Academic studies of new religious movements (a.k.a. cults)
University professors who study new religious groups are often referred to disparagingly
by those in the anti-cult movement as "cult
apologists." This is not a good term:
||The term "cult" is generally interpreted by the
press and the rest of the public to refer to dangerous, doomsday
destructive religious groups. The vast majority of new religious
groups are benign.
||The term "apologist" refers to an individual who
defends a belief system. Academics rarely defend the beliefs of new
religious groups. They generally defend only the right of those groups
to practice their faith without harassment.
There are a number of professional groups, mailing lists, journals and Web sites that
promote study of the new religious movements (NRMs):
Academic organizations and institutions which concentrate on NRMs:
||The American Academy of Religion's New Religious Movements Group "seeks
to enhance understanding of New Religious Movements (NRMs) past and present."
Its steering committee members are listed at: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/aar-nrm/
||Center for the Study of New Religions (CESNUR) at and http://www.cesnur.org "is an international
network of associations of scholars working in the field of new religious movements."
Its original aim was directed at scholars who "specialized in religious
minorities, new religious movements, contemporary esoteric, spiritual and gnostic schools,
and the new religious consciousness in general." They became alarmed at
misinformation being disseminated both by the Anti-cult movement (ACM) and by some new
religious groups. They have since become actively involved in spreading "reliable
and responsible information" on NRMs. They are concerned that the anti-cult and
sect panic in some countries in Europe may lead to special legislation against cults or
"brainwashing," thus threatening religious freedom.
||The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Sterling (UK) has a
"New and Alternative Religions Page" at: http://www.stir.ac.uk/departments/
||The Institute for the Study of American Religion (ISAR) was founded in 1969.
Its collection of NRM literature, the American Religious Collection, is located in
the Davidson Library at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Some of its main
Other academic organizations which research religions generally:
Academic and other Web Sites dealing with NRMs:
||The late Jeffrey Hadden created a site "New Religious Movements," at: http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/
It is linked to the undergraduate course Sociology 257 at the University of Virginia
||Anne Eyre, "Religious cults in twentieth century America,"
||Mike Madin maintains a site: "Academic Info: Your Gateway to Quality Internet
Resources." Information on NRMs is at: http://www.academicinfo.net/nrms.html
||Irving Hexham maintains a site "Nurel Home Page: sources for the study of
cults, sects, new and contemporary religions," at: http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~nurelweb/
||The Institute for Christian Leadership (ICLnet) is at: http://www.iclnet.org/ It has a large data base which
includes information on NRMs. It is a Christian fundamentalist group. In their discussion
groups, "the Bible is assumed to be inerrant and the standard to be used for the
evaluation of any theological belief."
||Ted Daniels founded The Millennium Watch Institute in 1992 to collect "ephemeral
literature, printed and electronic, from more than 1200 American and foreign prophetic and
predictive sources" about the millennium. His website at http://www.channel1.com/mpr/ appears to be off line. However, his essay "Y2K AfterThoughts" is
available at: http://www.nhne.com/y2kafterthoughts/
Journals, newsletters & bibliographies:
||Nova Religio is "the Journal of Alterntaive and Emergent
religions" co-edited by Rebecca Moore and Catherine Wessinger." The
journal provides a comprehensive interpretation and examination of
alternative religious movements, which are often misrepresented and
misinterpreted in both public and scholarly forums." See: http://www.ucpress.edu/journals/nr/
||Richard Cimino publishes Religion Watch. It is an (almost) monthly trend letter
that monitors about 1000 periodicals and other sources. See: http://www.religionwatch.com/ It often has
material on small religious groups.
||Rob Nanninga maintains a bibliography of "Cults and New Religious
Movements" at: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/
Copyright © 1997, 1999, and 2001 to 2003 incl., by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2003-MAY-11
Author: B.A. Robinson
Hyperlinks checked on 2003-MAY-11