Religious Studies | The Cult Controversy
R160 | 3857 | Stein


R160  The Cult Controversy (Stein)  (3 Cr.) TR 12:20-1:10  SW 007 plus
discussion section

Few religious categories are more inflammatory than "cults." For many the
word conjures up images of deceit, brainwashing, financial scandal, sexual
misconduct, and violence.  This course provides a structured opportunity
to examine the controversial issues surrounding New Religious Movements
(a.k.a. cults) in contemporary America.  At stake in this process is the
very definition of such alternative religious movements.  Are "cults"
always dangerous and destructive forces in our society?  What functions do
such intense dissenting religious groups play in America?  Who joins such
religions, and why?  These are a few of the questions that are the focus
of this course which looks at a variety of such religious movements and
their leaders in the United States, including Jim Jones and the Peoples
Temple, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and Marshall Applewhite and
Heaven's gate.  These communities and others
some well established on the religious landscape, some of very short
duration
provide an occasion to examine patterns of religious leadership, beliefs,
lifestyles of members, community structures, rituals, and issues relating
to religious liberty.  This class employs lectures, video presentations,
and discussion sections.  Evaluation is based on two quizzes, two exams,
one short paper, and participation in section meetings.