Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American by Philip Jenkins

By Philip Jenkins

In Mystics and Messiahs--the first complete account of cults and anti-cult scares in American history--Philip Jenkins indicates that, opposite to renowned trust, cults have been on no account an invention of the Sixties. in reality, lots of the scary photos and stereotypes surrounding fringe non secular hobbies are traceable to the mid-nineteenth century whilst Mormons, Freemasons, or even Catholics have been denounced for intended ritualistic violence, fraud, and sexual depravity. yet the US has additionally been the house of a regularly hysterical anti-cult backlash. Jenkins deals an insightful new research of why cults arouse such worry and hatred either within the secular international and in mainstream church buildings, a lot of that have been themselves initially considered as cults. He argues that a correct ancient point of view is urgently wanted if we're to prevent the type of catastrophic disagreement that happened in Waco or the ruinous prosecution of imagined Satanic cults that swept the rustic within the 1980s.

Without ignoring actual circumstances of aberrant habit, Mystics and Messiahs is going past the enormous edifice of delusion, distortion, and hype to bare the real features of spiritual fringe events and why they encourage such fierce antagonism.

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Blavatsky and Henry Olcott, both of whom had a long-standing interest in seances and mediumship: the two leaders met when both came to the defense of two allegedly bogus mediums. As outlined in Blavatsky's influential books Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888), the Theosophical movement integrated spiritualist ideas with a great deal of Hindu and Buddhist thought, including the theories of karma and reincarnation. The movement also offered an extensive history of human civilizations dating back millions of years through the time of Atlantis, incorporating the stories of many lost races and civilizations.

The full consequences of unregulated religious FALSE PROPHETS AND D E L U D E D SUBJECTS debate emerged during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, when the government lost control of public preaching and printing. The result was an upsurge of every kind of extreme and heretical belief. " Though the word "cult" would have meant little to Nayler's contemporaries, this generation was in fact creating the first anticult literature in English. In 1646, orthodox Protestant writer Thomas Edwards published his encyclopedic Gangraena ("gangrene"), which provided "[a] catalogue .

The polygamy question now led to one of the most sweeping episodes of religious persecution in American history. From 1862, federal FALSE PROPHETS AND D E L U D E D SUBJECTS antipolygamy laws threatened the whole legal basis of the religion and invalidated Utah laws sanctioning multiple marriage. After the Civil War, the federal government had even less tolerance for regions claiming the right to defend local traditions that violated national law. Appealing to this centralizing principle, critics of polygamy cited the practice as Utah's "peculiar institution," a phrase that recalled southern slavery.

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