New Religious Movements: New Religious Movements and Violence

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The study of religion and violence has largely centered on established traditions, given the long history of religiously inspired wars, crusades, witch-hunts, and persecutions around the world. Contemporary cases include, for example, Protestant-Catholic violence in Northern Ireland, Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Middle East, and Hindu-Muslim violence in India. The appearance of a cohort of new religious movements, popularly called cults, in the early 1970s triggered renewed scholarly and public policy concern with the religion-violence connection. There were ongoing, largely unfounded allegations of impending violence by new religious groups during the early 1970s. However, it was the 1978 conflict between the Peoples Temple and its opponents, resulting in the deaths of 914 individuals in Jonestown, Guyana, that raised scholarly and public policy concerns about potential violent episodes involving new religions.

The Peoples Temple episode was followed by four incidents during the 1990s: the death of eighty people during the conflict between federal agents and the Branch Davidians at their residence outside of Waco, Texas, in 1993; the murders-suicides of seventy-five members of the Solar Temple in Switzerland and Quebec in 1994, 1996, and 1997; the murders by members of Aum Shinrikyō of thirty-one members and opponents, as well as a dozen other innocent subway passengers in Tokyo in 1995; and the collective suicide of thirty-nine members of Heaven's Gate in California in 1997. There was also a major episode in Uganda in 2000 in which approximately 780 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God were murdered or committed suicide. Relatively little is known about this incident, however, because of its remote location and a lack of systematic investigation. This entry will focus on the three cases of collective violence that have occurred since the 1970s in North America and Europe.

The Violence and New Religions Connection

New religious movements have encountered intense opposition from some established religions (the countercult movement) and family based organizations (the anticult movement). Referred to as cults by both sets of oppositional groups, new religions have often been characterized as dangerously unstable and predisposed to violence. This global assertion of a proclivity of new religions for violence, however, has not stood the test of close scrutiny.

One problem in linking new religions to violence is that distinguishing new religious movements from established religions is more complex than it first appears. Most new religions are not entirely novel. Rather, most have borrowed both cultural and organizational elements from established traditions, and many different traditions are represented. For example, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishnas) is a sectarian Hindu movement; Aum Shinrikyō draws on the Buddhist tradition; the Branch Davidians are one of a myriad of schismatic offshoots of Seventh-day Adventism; the Family (Children of God) grew out of the Jesus People movement; and Heaven's Gate blended the Christian and UFO traditions. This means that far from being a homogeneous set of movements that can be contrasted to established traditions, as conveyed by the term cults, new religious movements are diverse in doctrines, practices, and organization.

There have been a few historical cases of violence by religious movements in North America, such as the nineteenth-century attacks by Mormons on pioneers passing through Mountain Meadows, Utah. Contemporary instances would include the 1970s murders during a power struggle by Ervil Le Baron's polygamist Church of the Lamb of God, and the Nation of Islam's murders of leaders of rival Muslim organizations, also in the 1970s. However, these incidents have been rare. The more common occurrence has been violence against minority religious groups. The public hanging of Quakers in New England during the 1660s and the 1890 assault on a Lakota Sioux band at Wounded Knee by federal troops are well-documented incidents.

Violence by contemporary new religions also appears to be rare. There are currently over two thousand religious groups now functioning in the United States, and half of these were established since 1960. If all groups that incorporate religious qualities are included, such as many New Age groups, then the numbers are far higher. However, since the 1970s fewer than two dozen groups have been involved in incidents of homicide or suicide resulting in multiple deaths. By contrast, there have been numerous cases in which members of new religious groups have been the targets of abduction, armed attacks, and provocative police actions. In virtually all of these cases, movements have responded by initiating civil and criminal judicial proceedings rather than physical reprisal.

Finally, incidents of violence involving new religions have appeared to be more numerous than they actually are. When individuals affiliated with new religions are involved in violent acts, as either perpetrators or victims, these acts are much more newsworthy and more likely to be connected to their religious tradition than is the case for members of conventional faiths. Further, unsubstantiated rumors of impending violence by new religions receive widespread press coverage, while disconfirmation is rarely reported. Allegations of imminent mass suicide in 1988 by Chen Tao, a Taiwanese millennial group located in Texas at the time, and the Colorado-based Concerned Christians, who were expelled from Israel in 1999, were cases of this kind. The aggregation of all types of violence involving members of new religions, attributions of acts to "cultic" qualities, and the high-profile publicizing of rumors and incidents has created the impression of pervasive violence. It certainly is true that, by contrast, mainline denominations in Western societies currently are not in active resistance to established social institutions. However, many denominations have relatively stormy histories, and fringe elements of these traditions have countenanced or perpetrated violence over such issues as racial integration, abortion, and centralized governmental authority.

