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Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith

Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith is a sociological book based on field study of a group of Unification Church members in California and Oregon. It was first published in 1966 and written by the sociologist John Lofland. It is considered to be one of the most important and widely cited studies of the process of religious conversion, and one of the first modern sociological studies of a new religious movement.[1][2]

While a student at the University of California, Berkeley, Lofland lived with Unification Church missionary Young Oon Kim and a small group of American church members and studied their activities in trying to promote their beliefs and win new members for their church. Lofland noted that most of their efforts were ineffective and that most of the people who joined did so because of personal relationships with other members, often family relationships. Lofland published his findings in 1964 as a doctoral thesis entitled The World Savers: A Field Study of Cult Processes, and in 1966 in book form by Prentice-Hall. The book introduced the expression doomsday cult to the English language and since then it has been commonly used in various contexts.[3][4]

In 2015 the sociologist of religion Rodney Stark commented on the study:

Becoming a Moonie today is an act of deviance, as was becoming a Christian in the first century. Such conversions violate norms defining legitimate religious affiliations and identities. Conversion to new, deviant religious groups occur when, other things being equal, people have or develop stronger attachments to members of the group than they have to nonmembers.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America: African diaspora traditions and other American innovations, Volume 5 of Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, W. Michael Ashcraft, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, ISBN 0-275-98717-5, ISBN 978-0-275-98717-6, page 180
  2. ^ Exploring New Religions, Issues in contemporary religion, George D. Chryssides, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001 ISBN 0-8264-5959-5, ISBN 978-0-8264-5959-6 page 1
  3. ^ Exploring the climate of doom Archived April 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Rich Lowry, 2009-12-19 'The phrase “doomsday cult” entered our collective vocabulary after John Lofland published his 1966 study, “Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith.” Lofland wrote about the Unification Church.'
  4. ^ Conversion, Unification Church, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary
  5. ^ Christianity and Social Networks: A Lesson from China, Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media, 2015-8-20

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