1 of 3: Karen Pressley - Not In My Back Yard: Cults, Communities, and Concerns - 2010-11-01
Why would a community consider its health or safety threatened if a cult moves into town? Who should bear the burden for religious tolerance and freedom of religion? This paper examines the NIMBY syndrome ("not in my back yard") relevant to cultic groups. Drawing from my 16 years of experience as a former member and staff at the Church of Scientology senior management level, and subsequent expert consultant on Scientology, I examine my work with community members on how to address Scientology's infiltration into their communities. This study looks at data from consultations across the southeastern U.S., particularly across Georgia, between 2002 - 2010. I combine Noelle-Neumann's communication theory, the Spiral of Silence, with Ludwig Feurbach's anthropological principle and Durkheim's views about religion to examine the concept of a safe community within the context of religious diversity in a contemporary social environment. Findings suggest that support for religious freedom is contradicted by opposition to cultic groups as risk-generating influences. A growing fear of cults equated with terrorism, mass suicides, brainwashing, and exploitation of followers is expressed through a rising form of anti-social activism in communities against groups perceived as cults.
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