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Stepping Out of the Ivory Tower: Social Science as a Weapon in the "Cult Wars"

A free public lecture presented by Dr. Eileen Barker sponsored by the Loyola University Biever Guest Lecture Committee and the Department of Religious Studies

This event is a talk with the founder of INFORM, an educational charity which provides objective information about new religious movements. INFORM is a non-government organization (NGO) that draws on the methodology of the social sciences to compete with the media, the movements themselves, and their opponents in a robust marketplace promoting alternative images of minority religions, or, "cults."


“Whilst one of the central principles of the social sciences is that they should be as ‘value free’ as possible, this does not mean that they should not be ‘value relevant.’ Dr. Eileen Barker’s talk will describe some of the ways in which the speaker has found herself ‘making a difference’ in the field that she has been researching for the past four decades: New religious movements and the social reactions to which they have given rise.

In particular, she will describe the founding of INFORM, an NGO, which, drawing on the methodology of the social sciences, competes with (amongst others) the media, the movements themselves, and their opponents in a robust marketplace promoting alternative images of minority religions."

Eileen Barker, PhD, PhD h.c., OBE, FBA, is Professor Emerita of Sociology with Special Reference to the Study of Religion at the London School of Economics (LSE,) University of London. She has over 300 publications (translated into 27 languages), which include the award-winning The Making of a Moonie: Brainwashing or Choice? and New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction. 

In the late 1980s, with the support of the British Government and mainstream Churches, she founded INFORM, an educational charity based at the LSE, which provides information about minority religions that is as accurate, objective, and up-to-date as possible. In 2000, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed her as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for "services to INFORM."

For more information contact Dr. Catherine Wessinger, Department of Religious Studies, Loyola University,[masked], [masked]

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