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A 2016 course by Lynn S. Neal at Wake Forest University that investigates the history of specific “cults,” and the methodological and conceptual issues that arise in studying New Religious Movements (NRMs). Why are some groups called “cults” and seen as dangerous (politically, socially, and religiously)? This fear of cults permeates American culture from our TV shows to news stories to feature films, creating a powerful stereotype that obscures the complex history of religious groups deemed “cults.” The “cult” stereotype prevents us from interrogating why the “cult” concept exists and how it functions in American culture.