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Legal Cases, New Religious Movements, and Minority Faiths

Legal Cases, New Religious Movements, and Minority Faiths

Edited by James T. Richardson, University of Nevada, Reno, USA and François Bellanger, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Ashgate Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements

New religious movements (NRMs) and other minority faiths have regularly been the focus of legal cases around the world in

recent decades. This is the first book to focus on important aspects of the relationship of smaller faiths to the societies in

which they function by using specific legal cases to examine social control efforts. The legal cases involve group leaders, a

groups’ practices or alleged abuses against members and children in the group, legal actions brought by former members or

third parties, attacks against such groups by outsiders including even governments, and libel and slander actions brought by

religious groups as they seek to defend themselves. These cases are sometimes milestones in the relation between state

authorities and religious groups.

Exploring cases in different parts of the world, and assessing the events causing such cases and their consequences, this

book offers a practical insight for understanding the relations of NRMs and other minority religions and the law from the

perspective of legal cases. Chapters focus on legal, political, and social implications. Including contributions from scholars,

legal practitioners, actual or former members, and authorities involved in such cases from various jurisdictions, this book

presents an objective approach to understanding why so many legal actions have involved NRMs and other minority faiths in

recent years in western societies, and the consequences of those actions for the society and the religious group as well.


Preface, Eileen Barker. Part I Controversial Religious Groups and the Legal System: Courts, crusaders, and the media: the

Family International, Claire Borowik; Scientology in Italy: Plagio and the twenty year legal saga, Massimo Introvigne; The

Order of the Solar Temple: from apocalypse to court, Jean-François Mayer. Part II Specific Legal Cases Involving Minority

Religious Groups: The Mohan Singh case: what is the price confidentiality?, Philip Katz QC; The resurrection of religion in the

US? ‘Sacred tea’ cases, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the war on drugs, James T. Richardson and Jennifer

Shoemaker; Religion or sedition? The domestic terrorism trial of the Hutaree, a Michigan-based Christian militia, Susan J.

Palmer; The Dang case: when chakras opening leads to a Belgian criminal court, Henri de Cordes. Part III Legal Issues

Raised by Cases Involving Minority Faiths: How to know the truth: accommodating religious beliefs in the law of libel, Alistair

Mullis and Andrew Scott; Religious libel: are the courts the right place for faith disputes?, Hardeep Singh; The European Court

of Human Rights, minority religions, and new versus original member states, Valerie A. Lykes and James T. Richardson. Part

IV Minority Religious Groups in Court: Experimental Evidence: Cults in court: jury decision-making and new religious

movements, Jeffrey E. Pfeiffer; Parents’ use of faith healing for their children: implications for the legal system and measuring

community sentiment, Monica K. Miller; Muslims and the courtroom, Evelyn M. Maeder and Jeffrey E. Pfeiffer. Index.

About the Editor

James Richardson, JD, PhD, is Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada in Reno, where he

directs the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, as well as the Judicial Studies graduate degree program for trial judges.

His latest books include Regulating Religion: Case Studies from around the Globe (2004) and Saints under Siege: The Texas

Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (with Stuart Wright, 2011). He has published over 250 articles and book

chapters, and worked on 10 books, mostly on new and minority faiths. In recent years his focus has been on legal aspects of

social control of religions. He is the incoming president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

François Bellanger, PhD, Professor of Law (University of Geneva), Attorney at Law, has been a legal expert on cults for the

Department of Justice of the Canton of Geneva (Switzerland) and is one of the authors of the official report on illegal sectarian

practices published in Geneva in 1997 ("Audit sur les dérives sectaires"). He has published several articles on cults and

religious freedom. He is the President of the Information Center on Beliefs in Geneva.