Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.




I begin each chapter with a brief summary of the religious organization's history. I then move into current beliefs and practices as well as the controversy surrounding the groups. The second portion of each chapter focuses on the web sites for former members, and I discuss the organization of the sites and the themes that emerge from the forums. I end each chapter with a brief discussion of what these themes might suggest about the forums themselves, the people who use them, and the original religious organizations. Finally, I speculate on possible reasons that online discussion groups may appeal to people in general, and specifically to former members of ICOC and DLM/EV. I propose that the non-physicality of the Internet, the diversity of interests of web users, the anonymity allowed on the web, the ambiguity of identity, and the development of a sense of closeness with other web users may each contribute to the popularity of ex-cult sites. I further recommend that online forums such as those on and may be a valuable new therapeutic tool for ex-cult members, one that at the very least deserves further research.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


Internet Forums, Cults, Therapy, International Church of Christ, Divine Light Mission