rhetoric. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 332-347.

This article is based upon participant-observation of a Falun Gong group in Columbus, Ohio and includes a descriptive account of the exercises and local organizational structure. The totalistic rhetoric of Falun Gong founder, Li Hongzhi, is undermined by the non-hierarchical organizational structure of the movement. The privileging of orthopraxy over orthodoxy at the local level further undermines Li's totalism. However, the persecution of Falun Gong and the vilification of Li Hongzhi by the government of the People's Republic of China have resulted in an escalation of Li's totalistic and apocalyptic rhetoric. The ongoing persecution is currently the greatest threat to the structural stability of the Falun Gong movement. Nonetheless, barring external pressure, Falun Gong organizational structure and orthopraxy sufficiently counterbalance Li's totalistic tendencies.

Palmer, Susan J. From Healing to Protest: Conversion Patterns Among the Practitioners of Falun Gong. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 348-364.

Falun Gong's emerging resistance movement and the escalation of Master Li's apocalyptic ideology in response to persecution is the focus of this study. On the basis of field research and interviews with practitioners, I propose a four-phase model of conversion, culminating in an activist commitment to the Master's call to serve in the protest demonstrations against the People's Republic of China's persecution of Falun Gong. Since Falun Gong's civil disobedience has resulted in the death of over 343 practitioners, it is important to analyze the process of conversion/commitment to the cause, and the practitioners' own spiritual understanding of their activist efforts in a two-tiered resistance movement that is concerned with global human rights, but also with a cosmic battle between gods and demons, called fa-rectification.

Robbins, Thomas. Comparing Incidents of Extreme "Cult Violence": A Comment on "Is the Canon on Jonestown Closed?" Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 365-375.

In her article "Is the Canon on Jonestown Closed?" Rebecca Moore slightly misconstrued some cryptic statements by Thomas Robbins and Dick Anthony comparing the degree of provocation which precipitated violence at Jonestown and at Mount Carmel Center (Waco). We had intended only to say that intrusive provocation was greater at Waco and thus internal volatility was greater at Jonestown although provocation at Jonestown was not negligible. This response to Moore underscores both the importance and the difficulties of comparing different incidents of collective violence involving new religious movements. The relative salience of "endogenous" and "exogenous" factors varies markedly from incident to incident. "Cult violence" fiascoes should not be viewed as interchangeable either from a "cult essentialist" perspective or a perspective emphasizing victimization of groups. Systematic comparative studies would be welcome.

Moore, Rebecca. A Response to Thomas Robbins' Comment. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. 2003, Vol. 6, No. 2, Pages 376-378.

This Response to Thomas Robbins' Comment, first, points out Dr. Robbins' excellent qualifications to comment on Peoples Temple; second, highlights the fact that the original article makes it abundantly clear Dr. Robbins' work was considered fully in the context of comparative studies; and third, notes that the author takes exception to certain claims made by Dr. Robbins. This Response directs readers to the appropriate works, to judge for themselves the validity of the original analysis. Finally, the author indicates her agreement with Dr. Robbins on the need for further dialogue about the role endogenous and exogenous factors play in religious violence.

Cultic Studies Review Articles

Note: Each issue of Cultic Studies Review in 2003 included several dozen summaries of press reports on various groups that have generated controversy. Go to and click on the various Table of Contents hyperlinks to see lists of these summaries.

Aaslid, Flore Singer. (2003). On the Outside Looking In: Growing Up in the Moonies. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

The author recounts her experiences as a child and young adult in the Unification Church (“the Moonies”). She discusses the enduring sense of not fitting in, which arose from her many years of travelling and being taken care of by people other than her parents (who were usually busy with missionary work) and stigmatized for being an “unblessed” child (not born to Moonie parents). During this prolonged conflict situation she vacillated between trying to “buy it” and rebelling. Leaving the group proved to be difficult because she discovered that she did not fit in “outside” either. Ultimately, however, she left the group permanently and began to build a new life.

Almendros, Carmen, Carrobles, José Antonio, Rodríguez-Carballeira, Álvaro, & Jansà, Josep María. (2003). Psychometric Properties of the Spanish Version of the Group Psychological Abuse Scale. Cultic Studies Review, 2(3). (The paper is a slightly edited translation of the original Spanish version of the paper, "Adaptacion Psicometrica de la Version Espanola de la Group Psychological Abuse Scale Para la Medida de Abuso Psicologico en Contextos Grupales, which was published in Psicothema, Vol. 15, No. 4 (2003), pp. 132-138, and is translated with that journal's permission.)

This paper presents preliminary results for the adaptation of the Group Psychological Abuse Scale (GPA) (Chambers, Langone, Dole & Grice, 1994), a measure of group psychological abuse, to a Spanish population. This scale is unique in assessing the varieties and extent of psychological abuse in group contexts. The Spanish translation of the scale has been administered to 61 self-identified former members of diverse manipulative groups who had involvements with any of a total of 21 different groups. The findings on the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of this scale indicate that it is a reliable and valid instrument that reveals a structure of group psychological abuse composed of three factors: Compliance, Mind Control and Exploitation.

