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Religious Movements: Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers

Religious Movements: Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers
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“A number of important contributions are contained in this collection. Some chapters offer new theoretical approaches that should make an impression in the field, and others provide important new data.”–Barbara Hargrove, Professor of the Sociology of Religion, The Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO

Why do people join cults? Why do they leave? And how do they manage to stay in them, if that’s what they’ve decided to do? What are cults, anyway? Moonies? Hare Krishnas? The Mormons? The Moral Majority? Manson?

Rodney Stark, editor of Religious Movements: Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, criticizes the media attention given to pseudo-experts on the cults. It seems odd, he says in his introduction, “that the media, usually so eager to reveal dirty secrets, fail to discover that some of their experts on religious movements are poorly regarded by others in the field, while most are held in no regard at all, since they have never participated in the field.”

His volume explores a broader range of issues and groups than is generally considered “hot” by the press. Groups considered are-in addition to Rajneesh, the Unification Church and Hare Krishna, the Bo Peep UFO cult, the many faces of the “human potential” movement, the Moral Majority, Ian Paisley’s Protestants in Northern Ireland, astrology and indigenous American groups such as the Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists.

Instead of the tired “brainwashing” explanation of why people join fringe religious movements, this book provides clear-headed analyses of recruitment, disaffection and socialization in non-mainstream religious groups.

• Rajneesh as seen by a psychologist
• Moonie workshop recruits who decide not to join and why
• Common experiences of defectors from totalistic groups
• The role of friendship in Hare Krishna recruitment
• How schisms are born
• Canada: an infertile ground for the Moral Majority
• Militant Protestantism’s effect on peace prospects in Northern Ireland
• Europe as a mission-ground for American and Eastern religions
• Occultism in America: the largest and most neglected alternative religion

Table of Contents
Rodney Stark
1. “When the Light Goes Out, Darkness Comes:” A Study of Defection from a Totalistic Cult
Robert W. Balch
2. The Ones Who Got Away: People Who Attend Unification Workshops and Do Not Become Moonies
Eileen Barker
3. Conflicting Networks: Guru and Friend in ISKCON
Larry D. Shinn
4. The Rajneesh Movement
Arvind Sharma
5. The Dynamics of Change in the Human Potential Movement
Ray Wallis
6. Cultural Genetics
William Sims Bainbridge
7. Monistic and Dualistic Religion
R. Stephen Warner
8. The Politics of Morality in Canada
John H. Simpson and Henry MacLeod
9. The Lord’s Battle: Paisleyism in Northern Ireland
David Taylor
10. The Revival of Astrology in the United States
J. Gordon Melton
11. Europe’s Receptivity to Religious Movements
Rodney Stark

RODNEY STARK is Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington. He is coauthor of Wayward Shepherds: Prejudice and the Protestant Clergy and American Piety: The Nature of Relgious Commitment.

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