Perfect Children: Growing Up on the Religious Fringe

Paperback | February 23, 2015

byAmanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist

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Children born and raised on the religious fringe are a distinctive yet largely unstudied social phenomenon. They are irreversibly shaped by the experience, having been thrust into radical religious cultures that often believe children to be endowed with heightened spiritual capabilities. Thereligious group is all encompassing: it accounts for their family, their school, social networks, and everything that prepares them for their adult life.Using research gathered from over fifty in-depth interviews, Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist explores the lives of individuals born into new religious groups, some of whom have stayed in these groups, and some of whom have left. The groups she considers include the Bruderhof, Scientology, theFamily International, the Unification Church, and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The book draws on the author's visits to these groups, their schools and homes, and support websites maintained by those who left the religious groups that raised them. It also details herexperiences at conferences held by NGOs concerned with the welfare of children in "cults."The arrival of a second generation of participants in new religious movements raises new concerns and legal issues. Whether they stay or leave, children raised on the religious fringe experience a unique form of segregation in adulthood. Perfect Children examines the ways these movements adapt to asecond generation, how children are socialized, what happens to these children as they mature, and how their childhoods have affected them.Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist is the deputy director of Inform, a non-profit information center specializing in minority religious movements, spiritualities, and fringe political movements, based at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London. As part of her work, she hasencountered and researched a range of topics and issues dealing with minority and/or new religions.

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Children born and raised on the religious fringe are a distinctive yet largely unstudied social phenomenon. They are irreversibly shaped by the experience, having been thrust into radical religious cultures that often believe children to be endowed with heightened spiritual capabilities. Thereligious group is all encompassing: it accou...

Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist is Deputy Director of INFORM (Information on Religious Movements) at the London School of Economics.

other books by Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist

Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.02 × 6.1 × 0.91 inPublished:February 23, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019982780X

ISBN - 13:9780199827800

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Table of Contents

Part I: Sects and Their ChildrenIntroduction1. Sects, Children, and Society2. Leadership and Discipline3. Points of Conflict: The Children of God and the StatePart II: What Happened?: The Aftermath of Growing Up in a Sectarian Group4. What Is Perceived as Successful Socialization?5. The Young Members Who StayPart III: The Young Members Who Leave6. Support7. In The WildernessConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Perfect Children is an insightful and sometimes disturbing study of youth growing up in new or sectarian religious movements. The author shows us that the experimental project of rearing "perfect children" comes with a very imperfect road map. With the best of intentions and noblest ofspiritual pursuits, the introduction of children into the group changes everything. Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist offers us a window into the intimate lives of these offspring, with all the trials, challenges, and choices they face. This work is a unique and vital contribution to the researchliterature on new religions." --Stuart Wright, Professor of Sociology, Lamar University