1st Edition

Legal Cases, New Religious Movements, and Minority Faiths

Edited By James T. Richardson, François Bellanger Copyright 2014
    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    New religious movements (NRMs) and other minority faiths have regularly been the focus of legal cases around the world in recent decades. This is the first book to focus on important aspects of the relationship of smaller faiths to the societies in which they function by using specific legal cases to examine social control efforts. The legal cases involve group leaders, a groups’ practices or alleged abuses against members and children in the group, legal actions brought by former members or third parties, attacks against such groups by outsiders including even governments, and libel and slander actions brought by religious groups as they seek to defend themselves. These cases are sometimes milestones in the relation between state authorities and religious groups. Exploring cases in different parts of the world, and assessing the events causing such cases and their consequences, this book offers a practical insight for understanding the relations of NRMs and other minority religions and the law from the perspective of legal cases. Chapters focus on legal, political, and social implications. Including contributions from scholars, legal practitioners, actual or former members, and authorities involved in such cases from various jurisdictions, this book presents an objective approach to understanding why so many legal actions have involved NRMs and other minority faiths in recent years in western societies, and the consequences of those actions for the society and the religious group as well.

    Preface by Eileen Barker


    PART I: Controversial Religious Groups and the Legal System

    1 Courts, Crusaders and the Media: The Family International

    Claire Borowik

    2 Scientology in Italy: Plagio and the Twenty Year Legal Saga

    Massimo Introvigne

    3 The Order of the Solar Temple: From Apocalypse to Court

    Jean-François Mayer


    PART II: Specific Legal Cases Involving Minority Religious Groups

    4 The Mohan Singh Case: What Is the Price of Confidentiality?

    Philip Katz QC

    5 The Resurrection of Religion in the U.S.? "Sacred Tea" Cases, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the War on Drugs

    James T. Richardson and Jennifer Shoemaker

    6 Religion or Sedition? The Domestic Terrorism Trial of the Hutaree, a Michigan-based Christian Militia

    Susan J. Palmer

    7 The Dang Case: When Chakras Opening Leads to a Belgian Criminal Court

    Henri de Cordes


    PART III: Legal Issues Raised by Cases Involving Minority Faiths

    8 How to Know the Truth: Accommodating Religious Belief in the Law of Libel

    Alastair Mullis and Andrew Scott

    9 Religious Libel: Are the Courts the Right Place for Faith Disputes?

    Hardeep Singh

    10 The European Court of Human Rights, Minority Religions, and New Versus Original Member States

    Valerie A. Lykes and James T. Richardson


    PART IV: Minority Religious Groups in Court: Experimental Evidence

    11 Cults in Court: Jury Decision-Making and New Religious Movements

    Jeffrey E. Pfeifer

    12 Parents’ Use of Faith Healing for Their Children: Implications for the Legal System and Measuring Community Sentiment

    Monica K. Miller

    13 Muslims and the Courtroom: Legal Issues and Empirical Research

    Evelyn M. Maeder and Jeffrey E. Pfeifer


    James Richardson, JD, PhD, is Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada in Reno, where he directs the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, as well as the Judicial Studies graduate degree program for trial judges. His latest books include Regulating Religion: Case Studies from around the Globe (2004) and Saints under Siege: The Texas Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (with Stuart Wright, 2011). He has published over 250 articles and book chapters, and worked on 10 books, mostly on new and minority faiths. In recent years his focus has been on legal aspects of social control of religions. He is the incoming president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. François Bellanger, PhD, Professor of Law (University of Geneva), Attorney at Law, has been a legal expert on cults for the Department of Justice of the Canton of Geneva (Switzerland) and is one of the authors of the official report on illegal sectarian practices published in Geneva in 1997 (’Audit sur les dérives sectaires’). He has published several articles on cults and religious freedom. He is the President of the Information Center on Beliefs in Geneva.