Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religious Communities

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While scholars, media, and the public may be aware of a few extraordinary government raids on religious communities, such as the U.S. federal raid on the Branch Davidians in 1993, very few people are aware of the scope of these raids or the frequency with which they occur. Inspired by the Texas State raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints in 2008, authors Stuart A. Wright and Susan J. Palmer decided to collect data on all the raids of this kind that have taken place in Western-style democracies over the last six decades. They thus established the first archive of raided groups and then used it see if any patterns could be identified. Their findings were shocking; there were far more raids than expected, and the vast majority of them had occurred since 1990, reflecting a nearly exponential increase. What could account for this sudden and dramatic increase in state control of minority religions?

In Storming Zion, Wright and Palmer argue that the increased use of these high-risk and extreme types of enforcement corresponds to expanded organization and initiatives by opponents of unconventional religions. Anti-cult organizations provide strategic "frames" that define potential conflicts or problems in a given community as inherently dangerous, and construct narratives that draw on stereotypes of child and sexual abuse, brainwashing, and even mass suicide. The targeted group is made to appear more dangerous than it is, resulting in an overreaction by authorities. Wright and Palmer explore the implications of heightened state repression and control of minority religions in an increasingly multicultural, globalized world. At a time of rapidly shifting demographics within Western societies this book cautions against state control of marginalized groups and offers insight into the reasons why the responses to these groups are often so reactionary.

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About the Author:


Stuart A. Wright is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Lamar University. Dr. Wright is known internationally for his research on religious and political movements, conflict and violence. He has previously published five books, including Armageddon in Waco (1995), Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing (2007) and Saints under Siege: The Texas State Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (with James T. Richardson, 2011).

Susan J. Palmer is an Affiliate Professor in the Religion Department at Concordia University and Member of the Religious Studies Faculty at McGill University. She is the author of New Heretics of France (2011); Aliens Adored: Rael's UFO Religion (2004); and Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers (1994).

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"Storming Zion is an illuminating and useful book. Social scientists and humanists who study NRMs, communal religions, the ACM, and related topics should find Wright and Palmer's model useful and testable. The book could also serve as an introduction to some of these religious groups, especially the smaller and lesser-known. Many of the chapters could easily be excerpted for teaching purposes."--Charles McCrary, Religion


"[T]his is a 'must' read not only for scholars of religion, but also for criminologists interested in the study of perceptions of deviance and anyone even remotely concerned about the relationship between the state and religion."--Review of Religious Research


"This book is tremendously helpful to any scholar of nontraditional religious movements as well as professionals in law enforcement, human rights organization, and the policy-makers whose job it is to peacefully and ethically manage minority communities living on the outskirts of mainstream society."--Sociology of Religion


"In a fresh look at confrontations between new and established religions, Storming Zion turns conventional analysis on its head. Rather than joining the chorus of voices attributing confrontations to group extremism, the authors examine how extremism and danger are constructed by opponents so as to legitimate the large and growing number of government raids on new religious communities." --David G. Bromley, Professor of Religious Studies, Director of the World Religions and Spirituality Project, Virginia Commonwealth University


"Eye-opening this is a provocative and informative book. The authors have unearthed substantial and troubling evidence of a widespread tendency to employ overwhelming government force in the social control of new religions. Students will have much to learn from it and scholars may want to pursue many of the questions that it opens up."--Nova Religio


"Storming Zion lays bare deep and troubling questions about policing by modern states and the ease with which it can become subordinated to moral crusades."--Journal of Church and State


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. While scholars, media, and the public may be aware of a few extraordinary government raids on religious communities, such as the U.S. federal raid on the Branch Davidians in 1993, very few people are aware of the scope and frequency with which these raids occur. Following the Texas state raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints in 2008, authors Stuart Wright and Susan Palmer decided to study these raids in the aggregate-rather than as individual cases-by collecting data on raids that have taken place over the last six decades. They did this both to establish for the first time an archive of raided groups, and to determine if any patterns could be identified. Even they were surprised at their findings; there were far more raids than expected, and the vast majority of them had occurred since 1990, reflecting a sharp, almost exponential increase. What could account for this sudden and dramatic increase in state control of minority religions? In Storming Zion, Wright and Palmer argue that the increased use of these high-risk and extreme types of enforcement corresponds to expanded organization and initiatives by opponents of unconventional religions. Anti-cult organizations provide strategic frames that define potential conflicts or problems in a given community as inherently dangerous, and construct narratives that draw on stereotypes of child and sexual abuse, brainwashing, and even mass suicide. The targeted group is made to appear more dangerous than it is, resulting in an overreaction by authorities. Wright and Palmer explore the implications of heightened state repression and control of minority religions in an increasingly multicultural, globalized world. At a time of rapidly shifting demographics within Western societies this book cautions against state control of marginalized groups and offers insight about why the responses to these groups is often so reactionary. Seller Inventory # AAS9780195398892

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