Explanations of Violence Involving New Religious Movements

Given assertions of a proclivity to violence by new religions, the five major episodes of collective violence that occurred between 1993 and 2000 produced an impetus to investigate the relationship between new religions and violence. The result has been theoretical explorations of specific factors thought to be linked to violence, as well as general models that propose sets of factors that, in combination, yield violent outcomes. A central concern in both types of explanation has been the extent to which violent episodes are the product of the internal organization of the religious movements involved, external pressures, and interaction between movements and societal control agencies. There is vigorous ongoing debate over this issue.

Single-factor explanations

Three potentially causal factors have been identified in violent episodes involving new religious groups: ideology, leadership, and organizational structure. It has been hypothesized that groups with millennial/apocalyptic belief systems might be more violence prone because they reject established social institutions, have limited commitment to institutional normative proscriptions, and have dualistic worldviews that expect conflict. However, numerous conservative Christian denominations, such as the Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, hold millennial/apocalyptic beliefs, and there is no evidence that such denominations are predisposed to violence. Although millennialism and apocalypticism probably do not predict violence, there is continuing exploration of the possible connection of specific forms of millennialism and violence. Millennial belief systems in which humans are depicted as playing a major role in setting the stage for divine intervention tend to have a gradualist orientation, with decisive events set some time in the future. The result may be less group volatility and a less confrontational stance. By contrast, belief systems that define the existing social order as morally unredeemable and predict its imminent, catastrophic destruction are more likely to produce a polarized relationship between movement and society. Under these conditions, societal control initiatives may be taken as confirmation of societal intractability and a sign of the impending apocalypse.

Two elements of movement organization have been postulated as predictive of violence, charismatic leadership and totalistic organization. Many new movements begin with a charismatic leader and a few dozen followers. (A charismatic leader is one who is believed to have access to an unseen source of authority, such as revelation.) Charismatic leadership has been characterized as problematic because it is a less stable, noninstitutionalized form in which the personal volatility of the prophet or messiah can have a substantial impact on a group. When leaders claim or are granted extraordinary spiritual status, they are likely to have enormous influence over a movement's functioning and development. Therefore, there has been speculation that charismatic leadership predisposes those groups to violence. However, there are numerous highly charismatic religious leaders (e.g., Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Oral Roberts) who have shown no proclivity to violence.

A more useful approach may be to examine how charismatic leadership is organized. Certain attributes of charismatic leadership may contribute to movement volatility. Many movement leaders withdraw from followers at some point to preserve an aura of mystery that is critical to their power. This can result in isolation and an inability to obtain appropriate feedback from both inside and outside the movement, which can lead to extreme decisions. The over-identification of followers with a leader can lead to a sense of threat throughout the movement if the leader is denounced by outsiders or former members. In such instances, there may well be an escalation of tension. Charismatic leaders may resist the development of more institutionalized forms of movement governance in order to preserve personal power. They may employ a variety of tacticschanging doctrines, increasing demands for personal sacrifice and loyalty, creating crises, suppressing dissentin order to render followers more dependent on their personal authority. Such tactics can increase instability in movements and create the potential for extreme actions.

While such factors as specific forms of organization and leadership are useful in explaining violence, it is likely that combinations of factors will be more predictive of violent episodes. For that reason, several general models have been developed that attempt to specify sets of factors, and interactions among, them that are associated with the outbreak of violence.

General models of movement-society violence

Three general explanatory models have been proposed to account for violence involving new religious movements. All three are concerned with the combination of factors that produces violent episodes, and with the issue of whether these factors constitute movement or external-control agency precipitation of violence. Marc Galanter's model, developed in Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion (1999), stresses internal factors; the John Hall, Philip Schuyler, and Silvaine Trinh model detailed in Apocalypse Observed: Religious Movements, the Social Order, and Violence in North America, Europe, and Japan (2000) emphasizes external factors; and David Bromley's model, outlined in Cults, Religion, and Violence (2002), allows for a preponderance of either internal or external factors.

