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Cult-ure shock - Ronald Kotulak

Ronald Kotulak wrote in Chicago Tribune, Sunday January 6, 1980, the following interesting comments:

Religious cults and sects are rapidly increasing in this country in replacements for declining traditional denominations, according to a team of sociologists at the University of Washington.

A study of the nation’s changing religious patterns revealed the existence of about 1,000 cults and sects, the team reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Contrary the popular belief, people are not abandoning religion altogether, Rodney Stark said.

While people are drifting away from conventional denominations, they are flocking to the unconventional ones, he said.

The study showed that cults flourish where conventional churches are weakest, Stark said.

“Critics correctly have noted the crumbling of major Chrisstian-Judaic organizations but have failed to see or appreciate the growing vigor of religion in less “respectable” quarters,” he said.

The study dismissed the notion of a “Bible belt” along the West Coast. extending to Alaska. People were no more relisgious in the South than elsewhere the study found.

The states with the lowest rate af church membership, starting with the lowest, are Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Nevada, West Virginia, Colorado, Maine, and Montana. Although California has more cults than any other state, it does not top the list.

The top ten cult states, listed by their ratio of cults per million population, are Nevada, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Hawaii, New York, Missouri, and Illinois.

Many cults, such as various witchcraft and pagan groups have reacted to secularization by a headlong plunge back into magic, Stark said.