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Cultic Studies Journal Abstract:
Why Cultic Groups Develop and Flourish: A Historian's Perspective

Psychological Manipulation and Society: cults, cult groups, new religious movements

Cultic Studies Journal
Psychological Manipulation and Society
Vol. 8, No. 2, 1991

Why Cultic Groups Develop and Flourish: A Historian's Perspective

Natalie Isser, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University
Ogontz Campus

Abstract
A variety of religious or secular sects and cults were a continuing phenomenon in the United States. Many of these religious movements, especially the more deviant ones, were dependent upon strong charismatic leadership and syncretic belief systems embracing a combination of current ideals and sentiments. Sometimes the outcast cult could, with time, become a sect, and even enter the mainstream religions. The best known of this group would be the Mormon Church. The proliferation of religious, quasi-political, and nontraditional organizations was much more prevalent in the United States because of its favorable physical terrain, religious pluralism, and social mobility. Many Native Americans and Blacks founded cults, embodying both their ancestral traditions and Christian values. These cults provided a useful way of confronting the hostile dominant culture. Contemporary cults like those of the past have created opposition because their religious policies and proselytization techniques threaten prevailing traditions. The power of contemporary media has abetted these missionary efforts but has also provided the means to discredit them. Though some of these cults have faded from view, new ones will emerge as a challenge to the existing culture.

Order: Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 09, No. 02

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