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Apostates and the Legitimation of Repression: Some Historical and Empirical Perspectives on the Cult Controversy

James R. Lewis
Sociological Analysis
Vol. 49, No. 4 (Winter, 1989), pp. 386-396
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3711224
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3711224
Page Count: 11
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Apostates and the Legitimation of Repression: Some Historical and Empirical Perspectives on the Cult Controversy
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Abstract

Atrocity tales recounted by deprogrammed former members of controversial religions constitute one of the epistemological cornerstones of anti-cult ideology. Although scholars of new religious movements have often criticized these testimonies, empirical research in this area has been minimal. The present study systematically contrasts the attitudes of former members of such groups and finds, as certain social scientists have predicted, a high correlation between negative, cult-stereotypical attitudes and exposure to anti-cult socialization. The paper also sets these findings in the context of a historical analysis that examines the continuities between anti-cult, anti-Catholic, and anti-Mormon atrocity tales.

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