Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The Downside to the Upside

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The Downside to the Upside

Article excerpt

With both launch dates for the new millennium now behind us, we can safely thumb our noses at the doomsayers, whose visions of a Y2K apocalypse went unfulfilled. But though our lives go on much as before, those false prophets of cataclysm are having a rough time of it. Their authority is suffering the consequences of the no-show Armageddon.

What happens when the Earth doesn't explode on schedule? That depends, says Robert Royalty, assistant professor of religion at Wabash College. In Uganda, the leader of a cult called the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments feared mass defection after a failed prediction, and killed more than 900 of his followers last year rather than lose them. But that, Royalty notes, was a bit extreme. Most cults simply disappear, their belief systems too shaky to withstand the loss of a central tenet--apocalypse.

The cults that survive have one thing in common, explains Royalty: "a rich religious ideology." To become an established religion or faith, a cult must "broaden," and transfer power from a charismatic leader to a sturdy body of institutionalized doctrine. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.