Sect, Cult, and Church in Alberta
Nearly fifty distinct religious bodies exclusive of traditional churches existed in the province of Alberta when the author, a graduate student of sociology who was later ordained a priest of the Anglican Church, undertook his studies for this volume, the sixth in a series sponsored by the Canadian Social Science Research Council relating to the background and development of the Social Credit movement. In the course of extensive research Mr. Mann encountered, among others, Drunkards, the I AM Cult, Mennonites, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, members of the Holiness Movement, spiritualists, Rosicrucians, theosophists, Hutterites, the Church of the First Century, Unite Truth. He based his study on the sociological theory that religious movements, in order to survive, must meet specific social needs.
There was much community instability in a province undergoing a vast number of economic and social changes, whose population had jumped from 374,295 in 1911 to close to 900,000 by 1947, whose location isolated it from the traditions of the East and brought it close to the United States frontier, and which has experience successive booms in grain, oil, natural gas, and hard and soft coal deposits. During the 1920's Alberta was Canada's most fertile ground for political and co-operative movements. Through the farmers' movements a new faith was born and people were given something to fight for, although at the time the values emphasized seemed to be more secular than religious.
With the coming of the depression disillusionment set in, and the author attributes much of the intense religious feeling of the period to an attempt to find some answer to the problems of the times. Social Credit, under William Aberhart, was bound up with fundamentalist religion, and the 1935 campaign has some of the characteristics of a religious revival, with the electorate regarding Aberhart first as a man of God and second as a politician. The book indicates the nature of the religious conditions in the province out of which the Social Credit movement grew.
The author distinguishes between sects, those fairly orthodox Christian movements dedicated to recognition of New Testament Christianity and suspicious of ritualism and organization, and cults, which are bodies picking out isolated bits of Christian teachings and scientific or psychological facts to arrive at a new "truth". Thus in a sense sects are "pre-scientific" and cults "post-scientific". Descriptions are included of almost all the province's sects, cults and non-Roman churches, and information is taken from primary sources whenever possible.
Sects, Cult, and Church in Alberta documents a disturbed population and its experiences with religion. It is valuable both for its factual descriptions and its religious and sociological insights.
- Series: Heritage
- World Rights
- Page Count: 180 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.4in x 9.3in
"This study makes a threefold contribution. To the literature on Canada it contributes an intensive documentation and interpretation of the development of religion in Alberta and of the relationship of this development to the Social Credit part. To the meagre sociological material on sects and cults it is a most welcome addition which will..stand as a basic reference for students of collective behaviour. Finally,...the sect and cult are phenomena of the modern world which need description and explanation. William Mann's technically skilful, scholarly and sympathetic account goes a long way towards doing both."
William A. Westley
Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science
"This book gives an admirably concise and balanced appraisal of liturgy and doctrine, programme and organization of the bewildering variety of sects and cults. It is hard to see how a student without theological training could have presented this material in as readable a form."
American Journal of Sociology
"As a cogent interpretation in sociological terms of what happened in Alberta, the volume is an excellent study in social history."
Harold W. Pfautz
American Journal of Sociology
"[The book's] analysis brings out something in the inner structure of history, if ever 'history repeats itself,' it is surely in the phenomena accompanying the emergence of religious groups ... The general argument o the book is sound and stimulating and constitutes a most useful tool of historical interpretation."
Canadian Historical Review
"Mann's book is a clar and firm appraisal of the criss-cross religious culture which engendered the Aberhart movement. It is also a fascinating study of the incredible proliferation of sects and cults in a frontier community."
Author InformationWilliam E. Mann is Assistant Professor in the Department of Economic and Political Science at the University of Western Ontario, and is the former Executive Secretary of the Diocesan Council for Social Service of the Toronto Synod of the Anglican Church. His publications include The Rural Chuch in Canada, and shorter studies in sociology, on such topics as the social systems of slums and the sociological factors in Church Unions in Canada.
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