Science in Christian Perspective



The Cults:Why Now and Who Gets Caught?

Division of Social Sciences
Tabor College
Hillsboro, Kansas 67063

From: JASA 33 (June 1981): 94-100.

Scores of young people have turned to the cults in recent years. For many this choice, if it can be called thati has not been a casual one. Rather the new members have often paid a steep price, i.e., the surrender of even the most basic of personal freedoms, living under unusual and often severe living conditions, breaking of ties with parents, giving up of all personal possessions, severing of relationships with the world, and becoming something akin to a slave while the cultic leader lives in luxury. Why do people endure such privations? What draws the youth to the cults? Is it the respective theology of these different groups? it would seem not. Rather the key to understanding the magnetic power of cultic phenomena lies in the realm of practice rather than ideology.

People join cultic groups for three primary reasons. (1) Wider societal forces have created conditions conducive to cultic growth. (2) Cultic groups employ recruitment techniques that allure, or perhaps trap, the youth. (3) Certain types of people are more susceptible to these wider societal conditions and the methods utilized by the cults.

What then is a religious cult? According to Lowell Streiker, a cult is a movement of social protest and personal affirmation. It offers a total way of life to those who are alienated from their families and society in general.1 Thomas O'Dea designates it as a group based on individual concerns and experiences, often transient, and containing a fluctuating membership.2 Perhaps the best way to describe a cult is to list some of its characteristics. A cult, above all, has a living leader who determines its doctrine. This leader enjoys absolute authority over the cult's members and often lives in regal splendor while the members subsist in poverty. Second, a cult promises a system in which a convert may work to save the world and humanity, but actually sponsors few community improvement programs. Third, the daily work of nearly all cult members is demeaning and utilizes little of their potential, in terms of intelligence, training or education. Fourth, religious cults are exclusive social systems, claiming that their members will achieve salvation or happiness. In fact, to be a member of most cults entails cutting oneself off from society, friends, and family. Fifth, methods of ego-destruction and thought manipulation are part of a religious cult's recruiting and indoctrination practices. Indeed, cults discourage critical analysis by dictating the suppression of negative thoughts, therefore fostering a dependency on the cult's authority. Finally, the cult rituals and practices are generally psychologically unwholesome, and in come cases physically harmful.3 Religious groups exhibiting the above characteristics generally include the Unification Church, Hare Krishna, the Children of God, the Alamo Christian Foundation, the Love Family, the Way, and the Divine Light Mission.

Societal Forces

Cultic phenomena are not new in America. Nevertheless, during the 1960's and 1970's they have certainly experienced a resurgence not only in America but elsewhere.4 This cultic surge is closely related to two societal forces. The rise of the cults is both a product of and an extension of American religious pluralism and vitality. The cultic phenomena can also be seen as a religious expression of the counterculture, i.e., a youthful response to the chaos of our time.

Religious pluralism, as Martin Marty has demonstrated, does have its boundaries. Nonetheless, one can legitimately argue that pluralism is the key to understanding American religion.5 Contrary to popular belief, America has not always had a true "religious pluralism". The Constitution officially disestablished religion on the national level. Yet both state establishments and a de facto Protestant establishment existed well into our early national history. Early national America had a "Protestant pluralism", namely a variety of Protestant groups. Exceptions to this Protestant dominance did exist (e.g., Universalists, Unitarians, Rosicrucians, Mormons, Catholics, 

The cults do not hesitate to step in and fill the spiritual, social and emotional voids left by many of today's overburdened institutions.

