Cults in America

Is the alarm new religious movements justified?


WASHINGTON -- Cults, for many Americans, are a memory from the 1970s. They recall an array of troubling images -- the mass suicide at Jonestown, kidnappings by deprogrammers and squadrons of saffron-robed Hare Krishnas accosting travelers at airports. But in the spring of 1993, this notion of a bygone phenomenon went up in flames as cult leader David Koresh led armed Branch Davidians to their doom near Waco, Texas.“News editors thought cults had gone away with Jonestown, but they've been growing in size and numbers,” says Margaret Singer, a psychology professor at the University of California-Berkeley who has counseled more than 3,000 former cult members. From 10 million to 20 million Americans have been involved with some form of cult in recent years, Singer wrote ...

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