New religious movements and cults can appear as themes or subjects in literature and popular culture, while notable representatives of such groups have produced, for their own part, a large body of literary works.


The term "cult," as applied to non-mainstream religious or secular organizations, has multiple overlapping or contradictory meanings in both scholarly and popular usage.[1]

Some anthropologists and sociologists studying cults have argued that no one has yet been able to define “cult” in a way that enables the term to apply only to groups identified as problematic; however, even without the "problematic" concern, scientific criteria of characteristics attributed to cults do exist.[2] Note a little-known example: the Alexander and Rollins (1984) scientific study labels the socially well-received group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) a cult,[3] yet Vaillant, 2005, concluded that AA is beneficial.[4]

Commentators other than social scientists participate to a greater degree in cultic studies than in many comparable topics, which may render it difficult to demarcate the boundaries of scientific research from theology, politics, journalism, family cultural values, and the anecdotal findings of some mental-health professionals. According to James T. Richardson (1993), the "popular use" of the term "cult" has, since the 1920s, "gained such credence and momentum that it has virtually swallowed up the more neutral historical meaning of the term from the sociology of religion." A twentieth-century attempt by sociologists to replace "cult" with the term New Religious Movement (NRM), failed to resonate with the public[5] and gained only partial acceptance in the scientific community.[6] Some scholars use the term "New Religious Movement" (as opposed to "cult") with the implication that the group in question either lacks "destructive" cult characteristics or has evolved away from past controversial practices.[7]

Members of the groups in question usually strongly dispute the label "cult", especially as used in the media and popular culture, and some scholars and social scientists regard any definitions that focus on special authoritarian characteristics as flawed.[8] [verification needed]

This article deals with the treatment of such groups in literature and popular culture, which may depict exaggerated and or even inaccurate perceptions of particular or generic groups. The mention of any real (as opposed to fictional) organization or person in this article reflects only that some specific source regards it as having (or having had in the past) the characteristics associated with such groups. Some organizations or movements mentioned herein have evolved over the years, as has the surrounding culture, and no longer experience the opprobrium they did at the time particular literary works about them (or literary works by their founders or members) originated. Other historical groups, such as Theosophy in the late 19th century, became known for their novel beliefs and charismatic leadership but not necessarily for abusive practices: one might regard them as the NRMs of their day.



Alexander the False Prophet

Alexander the False Prophet, a deeply hostile[9] satire by Lucian of Samosata, allows this second-century-AD writer to describe Alexander of Abonoteichus, an oracle who built a following in parts of the Roman Empire, and who (according to Lucian) swindled many people and engaged, through his followers, in various forms of thuggery.[10] The strength of Lucian's venom against Alexander is attributed to Alexander's hate of the Epicureans (Lucian admired the works of Epicurus, a eulogy of which concludes the piece). Whether or not Alexander epitomized fraud and deceit as portrayed by Lucian; he may not have differed greatly from other oracles of the age, in which a great deal of dishonest exploitation occurred in some shrines.[9]

Sociologist Stephen A. Kent, in a study of the text, compares Lucian's Alexander to the "malignant narcissist" in modern psychiatric theory, and suggests that the "behaviors" described by Lucian "have parallels with several modern cult leaders."[11] Ian Freckelton has noted at least a surface similarity between Alexander and the leader of a contemporary religious group, the Children of God.[12]

Other scholars have described Alexander as an oracle who perpetrated a hoax to deceive gullible citizens,[13][14] or as a false prophet and charlatan who played on the hopes of simple people, who "made predictions, discovered fugitive slaves, detected thieves and robbers, caused treasures to be dug up, healed the sick, and in some cases actually raised the dead" (ch. 24). Alexander did more than combine healing instructions with the oracle (not uncommon at the time); he also instituted mysteries. His main opposition came from Epicureans and Christians.[15]

