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The campus community is invited to join Ben Doremus ’07 (Hopkinton, Mass.), an electrical and computer engineering major, and the Reeder Scholars to discuss new religious movements 8:45 p.m. Monday at 225 Reeder Street. Dessert will be served.

Inspired by Cult Controversy, a class taught by Robin Rinehart, associate professor of religious studies, Doremus is interested in gaining a larger perspective of world faiths.

“Many people have never had direct contact with a new religious movement and they often demean them as scary ‘cults’ without ever learning anything substantial about them,” he says. “Professor Rinehart has offered an incredible opportunity to experience, first hand, one of the normal worship services of the Hare Krishnas. This way, we will be able to build our own judgments and see the people behind the movement.”

The Reeder Scholars will accompany Rinehart’s class on a field trip to a Hare Krishna Love Feast on Sunday in Philadelphia.

In his discussion, Doremus hopes to draw upon the personal experiences of the scholars’ trip as well as the experiences of others and asks the following questions:

Why does society perceive new religious movements as cults?

What does the word “cult” mean, in a literal and emotional context?

What are the positive and negative aspects of being in a new religious movement?

In dealing with new religious movements, brainwashing is often brought up. What does using this word imply, and what reality does it reflect?

Why do people reject mainstream religions and turn to new religious movements? What do new religious movements offer that prominent religions don’t?

When does a new religious movement become mainstream and what changes (if any) do they make to become so?

Named for its Reeder Street residence, the Reeder Scholars program borrows its basic structure from the McKelvy House Scholars program – regularly holding discussions open to the campus and organizing activities both on and off campus – but its students are determined that the program have its own distinguishing characteristics.

Past Discussions

Feb.26 – Faith and Reason
Jan. 29 — Farm Sanctuary’s Peaceable Kingdom
Nov. 29 — Music and Society
Nov.15 – Discussion
Nov. 1 – Gender Differences
Oct. 25 – Sex
Oct. 18 – Human Animal
Oct. 11 – Guilt
Sept. 27 – Consumer Behavior
Sept. 20 – Human Nature
Sept. 13 – Food as a Cultural Identity
Sept. 3 – Offensiveness and Media

Categorized in: Academic News