Transcendentalists, Swedenborgians, and Spiritualists). Hand in hand with this Protestant pluralism, and partially 
because of it, went a remarkable growth in American religion (e.g., The Second Awakening).6

The post-bellum period is often depicted as a period of declining religious enthusiasm. Yet this era did witness
religious vigor, namely Pentecostalism, revivalism, and missionary expansion. Nevertheless, by the late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries, cracks began to appear in the "Protestant Empire", i.e., immigration and urbanization
radically changed the picture of American religion. Catholics and Jews poured into the cities from Europe;
southern Blacks moved to the North. Christian Science and the Russellite movement, which later became known as the Jehovah's Witnesses, burst on the scene. Even Eastern religions made their debut in America. Historically, the
forces of transition from American Judeo-Christendom to a larger range of religious pluralism began to be visible near the end of the nineteenth century.7

It is not misleading nor simplistic to describe twentieth century America as "post Protestant" or even "post Christian", if by this we mean that other forces have displaced Protestantism, and perhaps even Christianity, as the
primary definer of cultural values and behavior patterns in the nation.8 Two world wars, military involvement in Korea and Vietnam, all of the contacts that world leadership entails, to say nothing of a creeping secularism, have expanded American pluralism beyond its Judeo-Christian confines.9 Today we have a different kind of pluralism than existed in our earlier history, one that is not confined to the Judeo-Christian tradition, much less to Protestantism. The cultic phenomena of the 1960's and 1970's must be seen as both a continuation and expansion of both the pluralism and vitality of the American religious tradition.10

The American tradition of religious pluralism notwithstanding, something different happened in the 1960's. This
turbulent decade acted as a catalyst to forces already in motion. By now long-term economic, moral, theological, and cultural processes were brought to a critical stage by the enormous economic expansion and rapid social change that the United States had experienced and thoughtlessly enjoyed during the affluent years that followed World War II The long-developing problems of rampant, unregulated urban and industrial growth began to create difficulties with which American political and fiscal practices could not cope. Technological and scientific advancements seemed to have no bounds. Consequently, for many, the idea of the supernatural lost its force. The Kennedy family in the White House and Vatican II symbolized the drastic alteration of old Protestant-Catholic relationships. Between 1954 and 1963 the Supreme Court removed crucial legal supports from the power structure of the Protestant Establishment. Of great importance, Black America began to seek rectification of the historic inequalities of its situation. For the first time in American history, the traumatic implications of true pluralism began to be realized. Moreover, the destructive affects of the Nazi exterminations and the atomic age mitigated what remained of humanistic op
timism. And finally, the supreme catalyst came in the escalation of the Viet Nam War.11

In all of these events and others, America's traditional spiritual institutions were tested and found wanting. The mainline denominations experienced a decline after 1965. The youthful counter-culture, profoundly alienated from the parental generation, sought and demanded radical changes, which they perceived to be solutions, in politics, education, the arts, and social relations (love, courtship, family, and community). It was, therefore, only natural for the youth to turn to radical religious solutions-otherworldliness, withdrawn communalism, mysticism, the occult, Eastern religions, and the cults. Indeed, America's developing religious pluralism and the youthful response to the turbulence of our age, have combined to create societal conditions conducive to the rise of the cults.12

Cultic Techniques

When nine hundred people seemingly commit suicide in the jungle of Guyana, charges of cultic brainwashing quickly followed. Many people refused to believe that this many people would voluntarily lie down their lives for Jim Jones. Are these charges accurate? Of more importance, do other cultic groups brainwash their adherents? To lump all cults in one category is a tenuous operation because they do demonstrate considerable diversity. Nevertheless, some common denominators can be found in their tactics and techniques. Though "brainwashing", as employed by the Chinese Communists, may be too strong a term, most cultic groups do engage in some form of spiritual and psychological manipulation. The methods common to most of the well known cults generally fall into three phases: the initial contact, the preparation stage, and the act of commitment. Because empirical studies on cultic tactics are scarce, my evidence comes primarily from recorded case histories of former cult members.

