CESNUR - center for studies on new religions


June 17-20, 2004 - Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Fear in the Psychosocial Universe of Apocalyptic Groups

by Lorraine Derocher
A paper presented at CESNUR 2004 international conference, Baylor University, Waco (Texas), June 18-20, 2004. Preliminary version. Do not reproduce or quote without the consent of the author.


This study is an attempt to demonstrate the direct link that exists between fear and religion. First, we will examine how this link was built through history. The apocalyptic literature, written by the elders, translated into symbolism the extent of the social terror that some religious populations were experiencing. In addition, the medieval period abounds with examples that show us to what extent a deviation from the basic theology can occur in religious beliefs based on fear. Finally, today’s modernity, by its uncertainty and its complexity, induces fears into the human heart, at different intensity levels. The most anxious individuals will look at religion in an attempt to appease their visceral pain. Consequently, the process of objectivation of the fears transforms the link fear-modernity into a link fear-religion. The purpose of the analysis of this study will be then to link fear-modernity-religion.

1. Short history of fear

The first expressions of encouragement aimed at believers, who were living terrifying situations, probably date back to writings of apocalyptic forms, whether they were Jewish, Christians or Muslims. The prophecies of Daniel, part of the apocalyptic literature of the Jewish people, was written in a very hard social context of Israel. It is also the case of the Book of Revelation of John.

For those who don’t know history, it is hard to believe that end time movement is not recent! As far back as the era of the primitive Church, Paul invites the Thessalonians to go back to the work that they had abandoned, motivated by the strong belief that the Day of the Lord was imminent (2 Th. 2-3, TOB, p. 628-630).

The Essenes, (200 B.C. – 68 A.D.) according to the texts of Qumrân, were preparing for the big final war of the Sons of Light in concrete terms. The 4Th Esdras, apocalypse written at the end of the first century by a terrified man (Rochais), expressed a real fear and discouragement to live in this world on earth. In addition, although the Ephese council in 431 condemned the beliefs of the millennium as heresy, those beliefs survived to pass through the ages until today.

Obviously, the end of the century and of the millenary syndrome brings also a flood of contagious fears throughout society. The year 1000, the number corresponding to the expected millennium, scared the people, entertained the fears of the end of the world and reinforced the religious beliefs. Even if no major event that could have jeopardized humanity happened in the year 1000, religious anxiety survived, motivating among other things, the crusades to exorcise forever the “Enemy” of the planet.


1.1 Year 1000 – Middle Ages

We are body and goods subject to the devil and to some strangers, to hosts, in the world of which the devil is the prince and the god. The bread we eat, the beverage we drink, the clothes we use, and moreover, the air that we breathe and all that belongs to our life in our flesh is therefore his empire. [1]

This quotation from a religious authority of the Middle Ages is amazingly like the present apocalyptic discourse. At this time, the devil became the word that explained all the unexplained phenomena of the epoch: epilepsy, death, handicaps, natural disasters, etc. The educated transformed this folkloric devil of the countrymen into a scary devil, instituting a demonology. The 11th and 12th centuries will be marked by an increase in diabolic literature.

This strong belief in the devil added to the strong religious observance caused many people to establish millenarist or apocalyptic groups. Making the link between a series of unhappy events and the Book of Revelation, between the year 1000 and the millenium of the Bible was an easy conclusion to draw.

Jean Delumeau’s work sets the heights of a theology based on fear between 1348 (date corresponding to the happening of the Black Plague) and 1648 (date of the end of the Wars of Religions). This period corresponds to the time where disastrous events occurred one after the other in Europe: deadly epidemics, many wars including the Hundred Years’ War, the crusades, the Protestant secession, famines, massacres and violence of all kinds. The result of all these repetitive aggressions created a wide spread state of anxiety among the people. The psychological shock of such a large number of aggressions, the powerless feeling added to the incomprehension of the events, pushed the élite to ask a question: Would it be possible that those events were ordered by God who decided to punish his sinful people? This question stimulated fear and anxiety and created a discourse that aimed to identify and to explain those fears and lead to social intervention strategies (Rousseau, p. 85), which were tragic.

These people had to be freed from their fear and a very effective way to exorcise anxiety consists often to name, to identify and to denounce the trigger. The phobics feel better the moment they have affirmed: “I feel bad because...” of the neighbor generally, the stranger. All these mechanisms using a scapegoat have a therapeutic function, a tragic therapeutic. [2]

The clergy at the time took charge of the identification of those elements and by an objectivation process, made up fears, that Delumeau qualifies as constructed fears. Those attempts of explanation of the phenomena of these consecutive aggressions had a strong theological basis and took a sheer scale without measure.

It is in this way that Jews, witches, women, heretics, the devil, Satan, the Antichrist, etc. were strong images incarnating the constructed fears. Satan was everywhere, the anger of God was everywhere, sin was everywhere but above all, people had to check the most fearsome place: the inside of man’s heart. This continuous state of introspection drove many to neurosis.