Barker, Eileen. (2003). Harm and New Religious Movements (NRMs): Some Notes on a Sociological Perspective. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

This article relates the methodology of sociology to the question of harm in new religious movements (NRMs). It describes the kinds of questions sociologists of religion are likely to ask, the methods they use to study NRMs, and the characteristics of NRMs that may predispose them toward situations in which harm might ensue. It is because sociologists are as concerned as any other citizens about the consequences of human actions that they are anxious to develop and use the most reliable means they can for investigating and trying to understand the processes that can lead to individuals, families, and/or society being subjected to harm.

Brundage, Sandy. (2003). Warning: Meditating May Be Hazardous to Your Health. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1). [Column]

Centner, Christopher. (2003). Cults and Terrorism: Similarities and Differences. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

Pundits and politicians have proposed many models to explain al Qaeda's actions. One theory postulated for understanding terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda is that the group might be like a cult. In this view, Usama bin Laden is a controlling figure, and the members are disconnected from the greater Islamic community. If this theory held, then it might be possible to create a cultic model of terrorist groups in general and to understand their behavior as more akin to a destructive religious movement than to a violent political faction. This paper will explain that al Qaeda is a religiously spawned movement that seeks to create an Islamic State, and even an Islamic World Order. The paper will explain that al Qaeda, and most terrorist groups, are not cults in the traditional sense. Al Qaeda has, however, some cult-like attributes. This paper will also propose certain indicators that might be useful in identifying religious movements that are careening toward terrorist violence. Spelling of certain Arabic terms quoted in the text has, on occasion, been standardized for ease of reading.

Debold, Walter. (2003). Frankl Revisited. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1). [Column]

Debold, Walter. (2003). 1984 - Once More. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2). [Columan]

Dole, Arthur A. (2003). Harm and NRMs: Perspectives from Psychology. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

In this paper, I examine harm in New Religious Movements (NRMs) from the perspective of a psychologist. After acknowledging the contributions of other disciplines to the study of NRMs, I define certain key terms and summarize some of the major relevant specializations within psychology. To support the argument that an implicit question leads to a unified psychology, I present 10 questions about harm that have shaped a range of methodologies, and a number of resulting answers that may generate further research and prevent or ameliorate harm by NRMs. I conclude that history, religious studies, and sociology can benefit unified psychology through collaboration and dialogue and that psychology can benefit other disciplines in the study of NRMs.

Dugan, Dan. (2003). Why Waldorf Programs are Unsuitable for Public Funding. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

The author tells the story of his experience as a Waldorf school parent, and his discovery that the school was a front for a cult-like sect called Anthroposophy. Waldorf education appears to combine artistic and academic learning and claims to be child-centered, but critical examination reveals that it is devoted to promulgating the ideology of its founder, Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Penetration of Waldorf philosophy into public schools has raised legal issues of Establishment Clause violations and ethical concerns about racism inherent in the system. The author illustrates his discussion with examples from Waldorf and Anthroposophical publications

Foster, James, Loomis, Ronald, Szimhart, Joseph, & Wilcox, Larry. The Evolution of a Cult and a Support Group for the Families of Its Members: The Jim Roberts Group and The Roberts Group Parents Network. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

The Jim Roberts Group (JRG) is clearly one of the most unusual groups that have come to the attention of cult researchers. The group has never been given a name by its founder, who is elusive and paranoid and rarely interacts with his followers. Despite enduring for over 30 years, the membership has remained small, apparently never more then 100 at any time. Members are nomadic and forsake all material things. They spend most of their time reading the bible, praying and singing together, and recruiting new members. There is no evidence of physical, sexual, or financial exploitation in the group. Nevertheless, over the years many young people have had their personal lives, their education, their careers, and their family relations severely damaged by this group, in some cases for several decades. Many members have suffered physiological and psychological damage, and a few have died. In 1996, a small group of families who had loved ones in this cult created a family support group, now called The Roberts Group Parents Network (TRGPN). In just seven years, they have developed a system for locating cult members and arranging surprise family visits. As a result, some 50 members have left the cult. This paper presents the perspective of a typical family with a loved one in this cult, a brief history of the JRG and of TRGPN, and a description of the thought reform techniques used by this group.

Giambalvo, Carol. (2003). International Churches of Christ: Introduction. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

After providing historical background on the International Churches of Christ, troubling aspects of the group’s functioning are described, including its pyramidal structure, totalistic influence over members, isolation of members, and unhealthy personality changes. Although there are signs of positive reform within the group, it remains to be seen whether such reforms will change the abusive character of the group.

Goldberg, Lorna. (2003). Reflections on Marriage and Children After the Cult. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1). Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

Married life within a cult can impact on former cult members’ post-cult experiences. Among the factors that may influence the nature and severity of problems that may arise are: the behavior of the cult leader, transference, and defense mechanisms of projection and projective identification. Although these processes are common to most marriages, they take on a particular hue in cult situations. A case example is presented to illustrate these processes.

