Nation: Following the Leader

How cults lure the drifting and discontented—and keep them

"Would you like to know what the meaning of life is?" That is an offer hard to refuse, especially when it is made by bright-eyed, neatly dressed youths who radiate assurance and confidence. Such a street scene has become a frequent occurrence in cities across the U.S. as swarms of cults—some new, some old, some familiar, some obscure—try to recruit new members. They know that in rootless, permissive, mobile America, many people are desperately searching for meaning and stability in their lives.

Cults such as...

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