Cuckoos in the Nest

Christalignment and Conversion through “Spiritual Espionage”

Authors

  • Monica Alice Quirk University of Sydney

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsnr.19188

Keywords:

conversion, spiritual espionage, new age, shincheonji, christalignment, mormonism, evangelical

Abstract

This article proposes a new term “spiritual espionage” defined as the practice of an evangelical Christian group infiltrating a competing religious community in order to undermine their beliefs and convert their members from the inside. This is described through the examples of Christalignment in Australia, Shincheonji in South Korea, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the USA. Spiritual espionage emerges as a solution to the evangelical problem of hostility on the part of New Age spiritualists and other “pagan” groups to direct attempts at conversion. It demonstrates an evolution of evangelical practices and presents an interesting problem for the study of such activities.

References

Pulpit & Pen. 2017 “Charismatics now using ‘Christian’ tarot cards.” 11 December. https://pulpitandpen.org/2017/12/11/charismatics-now-using-christian-tarot-cards/.

Church Watch. 2017 “Hodge connects ChristAlignment to Bethel; Bethel retracts statement.” 15 December. https://churchwatchcentral.com/2017/12/15/hodge-connects-christalignment-to-bethel-bethel-retracts-statement/.

Bebbington, David W. 1988 Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. London: Routledge.

“The nature of evangelical religion.” In Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by M. A. Noll, D. W. Bebbington, and G. M. Marsden. Rapid Falls, MI: William B. Eerdmans (ebook).

Bethel Church. 2018 “Bethel statement regarding Christalignment.” 5 January. bethel.com/about/christalignment/.

Boyle, K. and J. J. Campbell. 2015 “Baptism of fire: A comparative analysis of media coverage of the LDS church’s practice of proxy baptisms.” Journal of Media and Religion 14(2): 74–87. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15348423.2015.1051455

Christalignment. 2020 “Healing spirit song christalignment.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtDi7iGayEo&t=6s&ab_channel=Christalignment.

Davies, D. J. 2000 The Mormon Culture of Salvation. London: Routledge.

Dedmon, Theresa. 2017 “A christmas critique of ‘destiny cards’.” 19 December. https://www.theresadedmon.com/blog/a-christmas-critique-of-destiny-cards.

Doherty, Bernard. 2020 “Strange gods in a great southern land: A preliminary survey of the Australian ‘Cult Controversies’ 1960–2000.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 24(1): 5–30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2020.24.1.5

Fautré, W. 2020 “Coercive change of religion in South Korea: The case of the Shincheonji Church.” The Journal of CESNUR 4(3): 35–56.

Granqvist, P., A. G.Broberg and B. Hagekull. 2014 “Attachment, religiousness, and distress among the religious and spiritual: links between religious syncretism and compensation.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 17(7): 726–740. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2014.906394

Guenther, B. L. 2004 “Evangelicalism.” In The Encyclopedia of Protestantism, edited by H. J. Hillerbrand, 327–330. London: Routledge.

Introvigne, Massimo. 2020a “Deception, new religious movements, and claims for damages: The case of H.E. et al. v Seosan Church of Shincheonji et al.” The Journal of CESNUR 4(4): 49–68.

Introvigne, Massimo. 2020b “Shincheonji: An introduction.” The Journal of CESNUR 4(3): 3–20.

Johnson, P. 2004 “Discipling New Age and do-it-yourself seekers through booth ministries.” In Encountering New Religious Movements, edited by I. Hexham, S. Rost and J. W. Morehead, 227–243. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.

Kim, Y. S. 2016 “The Shincheonji Religious Movement: A critical evaluation.” Unpublished MA thesis, University of Pretoria.

Kozar, S. 2018 “Topless dancing at Christalignment ‘Workshop’-Does Kris Vallotton Approve?” Pirate Christian, 5 January. http://www.piratechristian.com/museum-of-idolatry/2018/1/topless-dancing-at-christalignment-workshop-does-kris-vallotton-approve.

Kumar, A. 2018 “Bethel Church responds to ‘Christian tarot cards’ controversy.” The Christian Post, 6 January. https://www.christianpost.com/news/bethel-church-responds-christian-tarot-cards-controversy.html.

Martin, L. H. 2000 “Of religious syncretism, comparative religion and spiritual quests.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 12(1): 277–286. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/157006800X00184

Noll, M. A., D. W. Bebbington, and G. A. Rawlyk. 1994 “Introduction.” In Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700–1990, edited by M. A. Noll, D. W. Bebbington, and G. A. Rawlyk, 3–19. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Olson, R. E. 2004 “Evangelicalism, theology.” In The Encyclopedia of Protestantism, edited by H. J. Hillerbrand, 331–336. London: Routledge.

Otterstrom, S. M. 2008 “Genealogy as religious ritual: The doctrine and practice of family history in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” In Geography and Genealogy: Locating Personal Pasts, edited by D. J. Timothy and J. K. Guelke, 137–153. Burlington: Ashgate.

Peel, J.D.Y. 1968 “Syncretism and religious change.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 10(2): 121–141. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417500004771

Perreault, G. P., M. Duffy, and A. Morrison. 2017 “Making a Mormon?: Peacemaking in U.S. Press coverage of the Mormon Baptism for the Dead.” Journal of Media and Religion 16(4): 141–162. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15348423.2017.1401410

Phillips, C. et al. 2019 “Re-Examining David Bebbington’s Quadrilateral.” In Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, edited by M. A. Noll, D. W. Bebbington and G. M. Marsden. Rapid Falls. MI: William B. Eerdmans (ebook).

Raiter, M. 2003 Stirring of the Soul. Kingsford: Matthias Media.

Rambo, L. R. 1999 “Theories of conversion: Understanding and interpreting religious change.” Social Compass 46(3): 259–271. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/003776899046003003

Slick, M. ND “What is Christalignment and destiny cards?” CARM. https://carm.org/what-is-christalignment-and-destiny-cards.

Tvedtnes, J. A. 1977 “Proxy Baptism.” Ensign. February. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1977/02/insights/proxy-baptism?lang=eng.

Published

2022-03-23

How to Cite

Quirk, M. A. . (2022). Cuckoos in the Nest: Christalignment and Conversion through “Spiritual Espionage”. International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 11(2), 159–178. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsnr.19188

Issue

Section

Articles