Most cultic members make a good initial impression on potential converts. Some disciples, particularly those belonging to the Unification Church, the Love Family (sometimes called the Church of Armageddon), and the Divine Light Mission strike outsiders as being devoted, well groomed, clean cut, and generally class people. During the initial contacts they heap love, warmth, friendship, and concern on the neophytes-thus making them feel right at home. This affection, in particular, attracts many lonesome people. In a similar vein, cultic recruiters often appeal to the prospective members by flattering them.13

The specific tactics employed by various cultic groups in their first contacts differ greatly. This engagement may be an individual encounter on the street or the corporate setting of a religious meeting. In either place, some groups, especially the Moonies, do not reveal their true identities. They utilize evasive advertising, adjunct groups that conceal their affiliation with Moon, and even outright denials that they are members of the Unification Church. The Moonies justify these lies, and other false tactics, as "heavenly deceit". Most cultists have an uncanny ability to immediately recognize susceptible people, and therefore concentrate on them while avoiding less promising prospects such as Mormons and others holding to firm religious beliefs. Some cults, namely the Children of God, the Alamo Christian Foundation, and the Way, employ techniques resembling those of hard sell evangelicals or Charismatics. For example, they pressure the neophyte, preach hellfire sermons, and encourage speaking in tongues. Other cultists, such as the Divine Light Mission, take a soft sell approach and rely on the prospective convert's desire for meditation. The initial messages of these cults usually refer to some basic problem in individuals or society that the group promises to resolve. These promises are often vague and general. For example, one group called the Way, promises that "you can have whatever you want", and then offers personal testimonies to confirm its ability to make good its pledges.14

After the initial presentation, the visitor is usually invited to stay or to go away with other recruits to a religious center. During this second stage the cultic group prepares and "softens up" the visitor, now a guest, for indoctrination. The tactics employed by the various cults during phase two have more uniformity than they did in the initial stage. The objective of these tactics is to increase the suggestibility of the mind for the cultic ideology and ultimate conversion to the group. Most cultic groups, except the Divine Light Mission and Scientology, isolate prospective members from all contacts with the outside world. The centers usually have no newspapers, no radio, no television, and the only music is that performed by group members. By this isolation the cults intend to separate the neophyte from any input or feedback from the outside, while at the same time discouraging questioning and refusing to tolerate dissent. As a result, the cultists deprive the individual of any opportunity to exercise self expression and independent thought. A group of singing, chanting, or meditating peers constantly surrounds the prospective converts and sprinkles them with what Robert Lifton calls, "thought-terminating cliches." Some sources regard this constant chanting or praying as actually a form of auto-suggestion.15

During this preparation stage, most potential cultists experience some form of sensory deprivation-usually food and sleep. In varying degrees nearly all cultic groups that we have mentioned utilize this tactic. Because the Divine Light Mission relies on meditation and an instant experience, they employ this technique less. Starchy, low-protein diets combined with only four or five hours of sleep wear down the individual's physical and psychological defenses and make a person even more vulnerable to indoctrination. Many excult members complain of undernourishment and loss of weight. A typical day runs from 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to midnight; every hour is jammed tight with activities, i.e., lectures, music, work and exercise. The cults never permit the guest to have any privacy or to reflect on the lectures-they are constantly propagandized.16

After a week or longer of these tactics, the individuals' reasoning capacity is reduced, and since there is no alternative support group nearby, the person becomes a prime candidate for cultic conversion. During this second phase, the cultic groups mobilize guilt and anxiety in the in doctrinees in order to inhibit their judgmental processes. The imposition of guilt and fear is basic to the brainwashing process. Cultists make the neophytes believe that their salvation will be jeopardized if they abandon the group. They are made to feel guilty if they want to be alone, or raise questions, or even speak of something pertaining to the outside world. The cult bombards individuals with the idea that self amounts to very little, that the group and its leader are everything, and that outsiders are hostile and should be feared and avoided. A person's guilt and personal inadequacy are heightened to the degree that the idea of being directed by a perfect leader becomes attractive.17

