The Politics of Religious Apostasy

The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements

by David G. Bromley, ed.


An analysis of the role, motivation, and impact of apostates in the current controversy surrounding new religions.

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April 1998


Pages 256
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Religion/General
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The current controversy surrounding new religions has brought to the forefront the role of apostates. These individuals leave highly controversial movements and assume roles in other organizations as public opponents against their former movements. This volume examines the motivations of the apostates, how they are recruited and play out their roles, the kinds of narratives they construct to discredit their previous groups, and the impact of apostasy on the outcome of conflicts between movements and society.

Table of Contents

IntroductionSociological Perspectives on Apostasy: An Overview by David G. BromleyA Comparative Approach to Organizational ExitThe Social Construction of Contested Exit Roles: Defectors, Whistleblowers, and Apostates by David G. BromleyThe Apostate Role and CareerIn Defense of Self: Apostasy as Spoiled Identity by Armand L. MaussThe Politics of Marginal Heresy by Eileen BarkerExploring the Varieties of Apostate Roles by Stuart A. WrightApostates Who Never Were: The Social Construction of Absque Facto Apostate Narratives by Daniel Carson JohnsonThe Organizational Context of ApostasyApostasy, Apocalypse, and Religious Violence: An Exploratory Comparison of Peoples Temple, the Branch Davidians, and the Solar Temple by John R. Hall and Philip SchuylerApostates, Defectors, Law and Social Control by James T. RichardsonApostates and Their Role in the Construction of Grievance Claims Against the Northeast Kingdom/Messianic Communities by Susan J. PalmerThe Changing Apostate Role in the Evolution of the North American Anti-cult Movement by Anson ShupeMethodological Issues in the Study of ApostasyCarriers of Tales: On Assessing Credibility of Apostate and Other Outsider Accounts of Religious Practices by Lewis F. Carter



This is a remarkably unified collection of high-quality essays by many leading sociologists of new religious movements.—American Journal of Sociology

The book is a superb effort to examine in depth the complexity and significance of the apostate role, and to illuminate the processes through which subversive evil is socially constructed. Taken together, the authors contribute a diverse array of theory, data and substantive insights that add to our knowledge of the inner-workings of new religious movements....I recommend this book for classes in organizations, sociology of religion, psychology of religion, group dynamics and related subjects.—The Social Science Journal

This is a well-coordinated collection of essays in sociology.—Social History

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