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Apologism
Prem Rawat AKA Maharaji

Cult Apologism

Apologism, also known as Apologetics, is historically specific to Christianity, it should not be confused with any expression of regret - Apologism is about justification. Apologism has become important to the presentation of Prem Rawat, it is inextricably linked to the recasting of Rawat as an 'inspirational speaker' and underlies what Rawat's critics claim is a process of blatant and dishonest revisionism.

As the destructive and harmful capacities of cult like organisations became more evident in the 1970s, numbers of individuals and groups published material critical of cults. Primarily in response to this body of criticism, various authors started to publish defences of cults and cult behaviour. While academically the preponderance of criticism of cults has come from Psychologists, Neurologists and Psychiatrists, the preponderance of Apologism has come from Social Scientists.

Prem Rawat has his own specialist academic Apologist, Dr R. Geaves of University College, Chester, (UK). Geaves was one of the first western followers of Prem Rawat and developed his academic status only after many years of devoted commitment to Prem Rawat. Geaves has spoken at a number of conferences organised by CESNUR - an Italian based Apologist entity run by self styled 'sociologist' Massimo Introvigne. At a 2002 CESNUR conference Geaves presented a paper on Elan Vital, neglecting to addend to the paper, either at the Conference or to its eventual Internet publication, the fact of Geaves' personal perspective on Prem Rawat. In 2004 Elan Vital attached to its various web sites, material produced by Massimo Introvigne and published by CESNUR.

Academic cult apologism has attracted criticism because of the lack of demonstrable disinterest on the part of 'researchers'; recent revelations regarding Gordon J. Melton  illustrate the scale of the problem. Melton is frequently referenced by other apologist writers and is a regular at CESNUR conferences, and is with Introvigne, a co founder of CESNUR.

The object of cult apologism is the creation of an aura of legitimacy for cultic organisations, by treating the activities, behaviours and beliefs of those organisations and their adherents as having comparable value to any other activity, behaviour or belief. The academic environment has provided a legitimisation of this uncritical approach, the consequences of this when extended to the non specialist environment are demonstrable by the hagiographic treatment of Prem Rawat's biography on Wikipedia.

 

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