Author(s): Eugene V. Gallagher
The 'Cult Wars' in Historical Perspective provides a broad characterization of the shifting contours of public and academic discussion of new and alternative religions over the past several decades. Offering an assessment of several important topics in the study of new religions, this book explores developments in some well-known groups such as the Unification movement, The Family International (Children of God), the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and the Church of Scientology. Bringing together both “insiders” and “outsiders” from various academic disciplines and personal perspectives, this book takes account of the ways in which the “cult question” is defined and addressed in different countries. It offers a vivid depiction of how the “cult wars” or “cult controversies” of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries first took shape, the transformation of some deeply-entrenched positions on “cults” and “sectes” as at least some members of new groups, cult-watchers, and academics entered into serious and sustained conversations about topics of mutual concern, the shifting foci and concerns of the general public, law enforcement and the courts, and academics in various countries, and the complex histories of individual groups in which many dramatic transformations have occurred despite their comparatively short life-spans.
Eugene V. Gallagher is the Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies at Connecticut College in New London, CT. He is the author of Reading and Writing Scripture in New Religious Movements, The New Religious Movements Experience in America, co-author of Why Waco: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, co-editor of the five-volume Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in the United States and author of many essays on new religious movements and religions in the ancient Mediterranean world. He is a co-General Editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of New and Alternative Religions and Associate Editor of Teaching Theology and Religion.