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    Kumar, Sunil 2018. A study of perceived workplace spirituality of school teachers. Psychological Thought, Vol. 11, Issue. 2, p. 212.

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  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: July 2009

4 - Sources of Volatility in Religious Movements

Summary

There are several factors operating with respect to novel, noninstitutionalized religious movements that tend to enhance volatility and the potential for violence. Some of these factors are fairly easy to enumerate (e.g., Robbins and Anthony 1995; Robbins and Palmer 1997; Dawson 1998: 128–157). However, such enumerations do not at this time allow us to predict which militant sects and esoteric cults will become involved in episodes of mass suicide, or mass murder, or in violent confrontations with authorities. Movements such as the Peoples Temple, the Branch Davidians, Aum Shinrikyô, Heaven's Gate, and the Order of the Solar Temple, which have become involved in sensational episodes of extreme violence, do tend to share certain characteristics. Unfortunately, many other movements that have heretofore been nonviolent also share many of these elements and even share some of the combinations of elements that have been identified in certifiably tumultuous groups.

The vast majority of unconventional and relatively noninstitutionalized “alternative religions” or “cults” are not explosively violent. The most that can probably be said at this time is that certain ideological, organizational, and tactical features of a movement such as apocalyptic worldviews, charismatic leadership, or a “totalistic” milieu (and particular variations on these features) may represent necessary but not sufficient conditions for the more spectacular kinds of violent altercations (Robbins and Anthony 1995; Dawson 1998).

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Cults, Religion, and Violence
  • Online ISBN: 9780511499326
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511499326
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