The doctrines of each cult vary greatly, but an emphasis on the leader, the community, and strict discipline pervade nearly every group. The role of such founder-prophets as Sun Myung Moon, Maharaj Ji, Moses David, Prabhupada, Love Israel, Tony and Susan Alamo and Victor Wierville is absolutely essential to their respective cults. Their influence is immense and their power is absolute. Adulation for the leader borders on worship. While the rank and file subsist in demeaning conditions, the leader usually lives in affluence. A sense of community or family dominates the cult's ideology. Cults achieve a sense of togetherness both by encouraging "team" effort and by repeatedly reinforcing the notion that "we have the best team". Cultic groups also develop a "we-feeling" by stressing the exclusivity of their belief system, particularly the path to salvation. They further accomplish communion through frequent group meetings and participation in group ritual. Persecution, real or imagined, tends to unify people. Cults, therefore, emphasize the threat of the outside world as a means of coercion. A focal theme of nearly all cults is regimentation and discipline. As Lowell Streiker notes, the cults impose harsh standards of discipline. You must merit your membership by wholehearted devotion. If you fail, you will be disciplined or expelled. If you remain, you will know that you belong to the chosen, the elite. The ways of the cults are demanding and difficult.18

Stage three entails some action of commitment on the part of the seekers. To remain with the group, they must take a definite step that usually involves confession of guilt or weakness, a renunciation of past behavior and a pledge of loyality to the group and its leader. At this point, the neophyte must make a total commitment to an absolute system. In some cases (e.g., Moonies, Hare Krishna, Children of God, People's Temple, and to a lesser extent the Divine Light Mission) this action means the surrendering of all personal possessions to the group. Still others (e.g., Children of God, Moonies, Hare Krishna, Alamo Foundation, and the Love Family) demand that family ties be severed. Most all groups require the seeker to surrender his or her individuality, i.e., allow the group to make all decisions for them including marriage arrangements. When seekers make commitments of this magnitude, it is difficult for them to turn back. 19

Do the cults really brainwash their adherents, or are these tactics just super-salesmanship? To answer this accurately requires a cult by cult and case by case analysis. There can be no doubt, however, that many of the cults employ techniques closely resembling Chinese brainwashing as described by Robert Lifton. In what he terms "Ideological Totalism", he lists several critieria for identifying thought reform. They include: control of the individuals' environment, isolation, personal manipulation, demands for purity that create guilt, an obsession with personal confession and exposure, self-surrender on the part of the individual, an aura of sacredness surrounding the controlling group's ideology, thought-terminating cliches (e.g., brief, reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed), the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine, and drawing a sharp line between those in the group and those outside who have no right to exist. In addition, many cultic converts experience altered personalitites, altered world views, and partial or complete loss of the ability to think clearly and abstractly. The cults, it would seem, certainly engage in spiritual and psychological manipulation. Nevertheless, the comparisons between Chinese Communist thought reform and cultic techniques do not hold up in every respect. The cults, for example, do not appear to employ direct physical coercion.20

Susceptible Types of People

Are some people more susceptible to both the societal conditions and the cultic tactics previously described? Is there a personality type that is more prone to religious conversion than are others, and as a result more likely to join a cult? Is there a type of person who gravitates toward the cults in general, or do specific cultic groups attract certain types of people? For example, do the Moonies draw different kinds of people than do the Children of God? These are very difficult questions, too difficult for the scope of this paper. In fact, few psychological studies have been made in this regard. My evidence, therefore, must come from varying case studies that, unfortunately, often offer contradictory evidence. My approach is to cite the opinions of three sources that describe cultic types, and then attempt to draw some conclusions from these often conflicting opinions.

