Cover image for Cults, religion, and violence
Cults, religion, and violence
Bromley, David G.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xx, 249 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1450 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL65.V55 C85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This explores the question of when and why violence by and against new religious cults erupts and whether and how such dramatic conflicts can be foreseen, managed and averted. The authors, leading international experts on religious movements and violent behavior, focus on the four major episodes of cult violence during the last decade: the tragic conflagration that engulfed the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas; the deadly sarin gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo in Tokyo; the murder-suicides by the Solar Temple in Switzerland and Canada; and the collective suicide by the members of Heaven's Gate. They explore the dynamics leading to these dramatic episodes in North America, Europe, and Asia, and offer insights into the general relationship between violence and religious cults in contemporary society. The authors conclude that these events usually involve some combination of internal and external dynamics through which a new religious movement and society become polarized.

Table of Contents

David G. Bromley and J. Gordon MeltonDavid G. BromleyJ. Gordon Melton and David G. BromleyThomas RobbinsLorne L. DawsonStuart A. WrightEileen BarkerJohn R. HallMassimo Introvigne and Jean-Francois MayerIan ReaderRobert W. Balch and David TaylorJ. Gordon Melton and David G. Bromley
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Contributorsp. viii
Prologuep. xiii
1 Violence and Religion in Perspectivep. 1
2 Dramatic Denouementsp. 11
3 Challenging Misconceptions about the New Religions-Violence Connectionp. 42
4 Sources of Volatility in Religious Movementsp. 57
5 Crises of Charismatic Legitimacy and Violent Behavior in New Religious Movementsp. 80
6 Public Agency Involvement in Government-Religious Movement Confrontationsp. 102
7 Watching for Violence: A Comparative Analysis of the Roles of Five Types of Cult-Watching Groupsp. 123
8 Mass Suicide and the Branch Davidiansp. 149
9 Occult Masters and the Temple of Doom: The Fiery End of the Solar Templep. 170
10 Dramatic Confrontations: Aum Shinrikyo against the Worldp. 189
11 Making Sense of the Heaven's Gate Suicidesp. 209
12 Lessons from the Past, Perspective for the Futurep. 229
Indexp. 245