Lucian also wrote a satire called The Passing of Peregrinus, in which the lead character, Proteus, described by Lucian as a charlatan, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of Christians.[16]

The Golden Ass

In the last chapter of Apuleius' The Golden Ass, Lucius, the hero, eager for his initiation into the mystery cult of Isis, abstains from forbidden foods, bathes and purifies himself. Then the secrets of the cult's books are explained to him, and further secrets revealed before he goes through the process of initiation, which involves a trial by the elements in a journey to the underworld. Lucius is then asked to seek initiation into the cult of Osiris in Rome, and eventually is initiated into the pastophoroi — a group of priests that serves Isis and Osiris.[17]


Even apart from the religious Reformation, the Renaissance era exhibited experimental belief-systems and resultant arguments about their merits. Shakespeare noted ca. 1595 in a passing comparison the phenomenon of the apostate: "the heresies that men do leave / Are hated most of those they did deceive" A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 2, Scene 2).

Early twentieth century[]

Mark Twain wrote a highly critical book (1907) about Christian Science.[18] Willa Cather, a newspaper and magazine journalist and editor before turning to full-time fiction-writing, co-authored a detailed muckraking book (1909) on the same religious movement.[19] (Christian Science gained a large measure of respectability in later years.[20][21][22])

Zane Grey, in his Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), a Western novel that would have a major influence on Hollywood, lambasts the Mormons and has his gunslinger hero rescue a wealthy young woman in the early 1870s from the clutches of elderly polygamists via exceedingly bloody gunfights. The novel contains a portrayal of the psychological conflicts of the young woman, raised a Mormon but gradually coming to the realization that she wants a supposedly less constricted life. (The Mormon misdeeds depicted in the story take place on the southern frontier of Utah, and Grey makes no suggestion of the involvement of Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City.) The harassment of the young woman reflects a popular literary theme in Queen Victoria's England.

In Dashiell Hammett's The Dain Curse (1929), much of the mystery puzzle revolves around the Temple of the Holy Grail, a fictitious California circle that Hammett's characters repeatedly describe as a "cult". Hammett depicts it as starting as a scam, although the putative leader begins to believe in his own fraudulent claims.

A.E.W. Mason, in The Prisoner in the Opal (1928), one of his Inspector Hanaud mysteries, describes the unmasking of a Satanist cult.

The Italian novelist Sibilla Aleramo, in Amo, dunque sono (I Love, Therefore I Am) (1927) depicted Julius Evola's UR Group, a hermetical circle and intellectual movement — strongly influenced by Anthroposophy — that attempted to provide a spiritual direction to Benito Mussolini's fascism.[23] Aleramo described the character based on her former lover Evola as "inhuman, an icy architect of acrobatic theories, vain, vicious, perverse." Aleramo based her hero on Giulio Parise, who would unsuccessfully attempt to oust the pro-Fascist Evola as the circle's leader in 1928, resulting in an announcement by Evola that he would thenceforth exert "an absolute unity of direction" over the circle's publications.[24]

Mid and late twentieth century[]

Science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein wrote two novels that deal with fictitious cult-like groups. A leading figure in his early "Future History" series (see If This Goes On--, a short novel published in Revolt in 2100), Nehemiah Scudder, a religious "prophet", becomes dictator of the United States. By his own admission in an afterword, Heinlein poured into this book his distrust of all forms of religious fundamentalism, the Ku Klux Klan, the Communist Party and other movements that he regarded as authoritarian. Heinlein also stated in the afterword that he had worked out the plot of other books about Scudder, but had decided not to write them — in part because he found Scudder so unpleasant.[25] (A Scudder-like dictatorship complete with sexual slavery for selected fertile women would later become the setting of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.[26]) Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land features two cults: the "Dionysian Church of the New Revelation, Fosterite", and the protagonist Valentine Michael Smith's own "Church of All Worlds". Heinlein treats of the motives and methods of religious leaders in some detail.[27]

