Mooney, Annabelle "The Rhetoric of Cults: Intoduction"

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In the introduction to her book examining the rhetorical practices of widely recognized “cults,” Mooney challenges previous conceptions and applications of the word “cult,” as well as asserts than many of the recruitment tactics used by such groups do not vastly differ from recruitment tactics used by more mainstream, Western religious traditions. All manners of recruitment, she claims, mirror the recruitment strategies used by so-called “cult texts.” Abuse that takes place within purported “cults” should be dealt with separate of the organization itself, lest all “prejudicial recruitment tactics” become illegal, which Mooney sees as a very serious breach of personal freedom.

Mooney wishes to direct the reader’s attention to the loaded nature of the word “cult” when discussing fringe or counter-culture religious movements, as the word is often haphazardly applied to any sort of religious movement that challenges the mainstream or recruits aggressively.

Mooney sets up the context of her book by first discussing the problem she sees with the nature of the word “cult,” a brief analysis of how the recruitment techniques of several purported cults do not differ from the recruitment techniques of more well-known religious organizations, as well as a discussion of how the prosecution of “cults” might severely limit our freedoms.

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