ARTICLE - Cults and Terrorism: Can We Establish Parallels Between Noxious Belief Systems?
Cults and Terrorism: Can We Establish Parallels Between Noxious Belief Systems?
July 5, 2017
By Sarah Mills
Whether they are known as high-demand/control groups, new religious movements, or cults, their frequent association with scandals in which both physical and psychological abuse, violence, and even fatalities feature notoriously, begs the question: At what point does a religion cease to be a relatively anodyne cultural system and cross over into territory the state should not, must not, protect through religious freedom?
Established religions often cite deviation from the norm as a defining characteristic of cults to undermine their legitimacy. This norm, however, is a product of time. Christianity itself was once considered ‘deviant.’ So how can we determine what a cult is and why should we care? Through a consideration of the definition of the word ‘cult’ and the psychological effects of indoctrination; an examination of a sect that might better be defined as a cult and thus useful for illustrative purposes, namely Jehovah’s Witnesses; and the relationship between cult mentality and terrorism, I will argue that the study of cults holds significant potential in unlocking the bases for violent acts of devotion that seem to merit more than socio-political explanations . . .
Seems like the author borrowed a few ideas from others. Interesting article, but I find it somewhat biased. Her commentary about the JWs and the definitions seem to want to bias the reader for the information that follows.
scratchme1010 - your comments are correct, however this is how many academic articles are written. The author explores and supports their idea, hypothesis, or even thesis with an argument thereby adding to the body of knowledge. In this article Sarah Mills used the JWs as one of her case studies.
Why are you calling this an academic article? She does not reference any studies or other academic resources other than dictionaries. She did not indicate her academic credentials nor a thesis, nor was it published in a peer-reviewed journal. Her assertions are correct but this is not an academic article it is an opinion piece.
However I found it to to be a well reasoned piece with a good and accurate knowledge of how the Society operates and how the doctrines work. I thought it well demonstrated how they support the hypothesis that the Societies ways fit the definitions of cult as defined by the psychologist cited.
The Society loves to try and prove that they are not a cult by setting up a straw man argument - i.e. picking their own selective definition of what a cult is or what defines a cult and then arguing against those points. This is a good rebuttal to that.
John Davis - Why are you calling this an academic article? She does not reference any studies or other academic resources other than dictionaries. She did not indicate her academic credentials nor a thesis, nor was it published in a peer-reviewed journal. Her assertions are correct but this is not an academic article it is an opinion piece.
John, I did not call this an academic article. I stated "this is how many academic articles are written."
Sarah Mills cites a number of references in her article, including: mental health councillor Steven Hassan (both his book and an article he wrote for the American Psychological Association), psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton, and Dr Arthur Dole a professor in psychology.
Mills also refers to both The Watchtower and Awake! magazine but we can dismiss them easily.
Mills lists her credentials if you click on the link to her name. She is a journalist.