Galanter analyzes the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, Aum Shinrikyō, and Heaven's Gate cases. He concludes that these episodes contain four conditions in common: group isolation, leader grandiosity and paranoia, absolute dominion, and governmental mismanagement. Isolation can lead to extreme actions because groups reduce the possibility of external feedback to their actions and operate solely on the basis of internally constructed definitions of events. Movements can isolate themselves from conventional society either through geographic separation or constant mobility. Galanter argues that another dynamic in violent episodes is the need of the leader or leaders to maintain absolute control, which can produce paranoid fears that others inside or outside the movement will usurp their power. In order to protect their positions, leaders create a siege mentality within the group in order to maintain solidarity and loyalty. Movements may also exercise centripetal control mechanisms that closely regulate members' lives, leading to absolute domination of the thoughts and behavior of individuals. Finally, governmental mismanagement refers to the failure of government agencies to immediately control illicit activity and to prevent young adults from being enticed into these movements. In the Galanter model, then, all of the factors except governmental mismanagement refer to attributes of movements, and the one external factor specifies government inaction rather than overreaction.

Hall, Schuyler, and Trinh base their analysis on the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, Aum Shinrikyō, Solar Temple, and Heaven's Gate cases. They identify a number of movement characteristics that may create a proclivity toward violence: an apocalyptic worldview, charismatic leadership, a high level of internal control, and high internal solidarity or isolation from conventional society. However, it is not these characteristics in themselves that result in conflict, but rather the interaction between the movement and society. According to Hall, Schuyler, and Trinh, conflict is likely to move in one of two directions. A "warring apocalypse of religious conflict" describes a situation in which conflict escalates between a movement and a coalition of movement opponents, governmental agencies, and media representatives. The second typea "mystical apocalypse of deathly transcendence"involves flight from external opposition. In this case, the group elects collective suicide and, from the groups' perspective, moves to another realm of existence. The Hall, Schuyler, and Trinh model thus emphasizes movement-societal conflict in which movements respond to external opposition.

In his analysis of the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, Aum Shinrikyō, Solar Temple, and Heaven's Gate episodes, Bromley argues that movement-society conflicts develop through three stages: latent tension, nascent conflict, and intensified conflict. Most conflicts do not reach an intensified level because all parties have the option of contestation, accommodation, or retreat. In most cases conflict is resolved at a lower level. At the intensified level, the movement and its opponents engage in heightened mobilization and radicalization; coalitions of allies and opponents form, and parties mutually begin to define one another as dangerous rather than merely troublesome. When conflict reaches the intensified stage, what Bromley terms "dramatic denouements" occur.

Dramatic denouements are climactic moments when the movement, society, or both conclude that the requisite conditions for their existence are being subverted. The parties to the conflict polarize as they engage in threatening actions, symbolic degradation of opponents, and internal radicalization. The conflict relationship destabilizes as a result of secrecy of actions, elimination of mediating third parties, and organizational consolidation or fragmentation. With polarization and conflict destabilization, one or both parties embark on a project of final reckoning that is intended to reestablish appropriate moral order. The most likely projects are either "exodus" (collective withdrawal from the realm in which the conflict is taking place) or "battle," in which the initiating party rejects the prospect of mutual existence and seeks to restore appropriate moral order through coercion. Each of these two responses is thus premised on a position of moral superiority and on a repudiation of continued mutual existence in the same social space. In the Bromley model, violent episodes are clearly interactional, and either the religious movement or societal units may precipitate a dramatic denouement.

Case Studies of Violent Episodes

One of the central issues in the study of violent episodes involving new religious movements has been whether these episodes are the product of movement characteristics, external provocation, or the nature of interaction between the movement and control agencies. While there is debate over this issue, there is broad agreement that cases vary on this dimension. Of the major episodes of violence during the 1990s that have been studied in depth, the Branch Davidian case is the most likely to be attributed to external provocation, the Solar Temple case to mixed internal and external factors, and the Heaven's Gate incident to primarily internal dynamics.

The Branch Davidian episode

The Branch Davidians began in 1929 as a schismatic offshoot of Seventh-day Adventism and existed for more than fifty years in relative obscurity before the arrival of David Koresh (19591993). The community was in disarray when Koresh assumed leadership; he rebuilt the group's economic and membership bases and enhanced his spiritual authority by pronouncing himself an heir to the biblical King David. His divinely ordained errand was to interpret the seven seals contained in the New Testament Book of Revelation and to reveal the sequence of imminent endtime events. Under Koresh's leadership the Branch Davidian community became more tightly organized, communal, and hierarchical (earlier Davidians lived in a community but not communally). There were heightened expectations of an imminent apocalypse, which the Branch Davidians believed would begin with an attack on their group.

