"In Mystics and Messiahs, the first full account of cults and anti-cult scares in American history, Jenkins shows that, contrary to popular belief, cults were by no means an invention of the 1960s. In fact, most of the frightening images and stereotypes surrounding fringe religious movements are traceable to the mid-nineteenth century when Mormons, Freemasons, and even Catholics were vehemently denounced for supposed ritualistic violence, fraud, and sexual depravity. As Charles Ferguson observed in 1928, "America has always been the sanctuary of amazing cults." But America has also been the home of an often hysterical anti-cult backlash. Jenkins provides an analysis of why cults arouse such fear and hatred both in the secular world and in mainstream churches, many of which - Baptists, Quakers, Pentecostals, and Methodists - were themselves originally regarded as cults. Most importantly, Jenkins argues that an accurate historical perspective is urgently needed if we are to avoid the kind of catastrophic confrontation that occurred in Waco or the ruinous prosecution of imagined Satanic cults in the 1980s."--BOOK JACKET.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -281) and index.
1. Overrun with Messiahs
2. False Prophets and Deluded Subjects: The Nineteenth Century
3. Anti-Christian Cults?: The Christian Sects, 1890-1930
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