Bradley C. Whitsel
A rigorously researched and intimate account of one of the most provocative American new religious movements, and its charismatic leader Elizabeth Clare Prophet.
"Bradley Whitsel has produced an excellent study of Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) that serves as a model for students of religion. The book begins with an overview of the movement and its move to Montana in the mid-1980s. He then surveys the history of the movement showing how it grew out of an amalgam of 19th-century new thought and theosophical type groups and was strongly influenced by the I am movement. An analysis of the group’s beliefs follows before he moves on to the core of the book—the movement's relationship to apocalyptic movements and survivalist groups. These latter issues are discussed in three highly informative chapters before the impact of failed prophecies and the failing health of the leader is assessed. A short epilogue bringing things up to date follows. . . . This is a very useful monograph belonging to the relatively rare genre of detailed cases studies of new religions. . . . The book is very readable and makes a good student text to be used alongside more general works that cover the history and theory of the study of new religions. The only regret to be expressed about this book is that there are so few like it available to scholars and students alike."
Studies in Religion
"This is a welcome monograph on a Church which was the subject of public debate and great concern in the 1990s because of its apocalyptic expectations. The author, a political scientist, approaches the movement from his own field and examines ‘the politicized aspects of CUT’s millennial outlook and the group's interaction with the environment.’ . . . Whitsel has written a very informative and insightful monograph on the Church Universal and Triumphant. His study of this controversial church probably has no parallel in scholarly literature. Although intentionally devoid of sociological data, this book offers a clear and very readable presentation of the Church’s history, beliefs, and turmoil and can be considered a valuable contribution to the study on contemporary religious movements."
Journal of Contemporary Religion, Bradley C. Whitsel
"This book should become the primary academic source on the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). It deftly sets the group in its religious and political contexts, lucidly identifies the logic of its particular millennial world view, shows how its interactions with outsiders amplified its proclivity for nuclear cataclysm weakened but did not destroy the group."
Journal of Church and State
"Whitsel's description of the CUT is a remarkable one, and another reminder of the extent to which human nature will allow the mind to be drawn to unusual belief systems."
Bradley Whitsel's vivid account of the Church Universal Triumphant (CUT), from its modest origin as a tiny fragment of the esoteric community to its growth into a wealthy and formidable organization in the 1960s and early 1970s, constitutes one of the most compelling stories to emerge from the larger movement of American religion.
Founded in 1958 by the charismatic Mark Prophetand subseqently headed by his wife, Elizabeth Clare Prophet-the Church combines New Age beliefs with an anti-Communist mindset based on the conviction that America was imperiled by left-wing enemies. In his deft examination of the group's evolution, Whitsel uses internal church documents as well as other resources to trace CUT's development of a dark apocalyptic vision. He places the Church Universal and Triumphant within the context of other millennial groups sharing a similar psychology of crisis and disaster, and analyze the church's interactions with its political environment. This book will appeal to general readers as well as political scientists and sociologists specializing in the fields of political sociology, millennialism, and radical religio-political movements.
6 x 9, 256 pages, 9 illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
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