New Religious Movements: New Religious Movements and Children
NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS: NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS AND CHILDREN
In the 1960s and 1970s the religions classified as "cults" or "new religious movements" (NRMs) were largely populated with people in their late teens and early twenties. Often characterized as rebellious youth, disenchanted "dropouts" who had rejected the values of mainstream religion and culture to create their own counterculture and protest movements, few of them had children or other responsibilities. Their enthusiasm for Asian mysticism, new forms of psychotherapy, or new fervent expressions of evangelical Christianity led them to join exciting new religions in the hope of experiencing the numinous, finding the authentic self, or transforming the world and themselves. This religious resurgence occurred in both America and Europe. By the 1980s and 1990s the demographic picture worldwide had changed dramatically. The young seekers had matured into middle age, and children had become a significant feature of most NRMs.
Children and their views about the religions they belong to have been neglected by academics in the study of religion generally but especially in studies looking at NRMs. Their significance is, however, without question. Their impact has been noted by various sociologists of religion; their involvement in drawing sectarian religious groups away from isolation and toward assimilation was described by Richard Niebuhr in The Social Sources of Denominationalism in 1929. More recently, in his article "Why Religions Movements Succeed or Fail" (1996), Rodney Stark commented that the second generation is key to the success or failure of new religious movements. Without doubt, the arrival of a second generation, often in large numbers, is key to understanding how many of these new movements undergo organizational transformations and changes to their practices. Retaining the second generation is crucial to many of these groups. In some new religions, such as The Family (previously known as Children of God), second-generation members now outnumber the first generation, and they are highly active in participating and developing the future of the movement. The success coming to groups retaining their second generation can be seen in some of the older sects, such as the Mormons and Hutterites, who solved the problem of increasing membership by breeding new members. Whereas in the 1980s there were about four hundred Hutterites in North America, now there are nearer thirty thousand, and the claim is they still retain 98 percent of their offspring. In contrast, some new religions are struggling; not managing to increase membership by proselytizing, they clearly need to retain their second generation. For example, the Unification Church (better known as "the Moonies") and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) had fewer adult members at the end of the twentieth century than they did in the 1970s. For new movements like Neopaganism, retaining the second generation is not an issue; the ideal is for the spiritual path to be one of individual choice.
The wave of children born into the new religious movements has created new challenges. The responses to the problems of raising this new generation have taken a rich variety of forms; not surprisingly, given the radical nature of these parents, not all of their parenting solutions have been conventional. For the insiders—the adult members of NRMs—the main issues have been child raising, education, and how best to incorporate the second generation in their active religious lives. How far should their religion remain a religion of converts, and how far should they adapt to accommodate the new generation? For those watching from the outside, particularly those who felt they had little access to inside information, children added a new dimension and a focus of concern, which was easily fueled by the negative stereotyping of NRMs as "dangerous cults" by the anticult movement and the media. The three issues that have preoccupied the public, the media, and concerned outsiders are, firstly, child abuse (including mental and sexual abuse and neglect); secondly, child custody cases and the difficult issue of the "best interests of the child"; and thirdly, child socialization and education. The article will deal with each of these in turn.
One crucial significance of children in NRMs is the role they play in the fight against cults. As James T. Richardson points out in "Social Control of New Religions: From 'Brainwashing' Claims to Child Sex Abuse Allegations," children have become the new weapon for anticultists in the battle against NRMs now that the brainwashing weapon has lost its potency (Richardson, 1999, p. 172). Accusations about child abuse in new religious movements have become the "ultimate weapon" used in attempts to control new religious movements. After the Jonestown murders-suicides in 1978, there was an explosion of negative media stories about "cults," and accusations of child abuse increased. The reason for this was that so-called cultic groups, according to anticultists, are disposed to abuse children. In their view all cult parents are extremists, obsessed with personal salvation or creating a heaven on earth, dependent on a leader and now unable to think critically and independently.
