In her article "Is the Canon on Jonestown Closed?" Rebecca Moore slightly misconstrued some cryptic statements by Thomas Robbins and Dick Anthony comparing the degree of provocation which precipitated violence at Jonestown and at Mount Carmel Center (Waco). We had intended only to say that intrusive provocation was greater at Waco and thus internal volatility was greater at Jonestown although provocation at Jonestown was not negligible. This response to Moore underscores both the importance and the difficulties of comparing different incidents of collective violence involving new religious movements. The relative salience of "endogenous" and "exogenous" factors varies markedly from incident to incident. "Cult violence" fiascoes should not be viewed as interchangeable either from a "cult essentialist" perspective or a perspective emphasizing victimization of groups. Systematic comparative studies would be welcome.
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Research Article| April 01 2003
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Thomas Robbins; Comparing Incidents of Extreme "Cult Violence": A Comment on "Is the Canon on Jonestown Closed?". Nova Religio 1 April 2003; 6 (2): 365–375. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2003.6.2.365
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