Analysing both fraud and religion as social constructs with different functions and meanings attributed to them, this book raises issues that are central to debates about the limits of religious toleration in diverse societies, and the possible harm (as well as benefits) that religious organisations can visit upon society and individuals. There has already been a lively debate concerning the structural context in which abuse, especially sexual abuse, can be perpetrated within religion. Contributors to the volume proceed from the premise that similar arguments about ways in which structure and power may be conducive to abuse can be made about fraud and deception. Both can contribute to abuse, yet they are often less easily demonstrated and proven, hence less easily prosecuted. With a focus on minority religions, the book offers a comparative overview of the concept of religious fraud by bringing together analyses of different types of fraud or deception (financial, bio-medical, emotional, breach of trust and consent). Contributors examine whether fraud is necessarily intentional (or whether that is in the eye of the beholder); certain structures may be more conducive to fraud; followers willingly participate in it. The volume includes some chapters focused on non-Western beliefs (Juju, Occult Economies, Dharma Lineage), which have travelled to the West and can be found in North American and European metropolitan areas.
Table of Contents
Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist
1 New Religions and Fraud: A Double Constructionist Approach
David G. Bromley
2 Minority Religions and Fraud: Preliminary Theories on Ritual Deception
3 Bona Fide?
Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist
4 Between Faith and Fraudulence? Sincerity and Sacrifice in Prosperity Christianity
5 Folk Healing, Authenticity and Fraud
Stuart McClean and Ronnie Moore
6 Sex-Work and Ceremonies: The Trafficking of Young Nigerian Women into Britain
7 Food, Faith and Fraud in Two New Religious Movements
Marion S. Goldman
8 Miracle Makers and Money Takers: Healers, Prosperity Preachers and Fraud in Contemporary Tanzania
9 When Fraud is Part of a Spiritual Path: A Tibetan Lama’s Plays on Reality and Illusion
10 Faith Lends Substance? Trickery and Deception within Religious and Spiritual Movements
11 The Zen Master and Dharma Transmission: A Seductive Mythology
Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist is the deputy director of Inform, a non-profit information centre specializing in minority religious and fringe political movements, based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her research on the second generation of sectarian movements and the impact their segregated childhoods have had, is due to be published. Further publications include an article entitled ’Beliefs in Possession’ in The Devil’s Children. From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft: New Allegations That Affect Children, edited by Inform’s research fellow Emeritus Professor Jean la Fontaine (2009), and ’Children in New Religions: Contested Duties of Care’, Journal of the International Society for the Study of New Religious Movements 1(2): 25-48 (2010).
’Almost as long as organized religions have existed, some have faced charges of fraud and deception. It is valuable, then, to have a scholarly and readable collection of chapters that allow us to understand the roots of these charges, and the reasons why some systems in particular lend themselves to abuse and manipulation. Particularly intriguing is the question of when a non-provable claim veers from a matter of faith to an issue of fraud. Impressively broad in its scope, Minority Religions and Fraud is an innovative and truly useful contribution to the literature on religious studies, as well as to criminology.’ Philip Jenkins, Baylor University, USA ’Religion sometimes presents a theatre for deception and chicanery, with the high drama that can attend these. This book provides a timely correction to the media image that only several large denominations or congregations currently experience this phenomenon, and it is a welcome addition to a growing research literature on the less-than-uplifting aspects of religious practice.’ Anson Shupe, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, USA