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Sexual Deviance RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements.

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Presentation on theme: "Sexual Deviance RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sexual Deviance RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements

2 20/20 on the Children of God20/20 on the Children of God (22:17-) 20/20 on the Children of God 20/20 on the Children of God20/20 on the Children of God (22:17-) 20/20 on the Children of God 1.What signs of media bias do you see? 2.Why are NRMs so often accused of sexual deviance? 3.What is it about sex that makes it prominent in so many NRMs? 4.What is it about NRMs that makes their views on sex different?

3 20/20 on the Children of God20/20 on the Children of God (22:17-) 20/20 on the Children of God 20/20 on the Children of God20/20 on the Children of God (22:17-) 20/20 on the Children of God 1.What signs of media bias do you see? 2.Why are NRMs so often accused of sexual deviance? 3.What is it about sex that makes it prominent in so many NRMs? 4.What is it about NRMs that makes their views on sex different?

4 Slide 4. NRMs and Sexual Deviance Marginal religious groups have historically been accused of sexual deviance No comprehensive study of this issue has been published How do gender differences impact the study of NRMs?

5 Slide 5. Why is deviance common in cults? “antinomian” in various ways: complex marriage (1800s) 1960s sexual revolution; 1970s “Children of God” 1980s Osho (Rajneesh) Others are ascetic (Unification; ISKCON)

6 Slide 6. Dilemmas of Moral Relativity Religious freedom Who is to say what is “deviant”? Does it victimize someone? Objectify them? Treat them as a means to an end?

7 Slide 7. Religious Significance of Sex Why is sex prominent in cults? most intimate self relation with the divine Selflessness Privileging the group Utopian sharing Rejection of larger society’s values

8 Slide 8. Child Abuse and the Social Control of NRMs brainwashing discredited ACM turn to child abuse Discussion: Are children harmed simply by being raised by people with marginal beliefs? (People’s Temple; Branch Davidians; FLDS)

9 Slide raid on Children of God in Argentina No physical evidence of abuse Damages awarded safeguards introduced David Berg’s role Pressured into sexual activity 1987: practices disavowed 1995: movement reformed

10 Slide 10. Gender Matters Gender as a “master status” Feminist challenge to earlier roles Result: anomie NRMs often spell out new models of gender Angela Aidala 1985: NRMs have low tolerance for ambiguity

11 Slide 11. Palmer 1994: Gender Role Diversity typology of sexual ideologies: 1.sex-polarity one sex is superior; limited relationships (ISKCON; Rajneesh) 2.sex-complimentarity marriage is needed to unite two halves. (Unification; Mormons) 3.sex-unity. one’s sex is irrelevant, not part of who you really are. (Scientology; Raelians)

12 Slide 12. Palmer’s 3 Common features Reject courting phase Only one or two roles for women Reducing the load of child care find nomos in spirituality

13 Slide 13. Two twists on Palmer 1994 Davidman 1990: Women studied wanted a family Difference in findings due to mainstream/marginal difference? Responding: not to gender ambiguity To haphazard sexual experimentation

14 Slide 14. But what about the children? NRMs search for “better” expressions of ourselves as sexual beings. Define “better” Relative? Subjective?

15 Slide 15. Summary: Sexual Deviance and NRMs NRMs have tended to be “antinomian” Some NRMs view sex liberally; others are ascetic Sex is prominent in cults because it involves one’s most intimate self Abuses are more possible when outsiders critiques are not heeded. Gender roles in NRMs tend to be diverse but unambiguous Accusations of Child Abuse replace those of brainwashing Moral Relativity & Religious freedom: Who decides what sexual behaviour is permissible? Does it victimize someone?


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