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The State of Things

Examining Cult Culture

The word “cult” comes from a Latin root word that translates into “ritual.” But in the modern era, the word has acquired derogatory connotations – used to describe spiritual, political or social groups that challenge conventional beliefs. In North Carolina, police are investigating the possibility of a connection between two missing persons and a Durham congregation that has been characterized as a cult. Could use of that word in the news coverage of the case influence its outcome? Host Frank Stasio examines public perception of new religious movements with James Tabor, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Sean McCloud, an associate professor of religious studies and American studies affiliate at UNC-Charlotte; Benjamin Zeller, an assistant professor of religious studies at Brevard College; and Lisa Kerr, founder of the Web site www.mycultlife.com. Listener Call-in.

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