Religious Studies | Religion and American Culture -The Cult Controversy
R160 | 11475 | Rapport


Religious diversity thrives in the United States.  Today, in
addition to a healthy majority of Christian groups made up of Roman
Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and nearly every Protestant
denomination, America has strong populations from every major world
religion, as well thousands of small religious groups outside
mainstream religious boundaries.  In this class we will focus on
these religious outsiders.  Known variously
as “sects,” “cults,” “alternative religious movements,” and “New
Religious Movements,” these minority religions have always been a
vital part of the American religious landscape.  We will study
representative alternative religious groups from all major periods
of American history, as well as examining some important theoretical
concepts in the study of alternative religions such as charismatic
leadership, conversion, and the anti-cult movement.  We will also
conduct an extended case study of the events and controversy
surrounding the Branch Davidian incident outside of Waco, Texas in
1993.