New Religious Movements Scholarship - Legit or Not?

TG1

Angelic Poster
Scholarship around new religions has come under tremendous suspicion due to scholars whose research is perceived as collaborative with those new religions.

Some specific assumptions, behaviors and incidents have brought NRM scholarship under fire. One of the most egregious examples of cult apologetics was the behavior/missteps of a few NRM scholars in connection with the sarin bombing in Tokyo in 1995 by Aum Shinrikyo. NRM scholar Gordon Melton was at the very center of that clusterfuck.

Much of this criticism comes from inside the NRM community. For those who think NRM scholarship is worthwhile, you will find this essay interesting:

"Dear Colleagues: Integrity and Suspicion in NRM Research" by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
At http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c59.html

In this essay, the author, an NRM scholar, roundly criticizes the entire NRM field for its lack of objectivity, conflicts of interest (including, but not limited to, financial ties to the NRMs they study), and creating a "happy consensus" about the NRMs they study that, instead, is "a rhetoric of advocacy, apologetics and propaganda."

It's really worth a read.

The essay also links to other worthwhile documents that argue that many NRM scholars (e.g., Jeffrey K. Hadden, who testified for the Church of Scientology in the CoS v. Jeffrey Fishman litigation) are shills through their unwillingness to evaluate or recognize cult attributes in religious movements, their collaboration with lawyers (like Kendrick Moxon, top Scientology lawyer for the CoS) and the compensation they receive from these NRMs in return for publishing, testifying as experts, attending and speaking at conferences, etc.

"Jeffrey K. Hadden and the Religious Movements Site"
at http://www.apologeticsindex.org/h14.html#memo

And if anyone is truly interested in scholarly religious studies, including new religions, you might like to know about this upcoming program at the University of Virginia:

"Problems in the Study of Religion" (a 2014 NEH Summer Institute) at
http://uvareligion.org/about-2/

TG1

P.S. I posted the above in another thread this morning, but thought the NRM scholarship topic might receive more attention in its own thread.
 
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Jquepublic

Silver Meritorious Patron
This is so helpful - I'm writing the author of a college publication right now to protest his inclusion of a chapter on CoS that uses the references written by scholars listed in these articles as his source material! Thanks for making my job a little easier.
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
I posted the above in another thread this morning, but thought the NRM scholarship topic might receive more attention in its own thread.

Definitely this is deserving of it's own thread, and thank-you for the great references! :thumbsup:
 

betskand

Patron with Honors
Scholarship around new religions has come under tremendous suspicion due to scholars whose research is perceived as collaborative with those new religions.

Some specific assumptions, behaviors and incidents have brought NRM scholarship under fire. One of the most egregious examples of cult apologetics was the behavior/missteps of a few NRM scholars in connection with the sarin bombing in Tokyo in 1995 by Aum Shinrikyo. NRM scholar Gordon Melton was at the very center of that clusterfuck.

Much of this criticism comes from inside the NRM community. For those who think NRM scholarship is worthwhile, you will find this essay interesting:

"Dear Colleagues: Integrity and Suspicion in NRM Research" by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
At http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c59.html

In this essay, the author, an NRM scholar, roundly criticizes the entire NRM field for its lack of objectivity, conflicts of interest (including, but not limited to, financial ties to the NRMs they study), and creating a "happy consensus" about the NRMs they study that, instead, is "a rhetoric of advocacy, apologetics and propaganda."

It's really worth a read.

The essay also links to other worthwhile documents that argue that many NRM scholars (e.g., Jeffrey K. Hadden, who testified for the Church of Scientology in the CoS v. Jeffrey Fishman litigation) are shills through their unwillingness to evaluate or recognize cult attributes in religious movements, their collaboration with lawyers (like Kendrick Moxon, top Scientology lawyer for the CoS) and the compensation they receive from these NRMs in return for publishing, testifying as experts, attending and speaking at conferences, etc.

"Jeffrey K. Hadden and the Religious Movements Site"
at http://www.apologeticsindex.org/h14.html#memo

And if anyone is truly interested in scholarly religious studies, including new religions, you might like to know about this upcoming program at the University of Virginia:

"Problems in the Study of Religion" (a 2014 NEH Summer Institute) at
http://uvareligion.org/about-2/

TG1

P.S. I posted the above in another thread this morning, but thought the NRM scholarship topic might receive more attention in its own thread.

Yesterday, in connection with Chris Shelton's video, I spent some time looking up J. Gordon Melton.
What a fake.
Given his premises ANYTHING is a religion.
I can't believe he has credentials and a professorship.

Clearly the Study of New Religious Movements needs to do some serious self-regulation, and establish guidelines for publishing and claims and research. A hard scientist (physicist, biologist, chemist) who made public proclamations with as little in the way of a supporting discipline of research would be laughed out of any reputable gathering.

Thanks for the work...you are absolutely right about the need for this infant "study" to have some controlling principles.
 

Jquepublic

Silver Meritorious Patron
Yesterday, in connection with Chris Shelton's video, I spent some time looking up J. Gordon Melton.
What a fake.
Given his premises ANYTHING is a religion.
I can't believe he has credentials and a professorship.

