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Religion news articles about religious cults, sects, world religions, and related issues

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What is Religion News Blog?

Religion News Blog (RNB) is a news curator. We provide busy religion professionals, academics, cult experts, reporters and others with a daily selection of religion news. RNB has a particular focus on issues dealing with groups and movements often referred to as ‘cults,’ ‘sects,’ or ‘abusive churches.’ We also cover related issues – including religious persecution and human rights.

All news items are hand-selected by religion- and cult experts, and are linked to the full articles at their original sources. We include a dash of opinion, along with links to additional research resources. Religion News Blog is an excellent way to quickly catch up on today’s top religion news reports, key facts, and other religion information sources.

Religion News Blog has been ‘on the air’ since July, 2002.


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Who uses Religion News Blog?

Religious Freedom

Can These Media Reports Be Trusted?

When researching religious movements, news reports should not be your only source of information. However, news reports can provide lots of details often missed, dismissed, ignored, or even contradicted by academic researchers, including cult apologists – academics who have gained a reputation for their defence of (and what amounts to PR work for) cults.

Psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, in an essay critical of such ‘collaboration,’ writes:

The moral of recent well-publicized NRM tragedies, such as the Branch Davidians case or the Heaven’s Gate case, as far as reporting and analysis is concerned, is that reading Newsweek, Time, or the New York Times may be just as profitable, or more, as reading scholarly works.

Media reporting in general is quite limited, but investigative reporting by major media, when time and effort are put in, and wire-service reports, are worth at least taking seriously. There are sometimes real errors in the media, but this happens in academic works too.

Reading the scholarly literature, with a few notable and commendable exceptions, does not result in a better understanding of what the Branch Davidians at Waco were all about. The most basic human questions are left unanswered. Newsweek reported quite accurately on who David Koresh really was, and at the same time was severely critical of U.S. government authorities and their outrageous mishandling of the case.

If you were just to rely on Newsweek to understand what happened at Waco, you would reach the conclusion that a group of deranged victims, led by a manipulative madman, was being decimated by superior federal firepower in a senseless and tragic confrontation ignited by the illegal acts of some group members.

Would you miss out on some fine points of scholarly analysis? Not if such analysis consisted of a scholarly defence of indefensible behavior. One way of looking at the Mt. Carmel tragedy is by comparing it to the many tragic confrontations between deranged individuals and insensitive or unaware members of police forces around the world.

The only acceptable defence for David Koresh may be the insanity defence, and this is something you will gather soon enough from the media, which have proven themselves just as accurate in the cases of Krishna Venta, Benjamin Purnell, Aum Shinrikyo, the People’s Temple, the Solar Temple, and Heaven’s Gate.

As we have demonstrated in the case of the Branch Davidians and Aum Shinrikyo, sensational media reports never die, they don’t even fade away. They just come back as scholarly data, to be interpreted or euphemized.
- Source: Collaborationism and Research Integrity, an essay by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, published in, Part 1, Chapter 1 of Misunderstanding Cults. Editors: Benjamin Zablocki and Thomas Robbins. (University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 63,64. An abridged version of Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi’s paper is posted here.



Original material is © Copyright 1996 — 2013, Religion News Blog. All rights reserved.

Note: You are welcome to use Religion News Blog’s headlines at your blog or website, in the manner specified.

In the past Religion News Blog provided a full-text archive.

Howver, newspapers and other online news outlets have become much better at making available their archived material. Therefore — just like we do at our parent publication, Apologetics Index — we prefer to point to resources rather than to re-invent the wheel. Hence we quote enough material for researchers to stay on top of developments, or to get a quite overview, while pointing them to the original sources for more information.

Starting in July 2008, Religion News Blog quoted brief excerpts only — as always providing links to the original sources.

Since May 2012, we have limited the amount of quoted material even further.

If you want to read the full stories, visit the original publishers at the links indicated. If stories are no longer available at those links, try searching the original publication’s archives – or contact the news source directly. The publication in question may also have additional material on the same subject.

Copyright owners who object to having their material quoted in this archive may request that it be removed. [Contact Form] (Note: in all our years in operation, starting in September 1996 as part of the Apologetics Index website, that has happened only five times — and one of those requests was later reverted when the author changed his mind and asked us to re-include his article).

Material prior to July 2008:
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We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

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