Fictitious cults also feature in science fantasy and in horror novels. In That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis describes the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments, or "NICE", a quasi-governmental front concealing a kind of doomsday cult that worships a disembodied head kept alive by scientific means.[28] Some commentators[attribution needed] have interpreted this head, who/which plots to turn the Earth into a dead world like the Moon, as a symbol of secularism and materialism. Lewis' novel is notable for its elaboration of his 1944 address "The Inner Ring." The latter work criticizes the lust to "belong" to a powerful clique — a common human failing that Lewis believed was the basis for people being seduced into power-hungry and spiritually twisted movements.[29][30][31]

In William Campbell Gault's Sweet Wild Wench, L.A. private eye Joe Puma investigates the "Children of Proton", a fictional cult that has attracted the support of the daughter of a wealthy businessman.[32]

In Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon, the heroine battles against a Goddess-worshipping cult led by a radical feminist with supernatural powers and a penchant for human sacrifice.[33]

Gore Vidal's Messiah depicts the rise of a cult leader,[34] while Vidal's Kalki, a science-fiction novel, recounts how a small but scientifically adept fictitious cult kills off the entire human race by means of germ warfare.[35]

Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor presents Tender Branson as the last surviving member of the fictional Creedish Church/cult. He starts off as a loyal servant for a rich couple, sent out of his community to service and improve the outside world, as well as to earn money for the church. Once identified as the last survivor, he becomes a media messiah and religious celebrity.[36]

Twenty-first century[]

Popular French author Michel Houellebecq's 2005 science-fiction novel, The Possibility of an Island, describes a cloning group that resembles the Raëlians.[37]

Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code (2003), portrays a hero and heroine in flight from an assassin who belongs to the Catholic organization Opus Dei. (Opus Dei has disputed the accuracy of the portrayal, as has much[weasel words] of the media. For example, The Da Vinci Code portrays its villain as a monk, but the real Opus Dei includes no monks.[38][39])

Paul Malmont's The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (2006) portrays a young L. Ron Hubbard as one of three 1930s pulp-fiction writers who fight the forces of evil in a novel that nostalgically mimics the pulps. Although Malmont portrays the young Hubbard and future Scientology-founder as having a tendency to pad his résumé (a charge also made by some biographers of the real Hubbard), Malmont's Hubbard appears in most respects as a sympathetic character as well as a hero of the action.

Mike Doogan's detective thriller Lost Angel (2006) takes place at a fictional Christian commune in Alaska called "Rejoiced". In the opening pages, Doogan's novel appears to present a stereotypical cult, but it soon emerges that many of the members show independence of mind and routinely (if quietly) disobey the commune's founder and nominal leader.

Robert Muchamore has written a book for teenagers, Divine Madness, about a religious cult that has a vast number of members: the main characters of the book must infiltrate the cult to discover a sinister plot.

The primary antagonists of Brad Fear's A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man (2008) are an organization of super-enhanced fanatics called 'The Swarm'. The cult's beliefs seem focused on the flaws of man as a species; their motivations based on ushering in an age of superior, gene-spliced hybrids. They conceal their 'imperfect' human forms beneath gas masks and body armour (with the exception of the cult-leader, Dante Eclipse, who wears a porcelain theatre mask and robes).

The novel Godless centers around a teenager who forms a religious cult that worships his hometown's watertower.

Literary works by founders of new trends or movements[]

Aleister Crowley, founder of the English-speaking branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis and of a short-lived commune (the "Abbey of Thelema") in Sicily, wrote poetry (anthologized in 1917 in The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse) and novels (Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922) and Moonchild (1929)). Crowley died in 1947. His autobiography, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, republished in 1969, attracted much attention. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy describes Crowley's fiction and his manuals on the occult as examples of "lifestyle fantasy".[40]

The travel-writer, poet and painter Nicholas Roerich, the founder of Agni Yoga, expressed his spiritual beliefs through his depiction of the stark mountains of Central Asia.[41] His classic travel-books include Heart of Asia: Memoirs from the Himalayas (1929) and Shambhala: In Search of the New Era (1930).