While the Branch Davidians were characterized by a high level of charismatic authority, communal organization, and apocalyptic expectation, it was Koresh's "new light" doctrine, proclaimed in 1989, that was pivotal in mobilizing opposition. Koresh taught that he must father children with women in the community to create a new spiritual lineage; the children born of these unions would erect the House of David and ultimately rule the world. Some of the members Koresh selected for his House of David were wives and daughters of members, and some of the daughters were legally minors. The result was a number of defections, as well as legal grounds for external intervention by Texas Child Protective Services. Beginning in 1989 a coalition of Koresh opponents formed, including family members concerned about the children's welfare, some of Koresh's past sexual partners who were hostile to the House of David, and apostate members. This coalition appealed to the media and a number of state and federal agencies, most notably the Texas Child Protective Services, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

There were two sources of tension that escalated the conflict. Koresh's sexual relationships with teenage girls constituted a direct challenge to the child-abuse protection mandate of the Texas Child Protective Services. The agency's frustration mounted when it was unable to document abuse through inspections and investigations. The ATF suspected the Branch Davidians were involved in weapons violations and placed an undercover agent in the group, whose identity was soon discovered. Several factors contributed to the ATF's decision to conduct a raid on the Branch Davidian community at Mount Carmel, near Waco. The bureau was concerned about weapons violations, but it was also seeking high-profile interventions to fend off efforts to reduce its budget and reorganize its structure. Furthermore, the oppositional coalition fed the ATF false information about drug manufacturing at the residence, widespread child abuse, and potential mass suicide.

After the initial AFT raid on February 28, 1993, in which there were both Branch Davidian and AFT casualties, the FBI assumed control of the situation. The conflict was now highly polarized because law enforcement officers had been killed, and because the Branch Davidians interpreted the ATF raid as the beginning of the apocalypse. As the standoff between the Branch Davidians and the FBI continued, tactical units of the FBI gained the upper hand over the negotiating teams and initiated psychological warfare, which included cutting off utilities, surrounding the residence with armored vehicles, and flooding the residence with noise and light around the clock. During the standoff, Koresh led the Branch Davidians in seeking divine instruction on the proper course to follow. Ultimately, federal agents perceived, probably incorrectly, that neither conciliation nor duress would succeed and that continued flouting of legitimate authority could not be tolerated. A CS (tear) gas assault on the residence was launched on April 19; seventy-four residents, including twenty-three children, died in ensuing the fire.

The Solar Temple episode

The Order of the Solar Temple (abbreviated OTS from the French form of the name, Ordre du Temple Solaire) is one of a number of religious movements drawing on Western esotericism, including Rosicrucianism (a mythical, ancient brotherhood) and the Knights Templar movements (groups claiming an association with the Catholic religious order suppressed in the fourteenth century). The Order of the Solar Temple was founded by Joseph Di Mambro (19241994), a Swiss jeweler. Di Mambro had previously been involved in a variety of contemporary esoteric groups, such as the Golden Way Foundation, before establishing the Solar Temple in 1981 with Dr. Luc Jouret (19471994). The charismatic Jouret added to Di Mambro's esoteric teachings a mix of homeopathic medicine, New Age spirituality, and environmental apocalypticism. His personal charm also attracted large audiences of well-educated and prosperous individuals to his public lectures in Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada. The OTS was a highly secretive organization. Di Mambro and Jouret established two public groups, the Amenta Club and Arcadia Club that served as recruiting organizations for the OTS. Members of the Solar Temple engaged in secret initiations, vows of secrecy, and encounters in hidden ritual chambers with the spiritual manifestations of a mysterious group of ascended "Masters."

Based on its apocalyptic expectations, the OTS began expanding into North America in the mid-1980s. The group established its headquarters and a commune in Quebec, a location deemed to be relatively safe against impending environmental catastrophes. By 1989, OTS had about five hundred members in Europe and North America. In the early 1990s, due to opposition, the group's outlook became increasingly bleak and apocalyptic, and group leaders began discussing a mystical "transit" to another realm of existence. Leadership authority and member commitment were both heightened. For example, leaders assumed authority for arranging "cosmic marriages" that restructured members' existing marital relationships.