Ronald Enroth says that most people who join the cults are between eighteen and twenty-two years old at the time of the first contact. A profile of the typical cult member, Enroth contends, reveals that he or she is white, middle or upper-middle class, with a least some college education and a nominally religious upbringing. In short, the typical cult prospect fits the image of the average American in the immediate post-high school period. Some cult members come from the margins of society or have experienced unstable family relationships, but they are not the norm. Many have known the pain and deprivation of a single-parent home, and perhaps for this reason some have strongly identified with cult leaders who provide a parental image. According to Enroth, more than anything else, the young people pursuing cults are involved in a search for identity and a quest for a spiritual reality that provides clear-cut answers to their questions. Indeed, the cults not only furnish black-andwhite answers to life's questions, but also make promises that appeal to those needing reassurance, confidence, and affirmation. Most cult seekers have had nominal religious exposure, and invariably have found these conventional religious institutions to be lacking in spiritual depth and incapable of inspiring commitment and providing clear-cut answers. Moreover, people who have recently gone through some kind of painful life experience or who find themselves in a state of unusual anxiety, stress, or uncertainty are far more susceptible to cultic involvement. Some youth have a single, traumatic life experience that triggers entrance into a cult, but according to Enroth, a significant number have chronic emotional or personality problems of a pathological nature.21

Lowell Streiker regards cultic conversion as an aspect of conversion in general. He believes that in any conversion experience, cultic or non cultic, personality factors are primary, and the ideological content secondary. He sees parallels in most conversion experiences, whether in the content of Christian revivalism or cultic groups. In other words, a personality type that is prone to religious conversion, will be more susceptible to cultic involvement.22

Richard Kyle is Professor of History and Religion and chairman of the Division of Social Sciences at Tabor College, a Christian liberal arts college associated with the Mennonite Brethren Church. His educational background includes.- B.S. (Kutztown State), M.A. (Temple University), M.Div. (Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary), Th.M. (Princeton Theological Seminary), and Ph.D. (University of New Mexico). He is the author of two books that are scheduled to be released in 1981: The Mind of John Knox and From Sect to Denomination: A Study in Mennonite Brethren Church Types. Presently, he is researching a book on why people join "new religious" groups.

Streiker relies primarily on information from William James, John Kildahl, and D.A. Windermuller to establish his conversionist type. Unfortunately, these opinions are not always in agreement, and thus Streiker's conclusions seem to lack consistency. In sum, he says that cultic converts have generally superior intelligence, but are somewhat emotionally and sexually immature, bored and lonely. Conversion experiences, he argues, are seldom as radical as they appear. Consequently very few religious converts come from nonreligious backgrounds. Religious experience, Streiker contends, is not the establishment of contact with a hitherto unkown sacred power as much as it is the transformation of the quality of this contact. Consequently, those who from childhood have participated in religious rituals have a starting place for their religious quests. Nevertheless, the child's religious experience may not always conform to that of his background-it may, for example, turn out to be cultic. At this point, Streiker's diagnosis demonstrates some incongruity. He also argues that many children of religiously neutral and ethically permissive parents also find their way into an authoritarian cult, i.e., they are seeking direction that the cult offers. Rootlessness, insecurity, and lack of hope set the stage for religious conversion; and the cults are most obliging in this regard-they offer total security in return for total subjection.23

Stoner and Parke admit the difficulties in establishing a profile for the typical cult member. They, therefore, content themselves with recording the findings of other authorities. They cite the cult member profile of Rabbi Davis, a clergyman active in combating these groups. A typical member is an upper middle class, white, boy or girl from eighteen to twenty-five. They have a great deal of hunger for peer approval; they are not comfortable in a permissive society, and need a strong father figure. The world is too big for them, as it often is for a college freshman away from home for the first time or for the person about to enter a profession they never really wanted. Often they have had an unhappy love affair, or they are just trying to find themselves. John Clark, a Boston psychiatrist who works with ex-cult members, contends that there are two distinct groups of people in religious cults. The first group is made up of chronic schizophrenic, border-line personalities whose problems get them involved; for he believes that sick minds gravitate to the new religions. Clark's second group consists of normal, developing young people who are going through the usual crisis of development on the way to becoming adults and who fall into a trap laid by the cults.24