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, worked as a contributing author in the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1930s to 1950s) and in the horror and fantasy genres. In a bibliographical study of his works, Marco Frenschkowski agrees with Stephen King in regarding Fear (1940) as one of the major horror tales of the twentieth century, and praises "its imaginative use of the prosaic and its demythologizing of traditional weird fiction themes". Other works which Frenschkowski cites as notable include Typewriter in the Sky (1940), To the Stars (1950), the best-selling Battlefield Earth (1982), and the ten-volume Mission Earth (1985-1987). Frenschkowski concludes that although Hubbard's fiction has received excessive praise from his followers, science-fiction critics leery of Scientology have underrated it.[42] John Clute and Peter Nichols, however, manage to praise much of Hubbard's oeuvre while also raising questions about the thematic link to Scientology. Hubbard's "canny utilization of superman protagonists" in his early work, they argue, came to "tantalize" s-f writers and fans "with visions of transcendental power" and may explain why so many early followers of Hubbard's movement came from the s-f community.[43]

G.I. Gurdjieff, the Greek-Armenian mystic and spiritual teacher who introduced and taught the Fourth Way, authored three literary works that comprise his All and Everything trilogy. The best known, Meetings with Remarkable Men, a memoir of Gurdjieff's youthful search for spiritual truth, has become a minor classic. Peter Brook made it into a film (1979). The trilogy also includes Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, a curious melange of philosophy, humor and science-fiction that some regard as a masterpiece. P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins series and a disciple of Gurdjieff, described Beelzebub as "soaring off into space, like a great, lumbering flying cathedral".[44] Martin Seymour-Smith included Beelzebub in his 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, characterising it as "...the most convincing fusion of Eastern and Western thought that has yet been seen."[45] Gurdjieff's final volume, Life is Real Only Then, When 'I Am', consists of an incomplete text published posthumously.

Ayn Rand, founder of the Objectivist movement, wrote two bestsellers, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). The Fountainhead sold over 6.5 million copies by 2008; and Atlas Shrugged over 6 million.[46] Rand's science-fiction novella Anthem (1938) also found a wide readership.[47][48][49][50]

Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, wrote highly regarded poetry. William Carlos Williams described his "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana" (1925)[51] as his "major poem", and wrote that Siegel "belongs in the first ranks of our living artists".[52] Other critics and poets who praised Siegel's work included Selden Rodman[53] and Kenneth Rexroth; the latter wrote that "it's about time Eli Siegel was moved up into the ranks of our acknowledged Leading Poets."[54]

Important non-fiction writers among founders of movements[]

Helena Blavatsky, the Russian adventuress who founded Theosophy, wrote Isis Unveiled (1887) and The Secret Doctrine (1888), and had an immense cultural and intellectual influence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, helping to stimulate the Indian nationalist movement, the interfaith ecumenical movement[citation needed], parapsychology, the fantasy literary genre,[55] and today's New Age movement. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy describes her two major books as "enormous, entrancing honeypots of myth, fairytale, speculation, fabrication and tomfoolery".[56]

Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925), the founder of Anthroposophy, wrote in a variety of fields (his collected works total 350 volumes) and influenced such figures as the novelist Herman Hesse and the philosopher Owen Barfield. Through his writings and lectures, Steiner stimulated the development of the cooperative movement[citation needed], alternative medicine, organic farming, the Waldorf schools, and "eurythmy" in modern dance.