Goldberg, Lorna. (2003). A Psychoanalytic Look at Recovered Memories, Therapists, Cult Leaders, and Undue Influence. Cultic Studies Review, 2(3). (This article was originally published in Clinical Social Work, volume 25, number 1. It is reprinted with permission.)

There has been a dramatic increase in recovered memories of sexual abuse. A continuum of influence is presented, focusing on the high degrees of influence in cults, to understand how therapists can easily influence their patients to recover memories of sexual abuse. Historical evidence is given for a better appreciation of how this present atmosphere has developed. Finally, the role played by the psychoanalyst when dealing with recovered memories is examined. Case material is presented to highlight the differences between the traumatist's and the psychoanalyst's approach.

Japan Federation of BAR Associations. (2003). Aid and Assistance for Consumer Damages from Religious Activities. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

This report addresses issues raised by the Japanese Parliament's Law on Religious Corporations, which came into force in September 1996. The Parliament did not adequately address and debate the problems posed by religious organizations, considering the overwhelming role religion plays in Japanese society today and the wide area in which religious organizations are permitted to conduct their activities. Also lacking is a much-needed examination into what kind of counter policy would effectively curb the consumer damages and human rights violations mentioned above. Counter-policies already proposed include the public safety protection approach and the victim prevention approach. Both of these, however, would lead to the unjust suppression of religious freedom. Such approaches must be avoided. Still, at the same time, the current social system—in which great importance is placed on legal policy and practice and on the mass media insofar as religious matters are concerned—is deficient. Much more debate and discussion are needed, especially amongst scholars in relevant fields and members of religious organizations.

Kelly, Kathy. (2003). The Making of a Disciple in the International Churches of Christ. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

During a major life transition, the International Churches of Christ (ICC) drew me into their web. They reeled me in with God, friendship, and unconditional love. They held me tight with guilt and fear. They cast me out when I questioned their doctrine. This article details my perception of my ICC experience first as it occurred and then following my exit.

Kropveld, Michael. (2003). An Example for Controversy: Creating a Model for Reconciliation. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

This article provides a critical and constructive response to the “cult wars” that have become apparent in the study of cults and new religious movements. Suggestions for stimulating dialogue and mutual respect are grounded in the author’s twenty-three years of experience as executive director of Info-Cult, which in turn is used here as an example of controversy.

Langone, Michael D. (2003). AFF 2002 Conference Reports: Introduction. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

We include in this issue of Cultic Studies Review a collection of articles based on presentations given at AFF’s 2002 annual conference in Orlando, Florida, June 14-15, 2002.

The articles represent a diverse range of topics, perspectives, approaches, and styles. Although the excitement and personal dimension of AFF conferences cannot be captured on paper, these articles do succeed in making the content of many talks available to a wider audience. We hope that you find them interesting and useful. And we further hope that you consider attending future AFF conferences.

Like Cultic Studies Review (CSR), AFF conferences are open to divergent points of view. Hence, opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of AFF, its staff, directors, or advisors. We have faith in the capacity of our readers and conference attendees to decide for themselves what makes sense to them and what doesn’t. Our goal is to give them resources that provoke thought.

As always, CSR is open to responsible comments from readers.

Langone, Michael D. (2003). Harm and NRMs: Perspectives from Religious Studies, Sociology, and Psychology – Introduction. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

The division of researchers and helping professionals into “camps” or so-called pro-cultists and anti-cultists has been a destructive simplification. The question of harm is at the core of these disputes. This paper introduces a collection of papers that provide diverse perspectives on harm, including those from psychology, sociology, and religious studies.

Langone, Michael D. (2003). Inner Experience and Conversion. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

Cognitive therapy is similar to religious conversion in that both are associated with changes in a person's fundamental assumptions about the world, self, and others. These fundamental assumptions derive in large part from experience, rather than rational deliberation. In some conversions, powerful inner experiences, whether manipulated ("outer generated") or not ("inner generated"), may cause a person to adopt new fundamental assumptions. Sometimes, a new set of experiences can cause a convert to reject the new assumptions and leave the group. The resulting disillusionment may cause serious adjustment problems. The impact and implications of inner experiences should be considered when trying to help former group members.

Langone, Michael D. (2003). Reflections on Falun Gong and the Chinese Government. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

The Chinese government has been harshly criticized for its treatment of Falun Gong members. The government and some western family members of Falun Gong practitioners say that Falun Gong has harmed thousands of citizens and poses a threat to public order. Passion is so high on both sides of this controversy that an objective evaluation is difficult to make. This paper approaches the controversy by asking questions directed at the Falun Gong organization and the Chinese government in the hope that the answers might contribute to a productive dialogue.

