Project Advisor(s)

Dr. Cyrus Zargar

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Disciplines

Christian Denominations and Sects | Comparative Methodologies and Theories | New Religious Movements | Rhetoric

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

As new religious movements have flooded the social landscape of the United States, they have inspired large counter-movements. These countermovements assumed a category of accepted religions which excluded religious movements that challenged the hegemonic way of life in the U.S. Some of these new religions - deemed "cults" by outsider groups- were seemingly able to exert total control over the actions of their followers, especially in relation to their physical and sexual relationships. Movements like Children of God- the religion to be studied in this paper- place a focus on the physical body as the road to spiritual salvation. The charismatic authority present in this new religious "cult" creates a body of doctrine that requires complete dedication of both the physical and spiritual bodies of its followers. Rhetorical tools, such as repetition, thematic consistency, and exclusivist rhetoric are used to emphasize this inseparable connection. Using Weber's understanding of charismatic authority and the use of ecstasy in religion, this paper will study the rhetoric of Children of God to find a model of charismatic authority in new religious movements.

Comments

This was conducted for the purpose of my Senior Inquiry.

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Rhetoric, Authority, and Children of God: Charismatic Authority and Ecstasy in American Religions

As new religious movements have flooded the social landscape of the United States, they have inspired large counter-movements. These countermovements assumed a category of accepted religions which excluded religious movements that challenged the hegemonic way of life in the U.S. Some of these new religions - deemed "cults" by outsider groups- were seemingly able to exert total control over the actions of their followers, especially in relation to their physical and sexual relationships. Movements like Children of God- the religion to be studied in this paper- place a focus on the physical body as the road to spiritual salvation. The charismatic authority present in this new religious "cult" creates a body of doctrine that requires complete dedication of both the physical and spiritual bodies of its followers. Rhetorical tools, such as repetition, thematic consistency, and exclusivist rhetoric are used to emphasize this inseparable connection. Using Weber's understanding of charismatic authority and the use of ecstasy in religion, this paper will study the rhetoric of Children of God to find a model of charismatic authority in new religious movements.