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Paradoxically, such pluralism is often expressed along with claims that Hinduism is greatly superior in various ways to other religions. Want to Read saving…. It is difficult to make a fully clear distinction between exclusivist and inclusivist approaches. On the Necessity of a Pluralist Theology of Religions. Includes bibliographical references. In Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate reality, a formless but active non-thing, is Emptiness, or the Truth Body Dharmakaya. Mark Hughes marked it as to-read Dec 04,
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Edited by Marina Benjamin. Cults, generally speaking, are a lot like pornography: you know them when you see them. Of course, they argued vehemently that they were not a cult.
Less easy, though, is identifying why. Plenty of these movements were associated with young people — especially young counter-cultural people with suspicious politics — adding a particular political tenor to the discourse surrounding them. The anti-cult networks believed that cults brainwashed their members the idea of mind control, as scholars such as Margaret Singer point out, originated in media coverage of torture techniques supposedly used by North Korea during the Korean War.
The Baptist pastor Walter Ralston Martin was sufficiently disturbed by the proliferation of religious pluralism in the US to write The Kingdom of the Cults , which delineated in detail the theologies of those religious movements Martin identified as toxic, and provided Biblical avenues for the enterprising mainstream Christian minister to oppose them. With more than half a million copies sold, it was one of the top-selling spiritual books of the era. Writing the history of cults in the US, therefore, is also writing the history of a discourse of fear: of the unknown, of the decline in mainstream institutions, of change.
Particularly gruesome anecdotes often told by emotionally compromised former members worked to place the entire religious movement beyond the bounds of cultural legitimacy and to justify extreme measures — from deprogramming to robust conservatorship laws — to prevent vulnerable people falling victim to the cultic peril. This terror peaked when atrocity tales began outnumbering genuine horrors. This influential atrocity tale influenced the three-year case in the s against an administrator of the McMartin Preschool in Los Angeles and her son, a teacher, that racked up 65 crimes.
The prosecution spun a fear-stoking narrative around outlandish claims, including bloody animal mutilations.
The number of convictions? But mass-media hysteria made Satanic panic a national crisis, and a pastime. And yet it is impossible to dismiss anti-cult work as pure hysteria. There might not be Satanists lurking round every corner, lying in wait to kidnap children or sacrifice bunny rabbits to Satan, but the dangers of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse in small-scale, unsupervised religious communities, particularly those isolated from the mainstream or dominant culture, is real enough.
It is also keenly contemporary.
And some groups are, without a doubt, toxic. Does such extreme disciplinarianism make the Remnant Fellowship a cult? Or does the question of labelling distract us from wider issues at hand? Such definitions also depend on who is doing the defining. A few may be bad religion and some may be led by evil people, but they are religions. This was hardly one-sided. The presence of a charismatic leader? What was John Calvin?
Heck, what was Jesus Christ? A tradition of secrecy around specialised texts or practices divulged only to select initiates?
Isolated living on a compound?