2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

The Dogmatic Shift Within the Children of God: New Religious Movements


Mary Kochanski
Dr. William M. Ashcraft, Faculty Mentor

The study of New Religious Movements (NRM) is a young field of research with many existing paths of inquiry. A nuanced approach to the development of doctrinal shifts within New Religious Movements is a psychological and rhetorical analysis of the organization and their literature. This presentation is a case study of The Children of God under David Berg. I speculate that the Children of God underwent a radical shift of belief in a relatively short period of time, because Berg utilized the psychological environment and persuasive rhetoric in the Mo Letter publications. The organization was founded as a conservative fundamentalist Christian based movement in the 1960. By the 1980s the Children of God were promoting and practicing many controversial activities including sexual sharing, incest, and sexula conversion. I postulate that the charismatic bonds often formed in NRM and the strong persuasive rhetoric in the Mo Letters facilitated this dramatic shift.

Keywords: New Religious Movement, Children of God, Mo Letters, persuasive rhetoric, David Berg, charismatic bonds

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 110-4
Location: MC 211
Time: 9:15

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