Moreover, because they are portrayed as working in exploitative conditions, they must have little time for family. Kaj Moos in Save Our Children describes cult children as simply "an imposition upon their emotionally fragile, dependent parents," which tends to "lead toward a path of child abuse, for the cultist parent is regressed and unable to cope with the parenting demands and need of children" (Moos, 1993, p. 12). According to Moos, "cult children" are raised in organizations predisposed toward abusive practices. Michael Langone, editor of the Cultic Studies Journal, is more cautious in his writing and as such has been influential in arguing that cults have a particular capacity to harm children physically and psychologically. In Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Physical Abuse (1993), Langone argues that it is their absolutist ideology that provides a rationalization for child abuse and makes them different from Catholics, Baptists, or Episcopalians. Their ideology, he argues, compels harsh physical discipline and the rejection of medical intervention and supports physical isolation and resistance to investigations of child abuse, the members using religious beliefs to justify their ideology and isolation (Langone, 1993, pp. 327–329). Langone makes this case while at the same time admitting it is hard to draw conclusions specifically linking cultic groups and child abuse because of the lack of evidence.
At the close of the twentieth century, scholars cited a lack of evidence to support anticult groups' claims of child abuse, and research had not demonstrated a causal link between NRMs and victims of child abuse. To give one example, the theosophically inspired group the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) received particularly hostile media and anticult attention after the Branch Davidian tragedy, calling it one of America's "top cults." Concern was raised about the well-being of children in this group, perceived as socially and religiously deviant. From their research described in Church Universal and Triumphant in Scholarly Perspective (1994), Lawrence Lilliston and Gary Shepherd were able to identify certain problem areas in the relationship between adults and youth: some small-scale delinquent acts by a few young people such as "joyriding, shoplifiting"; some "off the Ranch" pregnancies after associating with outsider boys; more generally a resistance to strict church prohibition against music with a heavy beat (especially rock and roll); and some teen dissatisfaction, characterized by feeling ignored and ridiculed by outsiders, particularly when preparation was made in the 1990s for nuclear war. The church made some changes in the 1990s, however, to address parenting problems. Realizing that intense commitment to organizational jobs in the church was affecting parent-child relationships, the church gave staff with children more time; parenting skills were encouraged and parenting workshops introduced; youth antidrug programs and ties to national youth programs were established. Researchers were impressed by the openness of the parents to exposing children to a diversity of religious views and by their respect for free choice. They described CUT children as having high but realistic standards, as self-reliant, and as having appropriate dependency attitudes and strong feelings of competence and confidence in their ability. Reporting that the parents were resigned to the fact that most of the children would become religious defectors, they in fact concluded that the church may have introduced new structures that could increase the loyalty of the second generation. Though previously charged with isolation, lack of parenting skills, and other concerns expressed by Langone and Moos, the Church Universal and Triumphant introduced changes that led observers to view the organization more favorably.
The notion put forward by Langone and others seeking to control "cults"—that NRMs, unlike other religions such as Catholicism, are predisposed to child abuse—is not supported by the evidence. Anson Shupe, editor of Wolves within the Fold: Religious Leadership and Abuses of Power, points out that Catholic priests "have preyed upon literally hundreds of young victims" (Shupe, 1998, p. 5). A survey by the National Review Board (February 2004) revealed that from 1950 to 2002 in the United States, 4,450 Catholic priests were accused of sexual abuse of minors. With such evidence it is no longer appropriate to suspect new religions as being any more or less likely to breed sexual abuse. Children raised in NRMs are not more likely to be abused than those raised in any other religion, but in the case of NRMs, the religious group and its ideology or structure are usually blamed rather than individuals. The Catholic Church has tried to separate individual abuse from any connection with the social structure or practices of the church. There is research, described by contributors to Shupe's volume, to suggest that, in fact, there may be problems when the total economic structure and power of a group rests on male, unmarried clergy.
Careful scrutiny of the child abuse accusations against NRMs reveals that many of the allegations have been concerned with harsh discipline and corporal punishment. This is a highly controversial area, the rights and wrongs of "smacking" being hotly debated. The new tide of opinion against any form of physical punishment of children makes the adoption of the more disciplinarian view more controversial. Over the years theories of socially and politically acceptable discipline have varied greatly. The quotation from Proverbs (13:24), "he who spares the rod hates his child," is central to one theory, advocated, for example, by James Dobson in his book Dare to Discipline (1970). According to this theory, children need to be taught strong self-discipline and self-control, which are best encouraged by strong disciplining of the child, including the use of corporal punishment. This is still the theory favored by some mainstream evangelical Christians worldwide and by some Christian NRMs, such as The Family.