Lombard, Sharon. (2003). Spotlight on Anthroposophy. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

The author discusses how she and her family enrolled their child in a Waldorf school—without consciously deciding or agreeing to join a new religious movement—and found themselves involved in Anthroposophy. She shares some background on Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf schools, and his esoteric religion, Anthroposophy, which is inextricably entwined in Waldorf schools' curriculum, pedagogy, and school activities. Her introduction to Steiner's doctrine focuses on identifying Steiner's macro-microcosmic worldview and racist underpinnings. She questions why some Waldorfers often downplay or deny their fervor and involvement in Anthroposophy and criticizes the movement's leadership for denying Steiner's racist doctrine as documented in the "Dutch Report." The author shares her own misgivings about the group's religious foundation and argues that some of Steiner's followers work to conceal the religious context of Waldorf education. Some personal recollections of peculiarities during her family's experience with Waldorf education are discussed, including a benign Anthroposophic prescription for the author’s sick child and removal of her daughter from the Waldorf school.

Lucas, Phillip Charles. (2003). Spiritual Harm in New Religions: Reflections on Interviews with Former Members of NRMs. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1). Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

Interviews with former members of new religious movements indicates that for many powerful spiritual experiences were prime motivations for joining and remaining in their particular communities. But sometimes members of such communities may experience spiritual harm as a result of a cessation of perceived spiritual experiences, an abuse of spiritual authority by group leaders, and disagreements over the frequency, intensity, and efficacy of specific practices and rituals. Spiritual harm, especially after leaving a community, typically manifests as identity confusion and an inability to trust, particularly persons of religious or spiritual authority.

Luo, Samuel. (2003). What Falun Gong Really Teaches. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

In the West Falun Gong, founded by Li Hongzhi, has successfully marketed itself as an innocent victim of the Chinese government's repression. However, if one examines Falun Gong's teachings and practices closely, one finds that its image of being a spiritual exercise masks the centrality of its founder's god-like status and the cult-like use of deceptive and manipulative techniques to increase membership.

Mansfield, Hal. (2003). Terrorism and Cults. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

Although many observers see close similarities between terrorism and cults, there are also many important differences. Terrorist organizations have widely varying motivations and goals. Although thought reform processes may occur in some, they do not characterize many others. Even Al Qaeda training camps, which have sparked much of the speculation about similarities to cults, may have more in common with military training regimens than with cult indoctrination centers. To lump all terrorist groups as cults is simplistic.

Neufeld, K. Gordon. (2003). Writing Down the Pain: A Case Study of the Benefits of Writing for Cult Survivors. Cultic Studies Review, 2(3).

Cult survivors are often urged to write down what they remember about their cult experiences as a way of resolving the ongoing harmful effects of those experiences, yet little has been written about why this is helpful. In this paper, I will demonstrate the benefits of writing by providing examples of how doing so assisted me in my own life.

Perlado, Miguel. (2003). Clinical and Diagnostic Issues of Cultism: Group Dependence Disorder. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

This paper reviews some diagnostic proposals on the clinical complexity of cults. The diagnostic criteria of group dependence disorder employed in the therapeutic service of Attention and Research on Social Addictions (Attention e Investigación de Socioadicciones - AIS) are introduced. A psychoanalytically based psychopathological model derived from the research is also presented.

Rahn, Patsy. (2003). The Chemistry of a Conflict: The Chinese Government and the Falun Gong. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

This article examines elements shaping the conflict between the Chinese government and the Falun Gong movement. It explores the historical relationship between China’s rulers and sects, the qigong boom in contemporary China, the Chinese government’s style of conflict management, and the development of the Falun Gong teachings since the group was banned. It discusses the extreme language both sides use to define themselves and their opponent as part of a media-campaign to legitimate their respective causes. It also examines the intensification of the millennial message in the Falun Gong teachings and the potential justification for violence even though the teachings continue to condemn the use of violence. It concludes with reflections on the future of the Falun Gong and the Chinese government.

Robbins, Thomas. (2003). Cults, State Control, and Falun Gong: A Comment on Herbert Rosedale's "Perspectives on Cults as Affected by the September 11th Tragedy." Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

There is a distressing possibility that elements of the American “Anticult Movement” may support the Chinese government’s severe measures against Falun Gong. The latter is regarded as an apocalyptic cult which disorients members and is analogous to American “destructive cults.” This position downplays the following: 1) the mass mobilization of FG at a huge peaceful demonstration was perceived as a political threat to the regime and elicited brutal repression; 2) a less autocratic and more secure regime would probably not have reacted so brutally; 3) accounts of psychopathology are used as justification for an extreme crackdown initiated for other reasons; 4) persecution has often had the effect of eliciting or heightening apocalypticism and wild behavior in a sect, and finally, 5) one cannot ignore the decisive context of persecution which entails a very authoritarian regime which insists that the Communist party must dominate the Chinese society and control or destroy all possible rivals capable of mobilizing grassroots support.