The movement's public troubles began early in the 1990s when two members were arrested for purchasing illegal weapons for unknown reasons, a rift developed between Jouret and Di Mambro, and the movement's ability to recruit members plummeted as its apocalyptic message was publicly revealed. Even more threatening were a series of defections by members who threatened to expose financial irregularities by leaders. The technician who orchestrated the electronic special effects used to create the appearances of the Masters left the movement, and revelations that the Masters' appearances had been carefully orchestrated illusions undermined the commitment of members. A wife who had lost her spouse to a cosmic marriage took her complaints to the media and anticult groups. In addition, the police mistakenly connected the OTS to anonymous threats made to the life of the Quebec minister of public security and several parliamentary deputies, resulting in an intensive investigation of the movement. As a result of these developments, the loyalty of members was eroded, the authority of the OTS leaders was undermined, and the financial base was endangered. OTS leaders concluded that the movement was the object of a vast conspiracy and faced the prospect of public disgrace. The group was, therefore, confronting both internal and external sources of destabilization.

Late in 1993 and early in 1994 the final events appear to have begun coalescing. OTS leaders began planning an interstellar "transit" that they believed would be supported and protected by transcendent powers. In early October, many current and past members of the group were invited to meet in Switzerland. Some were aware that the meeting was to be a time of reckoning and initiation of a transit, others were not. On October 4, 1994, police began receiving reports of fires in Cheiry and Granges-sur-Salvan in Switzerland and Morin Heights in Canada. Ultimately, fifty-three members and former members of the OTS were found dead from stabbing, gunshots, poisoning, or suffocation. Opponents and former members who were viewed as traitors appear to have been executed. Some OTS members and leaders took their own lives to initiate the transit, and other members who lacked the courage to take their own lives apparently were "helped" to undertake the transit. The group left messages intended to condemn its critics and defend its own vision of its mission. More than one year later sixteen OTS members decided to join their comrades and ritualistically took their own lives in France; five more did the same in Quebec in 1997.

The Heaven's Gate episode

The movement that came to be known as Heaven's Gate began as a spiritual quest by Marshall Herff Applewhite (19311997) and Bonnie Lu Nettles (19241985) in 1973. Over the next two years a loosely organized movement emerged. Applewhite and Nettles first began referring to themselves as the "two witnesses" in the Book of Revelation who would be martyred and then ascend to heaven in a cloud, which they believed would actually be a space ship. They taught their small group of followers that members of the "Next Level" had created earth as an experiment in evolution. Jesus' mission had been to gather the faithful on earth to ascend to the Next Level, but humans were not yet prepared. However, humans would soon be transported by spacecraft to the kingdom of heaven and live eternally as androgynous beings. Through vigorous proselytizing, the group gradually grew to more than two hundred members by the mid-1970s. Recruitment successes resulted in opposition to the conversions and unflattering media coverage. In response, the group went underground in 1976 and lived a migratory communal existence with a much smaller number of members. Members prepared for life at the Next Level by relinquishing all earthly habits and relationships and acquiring appropriate Next Level attributes.

Because the group lived a secretive lifestyle, it largely escaped conflict with control agencies. Members were apprehensive about their own fate following the conflagration that destroyed the Branch Davidians, and they harbored unsubstantiated suspicions that they were under police surveillance. However, the only reaction by Heaven's Gate to suspected opposition was a largely ineffectual campaign to challenge what it regarded as misinformation and misconceptions about the movement. The developments that moved Heaven's Gate toward a "transit" to the Next Level were primarily internal in nature. In 1985 Nettles died of cancer. Her death brought into question the movement's belief that entry to the Next Level would be achieved with a corporeal body. The group then came to regard the human "vehicle" as simply a "container" that could be jettisoned, a development that made it possible to think about abandoning earthly bodies. The movement's ideology also became more apocalyptic as members proposed the existence of evil space aliens who used religion and sexuality to keep humans in bondage. Indeed, when the group was unsuccessful in eliminating sexual desire, some members arranged their own castrations to resolve the problem. Finally, members progressively replaced earthly social forms with those they understood to be appropriate to the Next Level. They lived their day-to-day lives as an "Away Team" in a replica of the spacecraft environment through which they would be transported to the Next Level. Much of their time was spent attempting to connect with the Next Level and learn the timing of their impending transit.