The more liberal attitudes of later child-care experts, such as Dr. Spock or the "modern" Penelope Leach, are supported by liberal, secular, and New Age parents. In the past two decades countries have in general become more liberal. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 and ratified by every country in the world except the United States and Somalia, makes it clear that children should be protected from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury, or abuse (Article 19.1). It states that any form of discipline should take into account the child's human dignity. Nevertheless, in the United Kingdom there still exists a Victorian law allowing a defense in terms of reasonable chastisement allowing parents to hit children when they can claim the punishment was justified. Laws were passed to abolish spanking in British state schools in 1986 and in privately funded schools in 1998; it is still permitted in some states in the United States. Nowhere is it allowed in Scandinavia; Sweden banned smacking thirty years ago. The question of whether parents should be restricted from hitting their children will become increasingly an issue between religious conservatives and liberals. It is not an issue that is limited to new religious movements.
One of the better-known cases involving accusations about severe corporal punishment involved the Northeast Kingdom Community Church, a fundamentalist Christian sect that was the object of much controversy in the 1980s and that was described by George Robertson in "Island Pond Raid Begins New Pattern" (1994) and by Vanessa Malcarne and John Burchard in "Investigations of Child Abuse/Neglect Allegations in Religious Cults: A Case Study in Vermont" (1992). The Messianic Communities, also known as the Twelve Tribes, continue to have problems in France and Germany on issues of homeschooling and discipline. These and other groups advocating strict discipline and openly supporting corporal punishment believe it is in the children's best interests, sometimes even to "break the will" of the child. The Community in Island Pond in Vermont is a strongly fundamentalist community, homeschooling their children and disciplining them with a stick for minor disobediences and adult strikes for more serious offenses. In 1984 the community was raided, and more than a hundred adults and 112 children were taken into custody. Although all the children were returned to their parents, the techniques for the allegations of abuse, as George Robertson (1994) points out, worked for the anticult movement—the raids made headline news, highlighting the allegations of abuse, but the children's return was hardly mentioned. What is striking is that in 2004 the Vermont community continued its strict fundamentalist lifestyle and lived without conflict with its neighbors.
Some children have suffered from severe corporal punishment. The famous American case is that of the twelve-year-old boy in the House of Judah who died as the result of beatings at a camp. Children raised in belief systems that advocate severe physical punishment in some cases are defenseless against the group if they live within a closed community. However, no evidence has as yet been produced to show that children in new religious movements are more likely to be harmed than children in other institutions or mainstream society. The Institute for the Study of American Religion carried out a survey in 1986 exploring reports of child abuse in cults and concluded that beliefs about corporal punishment and strict discipline could lead to violent tendencies in children. But the survey also concluded that such behavior "did not come from the major non-conventional religions (that is, those identified as cults in the public mind) but from conservative evangelical Christian groups" (Melton, 1986, pp. 255, 258).
It could be argued that many of the accusations of child abuse by anticultists have in themselves led to abuse of children. Accusations about child abuse were made against the Family in Argentina, France, Spain, Australia, Peru, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Worldwide raids on the Family homes made front-page news as the allegedly abused children were dragged from their parents in the night, with scarcely a mention of their return after no abuse could be found in any of the children in any of the countries. Some of the officials' treatment of the children of the Family might on the other hand be seen to constitute abuse. In Australia social services took more than 190 children away from parents who were members of the Family in 1992, but within a few days all were returned. Based on similarly false information, children in France and Spain were kept in custody and separated from their mothers for weeks or months. In all cases courts dismissed the charges. A few of the key anticult figures who instigated some of these raids (Rick Ross, for example) also used child abuse allegations against David Koresh and the Branch Davidians.