Rosedale, Herbert L. (2003). Perspectives on Cults As Affected by the September 11th Tragedy. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

The events of September 11th have given new urgency to the business of examining cultic activities in societies around the world. We need to examine cultic phenomena from a three-fold perspective: first, the relationship between a cult leader and the members of his or her group; second, relationships between group members and those in the society who are not members of the group; and finally, society's role in establishing relations among varying groups, a number of which may claim to represent the unique source of ultimate truth. What I propose to do in this paper, therefore, is to outline these three areas of analysis from the perspective, developed over the past generation, of students of destructive cultic activities. In doing so, I believe we will find striking analogies to the current situation that exists in China, both with regard to the country’s perception of the need for regulation of leaders, practitioners, and supporters of Falun Gong, and to past experience with, and the appearance on the horizon of, other groups that threaten the rights of citizens and stability of the society as a whole in China. Finally, we must strike a balance between recognizing and protecting individual rights and differences and those of society as a whole as we deal with supporters of Falun Gong.

Rosedale, Herbert L. (2003). Ideology, Demonization, and Scholarship: The Need for Objectivity—A Response to Robbins' Comments on Rosedale, the Chinese Government, and Falun Gong. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

Robbins' comments on Rosedale's paper presented to the Chinese Anti-Cult Association conference in December, 2001 (and published in Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2003) highlights many of the difficulties in dialogue and the distortions created by the effects of ideology in discussions relating to destructive cults. Robbins purports to reflect his "distress" over possible support by elements of the "anticult movement" (ACM) in America for repressive activities by the Communist Chinese Government against Falun Gong, evidenced by Rosedale's failure to "denounce" brutal persecution and downplaying of the totalitarian nature of the Chinese authoritarian regime. The flaw in Robbins' analysis is that it was prepared without knowledge of the context in which the paper was submitted and without direct inquiry as to ongoing communications between the American Family Foundation and the Chinese Anti-Cult Association. It omits any analysis of the role of the state in regulating religion in various cultural backgrounds where religious practices come into conflict with secular restrictions on such practices. It likewise ignores the necessary consideration of the impact of diverse cultures and history on aspects of belief and practice carried on in the name of religion, some in the context of a society based on separation of church and state and some where the two are blended with dynamic changes in the social fabric occurring at a rapid rate. Additionally, primary attribution of destructive tendencies in cultic groups to their responses to persecution is an oversimplified response to a complex problem which ignores divergence in responses of different groups to the degree of tolerance afforded in different cultural contexts. My comment and response, however, does offer an opportunity for continuing dialogue and certainly raises the question as to where Robbins has addressed the kinds of concerns he faults Rosedale for "downplaying" when abridgements of human rights and the harm resulting there from are caused by destructive cultic groups.

Rosedale, Herbert L. (2003). Extrapolation, Exaggeration, or Exculpation? Cultic Studies Review, 2(3). [Column]

Shaw, Daniel. (2003). Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2).

Using his own ten-year experience in Siddha Yoga under the leadership of Gurumayi, the author presents psychoanalytic conceptualizations of narcissism in an effort to develop a way of understanding cult leaders and their followers, and especially of traumatic abuse in cults from the follower's perspective. A psychoanalytically informed treatment approach for working with recovering cult followers is proposed, consisting of providing: 1) an understanding of the leader's extreme dependence on the follower's submission and psychological enslavement; 2) a clear, firm, and detailed understanding of the leader's abusiveness; and 3) an exploration of normative and/or traumatic developmental issues for the follower, as part of a process of making sense of and giving meaning to the follower's experience.

Szimhart, Joseph. (2003). Denouement of the Prophets’ Cult: The Church Universal and Triumphant in Decline. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1).

This paper examines the historical background of Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT), including Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy and the Ballard’s I Am movement, CUT’s considerable growth from its founding by Mark Prophet in the late 1950s to its heyday in the 1980s, Elizabeth Claire Prophet’s leadership of the group, controversies and lawsuits, the group’s move to Montana and allegations of possession of illegal weapons, the reorganization of the movement in the late 1990s by which time the leader was suffering from dementia, and the development of rival spin-off movements. The article concludes that the decline in membership has no single cause. Devotees have defected for a variety of reasons, most because of conflicts about the validity of the Messenger’s role and godlike status. The author expects the organization to continue to sell books and tapes and to settle in the American religious landscape with a relatively small number of from 1,000 to 3,000 devoted supporters, although this might fall below 500 within a generation.

Yamaguchi, Hiroshi. (2003). Japanese Activities to Counter Cults. Cultic Studies Review 2(3).

This paper discusses Japanese responses to three areas pertinent to cults: (1) judicial standards in cases involving donations; (2) the position taken by the French National Congress; and (3) Falun Gong. An Appendix lists key cases against the Unification Church.

From AFF News Briefs 2003 issues.

