Book Review - Wolves within the Fold
This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1999, Volume 16, Number 1, pages 75-78. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Book Review - Wolves Within the Fold: Religious Leadership and Abuses of Power.
Anson Shupe, Editor. 1998. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. [RUP, Livingston Campus, Bldg. 4161, PO Box 5062, New Brunswick, NJ 08903]
Anson Shupe has had a reputation in religious studies not only as an expert on contemporary movements, but he has also been an effective critic of anti-cult organizations. In this volume he presents a collection of papers by many scholars who explore and report their views about abusive leadership in churches and religious groups. Shupe contributes the introduction and two of the chapters in this book, which concentrates on varieties of "clergy malfeasance" in religions. Seven chapters deal with abuses reported in the Roman Catholic Church, but Protestant and nonChristian religions are also examined in the remaining six chapters.
Wolves Within The Fold is divided into three parts: In Structural Opportunities for Exploitation and Abuse, Theresa Krebs examines "Church Structures that Facilitate Pedophilia among Roman Catholic clergy." Robert Kisala writes about abuse in the "AUM Spiritual Truth Church in Japan," and he provides an excellent overview of the sect's origins and doctrines. Anson Shupe reports on "Economic Fraud and Christian Leaders in the United States." In Part II, Responses to Clergy Malfeasance, Elizabeth Pullen reports on "An Advocacy Group for Victims of Clerical Abuse," a chapter about Catholics helping abused Catholics. Nancy Nason-Clark looks at "The Impact of Abuses of Clergy Trust on Female Congregants' Faith and Practice." E. Burke Rochford, Jr., who has studied the Hare Krishna movement extensively, reports his findings in "Reactions of Hare Krishna Devotees to Scandals of Leaders' Misconduct." Rochford offers important insights into the controversial "zonal acarya system" that lies at the core of authoritarian abuse within the sect.
In chapter seven, Philip Jenkins argues that media stereotypes and Church policies of denial have contributed to "Creating a Culture of Clergy Deviance" within the Catholic Church. A. W. Richard Sipe, a former Catholic priest, concentrates on "Clergy Abuse in Ireland," and Jeanne M. Miller writes about "The Moral Bankruptcy of Institutionalized Religion." A Roman Catholic priest abused Miller's son.
In Part III, Models for the Study of Clergy Malfeasance, James G. Thompson, Joseph A. Marolla, and David G. Bromley take on the thorny problem of "Disclaimers and Accounts in Cases of Catholic Priests Accused of Pedophilia." This chapter insightfully describes how Church psychiatrists separate behavior from character to help "cushion" or mitigate crimes of pedophilia committed by priests. In "How the Problem of Malfeasance gets Overlooked in Studies of New Religions: An Examination of the AWARE Study [published 1994] of the Church Universal and Triumphant" authors Robert Balch and Stephan Langdon critique the methodologically weak procedures employed by J. Gordon Melton, James R. Lewis, and their colleagues. Balch and Langdon were part of the original team that studied CUT in Montana in 1993, but they dropped out of the effort when they discovered serious lapses in procedure and policy. Although the AWARE study is not without value, according to the authors, many of the scholars ignored Irving Goffman's "dramaturgical model," which demonstrates how team-think might ignore "back stage" realities that affect a study. Indeed, the AWARE group either foolishly prided themselves on their ability to discover deceptions, or succumbed to stereotypes of the "out group," namely the CUT critics and the government agencies investigating CUT.
In his chapter, "Criminology's Contributions to the Study of Religious Crime," Peter Iadicola expands upon Shupe's model for clergy malfeasance in religions by defining it within the context of the social background. Whereas Shupe's model focuses on a "closed" system of religion and "religious crime" perpetrated by "elites." Iadicola opens the discussion by comparing religious crimes to corporate and white-collar crime on national and international scales. Shupe, to his credit as a scholar, included Iadicola's study as a critique of his "clergy malfeasance" model to enhance future study of this area. Shupe rounds out the volume with comments on the "Future Study of Clergy Malfeasance," suggesting more volumes in this important line of inquiry.
CSJ readers may be pleased to learn that there is some mention of cults and the "mind control," or brainwashing, factor in this volume. Robert Kisala, in his chapter on AUM, seems to present theories of "social tension" and "mind control" as the two options researchers use to "explain" the murderous behaviors and irrational devotions of AUM members and their leader. However, he simply dismisses "deprogramming" and mind-control theory by relying on questionable and biased sources (Shupe, p. 34). He does not consider that social tension theory describes milieus that may lead to thought reform, or mind control, in some people; nor does he acknowledge that mind control or thought reform theory can explain what happened with AUM. The fact that some members may defect does not nullify the effectiveness of thought reform processes on others, a reality Kisala and his sources seem to ignore repeatedly.
Anson Shupe, on the other hand, who may be included among those "sources" Kisala relies upon, uses the word "cult" in much the same way and context that AFF supporters might (Shupe, p. 50). Ironically, Shupe et al. in this volume do a credible job of employing elements of so-called mind control theory, to explain the abusive behaviors of leaders and followers, without saying "mind control."
Joseph P. Szimhart
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1999