It should be noted in terms of child abuse that there is a particularly complex relationship between gender, age, power, and spirituality. Particularly difficult is the relationship of guru and disciple, or priest and child, with the enormous potential for religious exploitation. For example, Elizabeth Puttick has commented that the master-disciple relationship was a profound experience for many Rajneesh followers with "little evidence of sexual exploitation of female disciples by Osho" (Puttick, 1999, p. 102). But problems of authority and misuse of power did arise in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). There were cases of child abuse and instances of second-class child care. In June 2000 children of ISKCON filed a federal complaint naming ISKCON and its governing body as defendants. In Betrayal of the Spirit (2001) Nori Muster describes how the worst abuses took place between 1971 and 1986 in the Dallas boarding school, the West Virginia boarding school in New Vrindavan, and in the Vrindavana (India) boarding school. The scandals about child abuse in ISKCON, with the leaders' focus on attaining spiritual objectives rather than looking after their children in schools and child-care facilities, have played a large part in destroying the second generation's trust in this movement. Many of the second generation, who now mostly attend non-ISKCON schools, are critical of some of the fanaticism of the first generation, as Burke Rochford describes in "Reactions of Hare Krishna Devotees to Scandals of Leaders' Misconduct" (1998). Another article by Rochford, "Education and Collective Identity" (1999), analyzes how the second-generation members hold on to their identity as Krishna devotees but have a less-strong collective ISKCON identity. Incidents of underage sex in the early years of The Family have also been documented by James Chancellor in Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of God (2000). David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, is cited as having sexual relations with underage girls to create a new spiritual lineage. There are concerns about children in Christian Science, which has been criticized for promoting faith healing and neglecting children in need of medical attention. In the United States adults can either seek medical attention to deal with a physical disorder, or they can use faith healing or alternative medicine. If a child dies from not receiving medical attention, however, parents can face criminal charges. In "Christian Science Spiritual Healing, the Law, and Public Opinion" (1992), James Richardson and John Dewitt argue that concern about the welfare of children has at times overridden concern about parental rights and freedom of religion.
What is dangerous about an approach that accepts that certain organizations like NRMs are predisposed toward abusive practices is that there is then little need to explore in depth any particular NRM to see the reality of whether child abuse is occurring. Anticultists see unchecked information from ex-members about the totalitarian nature and lifestyle of the organization as sufficient. If a group can be defined as a "destructive cult" or an "extreme cult," detailed evaluations of the religious group are not needed to make allegations of child abuse. In France, where there is a governmental preference for listening to the "victims" of sects and to the anticultists who deal with the practical problems of these victims rather than taking an academic viewpoint, very little scholarly work is being undertaken, and an anticult scare continues. In 1996 the French National Assembly declared a list of 172 groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Catholic charismatics, evangelicals, and Quakers, as potentially dangerous. In Belgium a similar parliamentary report produced in 1997 declared 189 sects potentially dangerous. Sweden has been critical of the attitudes expressed in these reports, and the report of the Swedish Government's Commission on New Religious Movements (1998), "In Good Faith: Society and the New Religious Movements," gives a far more balanced view of the needs of children in unconventional religions and calls for more research:
The right of parents to bring up their children in accordance with their faith and convictions is above dispute, but it has to be balanced against the knowledge that there are children who suffer harm in new religious movements.… The Commission considers it essential that children living in closed groups should have the same form of support, protection and rights as other children. At the same time it is important that children growing up in these movements should not be stigmatized.
Unfortunately not all governments have been as open-minded. A new law introduced by the French parliament in June 2000 was Europe's toughest antisect legislation to date. It allows judges to order the dissolution of a sect if members are convicted of a criminal offence. It bans sects from advertising. It has also made "mental manipulation" a crime. Targeting youth, such as touting for new members near schools or offering children's Sunday school by any church, is now illegal in France.
Allegations of child abuse over the last two decades have been used very effectively against particular NRMs. In those countries in Europe where brainwashing and mind-control claims are still accepted and experts are sought among anticultists (e.g., France, Belgium), it seems likely that those who want to hinder the activities of any NRM will in the last resort use child abuse accusations to persuade the local authorities to act.