"Tract" literature[]

Several authors have prolifically produced tracts, and although their writings may not have influenced contemporary culture to the degree of a Reich or a Blavatsky, they have stimulated many to join their churches or movements and have expressed ideas that writers and spiritual "entrepreneurs" outside of their own circles have adopted and adapted. Examples include JZ Knight, founder of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, whose popular Ramtha books have done much to spread the practice of spirit channelling among New Agers; and Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the Church Universal and Triumphant who, with her late husband Mark Prophet, wrote over 75 books on the "Ascended Masters" and similar topics. Other examples include the late Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God, whose books on Biblical prophecy and British Israelism were widely read for over a half century; and conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche — the author of over 500 books, articles and published speeches which have had a significant if often subterranean influence on various movements of the left and right as well as on the media in some countriesTemplate:Which?.


  • In the Simpsons episode "The Joy of Sect", most of Springfield join a new sect called The Movementarians, led by the mysterious "Leader" who persuades most residents to give up their material possessions to him. A skeptical Marge tries desperately to deprogram her family with the help of Reverend Lovejoy, one of the few town residents not to join the sect, and Willie (who offers to "kidnap Homer for fifty, deprogram him for a hundred, or kill him for five hundred"). Eventually they kidnap Homer and "deprogram" him with beer. The Leader is then revealed to be a con-artist and the whole town return back to normal.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Luanne Platter joins a cult disguised as sorority called the "Omega House". Members, deprived of the bathroom, must change their name to Jane, sell jams and eat a diet of only rice.
  • The X-Files episode Via Negativa dealt with a murderous religious cult leader.[57]
  • In an episode of Monk, the leader of a cult comes under suspicion of killing one of the followers.
  • In an episode of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Norman Lear's 1976-1977 soap-opera parody, one of Mary Hartman's neighbors joins the Hare Krishnas and his family decides to have him deprogrammed.
  • In a Seinfeld episode entitled "The Checks", Mr. Wilhelm joins a religious cult that masquerades as a carpet-cleaning service. When George tries to talk him out of it, Mr. Wilhelm reveals his new name: "Tanya" (a nod to the Patty Hearst case).
  • Spoofs of Lyndon LaRouche have appeared several times: on programs such as The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live;, and in the comic strip Bloom County. An episode of the science-fiction series Sliders depicts a parallel universe in which LaRouche has become President of the United States.
  • "The Plan", an episode of Six Feet Under first broadcast on 17 March 2002, deals with a seminar reminiscent of an est or Landmark Education Forum.[58]
  • The Family Guy episode Chitty Chitty Death Bang deals with a fictional cult that parodies elements of Heaven's Gate and Peoples Temple.[59]
  • The Criminal Minds episode The Tribe, which first aired March 8th 2006, involves a fictious cult with an affinity to the Native American people who are killing people in ritualistic ways in New Mexico and a character kidnapped from the cult who needs to be 'deprogrammed'. The cult are lead by Chad Allen who followers call 'Grandfather'. There are similarities with the Manson Family and Manson's idea of Helter Skelter (Manson scenario). [60]
  • The Criminal Minds episode Minimal Loss, which first aired October 8th 2008, deals with a ficticious cult 'the Separatarian Sect' at 'Liberty Ranch' in Colorado. Two of the team are investigating reports of child abuse made against the cult leader (Benjamin Cyrus played by Luke Perry) and are taken hostage when a federal raid on the ranch goes bad. references are made to 'similar' real life incidents in Ruby Ridge, the Waco Siege and the Freeman Standoff. [61]


