[Alleged] Religious Discrimination against Groups Perceived as Cults in Europe and the West

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by COS and NOI News, Aug 30, 2021.

  1. Academic Paper: [Alleged] Religious Discrimination against Groups Perceived as Cults in Europe and the West [including Scientology].

    Eti Peretz & Jonathan Fox

    Published online: 24 Aug 2021

    [Note: As I recently explained, one of my self-appointed hats is to try to note all new academic papers, books and previously unreported news items concerning Scientology, good or bad, if they are substantive, so that people know what is out there and can, if necessary, refute or otherwise address them. ]

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    This study examines the comparative levels of discrimination against cults and other religious minorities in 37 European and Western democracies using the Religion and State-Minorities (RASM) dataset and data on four religions many governments consider cults—the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, the Unification Church, and the Mormons—collected specifically for this study. There is a considerable theoretical literature that argues that perceived cults experience more discrimination because they are considered new and strange in many countries as well as dangerous. Several violent events involving groups seen as cults in the 1990s such as those involving the Branch Davidians, the Order of the Solar Temple, Heaven’s Gate, and the Aum Shinrikyo exacerbated this trend. Our analysis finds that perceived cults experience higher levels of religious discrimination by governments in these countries and this trend increased in the mid-1990s which is consistent with it being at least in part a response to the series of violent perceived cult-related events in the 1990s.


    We thank the funders for their support. ny opinions expressed in this study are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the supporters of this research.

    Disclosure statement

    No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

    Additional information


    This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 23/14), German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (Grant 1291-119.4/2015) and the John Templeton Foundation.

    Notes on contributors

    Eti Peretz

    Eti Peretz received her Ph.D. in Political Studies from Bar Ilan University in 2018, is a research associate at the Religion and State Project, and currently works at Tihon Hayovel Herzliya.

    Jonathan Fox

    Jonathan Fox (Ph.D. University of Maryland, 1997) is the Yehuda Avner Professor of Religion and Politics at Bar Ilan University and director of the Religion and State project. He has published extensively on various topics in religion and politics. His most recent books are Thou Shall Have No Other Gods before Me: Why Government Discriminate against Religious Minorities (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and Why do People Discriminate Againast Jews? (Ooxford University Press, 2021)

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    NOTE: The entire paper is available for $45.00 at:


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