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More on Apostates

Posted by Perry on October 28, 2005 at 17:57:36

To understand why some scholars are completely dismissive of apostate accounts I've been searching for articles on the subject. I came across an article by Michael Langone in Cults & Society, Vol. 1 No. 1, 2001, "The Two "Camps" of Cultic Studies: Time for a Dialogue" in which he refers to an unpublished article by Benjamin Zablocki, "The Reliability and Validity of Apostate Accounts in the Study of New Religious Movements." Six weeks ago I emailed Zablocki inquiring about that article, but I have not received a reply.

If anyone knows of or comes across any articles on this subject could you please post the publication details here. Thanks.

It makes no sense to me whatsoever that a scholar like James Chancellor, for example, whose stated intention was to discover what the life of an ordinary member of The Family is really like, would treat as wholly reliable the accounts of current members of such a secretive cult known to deceive outsiders, while completely discounting the accounts of former members. As a result, his book is full of errors, omissions, and false assumptions and conclusions.

I would really like to understand the basis for this rigid position of some scholars. Even articles that deal with the phenomenon of hind-sight might shed some light on this issue for me, even if they don't deal directly with apostate accounts. What I'm thinking here is that if it is common for the average person to benefit and learn from an honest examination of their past behaviour, why would it be any different for former cult members? I have nothing to gain by painting TF in an exaggerated, negative light. In fact, it's just the opposite. My life would be far simpler and healthier if I could believe that TF is a credible and upright organization. If I believed that was true based on my own experience I could simply walk away and truly put that part of my life behind me. But I can't. Despite the mental grief and physical pain this path has layed out for me, I can't ignore the obvious abuses and frauds that did and do occur. However, one camp of scholars is adamant that anything I have to say about TF must be discounted solely on the basis that I'm a Family apostate. Yet those same scholars have no difficulty accepting at face value what current members have to say. This situation greatly puzzles me and I've yet to find any academic writings on this subject.