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.
Table of Contents
Foreword Acknowledgements 1. What This Book Is About 2. Milestones in a Reseach Itinerary 3. Institutions and Institutional Knowledge Part 1: Institutions Part 2: Institutional Knowledge 4. Sketching in the Cultural Background Part 1: The Contours of Religious Cultures Part 2: The Contours of Academic Cultures 5. The 'Anti-Cult' Movement's Response Part 1: The ACM Response in Britain: The Case of FAIR Part 2: The ACM Response in German: The Case of Elterminitiative 6. The Response of the Mainstream Churches Part 1: The Response of the Church of England Part 2: The Response of the Protestant Church in German Section 1: Evangelische Zentrallstelle fur Weltanschauunsfragen (EZW) Section 2: Pastror Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack and Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Religions - und Weltanschuunsfragen Part 3: The Response of the Roman Catholic Church 7. Conclusions Bibliography
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).
'The most important 'first' that this book achieves is its bold questioning of the whole intellectual apparatus of the sociology of religion as it has been applied to the understand of the new religious movements. I am confident that Elisabeth Arweck's study will quickly become required reading in the sociology of new religious movements.' - Professor David Martin, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Ecomonics, University of London, UK
'Powerful and original ... it succeeds triumphantly in being at the same time an important, high-quality academic study and a book for our times.' - Professor David Marsland, Professorial Research Fellow in Sociology, University of Buckingham