The book “How the Millennium Comes Violently”, which was written by Catherine Wessinger, is renowned for advancing knowledge on new religious movements in contemporary society as well as how some of them particularly those from Johnstown to Heaven’s have attributed to violence. She particularly involves herself with this study to investigate why some religious reasons that cause people to join religious movements can lead them to succumb to suicide or violent ending.
Catherine Wessinger’s remarks on the millennium
Catherine, who is a renowned professor in religious studies, begins her work by rejecting the term “cult,” as she believes that it dehumanizes members of a particular religious group together with their children. She equally argues that this term implies that followers of a certain religious movement are deviant, brainwashed, and deceived by their leaders. While other scholars think of the term brainwashing as a process through which a person can lose his/her capability to think or make free choices thereby becoming a passive member of a religious movement that thinks and makes decisions for him/her, Catherine takes a completely different view of this term. She views it as a merely simplistic and biased concept that cannot account for the complex state that might result from an individual’s participation in a religious movement.
Among the main features that lead to catastrophic millennialism include dispensationalism, which is a theological theory that states that God uses different “privileges” for different people. The theory explains how God will use different strategies to fulfill his promises to different people after facing different types of persecution. Rapture is another feature that leads to catastrophic millennialism, and it explains that people from different parts of the world will disappear mysteriously to meet their savior in heaven.
Catherine plays an important role in helping to understand how people engage in religious movements as well as how some of them lead to the suicidal ending. Her rejection of the term cult is founded on the argument that the term is dehumanizing to members of a religious group. She views the term brainwashing as too simplistic to explain people’s participation in religious movements.