Sexual Abuse Treatment: Status of the Research. The Virginia Child Protection Newsletter (Winter 2002), edited by Joann Grayson, Ph.D. and sponsored by the Child Protective Services Unit of the Virginia Department of Social Services, contains a review of the research literature on sexual abuse treatment. The article looks at how sexual abuse impacts children, assessment, and interventions. VCPN is on the Web at:

Cult Novel. Warren Adler, author of The War of the Roses and father of one of AFF’s founding directors, has published, Cult: A Novel of Brainwashing and Death. For more information go to:

Memories Can Be Driven From Awareness. Anahad O'Connor, New York Times, January 9, 2004. "Unwanted memories can be driven from awareness, according to a team of researchers who say they have identified a brain circuit that springs into action when people deliberately try to forget something. The findings, published today in the journal Science, strengthen the theory that painful memories can be repressed by burying them in the subconscious, the researchers say. In the study, people who had memorized a pair of words were later shown one of them and asked to either recall the second word or to consciously avoid thinking about it. Brain images showed that the hippocampus, an area of the brain that usually lights up when people retrieve memories, was relatively quiet when subjects tried to suppress the words they had learned. But at the same time, another region associated with motor inhibition, called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, showed increased activity.

U.S. Releases Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (December 18, 2003). Executive Summary:

Russia: International Religious Freedom Report 2003. Released on December 18, 2003 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor:

Surfing the Web Gets Spiritual. An article with the above title appeared in the December 10, 2003 Charlotte Observer (NC). Written by Religion Editor, Ken Garfield, the article discusses the results of a University of North Carolina survey of 2,600 U.S. teens. The survey found that "far more teens visit religious Web sites than pornographic sites." Eight out of ten teens in this national telephone survey said they had Internet access. Seventy-five percent said they use the Web to help with homework, 17% to search for something spiritual, and only 5% for pornography.

Journalist Says Regional Politics Influence Christian Persecution in China. A man who spent many years covering the events of Communist China says Christians are persecuted in the country, but it is not happening everywhere. In fact, he says in some areas, believers are largely left alone. David Aikman recently published a book titled Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. As a former bureau chief for Time magazine in Beijing, Aikman had an opportunity to observe the lives of China's Christians first hand.

Aiken says government persecution of adherents to the Christian faith depended on where the believer lived. He says even though Chinese officials have instructions at the national level from the Public Security Bureau to "suppress any social or religious activity that is not controlled by the government," not all regional authorities carry out those instructions in the same way.

Aikman says much depends on who is in charge of individual provinces. "At the provincial level," he says, "depending entirely on who is running the province, that order is either implemented in a very nasty way - which it has been in several provinces of China - or it is substantially disregarded."

The author says this results in sporadic, intense persecution happening in certain parts of some provinces, while in other provinces, sometimes "next door," Christians are generally left alone.

"It's a confusing and a contradictory situation," he says, "but anybody who has spent any time in China would recognize that as the reality."

Aikman believes Christianity in the Communist nation is growing at such a tremendous rate that eventually it will bring about a political change there. As a result, he expects the church in China to play a major role in global events in the future.

November 25, 2003 Agape Press,

Lessons from Jonestown. The American Psychological Association's Monitor on Psychology (November 2003) included an article, "Lessons from Jonestown," by Melissa Dittmann of the Monitor staff. According to Dittmann, Stanford psychologist and past APA president, Dr. Philip Zimbardo said that "Jonestown should serve as a warning to the social psychology community in what can happen when principles of influence are abused by leaders of an organization." Dr. Robert Cialdini, Regents' Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, said that "if cults are going to abuse lessons from social psychology, psychologists must study how they are doing this." Cialdini's call for research was echoed by cult expert Steve Hassan, who said "There are lots of individuals who are suffering, and they need our help."

Spirituality, Religion, and Health. The January 2003 issue (Vol. 58, No. 1) of American Psychologist, journal of the American Psychological Association, includes a four-part section on spirituality, religion, and health. The articles are titled:

  • Spirituality, Religion, and Health: An Emerging Research Field (William R. Miller & Carl E. Thoresen) (pp. 24-35)

  • Religion and Spirituality: Linkages to Physical Health (Lynda H. Powell, Leila Shahabi, and Carl E. Thoresen) (pp. 36-52)

  • Religiosity/Spirituality and Health: A Critical Review of the Evidence for Biological Pathways (Teresa E. Seeman, Linda Fagan Dubin, and Melvin Seeman) (pp. 53-63)

  • Advances in the Conceptualization and Measurement of Religion and Spirituality: Implications for Physical and Mental Health Research (Peter C. Hill & Kenneth I. Pargament) (pp. 64-74)

Dangerous Ideas. The March 2003 issue (Vol. 58, No. 3) of American Psychologist includes an article entitled, "Dangerous Ideas: Five Beliefs that Propel Groups Toward Conflict" (by Roy J. Eidelson & Judy I. Eidelson – pp. 182-192). "The authors focus on the parallels between the core beliefs of individuals and the collective worldviews of groups that may operate to trigger or constrain violent struggles. On the basis of a review of relevant literatures, 5 belief domains—superiority, injustice, vulnerability, distrust, and helplessness—are identified as particularly important for further study."

