Researching New Religious Movements: Responses and Redefinitions

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Psychology Press, 2006 - 446 pages
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New religious movements such as the Moonies, Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishnas are now well established in mainstream cultural consciousness. But responses to these 'cult' groups still tend to be overwhelmingly negative, characterized by the furious reactions that they evoke from majority interests. Modern societies need to learn how best to respond to such movements, and how to interpret their benefits and dangers.
Researching New Religious Movements provides a cutting-edge analysis of the controversy around new religions in America and Europe today. Drawing on original fieldwork, it explores the battles between the recruiting factions of groups like the Moonies, and the anti-cult movements and Church societies that have mobilized to oppose these. It considers academic and media interventions on both sides, placing special emphasis on the problems of objectivity inherent in the language of 'sects', 'abduction' and 'brainwashing'. Ideal for students, researchers and professionals, this provocative and much-needed book takes the debate over new religious movements to a newly sophisticated level.


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Milestones in a research itinerary
Institutions and institutional knowledge
Sketching in the cultural background
The anticult movements response
The response of the mainstream churches
The response of the Protestant Church in Germany
Pastor FriedrichWilhelm Haack and Arbeitsgemeinschaft
The response of the Roman Catholic Church

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About the author (2006)

Elisabeth Arweck is Research Fellow at the University of Warwick's Religions and Education Research Unit. She co-edits the Journal of Contemporary Religion, and has co-edited several books including New Religious Movements in Western Europe (1997) and Theorizing Faith (2002).

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