  • The Silent Hill series heavily involves a religious cult.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a cult called the "Mythic Dawn". The player must join the cult in an effort to defeat it.
  • In Resident Evil 4, Leon Kennedy fights against a cult of Spanish villagers possessed by parasites.
  • In Diablo II, the player is tasked to fight against a variety of religious cults: There are shamanic groups who gather around "healers" and whose adherents are called "the fallen". Their spiritual guru is one "Colenzo". Then there is a monastery that has turned to a form of satanistic death-worship, and an old initiatic order called the "Order of the Horadrim" whose leadership has gone mad. In the third act of the game, a cult named the "Zakarum" with priests of the ranks of "sextons", "cantors", and "hierophants", is depicted. The cult followers are called the "faithful" or "zealots", and there is also a "High Council".
  • In EarthBound, Ness must rescue a girl with psychic powers named Paula from a cult called Happy Happyism that resembles the Ku Klux Klan and believes that everything must be painted blue. The Happy Happyists are controlling a small town named Happy Happy Village. Their leader is named Mr. Carpainter, and a statue called the Mani Mani Statue is controlling the cult's thoughts. Eventually, Ness breaks the spell over the cultists and rescues Paula. Many of the characteristics of the cult are similar to real-world cults: Mr. Carpainter is claimed to have received a "divine revelation" that told him to create the cult, otherwise normal citizens appear to have delusions, and a woman in the town asks for donations.
  • In Dead Space the majority of the crew of the Ishimura are "unitologists" and are seen as cultists.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the player may either side with or defy the Cult of Andraste before obtaining Her Sacred Ashes from the Urn.
  • In Fallout 3 There is a cult named The Children Of The Atom, who worship an un-detonated nuclear bomb in a setlement called Megaton.
  • In Fallout 2 There is a cult named The Hubologists, a thinly veiled reference to Scientology. The practices of the cult broadly resemble some of the practices of Scientology.
  • In Grand Theft Auto games there is frequent discussion on the radio, and by pedestrians about the Epsilon Program, a religion started by the character Chris Formage, which has been called "a cult" by GTA radio personalities such as Lazlow Jones.
  • In the Warcraft Universe a number of cults exist, some worshiping ancient evils; seeking to bring them back into the world, while others like the "Cult of the Damned" seek to end all life on Azeroth, while securing their own immortality in undeath.
  • In the "Fatal Frame" series there are a variety of cults that do rituals and sacrifices.


  • The 1981 Canadian film Ticket to Heaven portrays a young man who joins a cult (based loosely on Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church); his family subsequently kidnaps him for deprogramming.
  • The 1999 Australian film Holy Smoke features Kate Winslet as a traveler newly returned from India, where she fell under the spell of a religious guru. Harvey Keitel plays the cult-deprogrammer sent to persuade her to return to her original mindset.
  • Tim Daly plays David Koresh in the 1993 television movie In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco.
  • The 2008 film "Quarantine" is about a zombie infection brought about in an apartment building, is brought about by the Doomsday Cult.
  • The 1984 film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" features a cult group known as the Thuggee cult, which performs ritualistic sacrifices of human beings via a fiery lava pit. The group is also shown to be worshipers of the Sankara stones, believed to contain hidden mystical powers.


