Red Beef & Strong Beer
11/27/12 at 06:39 AM 0 Comments

Does the Absence of Cults Mean Something?

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Warner Bros. Films (Eyes Wide Shut 1999)

Interesting thoughts on cults and their cultural significance from Philp Jenkins at Real Clear Religion recently:

The absence of cult activity and gross superstition in American life is really starting to worry me, and that's not a joke.

...But assume for the sake of argument that such surveys genuinely do reflect a secular shift, and the United States really is moving to become more similar to Canada, or the nations of Western Europe. If that were the case, then one of the first symptoms we would expect would be a general reduction of interest in spiritual or religious matters across large sections of society.

...In other words, the first symptom we might expect of genuine American secularization would be the disappearance of cults, and a precipitous decline in activism and enthusiasm on the spiritual fringe, which is exactly what has taken place over the past two decades. If that linkage is genuine, then the odds of a national religious recovery or revival like that of the 1970s would be vastly diminished. Perhaps secularization really is looming.

For many years, conservative religious leaders have bemoaned the popularity of cults, which reputedly deceive so many innocent people. The time may come, though, when those same pastors and priests look back nostalgically to the days when they still had cults to fight.

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