Freedom of Religion and the Best Interests of the Child
It is a standard principle of child welfare law and policy that the "best interests" of a child should be promoted. Article 13.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that "in all actions concerning children … the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." Key articles of the convention also stress the need to respect both "the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" (Article 14.1) and "the rights and duties of parents in providing religious and moral guidance to their children in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child" (Article 14.2). These principles have been welcomed by religious groups of all kinds, mainstream and minority religions, because they indicate that the United Nations has no interest in preventing parents from bringing up their children within a religious tradition and endorses freedom of religion.
The main difficulty for courts in Europe or the United States lies in the precarious balance between these two notions: freedom of religion and the best interests of the child. From research on court cases dealing with the custody of a child with one parent in a so-called cult or minority religion, Anthony Bradney, in "Children of a Newer God," says there is no doubt that because courts rely on evidence and arguments given by the parties involved, some judgments have been swayed by incomplete evidence and anticult "experts" (Bradney, 1999, p. 215). How this balance is achieved in the United States and in Europe is well documented in the articles by Bradney, Richardson, and Michael Homer in Children in New Religions (1999), although much research is still to be undertaken on the European interpretation of these principles in custody cases. It is already clear, however, that how a particular country views NRMs, cults, or sects has an impact on the legal process and on child custody cases. Custody cases may not actually assess the quality of parenting in any new religious group because very often the judges are as ignorant about NRMs as are members of the public. As Bradney has discussed in Religions, Rights, and Laws, although courts in the United Kingdom are supposed to be neutral about religious matters, some parents have lost custody of their child or children "precisely because of their religion" (Bradney, 1993, p. 49). As yet it is not clear how the French or Belgian reports advocating anticult laws or indeed any of those commissioned by European governments will affect the courts and the custody of children in NRMs.
Socialization and Education in NRMs: From Detachment to Affirmation
All societies and all new religious movements attach considerable importance to the upbringing of their children, but what practices are perceived as being most conducive to the general good (including the welfare of the children themselves) are often strikingly different. The alternative childhoods to be found in NRMs can be usefully understood according to the Weberian perspective offered by Roy Wallis in The Elementary Forms of the New Religious Life (1984), from the "world-rejecting" to the "world-affirming." These "ideal types" focus on "how a movement orients itself toward the social world into which it emerges" (Wallis, 1984, p. 4).
At one end of the spectrum, children are raised in movements rejecting the world, emphasizing the polluting, permissive, evil, contaminating aspects of the mainstream, which could harm their own children, seen as sinless and vulnerable. Examples can be found in Sahaja Yoga, the Family, the Unification Church, and ISKCON. Boundaries are maintained between the movement and the outside. For example, separate sets of clothes are kept by Family members; purification rituals like foot soaking and meditation are carried out by Sahaja Yoga children after school to negate any negative vibrations picked up at school. Practices and lifestyles are emphasized to help children participate in building the new kingdom or to become spiritually pure. As one Family/Children of God publication commented, "If the millennium is that close, it's all the more reason to get these kids trained in a hurry" (Teen Rev., no. 7, 1986), hence the importance of teaching the very young to be toilet trained and to read and write and the importance of learning Scriptures. These world-rejecting groups create alternative childhoods that emphasize the importance of growing up within a saved community, and therefore the emphasis is on detachment from worldly life. If they are not living in communes, members of these groups emphasize socialization into their values and practices in weekend gatherings, camps, or ashrams. World-rejecting movements often create their own forms of homeschooling, particularly for preteens, not wanting their children to be exposed to the vice-ridden, secular schools of the outside world. CUT and the Family homeschool using the Montessori approach and education philosophies that stress precocious acquisition of reading skills (such as those of Glenn Doman). The more conservative of these groups attempt to revive paternal authoritarianism and strong discipline. These children, like adults, have a prescribed role to play; toys and books are carefully supervised because children can be led astray by the devil, who may try to tempt them through the wrong kind of music or unsupervised TV or try to tempt them into losing their innocence.