Scientology and the European Human Rights Debate. Dr. Steve Kent of the University of Alberta has published in the Web journal, Marburg Journal of Religion (Vol. 8, No. 1, September 2003), "Scientology and the European Human Rights Debate: A Reply to Leisa Goodman, J. Gordon Melton, and the European Rehabilitation Project Force Study." Kent concludes: "I am concerned, moreover, about the implications of the Sea Organization/RPF studies produced by Gordon Melton and the European scholars. They are vague (almost to the point of silence) about how they came to undertake their research; how the Scientology organization fit into their research design; how much the studies cost; and whether Scientology itself assisted with any of the expenses. After the Aum Shinrikyo debacle, scholars should have learned how important it is to provide readers and the public with as much information as we can about the practicalities of the studies themselves. Now this lesson is even more important, since Scientology has told its members how it is using our findings to further their cause. (Just for the record, I conducted this research with no additional funding and support beyond what my university provides its professors in the everyday conduct of their jobs.)"

Scientology: Religion or Racket? Also published in Marburg Journal of Religion (Vol. 8, No. 1, September 2003) is an article with the above title by Dr. Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi of the University of Haifa. Dr. Beit-Hallahmi concludes: "Some of the scholars claiming that Scientology is some kind of a religion have put their statements to an empirical test. . . More than two decades later (for Bainbridge & Stark, 1981) and more than a decade later (for Passas & Castillo, 1992) these predictions have turned out to be totally wrong. Scientology has not become more religious in any discernible way since 1981 or 1992. It is as much a religion today as it has ever been, and as it will ever be.

Alexandra Stein Article in Open Democracy. In the September 18, 2003 Open Democracy (, Alexandra Stein has an article entitled, "The human dimension: a response to Gitlin and Monbiot." Ms. Stein states: " A central task for today’s global justice movement is to go beyond simply condemning sectarianism. We need to develop a very specific understanding of closed organizational structures headed by charismatic, authoritarian leaders, and of how relationships, behaviors, and beliefs are manipulated within these groups.. . . The same social-psychological thread – one I call charismatic authoritarianism – runs through an array of what are, in cultural and ideological terms, vastly diverse organizations. It thrives on an absolutist or fundamentalist ideology: left-wing, right-wing, on the wings of the angels of the Christian identity movement or the wings of spiritual beings in the New Age. But in the end, the ideological wings don’t matter, the social relationships of people to each other do. . . The myth of the pathetic and vulnerable individual ‘seeker’—or, on the left, the person with the wrong political line—still holds fast, while little progress has been made in helping people understand the universal human response of compliance when faced with conditions of isolation, bullying, fear, authority and deprivation."

The Latest Japanese Cult Panic. The Summer 2003 issue of Religion in the News (supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. and published by The Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut) contains an article with the above title by Benjamin Dorman. The author discusses the recent media coverage of the Japanese group, Pana Wave.

Rastafarian Identity as a Resource for Inclusiveness. Hill, Jack. (2003). Black religious ethics and higher education: Rastafarian identity as a resource for inclusiveness. Journal of Beliefs and Values, 24(1), 3-13. Rastafarian identity represents an ethical resource for broadening discussions about inclusiveness in university communities. Based on interviews with Rastas in Jamaica and interpretations of Rastafarian dub poetry and song lyrics, Rastafarian consciousness is described in terms of concepts of self (I-n-I), lifestyle (livity) and community (Ithiopia). Rasta self-concepts are then viewed as creative catalysts for illuminating globalization discussions, and Rasta lifestyles are seen as potential resources for social ethical criticism of international patterns of consumption.

Senior Papers by Arthur Dole, Ph.D. Infinity Publishing.Com is proud to announce the publication of Senior Papers by AFF director, Arthur A. Dole, Ph.D. Senior Papers is a "stew of reminiscences, anecdotes, tall tales, and observations dredged from personal experiences as a son, unemployed flounderer, crafty academic, active pacifist, lover, husband, father, dog owner, jokester, traveler, polio survivor, money manipulator, psychologist, mentor, and religious skeptic." The new book also includes chapters on Dr. and Mrs. Dole's rescue of their daughter from a cult and reflections on abusive groups. Order on line at, or call toll free: (877) Buy-Book (Price: $19.95 + S & H).

