Religion: The Quandary of the Cults

Main-line U.S. churches are unsure how to confront them

Why has main-line religion been so ineffectual in confronting the bizarre cults that were proliferating in the U.S. long before tragedy struck at Jonestown? The Evangelical Protestants and the Fundamentalists have been waging ideological hand-to-hand combat with them, as have Jewish groups (which are fending off Christian evangelists at the same time). But Roman Catholicism and the more liberal Protestant denominations have settled for polite discourse, though they, too, mistrust the cults.

Other than words, of course, the churches have no weapons under the...

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