At the other end of the spectrum are those NRMs emphasizing the importance of affirming the individual ("self" religions, such as the Human Potential Movement, Damanhur, Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, Rajneesh). The emphasis in raising children must be to help them fill their potential, especially their inner spirituality, and find ways to cope with the world and its stresses. Many of these groups are less obviously "religious," have less dogmatic ideas, and are more highly individualized, emphasizing children's empowerment and affirming individual children's goals and values. Child socialization and education in the mainstream is criticized for being an outdated conventional institution. Children need to be emancipated from the narrow bondage of an educational system that focuses solely on the intellect and a future accepting the materialistic values associated with capitalism. For these more countercultural movements, schooling should emphasize creativity, intuition, and natural intelligence. One must maintain faith in the goodness of children and their potential. Strong discipline and punishment, far from being advocated, are seen as creating fear and a distance between the generations, preventing emotional growth, self-actualization, personal responsibility, and maturity. Children in many of the Eastern-influenced groups, such as Transcendental Meditation, Sathya Sai Baba, Ananda Marga, School of Economic Science, and Western Buddhist Order, learn early on to meditate, and in response their parents may face condemnation and accusations of indoctrination or exploitation.
As Wallis noted, empirical examples will only approximate to these ideal types and may well combine elements of both (Wallis, 1984, p. 5). Although in terms of beliefs and organization a group may be world-rejecting, in terms of the ideal childhood envisaged it may have elements of both detachment from the world and the importance of developing potential power and self-actualization. For example, the international movements of Rajneesh (now Osho), Sahaja Yoga, or Damanhur in Italy, all world-rejecting movements, see the outside world as contaminating, its mainstream schools and patriarchal nuclear-family structures as the root of Western bad habits and neurosis; the alternative is to be found in communal living, detached from the rest of the world. At the same time, there are strong world-affirming elements; correct child-rearing practices are seen as crucial in helping Rajneesh children attain their full potential (Puttick, 1999), and the New Age Damanhurians involve their children in "harmonization," a form of yoga to restore human beings to their original and authentic condition (Introvigne, 1999).
The significance of studying children in NRMs began to be taken seriously when they were consistently used by anticultists to bolster their attacks on movements. Since then, however, much of the debate has focused on countering these attacks, and the literature on children is heavily weighted with discussions on child abuse, child custody cases, and the indoctrination of children. Although the debates have furthered the understanding of children in new religious movements, the focus on these areas to the exclusion of others has led to a distorted picture of children in NRMs.
In the academic research there is general agreement that although children in NRMs may have unusual childhoods, which in itself can produce difficulties for children, the majority are not worse off in NRMs than children whose parents belong to mainstream religions. Yet the literature focusing on scandals leaves an impression of deviancy. For research on children to progress there needs to be less focus on the scandals and more attention on understanding the impact of children on any religious movement. Wider research is needed on how children develop spiritually, how they gain meaning and order from the religious and cultural patterns in which they live, and what children think about religion and spirituality whether they grow up in new religious movements or the mainstream. There is need for a great deal more research to confront the stereotypical negative attitude to these children's lives by actually looking at what goes on. Children do change religions, but exactly how they change both organizational patterns and religious practices is still little explored. It is important to emphasize the diversity of the systems of meaning in terms of which children give form, order, and direction to their lives within new religions. It will be seen here, however, that the key issues that have influenced the popular view of children in NRMs are ones that are not fundamentally different from the issues involved in raising children in mainstream religions: issues of child abuse, child custody, and the precarious balance of religious freedom, parental rights, and the "best interests of the child" with the extent to which children are "indoctrinated" or "freely choose" the views of their parents. One sad consequence of imposing restrictions on NRMs, on reducing freedom of religion, is a reduced tolerance of diversity.
Anticult Movements; Brainwashing (Debate); Branch Davidians; Christian Science; Church Universal and Triumphant; Cults and Sects; Family, The; Hutterian Brethren; International Society for Krishna Consciousness; Jehovah's Witnesses; Jonestown and Peoples Temple; Koresh, David; Mormonism; Neopaganism; Quakers; Sai Baba Movement; Scientology; Transcendental Meditation; Twelve Tribes; Unification Church.
Bradney, Anthony. Religions, Rights, and Laws. Leicester, U.K., 1993. British law professor analyzes the legal attitude to religion and laws pertaining to religion in Britain. Looking at case studies, he questions that courts are neutral in regard to religious issues.
