13
The Nature of the New
Religious Movements—
Anticult “Culture War”
in Microcosm: The Church
of Scientology versus the
Cult Awareness Network

Anson Shupe

During the 1980s and 1990s evangelical Christians wrote books, articles and editorial columns in such magazines as Christianity Today proclaiming their conservative theologies, lifestyles, and values under attack by a hostile alliance of liberal Christians, agnostics, atheists, hedonists, radical feminists, pro-abortionists, and others. They referred to the presumed struggle between themselves (“the forces of godliness”) and the proponents of a secular America (presumably “the forces of darkness”) as a “culture war.”

Meanwhile, however, there was a parallel “culture war” that had started earlier during the mid-1960s. Its protagonists were unconventional new religious movements (hereafter NRMs): some Christianbased (such as the Unification Church and the Children of God, now The Family); some of foreign origin (such as the International Society for Krishna consciousness, or Hare Krishnas, and the Divine Light Mission); and some more like New Age psycho-technologies (such as est). In particular was one that has endured longer and larger than most: the Church of Scientology International.

The antagonists in this other culture war were family-based, grassroots groups with emotive names such as Love Our Children, Inc., Citizens Engaged in Freeing Minds, the American Family Foundation, and the Citizens Freedom Foundation. They were all dedicated to (1) rallying official and popular support for repressing NRMs

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