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Cultic Studies Journal

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Title: Cultic Studies Journal  
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Subject: Deprogramming, Ford Greene, Steve Eichel, Nansook Hong, List of new religious movement and cult researchers
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Cultic Studies Journal

International Cultic Studies Association
Type Professional body
Industry Academic scholars
Genre Cults, religion, psychology
Founded 1979, as American Family Foundation, renamed 2004
Founder(s) Kay Barney
Headquarters Florida, United States
Area served Global
Key people Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., executive director
Products Cultic Studies Review
Website Official ICSA home page

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a non-profit anti-cult organization[1][2] focusing on groups it defines as "cultic" and their processes.[3] It publishes the scholarly journal Cultic Studies Review and other materials.[4]


ICSA began in 1979 as the American Family Foundation (AFF) — one of several dozen disparate parents' groups founded in the late 1970s by concerned parents.[3]

The founder was Kay Barney, a retired Raytheon International Affairs Director,[5] whose daughter had become involved with the Unification Church, Barney wished to address the field professionally and scientifically and so founded AFF as a non-profit tax-exempt organization for research and education.[6]

In 2004, the organization took the name International Cultic Studies Association, "to better reflect the organization's focus and increasingly international and scholarly dimensions".[7]

Activities & influence

Michael Langone, ICSA's Executive Director, defines a cult as "a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group’s leader, to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community...Although many cult members eventually walk out on their own, many, if not most, who leave cults on their own are psychologically harmed, often in ways they do not understand. Some cult members never leave, and some of these are severely harmed. There is no way to predict who will leave, who won’t leave, or who will be harmed."[8]

Assistance and education

The ICSA offers assistance and education relating to such groups:

  • It offers assistance for "those who have been adversely affected by a cultic experience or who seek to help others or who are simply interested in the subject.[9] This assistance includes an information service for families, clergy, students, and professionals.
  • It offers education on the subject of cults.[10][11]
  • It publishes the online scholarly journal Cultic Studies Review [12]
  • It maintains an electronic library on the Internet with information on groups and issues regarding psychological manipulation and abuse. There is also an online archive offering abstracts of all articles of the Cultic Studies Review.
  • It conducts annual conferences for professionals and workshops for families, former members and mental health professionals.


Parallels with authoritarian regimes

Edelman & Richardson (2005) state that the China has borrowed heavily from Western anti-cult movements, such as ICSA, to bolster their view of non-mainstream religious groups, and so the support campaigns of oppression against them.[13] In a previous article Richardson & Shterin (2000) had noted that in Russia, evangelic movements had borrowed Western anti-cult rhetoric – such as that of ICSA – to play on Russian government worries over religious minorities.[1]


In their 2009 book, Cults and New Religions: A Brief History, sociologists Douglas Cowan and David Bromley describe the ICSA as a "secular anticult" organization. They point out that the ICSA provides no indication of how many of their so-called characteristics are necessary for a group to be considered "cultic." The checklist creators do not adequately define how much of certain practices or behaviors would constitute "excessive," nor do they provide evidence that any of the practices listed are innately harmful. Finally, Cowan and Bromley criticize the ICSA list as being so broad that even mainstream organizations such as Evangelical Protestantism, the Roman Catholic Church, Buddhism and Hinduism fall within the criteria.[2]


External links

  • International Cultic Studies Association official web site

Media/Press mention

  • San Francisco Chronicle, December 18, 2005
  • Defining 'cults' is complex: Polygamists, former members speak out at Denver meetings, Deseret Morning News, Ben Winslow, June 24, 2006
  • San Francisco Chronicle, May 1, 2000

Template:New Religious Movements, Cults, and Sects

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