Sunday Lecture - When religions fall apart
Sun 12 May 2013, 11.00
When religions fall apart: Fragmentation and choices
When a religious founder dies, it’s often a crisis point for the religion. When a very heterodox American sect – Sabbatarian, millenarian, British-Israelite and much more – went mainstream 10 years after its founder’s death in 1986, hundreds of ministers and tens of thousands of members walked out and founded new movements with the old beliefs – which themselves kept fragmenting until 15 years later there were over 400 offshoot movements.
Religion is a collective expression of individually-held beliefs; social trends ultimately stem from personal choices. In the study of religion, Sociology and Psychology meet and interact. David V Barrett outlines his model of what can happen to religions when their founders die, including traumatic succession battles and schisms, with a host of factors affecting the outcome. He explores cognitive dissonance when beliefs and harsh reality clash, such as when the new leader’s authority conflicts with the founder’s authority, but the authority of both comes from God.
A former teacher, intelligence officer and journalist, Dr David V Barrett has been a freelance writer specialising in new religious movements and secret societies for 20 years. He gained his PhD in Sociology of Religion from the London School of Economics in 2009. His book, The Fragmentation of a Sect, based on his doctoral thesis on schisms in the Worldwide Church of God, was published by Oxford University Press in January 2013.
11.00, £3 on the door/free to members
Bottomless Tea & Coffee will be available.