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CESNUR

From Academic Kids

CESNUR is a center for studies on new religions, based in Turin, Italy. It was established in 1988 by a group of religious scholars from universities in Europe and the Americas, working in the field of new religious movements. Its director is the Italian attorney Massimo Introvigne. CESNUR claims to be independent of any religious group, church, denomination or association. It has evolved into a network of scholars and organizations who study the field.

They say they are devoted to promote scholarly research in the field of new religious consciousnes, and are dedicated to exposing the problems associated with some movements, while defending the principles of religious liberty. The work of CESNUR is financed by royalties on the books it publishes and from contributions from its members. The CESNUR is non-profit public entity, registered in the region of Piedmont, Italy.

CESNUR gives a greater weight to religious freedom than anti-cult activists and is critical about concepts like mind control, thought reform, and brainwashing asserting that they lack scientific and scholarly support and are mainly based on anecdotal evidence.

They do not believe that all religious movements are benign but oppose special laws against religious movements.

CESNUR sponsor yearly conferences in the field of new religions. Conferences have been held inter alia at the London School of Economics (1993 and 2001), the federal university of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil (1994), the State university of Rome (1995), the Université de Montréal (1996), the Free university of Amsterdam (1997), the Industrial Union in Turin (1998), the Bryn Athyn College in Pennsylvania (1999), the university of Latvia in Riga (2000), the university of Utah and Brigham Young University (2002), and the university of Vilnius (2003).

CESNUR affiliated scholars include

Criticism

CESNUR has been criticized by the Christian countercult movement and the anti-cult movement including some former members of purported cults. Counter cult activist Anton Hein of the Apologetics Index describes it as having "[...] gained a reputation for being mostly uncritical and, in fact, supportive of movements considered to be cults by secular anticult- and/or Christian countercult professionals."

CESNUR rebut these criticisms by saying that most of the information supplied by anti-cult activists are mainly theoretical and anecdoctal, mostly based on second-hand accounts by families of members, press-clippings, and accounts of ex-members who rationalize their past.

One CESNUR affiliated scholar responds to Hein's criticisms by stating that "[...]Some of us—myself (Douglas Cowan), Eileen (Baker), Massimo (Introvigne), Jeff (Hadden), Irving Hexham, Anson Shupe, David Bromley, Gordon Melton—are listed on Hein's site as dedicated "cult apologists" of varying degrees of prominence. While his characterization of the understanding, motives, and expertise of these "cult apologists" is by-and-large inaccurate and insulting, it serves the agenda of the Countercult by placing these characterizations in the public library of the Internet.[...]"[2] (http://www.cesnur.org/2001/london2001/cowan.htm). Cowan further asserts that "Cult apologists, are", by the way, those "claiming to champion religious freedom and religious tolerance."

External links

Sites critical of CESNUR:

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