Journal of Law and Health
cults, civil liberties
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 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 secion IV, I discuss the different and competing theories about why young people join "cults," and the implications of those theories for public polic 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 Journal of Law and Health 145 (1996-1997)
Reprinted with the permission of the Cleveland-Marshall Journal of Law and Health