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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 2, Issue 2, 2011

Anson Shupe
Pages 287-316

The Modern North American Anti-Cult Movement: Its Rise and Demise According to Resource Mobilization Theory

The emergence of innovative or new religious movements (NRMs), often popularly called "cults," is a feature of religion in virtually every society. So are counter-movement or anti-cult groups (ACMs). Here I examine the rise and fall of the North American ACM enterprise as it attempted over a thirty-year span to mobilize both official and public alarm as well as repressive actions, within a pluralistic society with no official governmental supervisory agencies at any levels, to respond to concerns over possible religious abuses. In particular, the fate of the Cult Awareness Network (based in Chicago, Illinois and one of the two truly national ACM organizations), employing the concepts of sociology's resource mobilization theory, is delineated. The ultimately self-destructive reliance on violence as an interventionist technique, as well as apparently criminal activities, are explored.

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