In this article, I will analyze the different theories about "cult" membership and conversion, specifically focusing upon whether or not conversions to cults ought to be respected by the law in the same way that the law respects conversion to be respected by the law in the same way that the law respects conversion to and membership in, mainstream religions. In section II, I attempt (unsuccessfully) to define a "cult". In section III, I discuss the civil liberties issues surrounding "cults" and the public furor they have engendered. In section IV, I discuss the different and competing theories about why young people join "cults" and the implication of those theories for public policy responses. Finally, in section VI I conclude that none of the arguments which attempt to draw distinctions between "cults" and mainstream religions are solid enough to ground legal interventions against those who choose to join new religious movements.
Dena S. Davis, Joining a Cult: Religious Choice or Psychological Aberration, 11 J.L. & Health 145 (1996-1997)