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Scholarly Reactions to the Aum and Waco Incidents

Benjamin Dorman
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
Vol. 39, No. 1, Aftermath: The Impact and Ramifications of the Aum Affair (2012), pp. 153-177
Published by: Nanzan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41495893
Page Count: 25
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Scholarly Reactions to the Aum and Waco Incidents
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Abstract

This article investigates some scholarly reactions towards the Aum incident of March 1995 and the incident of 1993 involving the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. The Waco incident began on 28 February 1993 with an armed exchange in which four federal agents and six Branch Davidians died, and ended on 19 April 1993 with the deaths of seventy-six Branch Davidians. While both incidents highlighted questions that democracies face in terms of the balance between protecting religious freedom and guaranteeing public safety, they also highlighted stark cultural differences in reactions, approaches, and expectations between scholars in Japan and the West, particularly the United States. There is, of course, a danger in attempting to compare the same research methods and assumptions scholars generally operate on in one region to another, in conjunction with prevailing social and cultural attitudes. Nevertheless, the growing field of new religious movements, or NRMS, necessarily requires at least some consideration into scholarly methods and assumptions from an international perspective.

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