Clearly the Study of New Religious Movements needs to do some serious self-regulation, and establish guidelines for publishing and claims and research. A hard scientist (physicist, biologist, chemist) who made public proclamations with as little in the way of a supporting discipline of research would be laughed out of any reputable gathering.

Thanks for the work...you are absolutely right about the need for this infant "study" to have some controlling principles.

I agree. It's hard to nail down and I can appreciate the difficulty academics face in an effort not to discriminate. But there needs to be some kind of balance to any scholarly work, and having 8 out of 10 references cited be papers approved by and published by the NRM in question doesn't come close to achieving balance.

There are aspects of Scientology that are religious in nature. But so what? The same holds true of NOI, Jehovah's Witnesses, Manson's family and the Nazi Party. We in America shy away from making the distinction between cult and religion, maybe because that line is so damn blurred in the first place. Personally I think the line should be belief versus action - in other words, people are free to believe whatever they want, but their actions are subject to the laws of the land and they should not be able to cry religious infringement when their rights to ACTION are impeded because those actions violate the law. And groups that are known to commit acts that violate the laws of the land should be academically treated as a cult, not an NRM.
 

TG1

Angelic Poster
One of the biggest ongoing criticisms of the NRM scholarship (by those inside academia and those without) is the position among NRM scholars that people who have left a new religion (exes) were not good sources of information about the new religion.

This is why Miscavige and his bullshit repeatedly uses the term "apostate" to amplify that those who've left CoS are just bitter, defrocked people who would lie and exaggerate their heads off to justify their unpleasant experience in the cult.

Some scholars are now taking a different view about this, since those who hung out only with the "faithful" and ran like crazy from bitter, defrocked apostates not only got a warped view of the faithful, the new religion and the exes.

It's a clusterfuck. Maybe it'll get better. It was very encouraging to find those references today.

TG1
 

Jquepublic

Silver Meritorious Patron
Seeing that article actually sent me back to the beginning. I decided to incorporate that info into my approach and to include the article itself re: NRMs and exes as part of my submission. I have to believe that academics have the sense to distinguish between a legitimate accounting and an attempt to sabotage.
 

This is NOT OK !!!!

Gold Meritorious Patron
Chuck got me to donate my extensive Blubbard library to UC Santa Barbara.

I received a Thank You letter from Melton!

Hopefully, he'll read some of the crap I gave him and realize what a fuck-tard Blubbard was!
 

Knows

Gold Meritorious Patron
I think you just gave the cult a new idea.

IAS Religious Scholarship's

I can just see the propaganda now.

Donate money now to buy a guy in Vietnam a scholarship to go up the Bridge to CLEAR.

Only the money goes into a Swiss Bank Account.

The cult will make impossible hoops one must jump through as requirements of receiving a scholarship

Must have served on staff for 10 years non-stop and have a completely clean ethics folder.

Must have all family members in Scientology on Staff before scholarship is granted.

Must get 1 person into a Scientology Org (this will make receiving the Scholarship impossible and Slappy will keep be able to keep all the money).
 

Veda

Sponsor
Chuck got me to donate my extensive Blubbard library to UC Santa Barbara.

I received a Thank You letter from Melton!

Hopefully, he'll read some of the crap I gave him and realize what a fuck-tard Blubbard was!

Melton has been a professional cult apologist for decades. He already had Hubbard's books.

The only problem the professional cult apologists have is the crisis of public perception of what they do.

Thus they need to tweak themselves now and then.

Their basic function remains the same. :)
 
Melton has been a professional cult apologist for decades. He already had Hubbard's books.

The only problem the professional cult apologists have is the crisis of public perception of what they do.

Thus they need to tweak themselves now and then.

Their basic function remains the same. :)

:yes:
 

Queenmab321

Patron Meritorious
We've discovered that we have been brainwashed by aliens, and we are struggling to free ourselves from their influence so that we may see the truth and be free. A brilliant, compassionate, uniquely enlightened man appeared who not only discovered this ancient secret, but also developed an elaborate series of mental exercises by means of which we may, if we follow the exercises very carefully, escape the trap set for us by our alien oppressors and realize our true identity and power.

Oh clouds, unfold!
 

secretiveoldfag

Silver Meritorious Patron
Yesterday, in connection with Chris Shelton's video, I spent some time looking up J. Gordon Melton.
What a fake.
Given his premises ANYTHING is a religion.
I can't believe he has credentials and a professorship.

Clearly the Study of New Religious Movements needs to do some serious self-regulation, and establish guidelines for publishing and claims and research. A hard scientist (physicist, biologist, chemist) who made public proclamations with as little in the way of a supporting discipline of research would be laughed out of any reputable gathering.

Thanks for the work...you are absolutely right about the need for this infant "study" to have some controlling principles.

It seems this is also true of the IRS.
 

Boomima

Patron with Honors
Hugh B. Urban is also technically a scholar of New Religious Movements. People who study Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses also study NRM. I know people who study the role of women in early Mormonism but are not really apologists in any sense of the term. People who study Theosophy and early Spiritualism are also scholars of NRM.

