User:Abbie Normal/International Cultic Studies Association

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International Cultic Studies Association
Formation 1979, as American Family Foundation (AFF), renamed in 2004
Area served
Executive Director
Michael Langone
Steve Eichel
Steve Eichel, Carol Giambalvo, Michael Langone
Key people
Michael Langone, Carol Giambalvo, Edward Lottick

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a non-profit anti-cult organization focusing on groups it defines as "cultic" and their processes. It publishes the International Journal of Cultic Studies and other materials.


ICSA was founded in 1979 in Massachusetts as the American Family Foundation (AFF) — one of several dozen disparate parents' groups founded in the late 1970s by concerned parents.[1][2] For a time it was affiliated with the Citizens’ Freedom Foundation (CFF) which later became the Cult Awareness Network (CAN).[3] It also developed links with Evangelical Christian counter-cult movements such as the Christian Research Institute[3]

ICSA is a non-profit organisation, with a stated mission "to study psychological manipulation, especially as it manifests in cultic and related groups".[1][3][4][5] Michael Langone, ICSA's Executive Director, defines a cult as "a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group’s leader, to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community".[6]


Print magazines

The American Family Foundation's early print magazine, The Advisor, was replaced by the Cult Observer and the Cultic Studies Journal in 1984.[7]

Cultic Studies Review

Publication of the Cultic Studies Journal ceased in 2001 and the AFF began publishing the Cultic Studies Review as an Internet/online journal with triennial print editions.[8] The final AFF published edition of Cultic Studies Review was released in 2005. Subsequent editions were published as the International Cultic Studies Association until 2010.[9]

International Journal of Cultic Studies

The first print and online editions of the International Journal of Cultic Studies (IJCS) were published online in 2010 as a self-described "refereed annual journal that publishes scholarly research on cultic phenomena across a range of disciplines and professions",[10][11][12]


Parallels with authoritarian regimes

Edelman & Richardson (2005) state that China has borrowed heavily from Western anti-cult movements, such as ICSA, to bolster their view of non-mainstream religious groups, and so the support campaigns of oppression against them.[13] In a previous article Richardson & Shterin (2000) had noted that in Russia, evangelic movements had borrowed Western anti-cult rhetoric – such as that of ICSA – to play on Russian government worries over religious minorities.[4]


In their 2009 book, Cults and New Religions: A Brief History, sociologists Douglas Cowan and David Bromley describe the ICSA as a "secular anticult" organization. They point out that the ICSA provides no indication of how many of their so-called characteristics are necessary for a group to be considered "cultic". The checklist creators do not adequately define how much of certain practices or behaviors would constitute "excessive", nor do they provide evidence that any of the practices listed are innately harmful. Finally, Cowan and Bromley criticize the ICSA list as being so broad that even mainstream organizations such as Evangelical Protestantism, the Roman Catholic Church, Buddhism and Hinduism fall within the criteria.[5]

In 2005, the Hate Crimes Unit of the Edmonton Police Service confiscated anti-Falun Gong materials distributed at the annual conference of the American Family Foundation by staff members of the Calgary Chinese Consulate (Province of Alberta, Canada). The materials, including the calling of Falun Gong a "cult", were identified as having breached the Criminal Code, which bans the wilful promotion of hatred against identifiable religious groups.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 George D. Chryssides; Margaret Wilkins (10 May 2006). A Reader in New Religious Movements: Readings in the Study of New Religious Movements. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-8264-6168-1. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  2. Langone, Michael. "History of American Family Foundation". Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Peter Clarke (1 March 2004). Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-49970-0.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Template:Cite journal
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cowan, Douglas E. and Bromley, David G. "Cults and New Religions: A Brief History." Blackwell Publishing. 2009. Pages 4, 219-222. ISBN 978-1-4051-6128-2
  6. Cults Questions and Answers Langone, Michael, 1988
  7. Template:Cite journal
  8. Template:Cite journal
  9. Template:Cite journal
  10. Template:Cite journal
  11. "International Journal of Cultic Studies - International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)". Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  12. Template:Cite doi
  13. Template:Cite journal
  14. Edmonton Police Report of Wilful Promotion of Hatred by Chinese Consular Officials against Falun Gong, Appendix 8 to "Bloody Harvest: Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China," By David Matas, Esq. and Hon. David Kilgour, Esq.

Template:Opposition to NRMs