'Apologist' versus 'Alarmist' - 1997-01-27
There are some points where Enroth and Melton come close to agreement. One is that the cults and new movements display what Enroth calls "a craving for legitimization." They also recognize two factors that have made Europe fertile ground for such groups in recent years: the ever-increasing secularization of European culture, which has left a vacuum for non-traditional spiritual experimentation; and the demise of communism. According to Enroth, here cults have rushed in where established religions once feared to tread.
How harmless/dangerous this growth is has increasingly polarized their argument since 1985, when Enroth and Melton co-wrote Why Cults Succeed and Churches Fail. Recalls Melton, with a smile: "We hoped to sell the book both to those on his side and those on my side. Instead, those on my side didn't buy it because they didn't like him, and those on his side didn't buy it because they didn't like me."