At the onset of this section on personality types I raised some questions that I now attempt tentatively to answer. The evidence as to whether one cultic group attracts one type of person while another allures still a different kind is too tenuous for a conclusion. The personality profiles of the various cultic groups, however, seem relatively similar. The differences, if there are any, would seem to be in regard to social class and education. For example, those joining the Unification Church seem to be of a higher socioeconomic group and better educated than the youth joining the Children of God. Also those gravitating toward the Diving Light Mission appear to be seeking a more instant meditative experience." Is there a conversionist type person, and if so are they more prone to cultic involvement? My answer here is a qualified yes, at least in the sense of a radical conversion to extremist cults. Streiker, I believe, is at least partially correct when he stresses the similarities of revivalistic and cultic conversions. For example, some hard sell evangelicals and cultic groups both utilize certain methods, i.e., isolation, testimonies, hell-fire sermons, tongues, and pressure. It would seem to me that some personality types are more apt to respond to these techniques.

Is there such a thing as the typical cultist? The average cult member, most studies indicate, is white, college aged, middle class, moderately well educated (some college) and at least religiously oriented. Minorities (Jonestown is an exception) and older people usually do not join cultic groups. Rather middle aged people who experience a mid-life crisis, gravitate toward the occult. Moreover, many cultists seem to be from a single-parent family, thus prompting them to perceive the cult leader as a parent figure. Cult members are seeking direction and structure that the cults readily supply. In addition, many converts appear to fall into two categories: those who have chronic mental problems, especially depression, and those who are coming off a single traumatic experience which has depressed them. Depression appears to make young people susceptible to cultic tactics.


The cults do indeed prey on the youth, by utilizing techniques that are deliberately designed to trap them. In this they go beyond super-salesmanship, or even the manipulative tactics employed by some hard sell evangelicals. For this exploitation the religious cults ought to be held morally accountable. But the cults cannot be blamed for the cultural conditions that make today's youth especially vulnerable. Rather, the cults do not hesitate to step in and fill the spiritual, social and emotional voids left by many of today's overburdened institutions.


1Lowell Streiker, The Cults are Coming (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978), p. 9.

2Thomas F. O'Dea, "Sects and Cults", International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. 14, pp. 134, 135.

3Carol Stoner and Jo Anne Parke, All Gods Children: The Cult Experience-Salvation or Slavety? (Rador, PA: Chilton Book. Co., 1977), pp. 3, 4.

4Europe is also experiencing a cultic surge. See Fred Bruning, et. al., "Europe's Rising Cults", Newsweek, May 7, 1979, pp. 100-102.

5Jackson W. Carroll, Douglas W. Johnson, and Martin E. Marty, Religion in America: 1950 to the Present (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), pp. 78-90.

6Sidney Ahlstrom, "From Sinai to the Golden Gate: The Liberation of Religion in the Occident," found in Understanding the New Religions, edited by Jacob Needleman and George Baker (New York: The Seabury Press, 1978), pp. 13-15.

7Ahlstrom, "From Sinai to the Golden Gate," pp. 15-19; Eldon G. Ernst, "Dimensions ofNew Religionin American History," Understanding the New Religions, pp. 39, 40.

8The question pertains to the timing of the break-did it occur in the 1930's as Robert Handy argues, or in the 1960's as Sidney AhIstrom contends? See Robert T. Handy, A Christian America: Protestant Hopes and Historical Realities (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 195-206; Sidney E. AhIstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972), pp. 1079-1096.

9Ernst, "Dimensions of New Religion," pp. 42, 43; Robert Wuthnow, "Religious Movements and the Transition in World Order," Understanding the New Religions, pp. 71-78.

10Ahlstrom, "From Sinai to the Golden Gate," pp. 19-22. Martin Marty points out the suprise element in these "New Religions." See Martin E. Marty, A Nation of Behaviors (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976), pp. 127, 128.

11Ahlstrom, A Religious History, pp. 1079-1096; Robert Wuthnow, "The New Religions in Social Context," found in The New Religious Consciousness, edited by Charles Glock and Robert Bellah (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976), pp. 267-293; Robert Bellah, "New Religious Consciousness and the Crisis in Modernity," The New Religious Consciousness, pp. 333-352.

