Episode 106: Moonie Madness

The Unification Church was virtually unknown in America until the 1970′s when concerned parents, anti-cult groups and members of congress raised alarm about the powerful “brainwashing” techniques used by “moonies” to lure new converts into their dangerous cult.  Now that the self-proclaimed “messiah” Sun Myung Moon has died a group of sociologists are defending the Unification Church. While their beliefs and practices may strike most as odd they are hardly the predatory cult some have made them out to be (these sociologists claim). In particular, researchers of new religious movements object to the pseudoscientific notion of “brainwashing”–insisting that what compels people to join groups like the Unification Church amounts to nothing more than ordinary forces of group psychology at play in any religion. Anti-cult groups have fired back accusing these researchers of engaging in apologetics and secretly accepting financial kick-backs from the same groups they defend. What is a cult and how is it different (if at all) from a religion? Is there any scientific support for the concept of brainwashing? We will attempt to answer these questions and more. Also on this episode: violence across the Muslim world, blasphemy laws backfire in Pakistan, and Mark Regnerus’ research on homosexual parenting is dissected for this weeks “God Thinks Like You”

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