Many of them are studying obscure bits of history or text and no one besides other scholars read their works. There are also people who study Asian religious who might write about some new faith system that draws upon Buddhism.

I think those people who seek lots of public attention like Melton are few and far between.
 

TG1

Angelic Poster
Hugh B. Urban is also technically a scholar of New Religious Movements. People who study Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses also study NRM. I know people who study the role of women in early Mormonism but are not really apologists in any sense of the term. People who study Theosophy and early Spiritualism are also scholars of NRM.

Many of them are studying obscure bits of history or text and no one besides other scholars read their works. There are also people who study Asian religious who might write about some new faith system that draws upon Buddhism.

I think those people who seek lots of public attention like Melton are few and far between.

Boomina, you're probably right. But the ones who are apologists are the ones who get the press.

And it's a publicity / notoriety / selfie world these days. Even in academe.

TG1
 

Veda

Sponsor
Hugh B. Urban is also technically a scholar of New Religious Movements. People who study Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses also study NRM. I know people who study the role of women in early Mormonism but are not really apologists in any sense of the term. People who study Theosophy and early Spiritualism are also scholars of NRM.

Many of them are studying obscure bits of history or text and no one besides other scholars read their works. There are also people who study Asian religious who might write about some new faith system that draws upon Buddhism.

I think those people who seek lots of public attention like Melton are few and far between.

The term "NRM"/"New Religious Movements," at one time, did not exist.

One thing you might try to do is trace its origins.

While, in a category of study which came into existence, under shadowy conditions, over 40 years ago, one would expect to find, decades later, some variation, and some dissent, the majority of "NRM" persons stand in opposition to people such as Margaret Singer, Robert J. Lifton, Stephen Kent, and Steven Hassan.
 

TG1

Angelic Poster
The term "NRM"/"New Religious Movements," at one time, did not exist.

One thing you might try to do is trace its origins.

While, in a category of study which came into existence, under shadowy conditions, over 40 years ago, one would expect to find, decades later, some variation, and some dissent, the majority of "NRM" persons stand in opposition to people such as Margaret Singer, Robert J. Lifton, Stephen Kent, and Steven Hassan.

Doesn't surprise me at all that NRM academics would oppose a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a sociologist and a deprogrammer who support those who have escaped and are recovering from a broad array of cults -- many of which are also religions, new or otherwise.

Can you recommend a few sources that describe NRM academe's origins?

Thanks,

TG1
 

Veda

Sponsor
Doesn't surprise me at all that NRM academics would oppose a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a sociologist and a deprogrammer who support those who have escaped and are recovering from a broad array of cults -- many of which are also religions, new or otherwise.

:) Yes, it's not surprising.

Related to this subject is a group to which Melton is allied - not surprisingly as you pointed out - the New Cult Awareness Network. This is an American TV '60 Minutes' program from 1998:

[video=youtube;aoASMyv9Cek]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoASMyv9Cek#t=69[/video]

Can you recommend a few sources that describe NRM academe's origins?

Thanks,

TG1

Although I recall the time when the term first appeared in the early/mid 1970s, and have, recently, tried to specifically track down its origins, I have not been able to definitively do so.

A quick search brought up this link, which provides some background:

http://www.cultnews.com/category/newcultawarenessnetwork/

But I was hoping that the "NRM" defenders would do the legwork and trace the smokey origins of the term "NRM."


______​



From the Brennan legal declaration:

12... While organized Scientology today parades out various scholars that say they are "religious," I can tell you that the scholar program was started in the Guardian's Office and I worked on it as early as 1974.

32. Religious cloaking was intentionally used to help organized Scientology make money and avoid compliance with myriad laws that would otherwise apply if it were not so considered. The use of scholars to say Scientology was a religion or organized Scientology was a religious organization was carefully planned and executed to forward the cover of religious cloaking...
 

betskand

Patron with Honors
Seeing that article actually sent me back to the beginning. I decided to incorporate that info into my approach and to include the article itself re: NRMs and exes as part of my submission. I have to believe that academics have the sense to distinguish between a legitimate accounting and an attempt to sabotage.

Good for you...this whole thing has really started me thinking too. (Especially after reading that self-serving hot air J. Gordon Melton offers up about himself).

And in a very slightly off-topic aside, I LOVE your avatar.:biglove:
 

betskand

Patron with Honors
:) Yes, it's not surprising.




From the Brennan legal declaration:

12... While organized Scientology today parades out various scholars that say they are "religious," I can tell you that the scholar program was started in the Guardian's Office and I worked on it as early as 1974.

32. Religious cloaking was intentionally used to help organized Scientology make money and avoid compliance with myriad laws that would otherwise apply if it were not so considered. The use of scholars to say Scientology was a religion or organized Scientology was a religious organization was carefully planned and executed to forward the cover of religious cloaking...

I know almost nothing about what CO$ did to the Cult Awareness Network. All I was aware of was that, on his famous Ted Koppel interview, DM immediately wrote off all critics as "known members of a hate group" called the Cult Awareness Network.

Does anyone feel like reciting the story? Or is there a URL?
 
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