Bradney, Anthony. "Children of a Newer God." In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, pp. 210–223. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999.
Chancellor, James. Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of God. Syracuse, N.Y., 2000. An insider's personal view of the history of the Children of God, backed up by rigorous research.
Homer, Michael. "The Precarious Balance between Freedom of Religion and the Best Interests of the Child." In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, pp. 187–209. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999.
Introvigne, Massimo. "Children of the Underground Temple: Growing up in Damanhur." In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, pp. 138–149. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999.
Langone, Michael. Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Physical Abuse. New York, 1993. Edited by an anticultist, the book is intended as a practical reference book for mental health professionals dealing with cults, psychological manipulation, and "mind control," including special sections on children and cults and the ritualistic abuse of children in day-care centers.
Malcarne, Vanessa, and John Burchard. "Investigations of Child Abuse/Neglect Allegations in Religious Cults: A Case Study in Vermont." Behavioural Sciences and the Law 10 (1992): 75–88.
Markowitz, A., and D. A. Halperin. "Cults and Children. The Abuse of the Young." Cultic Studies Journal 1 (1984): 143–155.
Melton, Gordon. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. New York and London, 1986. Useful and detailed reference book on NRMs, including bibliographies on each movement.
Muster, Nori. Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life in the Hare Krishna Movement. Urbana, Ill., 1997. One woman's account of living in ISKCON. Critical of the movement, she examines scandals of child abuse in ISKCON schools and schisms that forced most original members to leave.
Niebuhr, Richard. The Social Sources of Denominationalism. New York, 1929. A sociological study of religion and denominational divisions identifying the change across generations from sectarian to denominational religious life.
Palmer, Susan J., and Charlotte E. Hardman, eds. Children in New Religions. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999. Essays examining the impact children have on NRMs and their chances of surviving in the future, discussing how movements socialize children, and addressing the legal and human rights issues, including child abuse allegations worldwide.
Puttick, Elizabeth. "Osho Ko Hsuan School: Educating the 'New Child.'" In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, pp. 88–107. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999.
Richardson, James. "Social Control of New Religions: From 'Brainwashing' Claims to Child Sex Abuse Allegations." In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, pp.172–186. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999.
Richardson, James, and John Dewitt. "Christian Science Spiritual Healing, the Law, and Public Opinion." Journal of Church and State 34 (1992): 550–561. An article that examines legal cases involving Christian Scientists whose children have died as a result of spiritual healing, leading to a church response altering policy and practice.
Robertson, George. "Island Pond Raid Begins New Pattern." In Sex, Slander, and Salvation: Investigating the Family/Children of God, edited by James R. Lewis and Gordon Melton, pp. 153–158. Palo Alto, Calif., 1994.
Rochford, E. Burke. "Child Abuse in the Hare Krishna Movement: 1971–1986." ISKCON Communications Journal 6 (1998): 43–69.
Rochford, E. Burke. "Reactions of Hare Krishna Devotees to Scandals of Leaders' Misconduct." In Wolves within the Fold, edited by Anson Shupe, pp. 101–117. New Brunswick, N.J., 1998.
Rochford, E. Burke. "Education and Collective Identity: Public Schooling of Hare Krishna Youths." In Children in New Religions, edited by Susan Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, pp. 29–50. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1999.
Shupe, Anson. Wolves within the Fold: Religious Leadership and Abuses of Power. New Brunswick, N.J., 1998. A collection of articles dealing with what Shupe terms "clergy malfeasance," that is, the abuse of power by religious authorities and religious leaders at the expense of followers.
Stark, Rodney. "Why Religions Movements Succeed or Fail." Journal of Contemporary Religion 11, no. 2 (1996): 133–146. An essay expanding Stark's 1987 theory of why religious groups succeed or fail and applying it to sects as well as new religions.
United Nations. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Available from http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm.
Wallis, Roy. The Elementary Forms of the New Religious Life. London, 1984. An analytic comparison of types of NRMs by a British sociologist illustrating the characteristics of each type from actual movements.
Charlotte E. Hardman (2005)