Anonymous, 20 May 2019
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

So Many Evil Things: Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet

So Many Evil Things: Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet
Following the mass suicide of Heaven’s Gate in March 1997, many commentaries reported on the movement’s active propaganda via the Internet, and expressed the fear that naive Internet passers-by might easily be recruited into suicidal cults through well-crafted Web sites. Recent scholarship suggests that, while not unheard of (Kellner 1996; O'Leary 1996), Internet conversions to new religious movements are rare, and do not contribute significantly to their growth (Dawson and Hennebry 1999; Mayer 1999). On the other hand, it has also been suggested that "the so-called ‘anti-cult’ groups [are] the main beneficiaries of the development of the Internet at this point" (Mayer 1999). This paper concentrates on the most aggressive Internet anti-cultists, and their attempts to systematically disrupt their targets through Internet activities. Firstly, I will review some well-known examples of social scientific theories on how cyberspace is constructed. Secondly, drawing from literature on information warfare and terrorism, I will explore Internet warfare and Internet terrorism as socially constructed concepts. Thirdly, I will comment on the background and development of an extreme anti-cult fringe, particularly in Europe, and its differences (as well as its relationships) with the mainline anti-cult community. Fourthly, some examples will be given of how this fringe is particularly (if not exclusively) active through the Internet, and its problems in obtaining offline results from its online activism. Finally, I will try to apply existing scholarship surrounding the Internet, and violence in general, to these activities and their effects on both new religious movements and those who stand in opposition to them.
paper
32 p.
eng