Ahlstrom, A Religious History, pp. 1093-1096. For a more detailed discussion of the affects of the counter-culture, see Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., Inc. 1969).

13Stoner and Parke, All Gods Children, pp. 6, 7, 22, 27, 30; Ronald Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, and the Extremist Cults (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977), pp. 81, 98, 134; Richard J. Stellway, "Four Steps to Cultic Conversion," Christianity Today, Vol. XXIII, No. 18 (June 29, 1979), p. 25; Christopher Edwards, Crazy for God (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1979), pp. 18, 19.

14Zola Levitt, The Spirit of Sun Myung Moon (Irvine, CA: Harvest House Publishers, 1976), pp. 11, 12; Kenneth Boa, Cults, World Religions, and You (Wheaton, ILL: Victor Books, 1977), pp. 169, 170; Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 57-59, 120, 125-126, 158-159; Stellway, "Four Steps to Cultic Conversion," p. 25; Streiker, The Cults are Coming!, p. 38.

15Edwards, Crazy for God, pp. 22-24; Robert J. Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China (New York; W.W. Norton and Co., 1961), p. 429; Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 37, 58, 59, 83, 101, 102, 159; Stoner and Parke, All Gods Children, pp. 158 ff.; W. J. Peterson, Those Curious New Cults (New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1973), pp. 129-133; David Hesselgrave (ed.), Dynamic Religious Movements (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), pp. 120-125.

16Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 12, 38, 40, 48, 52, 68, 70, 71, 102, 103, 105, 129-131, 141, 160, 166; Edwards, Crazy For God, pp. 53, 54, 60, 63, 72, 77, 92, 93, 97; Stoner and Parke, All Gods Children, pp. 157-159, 161 ff.; Stellway, "Four Steps to Cultic Conversion," p. 25.

17Edwards, Crazy for God, p. 64; Stellway, "Four Steps to Cultic Conversion," pp. 25, 26; Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 160, 162.

18Streiker, The Cults are Coming!, pp. 10-13; Stoner and Parke, All Gods Children, pp. 52-67; Levitt, The Spirit of Sun Myung Moon, pp. 71-76; Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, p. 182; Boa, Cults, World Religions, and You, pp. 170, 171, 183, 194; James C. Hefley, The Youth Nappers (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1977), pp. 77-93. See Sontag for a rather favorable view of Moon's leadership. Frederick Sontag, Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church (Nashville: Abingdon, Press, 1977).

19Stoner and Parke, All Gods Children, pp. 26, 159, 160. Some sources note four stages in cultic conversion, but I use three as Stoner and Parke do. Stellway, "Four Steps to Cultic Conversion," p. 26; Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 38, 40, 60, 84, 91, 105, 138, 144, 157, 196.

20Lifton, Thought Reform, pp. 419-437; Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 149-164; Stoner and Parke, A It Gods Children, pp. 5, 11-13, 27, 30, 156, 159, 172 ff., 221 ff. Scientology does not completely fit the cultic pattern. Nevertheless, evidence would indicate that they employ powerful control techniques. See Roy Wallis, The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), pp. 156, 180, 188, 189, 246. For more on the issue of mind control see William Sargant, The Mind Possessed: A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism and Faith Healing (Philadelphia: J.P. Lippincott Co., 1974).

21Enroth, Youth Brainwashing, pp. 149-156. Streiker, The Cults are Coming!, p. 105. 

22Streiker, The Cults are Coming!, pp. 9, 102, 109. For some of his sources see William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Collier Books, 1961); John P. Kildahl, "The Personalities of Sudden

Religious Converts" in Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion edited by H. Newton Malony (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), pp. 238-248.

24Stoner and Parke, All Gods Children, pp. 75-82, 218, 219.

25Robert Wuthnow has done a study on the types of people who experiment with Eastern religions, astrology, ESP, and mysticism. These movements are not cultic groups, as I have defined them, but it is interesting to note that he argues that the types of people joining various groups differ. Robert Wuthnow, Experimentation in American Religion (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978).


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