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Seminar Topical Research Guides: Cults and Alternative Religions


Choosing a Paper Topic Research Guide
This research guide from the Ross-Blakley Law Library is designed for students who are writing a substantive legal research paper and are looking for guidance on how to begin. The guide details sources for help in selecting a paper topic and offers insight in how to check whether your paper will add new information to the field of law.

Conducting a Preemption Check Research Guide
This research guide details the recommended steps for conducting a preemption check, as well as provides information on and links to a variety of resources for conducting a thorough check.


Bloomberg Law News (Bloomberg password required)
Focusing on developments of law concerning religion, including coverage of free exercise and religious discrimination.

New York Times Religious Cults News
This New York Times “topics” webpage offers news about religious cults, including commentary and archival articles.

International Cultic Studies Association
The ICSA provides information on cults and psychological manipulation.  Its website provides information on the organization and access to related resources.

Westlaw Edge News (Westlaw password required)
Studies, legal developments, and current events involving religions, from the mainstream to the alternative.


Alt-Press Watch
Alt-Press Watch is a full-text database of articles from independent magazines, newspapers, and journals.  The database offers an alternative to mainstream media perspectives on local, national, and international issues. Coverage is from 1970 to the present.

America: History and Life
This is a database of journal articles and books dealing with the history of the United States and Canada.

ATLA Religion Database
The American Theological Association Database indexes journal articles, books reviews, and essay collections on topics such as world religions, religious perspectives on social issues, and church history.  Coverage is from 1949 to the present.

Criminal Justice Abstracts
This is a database of journal articles related to criminal justice and criminology.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar allows searching of multidisciplinary scholarly literature including articles, papers, these, books, abstracts, and technical reports from a wide variety of resources such as journals, professional societies, preprint repositories, and the web.

JSTOR is a full-text archive of over 1,000 academic journals in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context
This database offers access to articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers on social issues, as well as statistics, biographies, court cases, profiles of government agencies and groups, maps, and videos.  Coverage is from 1980 to the present.

Philosopher’s Index
Philosopher’s Index is a bibliography of scholarly research in philosophy and related fields including ethics, logic, and religion.  Coverage is from 1940 to the present.

PsycINFO indexes journal articles and books in psychology and related disciplines. Coverage is from 1887 to the present.

Sociological Abstracts
This database provides access to articles, papers, and books on sociology, social science, and policy science.


Below is a short list of treatises in the ASU Libraries collection related to cults.  You can search for other books in the library catalog by using subject headings such as: Cults-United States and Sects-United States.

A Historical Introduction to the Study of New Religious Movements (Michael W. Ashcraft, 2018)
Explores the history of new religious movements study with an emphasis on the role of violence and gender, with a view toward the future of alternative religion scholarship.

Controversial New Religions (James R. Lewis & Jesper Aa. Petersen, eds., 2014)
Tracing the histories and the drama surrounding new religious movements, from the Branch Davidians and Kabbalah of the West to the Asian-inspired Transcendental Meditation sect to contemporary Paganism and Satanism. 

Cults and New Religions: A Brief History (Douglas E. Cowan & David G. Bromley, 2015)
Examining movements including Wicca, the Church of Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, Ramtha, the Unification Church, the Children of God, the Branch Davidians, and the Heaven's Gate groups, emphasizing doctrines and controversies. 

Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions (J. Gordon Melton, 2017)
Detailing the origins and histories of American religions with a heavy emphasis on Christian denominations, and also exploring Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, New Age groups, and Magick such as witchcraft and Neo-Paganism. 

New Age, Neopagan, and New Religious Movements: Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary America (Hugh B. Urban,  2015)
Exploring religions including ancient Native American religions, along with faiths such as Rastafari, Hare Krishna, Peoples Temple, and the Raelians, emphasizing the political, ethical, and legal debates surrounding the diversity of American religious life.

The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults, and Alternative Religions (David V. Barrett, 2001) (Available on the 4th floor of the library at BP603.B37)
Emphasizing the line-drawing problem of distinguishing cults from new religions, and exploring the tensions that arise from alleged brainwashing or violent activities within the faiths, families' suspicion of new religious interests, and pressure to stifle apostasy. Touches on dozens of specific alternative religions.