General population and institutional elite support for social control of new religious movements: Evidence from national survey data



The cult controversy has now spanned two decades. New religious movements clearly have engendered considerable opposition, but there is relatively little information concerning the impact of the cult controversy on public opinion. This article reports on the results of a national survey of both the general public and institutional elites. Support for four specific forms of social control was assessed. The results indicate considerable support for controls among the general population but lower levels of support among institutional elites. The least support is observed for blocking publication of the Unification Church sponsored Washington Times and the greatest support is registered for prohibiting proselytization of teenagers by all new religious groups. The findings are helpful in interpreting the outcome of the cult controversy to date and suggest that the potential for redrawing church-state boundaries remains.