Understanding Cults and Spiritual Movements (Research Publication Series)

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Understanding Cults and Spiritual Movements (Research Publication Series)

A short-lived research journal published three times a year in the 1980s and designed to analyze critically new religious groups and their leaders. David Christopher Lane, its editor, defined its goals:

"With the continuing growth of new spiritual movements, it is imperative for both the scholar and the seeker to be able to discriminate between groups which are fraudulent and manipulative and those which are genuine and beneficial. The failure to do so has troublesome consequences: witness Jim Jones and Jonestown. What is necessary, therefore, in the examination of religion and its mystical claimsbe they old and traditional like Roman Catholicism or new and emerging like Eckankar with unbridled rational scrutiny. That is, the opportunity to fully investigate every facet about the particular spiritual movement: from the biography of its founder, the history of its organization, the value of its teachings, to the practical application of its techniques, etc.

" Understanding Cults and Spiritual Movements is interested in promoting rational inquiries into the entire cult phenomenon. Editorially, it does not hold to any particular religious doctrine, nor does it have any church affiliation. Thus, in this way, it is an open system of study primarily concerned with documented appraisements which help in developing a keen sense of critical discrimination."

Lane established a high standard of scholarly reporting and investigation. Lane has become a leading authority on the history of the Radhasoami spiritual movement, and much of the emphasis of Understanding Cults and Spiritual Movements was directed to an examination of the new religions that emerged out of that tradition. Most of the writings originally published in the 1980s have been republished as a book, Exposing Cults. Lane now teaches in Los Angeles.


Lane, David Christopher. Exposing Cults: When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994.