  1. The Definitional Ambiguity of "Cult" and ICSA’s Mission
  2. Robert J. Lifton, 1961, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (cited by
  3. Alexander, F., Rollins, R. (1984). “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Unseen Cult,” California Sociologist, Vol. 7, No. 1, Winter, page 32 as cited in Ragels, L. Allen "Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Cult? An Old Question Revisited" “AA uses all the methods of brain washing, which are also the methods employed by cults ... It is our contention that AA is a cult.” transcribed to the "Freedom of Mind" website and retrieved on August 23, 2006.
  4. Vaillant, 2005, concluded that AA "..appears equal to or superior to conventional treatments for alcoholism,..." and " probably without serious side-effects." Vaillant GE. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;39(6):431-6. Pubmed abstract PMID: 15943643
  5. "The use of the concept "new religious movements" in public discourse is problematic for the simple reason that it has not gained currency. Speaking bluntly from personal experience, when I use the concept "new religious movements," the large majority of people I encounter don't know what I'm talking about. I am invariably queried as to what I mean. And, at some point in the course of my explanation, the inquirer unfailing responds, "oh, you mean you study cults!" " --Prof. Jeffrey K. Hadden quoted from Conceptualizing "Cult" and "Sect" (cited by
  6. "...use of the term 'cult' by academics, the public and the mass media, from its early academic use in the sociology of religion to recent calls for the term to be abandoned by scholars of religion because it is now so overladen with negative connotations. But scholars of religion have a duty not to capitulate to popular opinion, media and governments in the arena of the 'politics of representation'. The author argues that we should continue using the term 'cult' as a descriptive technical term. It has considerable educational value in the study of religions. " --Michael York, quoted from Defending the Cult in the Politics of Representation DISKUS Vol.4 No.2 (1996) (cited by
  7. Langone, Michael D. (1995). "Secular and Religious Critiques of Cults: Complementary Visions, Not Irresolvable Conflicts". Cultic Studies Journal, Volume 12, Number 2. pp. 166–186. Retrieved 2008-10-29. "Many U.S. critics, including myself, use the term “cult” to label groups — whether religious, psychotherapeutic, political, or commercial — believed to be extremely manipulative and exploitative. Because we are concerned with groups that are not necessarily religious, we find NRM to be too restrictive a term. Furthermore, most of my colleagues distinguish between the terms new religious movement and cult by attributing the use of exploitative manipulation only to the latter, with the former being seen as unorthodox but relatively benign psychologically." 
  8. Miller, Timothy (2003). "Religious Movements in the United States: An Informal Introduction". The New Religious Movements Homepage @The University of Virginia. University of Virginia. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Nuttall Costa, Charles Desmond, Lucian: Selected Dialogues, pp.129, Oxford University Press (2005), 0-199-25867-8
  10. "Alexander the False Prophet," translated with annotation by A.M. Harmon, Loeb Classical Library, 1936 [1]
  11. Stephen A. Kent, "Narcissistic Fraud in the Ancient World: Lucian's Account of Alexander of Abonuteichus and the Cult of Glycon," Ancient Narrative (University of Groningen), Vol. 6.
  12. Ian Freckelton, "'Cults' Calamities and Psychological Consequences," Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 5(1), pp. 1-46.
  13. Hume, David, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: A Critical Edition, pp. 175, Oxford University Press (2000), ISBN 0198250606
  14. Meyer, Marmin W., The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook, pp. 43, University of Pennsylvania Press (1999), ISBN 081221692X
  15. Ferguson, Everett, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, pp. 218, (2003), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-802-82221-5
  16. Lucian [ Available online
  17. Iles Johnson, Sarah, Mysteries, in Ancient Religions pp.104-5, The Belknap Press of Harvard University (2007), ISBN 978-0-674-02548-6
  18. Mark Twain, Christian Science (1907)
  19. Willa Cather and Georgine Milmine, The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science (1909), reprinted by U. of Nebraska Press, 1993
  20. J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, New York: Garland Publishing, 1986, pp. 23-28
  21. Caroline Fraser, God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church, Owl Books, 2000
  22. Laura Miller, "The Respectable Cult," Salon, 1 September 1999 [2]
  23. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press, 2002.
  24. Renato Del Ponte, "Julius Evola and the UR Group," preface to Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (anthology of writings by Evola and his associates), trans. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan, Inner Traditions: Rochester, Vermont, 2001.
