What Should We Do About Cults? (Conference 2001)

What Should We Do About Cults?

An Italian Perspective

Dr. Raffaella Di Marzio

Article published in Cultic Studies Journal, Vol.18, 2001


This paper is a revised version of a paper prepared in response to a program on this subject organized by AFF (American Family Foundation) at its annual conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, May 14 -16, 1999. The paper examines the cult situation in Italy, explores various approaches on what we should do about the cult problem, and offers suggestions about a possible common research agenda for critics and sympathizers of cultic groups. The essay attempts to provide a balanced response to an international problem that raises a serious human rights question: How do we protect individuals and societies from manipulative and destructive influences in religious and other groups without violating fundamental rights and freedoms that are basic to modern pluralisticsocieties?
This paper will examine first the cult situation in Italy, including certain official responses, in order to give some context to the discussion. Next, Italian legal issues will be explored, followed by a summary of certain key documents put forth by the Catholic Church in Italy. The paper then presents the author's views on what should be done about cults. The paper concludes by offering some suggestions concerning a common research agenda.


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