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Cults, Religion, and Violence

Cults, Religion, and Violence

$46.99 (C)

David G. Bromley, J. Gordon Melton, Thomas Robbins, Lorne L. Dawson, Stuart A. Wright, Eileen Barker, John R. Hall, Massimo Introvigne, Jean-Francois Mayer, Ian Reader, Robert W. Balch, David Taylor
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  • Date Published: May 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521668989

$ 46.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, violent episodes involving cults are rare historically. But their potential to affect and disrupt civic life looms large and efforts to manage these incidents involve controversial issues of religious freedom, politics, state intervention, and public security. The interpretive challenge of this book is to provide a social scientific explanation for these rare events. The authors conclude that they usually involve some combination of internal and external dynamics through which a new religious movement and society become polarized.

    • Includes both theoretical explanations of violence and case studies of specific episodes
    • Focuses on the four major episodes of violence involving religious movements over the last decade
    • The contributors are the leading international experts on each issue and episode
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This volume, edited by David Bromley and J. Gordon Melton, noted scholars in the field of new religious movements of "cults," is worthy of attention from other scholars as well as policymakers. The topic is very timely, given the role of religion and controversial religious groups in recent actions that have drawn considerable attention, and the list of contributing scholars is impressive." Contemporary Sociology

    "This remarkable and timely collection of essays provides compelling evidence to help us understand the dark relationship between violence and religious movements.... this book helps us understand why some have been linked with the most horrific images of our contemporary time-- including the Tokyo nerve gas assault, the fiery end of the Waco standoff, and the suicide deaths of the Heaven's Gate sect. Whether they lash out in acts of terrorism or implode in chilling scenes of mass suicide, these `dramatic denouements' as David Bromley calls them, are the results of a desperate vision of a world gone wrong." Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

    "This timely study offers perceptive and illuminating reflections on the troubling phenomenon of violence, sometimes self-directed, among some new religious movements. Moving beyond the headlines, and writing from a humanistic and interdisciplinary vantage point informed by both sociological and religious-history perspectives, the essays in Cults, Religion, and Violence are essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary religious culture." Paul Boyer, University of Wisconsin Madison, author of When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture

    "The essays in Cults, Religion, and Violence are marked by a degree of scholarship, sanity and balance that has so often been lacking in debates over these issues since the time of Jonestown. Throughout the collection, the various authors succeed in applying critical good sense to even the most controversial of cult-related horror stories. When we face our next cult confrontationa--and we assuredly will--we can only hope that police and law-makers will have absorbed some of the critical policy lessons offered by this very significant book." Philip Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University, author of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521668989
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.438kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Violence and religion in perspective David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton
    2. Dramatic denouements David G. Bromley
    3. Challenging misconceptions about the new religions-violence connection J. Gordon Melton and David G. Bromley
    4. Sources of volatility in religious movements Thomas Robbins
    5. Crises of charismatic legitimacy and violent behavior in new religious movements Lorne L. Dawson
    6. Public agency involvement in government-religious movement confrontations Stuart A. Wright
    7. Watching for violence: a comparative analysis of the roles of five types of cult-watching groups Eileen Barker
    8. Mass suicide and the Branch Davidians John R. Hall
    9. Occult masters and the temple of doom: the fiery end of the Solar Temple Massimo Introvigne and Jean-Francois Mayer
    10. Dramatic confrontations: Aum Shinrikyo against the world Ian Reader
    11. Making sense of the Heaven's Gate suicides Robert W. Balch and David Taylor
    12. Lessons from the past, perspective for the future David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton.

  • Editors

    David G. Bromley, Virginia Commonwealth University

    J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religion


    David G. Bromley, J. Gordon Melton, Thomas Robbins, Lorne L. Dawson, Stuart A. Wright, Eileen Barker, John R. Hall, Massimo Introvigne, Jean-Francois Mayer, Ian Reader, Robert W. Balch, David Taylor

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