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Comprehending Cults


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Chapter One: Why Study New Religious Movements? The Cults in Our Midst The Hostility Towards Cults Box 1 They Come in All Shapes and Sizes Responding to the Suspicions of the Public Chapter Two: What Are New Religious Movements? Religion and Its Continuing Significance Churches, Sects, and Cults Creating a Typology of Cults Box 2 How New Religious Movements Change with Success Chapter Three: Why Did New Religious Movements Emerge? Asking the Right Question First New Religious Movements as a Response to Cultural Change Box 3 Three Models of Cult Formation New Religious Movements as an Expression of Cultural Continuity Concluding Remarks Chapter Four: Who Joins New Religious Movements and Why? The Stereotypes Getting Involved with New Religious Movements The Social Attributes of Those Who Join Box 4 Why Are American Converts to New Religious Movements Disporportionately Jewish? Some Reasons for Joining Chapter Five: Are Converts to New Religious Movements 'Brainwashed'? The Issue and Its Significance The Case Against the Cults The Case Against Brainwashing Box 5 The Active Versus Passive Convert Reformulating the Issues in the Brainwashing Debate Chapter Six: Why Are New Religious Movements So Often Accused of Sexual Deviance? Sexual Deviance and the Cults Box 6 Child Abuse and the Social Control of NRMs Gender Matters Chapter Seven: Why Do Some New Religious Movements Become Violent?: Responding to Recent 'Cult' Tragedies Apocalyptic Beliefs Charismatic Leadership Social Encapsulation Box 7 Surviving the Failure of Apocalyptic Prophecies Concluding Remarks Chapter Eight: What Is the Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements? Our Skewed Perspective Modernism and the New Religious Movements Box 8 Factors Affecting the Success of NRMs Postmodernism and the New Religious Movements NRMs: Anti-modern, Modern, or Postmodern? Concluding Remarks Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Lorne L. Dawson is a Professor of Sociology and Chair for the Department of Religious Studies, University of Waterloo.

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