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The Cult Around the Corner:
A Handbook on Dealing with
Other People's Religions

Nancy O'Meara and Stan Koehler

104 pages, paperback

Foundation for Religious Freedom, 2002
ISBN: 1928575102

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The Cult Around the Corner

This book is dedicated to bringing tolerance, reason, understanding, and open communication to an often explosive subject: the involvement of oneself, a friend or loved one in a group that might be called a "cult" with all the fearsome baggage that word now carries.

The events of September 11, 2002, and subsequent reactions toward Muslims, Sikhs and others, brought home how small our planet has become; how actions in one part of the globe can affect everyone. Most frightening, how hate directed at a different ideology, festering to a boil, can erupt into violence that hurts us all.

This raw reality in our ever-shrinking globe makes more important than ever the message of mutual respect for the right of all to believe as they wish. This common-sense handbook offers guidelines for overcoming serious religious differences between individuals and groups.

Surprisingly enough, the book gives good advice for parents about how to prepare one's child for the myriad of religious choices out there! Very useful for just about any parent. Many varied real-life examples are given, along with their successful resolution.

No one religion holds the focus of this book, and it is not an overview of the religions of the world, but rather a basic guide anyone can use in restoring communication with a loved one who has joined a new or little-known religion. Advice on researching the religion is very clearly written and easy to understand and follow. Reading this book should be a first step towards resolving this sort of conflict.

This book is a good one for anyone who is concerned about a loved one's religious choices. This book is also good for anyone who has changed religions and may have relatives or friends who are concerned about this change; this book is sure to assist in fostering understanding and preventing a host of upsets in the future.


REVIEWS

"Such common sense which seems to fly out the window when someone is concerned about religious groups. Good job!."

Kay Lindahl, author, The Sacred Art of Listening

O'Meara and Koehler put forth a common-sense approach to a thorny, delicate situation namely, the embrace of a religion one does not approve of by someone one cares about. Many persons' impulse is to react with confusion, anger, and even a sense of betrayal. But the two authors counsel tolerance and understanding. And they do not simply identify relevant and helpful principles, but also point out corresponding types of behavior. Especially, they advise the reader not to try to "de-program" the individual getting involved with a religion or group one has a distaste for. Such forceful action will in all probability make the situation worse by complicating even more one's relationship with the one who has gone over to the religion or group. The authors also note that allowing the perspective of those who have an outspoken antipathy to the religion or group to influence one's own assessment of it and the situation is wrong.

The common sense counsel and advise seems fresh because it is so uncommon. The authors' main concern is the hatred and strife caused by suspicions, misunderstandings, and ignorance between individuals with different beliefs and practices. In trying to further a world where people with different beliefs and practices can live peacefully, the authors not only relate many ways to learn about groups one is unfamiliar with including contact with local law enforcement officials but also note that religious tolerance is part of the law and culture of the United States. One could not find a better guide to dealing with one's concerns in matters of religious differences. And it has the virtues of being timely, easy to follow, and useful.

Henry Berry, The Small Press Book Review


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Nancy O'Meara has volunteered on a national interfaith hotline for over five years, personally answering more than 5,000 calls and helping people resolve situations involving deep belief differences.

Stan Koehler teaches conflict resolution at Columbia University and also volunteers in a New York prison program helping inmates restore their self dignity to enable them to start life anew after making their amends to society.



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