Headgames. Creative Loafing Atlanta included an article entitled, "Headgames" by Steve Fennessy. The article investigates the Center for Social Therapy and Fred Newman, founder of the Center and the East Side Institute for Short-Term Psychotherapy. It relates the personal story of Erika Van Meir, a critic of the organization. The story can be found at

Covert Participant Observation. Lauder, Matthew A. (2003). Covert Participant Observation of a Deviant Community: Justifying the Use of Deception. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 18(2), 185-196. When participant observation involves the use of deception, such as the use of a covert role and the manipulation of subjects, the study is fraught with methodological and ethical challenges that can make field research impossible and may result in harm to the participants. In this article, I maintain that covert participant observation is a useful and necessary tool in the examination of deviant communities, in particular new religious movements existing on the fringe of society. I argue that, on the basis of methodological necessity and a cost-benefit analysis, the use of deception is both operationally and ethically justifiable. In order to elucidate my argument, I draw upon the methodological and ethical challenges experienced during three years of covert participant observation of the Heritage Front, a neo-National Socialist organization that adheres to a racial-religious worldview, and the fieldwork experiences of Stanley Barrett and Nigel Fielding.

Nature Religions in Australia. The same July 2003 issue of Religion Watch also summarizes an article in Pointers, the newsletter of the Christian Research Association of America, which says that the Australian Bureau of Statistics found "a 130 percent increase between the 1991 and 2001 censuses and a 140 percent rise between 1996 and 2001" among adherents of nature religions. "Nature religions attracted an additional 20,000 people in the decade, bringing their numbers to a total of 24,156. [The Pentecostals attracted more than twice that number--about 45,000]." "Among the nature religions group, paganism is the largest and fastest-growing (representing 44 percent of all nature religions, followed by Wicca or goddess worship (representing 36 percent); Australian traditional indigenous religions were not included in these figures. Nature religions had the youngest age profile of all major religious groups in the 2001 census. Although involving veneration of nature, 64 percent of these practitioners live in major cities."

New Journal. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions is a refereed journal that encourages research driven, thematic or comparative contributions on all aspects of revolutionary and sacralised politics. It has no chronological or geographical boundaries, and welcomes academic and expert non-academic writers working in fields as diverse as propaganda, film, literature, and sport as well as those covering ideological and state policy questions. It welcomes work on the ideologies of Left and Right, as well as analysis of contemporary fundamentalist extremism. Editors: Michael Burleight (Washington and Lee University, Virginia), Emilio Gentile (Rome University), and Robert Mallett (University of Brimingham). Frank Cass Publishers. Three issues per year. Individuals 40 pounds/$54. North America:; UK/rest of world:

Parental Alienation Syndrome. The April 2003 issue of Counseling Today, the newspaper of the American Counseling Association (, includes a front page article (the first of two-parts) on Parental Alienation Syndrome: "The Secret Killer of Parent-Child Relationships." "The concept of PAS is pretty simple—one parent deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys, the previously healthy, loving relationship between his or her child and the child's other parent. In a severe PAS case, the alienating parent and child work together to successfully eliminate the previously loved mom or dad from the child's life."

Emotions Upon Leaving a Destructive Cult. Dubrow, Linda Jayne. Emotions Upon Leaving a Destructive Cult/High Demand/Extremist Group. (2003, March). PSPP Currents, 13. Column appearing in the newsletter of the Philadelphia Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

Measurement of Religion and Spirituality. Hill, Peter C., & Pargament, Kenneth I.. (2003). Advances in the Conceptualization and Measurement of Religion and Spirituality: Implications for Physical and Mental Health Research. American Psychologist, 58(1), 64-74. ""The authors highlight recent advances in the delineation of religion and spirituality concepts and measures theoretically and functionally connected to health. They also point to areas for growth in religion and spirituality conceptualization and measurement. Through measures of religion and spirituality more conceptually related to physical and mental health (e.g., closeness to God, religious orientation and motivation, religious support, religious struggle), psychologists are discovering more about the distinctive contributions of religiousness and spirituality to health and well-being."

Terrorists and Cultists. AFF director, Dr. Arthur A. Dole, has a chapter, “Terrorists and Cultists,” in The Psychology of Terrorism, Volume III, Theoretical Understandings and Perspectives, edited by Chris E. Stout and published by Praeger, 2003. Dr. Dole’s chapter asks the question: “To what extent, if any, can one hundred years of psychological research into cults, sects, and religion help in understanding, preventing, and opposing terrorists?” He discusses Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, compares definitions of cult, mind control, and terrorist, examines relevant clinical, experimental, and theoretical psychological work, incidents of cult violence, whether or not Bin Laden is a cult leader, and recommendations concerning prevention, consultation, and research.

Spiritual Connection on the Internet. Written by Mindy Sink and published in the December 28, 2002 New York Times, this article briefly describes the great variety of ways in which the Web is impinging on religion. The author states: “In her book Give Me That Online Religion (Jossey-Bass, 2001), Brenda E. Brasher, who has been studying religious Web sites for more than a decade, gives the example of a Hindu temple in India where the faithful wait in line for hours to enter before they are welcomed by the sounds of chanting priests and the scent of embers, along with the smells of fruit and flowers. She contrasts that with a visit to a virtual temple online that features a graphic drawing of a Hindu god and downloadable meditation music and chants.” A study of the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that about one-quarter of adult Internet users (about 28 million people) have used the Web to seek religious information.

Vatican Report on the New Age. The Vatican has published a report on the New Age Movement, available at


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