  25. Heinlein, Robert A. (1953). "Concerning Stories Never Written: Postscript". Revolt in 2100. Chicago: Shasta. 
  26. Atwood, Margaret (1985). The Handmaid's Tale. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-0813-9. 
  27. Heinlein, Robert A. (1961). Stranger in a Strange Land. New York: Putnam. 
  28. Lewis, C.S. (1945). That Hideous Strength. London: The Bodley Head. 
  29. Lewis, C.S. (2001) [1949]. "The Inner Ring". The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-065320-5. 
  30. Loconte, Joseph (March 18, 2002). "What Would C.S. Lewis Say to Osama Bin Laden?". Meridian Magazine. 
  31. Johnson, Phillip E. (March 2000). "C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength (1945)". First Things 101. 
  32. Gault, William Campbell (1959). Sweet Wild Wench. Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett. 
  33. Hand, Elizabeth (1995). Waking the moon. New York: HarperPrism. ISBN 0-06-105214-0. 
  34. Vidal, Gore (1954). Messiah. New York: Dutton. 
  35. Vidal, Gore (1978). Kalki. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-42053-5. 
  36. Palahniuk, Chuck (1999). Survivor. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04702-4. 
  37. "Houellebecq, prêtre honoraire du mouvement raëlien [Houellebecq, honorary priest of the Raëlien movement]" (in French). Le Nouvel Observateur. 2005-10-19. Retrieved 2009-08-03.  "Le roman de Michel Houellebecq, sorti le 31 août, met en scène une secte triomphante, qui resemble fort à celle des raëliens, alors que l'auteur prédit la mort des grandes religions monothéistes. Il a choisi la secte des raëliens parce qu'"elle est adaptée aux temps modernes, à la civilisation des loisirs, elle n'impose aucune contrainte morale et, surtout, elle promet l'immortalité." [TRANSLATION: "Michel Houellebecq's novel, appearing on 31 August, depicts a victorious cult, strongly resembling that of the Raëlians, while the author predicts the death of the great monotheist religions. He chose the Raëlian cult because "it has adapted to modern times, to the leisure civilization. it imposes no moral constraint and, above all, it promises immortality."]
  38. "Secrets of The DaVinci Code: Opus Dei". Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  39. Colon, Alicia (April 4, 2006). "'Da Vinci' and Opus Dei". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  40. See "Crowley, Aleister" entry in John Clute and John Grant, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1997.
  41. "Nicholas Roerich Museum". Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  42. Marco Frenschkowski, "L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology" (annotated bibliographical survey), Marburg Journal of Religion, 4:1, July 1999.
  43. "L. Ron Hubbard" entry in John Clute and Peter Nichols, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, second ed., New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1993. ISBN 0312096186
  44. "Gurdjieff," in Man, Myth and Magic: Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, London: Purnell, 1970-71 [3])
  45. Seymour-Smith, Martin (2001). The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today. C Trade Paper. pp. 447–452. ISBN 0806521929. 
  46. "Sales of Ayn Rand Books Reach 25 million Copies". Ayn Rand Institute. April 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  47. Michael Shermer, "The Unlikeliest Cult in History," Skeptic, vol. 2, no. 2, 1993 [4]
  48. Murray N. Rothbard, "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult," 1972 (Murray Rothbard Archives)[5]
  49. Jeff Walker, The Ayn Rand Cult, Open Court, 1998
  50. Ellen Plasil, Therapist, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985 (therapist domination of and sexual relations with patients in Randian psychotherapy movement; see favorable review of this book by Nathaniel Branden, a former top aide to Rand, at [6]
  51., (republished in Siegel's 1957 book of the same name: Siegel, Eli. Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana, New York: Definitions Press, 1957
  52. William Carlos Williams, "Letter to Martha Baird," in Breslin, J.E.B., ed., Something to Say, New York: New Directions, 1985 [7]
  53. Selden Rodman, Review of "Hot Afternoons," Saturday Review, 17 August 1957
  54. Rexroth, New York Times Book Review, March 23, 1969 [8]
  55. See "Blavatsky, Helena" and "Theosophy" entries in John Clute and John Grant, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1997
  56. "Theosophy" in John Clute and John Grant, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1997
  57. The X-Files, Via Negativa, 168-807, aired December 17, 2000, 8ABX07, writer: Frank Spotnitz, dir: Tony Wharmby
  58. Akass, Kim; Janet McCabe, Mark Lawson (2005). Reading Six Feet Under: TV to die for. London: I.B.Tauris. pp. 96–97. ISBN 1850438099. 
  59. Callaghan, Steve. "Chitty Chitty Death Bang." Family Guy: The Official Episode Guide Seasons 1-3. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 22 - 25.

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