John Hall’s Theory: Violence in Aum Shinrikyo
Despite whether these actions have justification are no, new religious movements all across the globe have been at some point under scrutiny by those outside their realm of beliefs. Aum Shinrikyo is no exception. It was subject to violence when it suffered attempts to destruction and vengeance. In 1995, a Tokyo subway was the hit with a nerve gas attack. It was targeted towards devotees of Aum Shinrikyo, who were riding it. With many ways to examine and explain cult violence, we will look at it thorough the eye of John Hall’s theory of necessary predictions and precipitating factors to explain the violence of this new religious movement.
We will be discussing both parts of a Hall’s theory; include the precipitating factors and the necessary predictions, all of which include their own set of specifications. The precipitating factors include things such as mobilizing a group’s cultural components, using media to shape cult ideology, and using state authority. John Hall’s six necessary preconditions include a charismatic religious social movement, overall societal isolation through life boundaries, apocalyptic ideologies, new religion legitimacy to its followers through community, a form of social organization, and adequate amounts economical and political legitimacy. Taking a look at some of these factors, we will examine their relevancy as well as the predicting factors that contribute to explaining the violence of Aum Shinrikyo.
John Hall’s precipitating factors have to exist in order for violence in a new religion to occur. One of which is that outside groups handle media and can mould or twist the perception of the cult. This factor was present in the Aum Shinrikyo violence seen in Tokyo. Aum Shinrikyo’s stance on their manufacturing and use of chemical weapons was simply to protect themselves against ‘hostile’ enemies. Unfortunately, outsiders saw this as potential for acts of aggression and violence. These conflicting views escalated quickly, so much so that several families and media groups had created campaigns in opposition. Aum Shinrikyo was even faced with hostility from surrounding groups such as local neighbors and communities. Consequently, all negative publicity created a poor image for Aum Shinrikyo, which caused it to increase acts of oppression and violence. Therefore, John Hall’s theory of precipitating factors can be used to explain the violence this new religious movement suffered.
One of John Hall’s six necessary preconditions required for violence in a new religious movement is an apocalyptical ideology. This is an evident precondition in Aum Shinrikyo’s worldviews, which include the ‘persecution complex.’ This ideology hinges on several conspiracy theories, mainly surrounding government activities. In particular, Aum Shinrikyo narrowed it down to conspiracy involving the American and Japanese governments, the C.I.A., and the Vatican. The apocalyptic viewpoint of Aum Shinrikyo believed that all of these conspirators aimed to take down Aum, its followers, and its leaders. Furthermore, their apocalyptic views stretched farther out as the ideologies of good and evil, and that everything evil was out to destroy Aum. Therefore, one of Hall’s necessary preconditions, an apocalyptical ideology, is evident in Aum Shinrikyo. It is seen through their conspiracy theories; the idea that government and other powerful agencies are trying to take down and end Aum, as well as the overarching idea that all ‘evil’ is out to destroy Aum. Consequently these apocalyptic ideologies added to skepticism of the opposition, which they handled by extruding violence and aggression towards these ideologies.
Another of John Hall’s necessary preconditions is sufficient economic and political viability. Though it cannot proven that Aum Shinrikyo’s economic status has any correlation with violence of its new religious movement, their political involvement did play a part...
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