Date of Award

Spring 2021

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Todd French

Committee Member

Mario D'Amato

Committee Member

Amy Armenia


Over the past few decades, scholars have discarded the term of ‘cult’ when labeling alternative and emergent religious groups, due to the pejorative connotations associated with the term, instead opting for the classification of ‘New Religious Movement.’ Despite this shift in scholarly terminology, mainstream American society continues to identify unconventional religious groups as cults, evidencing the existence of mainstream anti-cult ideology, and brackets these groups away from the religious realm. This paper explores why this process of delineation occurs, how it affects the perception and portrayal of cults and cult-like groups, and the consequences of anti-cult ideology in the institutional realm.

Rights Holder

Caitlyn Patel