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- New religious movements and the law: past interactions and new directions
- Pfeifer, Jeffrey E.; Ogloff, James R. P.
- Although ratification of the First Amendment in 1791 sought to establish a clear boundary between church and state in the United States, the proliferation of new religious movements (or cults) within the last 25 years has served to cloud that boundary almost beyond recognition. The popularity of new religious movements throughout the 1970s and 1980s was matched only by the apprehensiveness which ultimately led to a number of legal confrontations on constitutional, criminal and civil levels. Early interactions between new religious movements and the law grew largely out of confrontations between these groups and the anticult movement who encouraged the use of deprograming as a means of 'rescuing' family members who had been deceived into joining one of these groups. The use of deprograming eventually led to questions of conservatorship and, of course, brainwashing. Although the direction of legal interactions with new religious movements has changed over the years, the concept of brainwashing, in one form or another, has continued to be an important sociolegal issue in the continuing clashes between new religious movements and the law. There have been a number of confrontations regarding the use of expert testimony in cult cases, civiI suits against cults alleging intentional infliction of emotional stress and fraud as well as a number of other claims. In addition to the above, interest in the interaction between the law and new religious movements also has been fanned by recent claims of criminal activity by so called satanic cults. Although many of these claims prove groundless, public perceptions of cults in general are again proving very negative as a result of the reports. Given the continued interaction between new religious movements and the law, this special issue seeks to illustrate some of the current sociolegal and psycholegal concerns and advances in the area. Although certainly not comprehensive, the articles provide the reader with a sampling of many of the issues which are presently of concern to social scientists, mental health professionals, and legal scholars who are interested in the area of new religious movements and the law. It is our hope that these articles will encourage further investigations into this area.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Behavioral Sciences and the Law, Vol. 10, no. 1 (Winter 1992), pp. 1-3
- Publication year
- FOR Code(s)
- 1701 Psychology; 1801 Law
- Cults; Editorials; Fear; Human behaviour; Illegal activities; Legal activities; New religions; New religious movements; Public perceptions; Religion; Religious groups; Satanic cults; Satanism; Sociolegal concerns
- John Wiley and Sons
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The copyright policy of the publisher allows the accepted manuscript to be reproduced here after a publisher-enforced embargo period.
- Peer reviewed