International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol 6, No 1 (2015)

An Expansion of the Rational Choice Approach: Social Control in the Children of God during the 1970s and 1980s

Jonathan S Simmons, Stephen A Kent
Issued Date: 27 Jul 2015


Using primary documents from the Children of God and interviews with current and former members, we argue that commitment to this deviant Christian group during the 1970s must be understood as a complex system of immediate an compensatory rewards and punishments. By arguing in this manner, we critically expand upon the Stark/Bainbridge theory of religion, which underemphasizes or ignores the crucial control functions played by punishment systems. Children of God’s punishment system involved purposive, affective, material, and sensual or bodily restraints, which operated both on immediate and postponed (i.e., otherworldly) levels.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v6i1.20430


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