Cover image for Sects, cults, and spiritual communities : a sociological analysis
Sects, cults, and spiritual communities : a sociological analysis
Zellner, W. W.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1998.
Physical Description:
x, 182 pages ; 25 cm.
Evolution of a new age cult : from total overcomers anonymous to death at Heaven's gate / Jesus people USA / Farm / Love family : its formative years / El Niño Fidencio and the Fidencistas / Santería / Single women in Amish society / Church of Scientology : a quasi-religion / Freedom park
Reading Level:
1150 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL2525 .S58 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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American society is culturally diverse with a variety of religious denominations, sects, cults, and self-help groups vying for members. This volume analyzes nine of these groups, chosen both for their intrinsic interest and because they illustrate a variety of sociological concepts. The groups included in this study are: Heaven's Gate, Jesus People USA, the Love Family, The Farm, Amish Women, Scientology, El Niño Fidencio, Santería, and Freedom Park. The contributors are social scientists with first-hand knowledge of the groups they examine.

Author Notes

WILLIAM W. ZELLNER is Professor of Sociology at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and books, including Extraordinary Groups (sixth edition, 1997) and Countercultures: A Sociological Analysis (1995).

MARC PETROWSKY is Associate Professor of Sociology at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He is the coauthor of the forthcoming sixth edition of Introduction to Sociology , with Richard F. Larson and Marvin F. White.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Zellner and Petrowski (both sociology, East Central Univ., Ada, Oklahoma) present descriptions, most of them anecdotal, of nine "interesting groups." Three groups are related directly to the counterculture of the 1960s, two to religious groups influenced by Latin American (specifically Mexican) culture, one to Amish women, and one--a current group called Freedom Park--was chosen through personal contacts as an example of a "benign" cult. The centrality of a charismatic leader of what the authors call "associational groups" is seen as the single most important reason for the fact that literally hundreds of such groups have come and gone since the '60s. The authors also ask why some have survived. An interesting relationship was discovered between a group called Total Overcomers Anonymous, led by Clarence Klug, who later, on his own initiative, joined Heaven's Gate in time for many members to be part of the mass suicide in 1997. An illuminating, mostly firsthand view of culturally important groups in American society of interest to students of American culture and scholars in many disciplines. Recommended for general and academic libraries. All levels. R. W. Rousseau; University of Scranton

Table of Contents

The Evolution of a New Age Cult
From Total Overcomers Anonymous to Death at Heaven's Gate Jesus People USA
The Farm The Love Family El Nino Fidencio and the Fidencistas Santeria Single Women in Amish Society
The Church of Scientology
A Quasi-Religion Freedom Park