As the process of distancing from conventional society continued, the movement gradually was left with a small number of long-term members with little connection to outsiders. Applewhite, who was the source of the group's revelations, believed he was suffering from progressively declining health. Increasingly disillusioned with conventional society, the movement initiated one final effort to publicize its message and warn outsiders of the apocalypse that awaited them. When this campaign was met with indifference and ridicule, the group concluded that their preparation for the exit was over. The appearance of the Hale Bopp comet in 1997 was viewed as a sign that the moment for departure had arrived, and members quickly prepared for the exit. Those who made the exit on March 22 to 24, 1997, regarded their act as a demonstration of the power of Heaven's Gate to transcend the apocalypse that awaited those who had chosen not to join them. The members consumed a deadly combination of alcohol and barbiturates, lay down dressed in their Away Team uniforms covered by purple shrouds, and tied plastic bags over their heads. Two more Heaven's Gate members attempted an exit on May 7, 1997; one succeeded and the other was revived. This member, Chuck Humphrey, after distributing informational materials about Heaven's Gate, made his exit in February 1998.


The series of unrelated violent episodes involving new religious movements during the 1990s propelled violence onto the scholarly and public policy agendas. Widely accepted assertions about a proclivity for violence by new religions have not been supported, however, and the historical evidence indicates that instances of movement-precipitated violence have been rare. Specific characteristics of religious movementsapocalyptic ideology, charismatic leadership, and totalistic organizationare significant in understanding the likelihood of violence, but general models that incorporate an interrelated set of factors are more promising. A major debate continues over what balance of internal and external factors is most useful in understanding violent incidents. There is general agreement that cases vary in their internal-external causation, and that useful models must allow for this diversity. There is also agreement that future episodes will be difficult to anticipate because they tend to involve small, relatively unknown groups rather than more visible groups that are in open conflict with conventional society.

See Also

Anticult Movements; Aum Shinrikyō; Branch Davidians; Deprogramming; Heaven's Gate; Jonestown and Peoples Temple; Koresh, David; Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God; Temple Solaire; Violence.


Bromley, David G., and J. Gordon Melton, eds. Cults, Religion, and Violence. Cambridge, U.K., 2002. A collection of essays focused on the major episodes of collective violence involving new religious groups during the 1990s.

Galanter, Marc. Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion. 2d ed. New York, 1999. A theoretical analysis of a number of charismatic groups that includes a discussion of internal movement factors conducive to collective violence.

Hall, John R. Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History. New Brunswick, N.J., 1987. A thorough sociological and historical account of the Peoples Temple.

Hall, John R., with Philip Schuyler, and Silvaine Trinh. Apocalypse Observed: Religious Movements, the Social Order, and Violence in North America, Europe, and Japan. New York, 2000. A theoretically informed series of case studies of collective violence involving new religious groups that proposes a model for connecting these diverse events.

Lifton, Robert Jay. Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyō, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism. New York, 1999. A more psychologically oriented analysis of one of the major episodes of collective violence involving new religious groups during the 1990s.

Reader, Ian. Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyō. Richmond, U.K., and Honolulu, 2000. An account of the Aum Shinrikyō violence episode that emphasizes internal movement factors as the initial source of violence.

Richardson, James T. "Minority Religions and the Context of Violence: A Conflict/Interactionist Perspective." Terrorism and Political Violence 13, no. 1 (2001): 103133.

Robbins, Thomas, and Susan J. Palmer, eds. Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements. New York, 1997. A collection of essays examining apocalypticism in a variety of religious traditions.

Tabor, James D., and Eugene V. Gallagher. Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America. Berkeley, 1995. A comprehensive analysis of the history of the Branch Davidians and the dynamics of the confrontation between the movement and federal authorities.

Wessinger, Catherine. "New Religious Movements and Conflicts with Law Enforcement." In New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in American, edited by Derek H. Davis and Barry Hankins, 2d ed., pp. 89106, 201204. Waco, Tex., 2002.

Wessinger, Catherine, ed. How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven's Gate. New York, 2000. An analysis of Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, Aum Shinrikyō, Montana Freemen, Solar Temple, and Heaven's Gate violence episodes emphasizing the role of both internal and external factors in precipitating violence.

Wessinger, Catherine, ed. Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence: Historical Cases. Syracuse, N.Y., 2000. Includes articles by Michelene Pesantubbee on Wounded Knee, Massimo Introvigne on Solar Temple, Grant Underwood on the Mormons, among others, plus Wessinger's introduction, "The Interacting Dynamics of Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence."

Wright, Stuart, ed. Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict. Chicago, 2000. A collection of essays thoroughly analyzing the Branch Davidian violence episode, including the role of the media, government agencies, experts and consultants, and movement opponents.

David G. Bromley (2005)