Nothing could reassure the believer of the Middle Ages! This dramatization strengthened the clerical power and this disproportion caused society to drift aimlessly, motivated not only by the fear of evil but above all by the fear of God.

The figure of God became one of a terrible punisher, an image created by the terror felt by most of the spiritual consultants of the Catholic Church [3]. This terrible god would choose as ways for revenge the last judgment and the end of the world. Therefore, calamities, natural phenomenas, wars, catastrophes and others became the fruit of the human disobedience to the celestial father. It is the deserved punishment and they are only acts portent of a more tragic end.

They have imagined a god based on the model of angry or revenging man. The anxiety of hell was so strong that the members of the clergy actualized the reality of its conception, exemplified among other ways by the numerous porters of evil burned at the stake. Those fears were transformed slowly in obsessions and a new imagery was spread in the society. The book being a medium reserved to the rich and well-read class, it was images that provided the education. Thus, a panoply of paintings, sculptures and stained-glass windows rich in violent and terrifying images have decorated the churches of the time so that the message that the hour of the anger of God has come passed on to the people.

This construction of horror and terror induced by the idea of a last judgment was finally the only element of sense in the lives of people. All behaviors were acted in the preparation of the final Judgment Day. Living leads necessarily to death and death leads necessarily to being judged: hell or paradise!

2. Fears induced by the modernity

I take my Book of Revelation on one hand and the Time Magazine on the other; it is astonishing to see all the correspondences!  [4]

This is the unequivocal reaction of a modern apocalyptic preacher to modernity! Thus, a bit like the clerics of the Middle Ages, apocalyptic believers relate to current events in the world with simplistic explanations. Like them, they summarize the unexplainable in one word, one verse or one prophetic text. Like them, they dwell on the powerless feeling and the total absence of understanding through modern logic, which drives them to live in fear and anxiety. The apocalyptic believer perceives the components of the modernity as outside aggressions. Would his reading of modernity give rise within him to turmoil and panic? Would the apocalyptic believer succumb to the temptation of devilizing modernity?

The too fast rhythm of progress, the technologic advancement, the computer advent, credit cards, third-world famines, nuclear weapons, numerous divorces, environmental problems, the exorbitant sizes of cities, natural disasters, poverty, OMG, cloning ethics, etc. all these agents of modernity make the world very complex and very uncertain. It is precisely of those two characteristics that the believer is the most afraid. The uncertainty of the future of humanity is unbearable and the complexity of the actual world brings him to an instability that he wants to solve.

Here is the hypothesis to examine: secondary dimension of the actual apocalypse : fear, takes root in the firm conviction that the actual world escapes completely to the human control. The apocalyptic believer understands one thing: that there is nothing else to understand from this world if we stay within the intern rules of its organization and its evolution.[5]

Consequently, the apocalyptic believer will create himself, by religion, another society that he will put in parallel to the modern society. It is thus of the complexity of the modernity that the apocalyptic believer is afraid, not of the imminent end that he recognizes in the portent signs (because he knows he will be protected). He is scared of the actual chaos, of confusion, of disorientation and of lack of direction in a world without god. And the Bible, in the simplism of its interpretation, contains all the principles and all the explanations of the modern condition. Table 1 translates briefly the vision of modernity by apocalyptic believers.

Table 1



The Beast

Credit Cards, Capitalism, Rock Music, NU, Computers, etc.

The World

National Holidays, Public Education, Sinners, The System, Politic, Globalization, Science, etc.

Babylon, the big prostitute

Catholic Church, United States, Rome, Corruption, Drugs, etc.


Hitler, Satanic Churches, President of USA, the Pope, Rock Bands, Internet, etc.


The Third World War, Terrorism, etc.

Signs of the End 

Natural Disasters, the Global Warming, Pollution, OMGs, the Lack of Ethics of Science, Wars, etc...

As we can see, all the spheres of life are corrupted: political, commercial, artistic, scientific and even religious! Instead of attempting to change the world that he finds bad, the apocalyptic believer prefers to abandon this world to itself. He will chose instead to theologize his fears of the future by transforming them into a fear of the last Judgment that he will himself promote.

They willingly stigmatize, as Satan and Antichrist’s manifestations, some elements of the social structure and they have an innate tendency to consider some socio-politic elements as forewarnings of the end of the world.[6]

The apocalyptic preacher lives in a panic connected to a situation on which he has no control. For him, it is the interpretation that he is giving to the apocalyptic literature that is soothing by giving back to him this control. By purifying himself, by leaving this world and by inviting the others to conversion, he has a chance to be part of the Elected group that God has chosen, and consequently, not being part of the masses who are destined to the eternal perdition. The modern events are simply signs of an anger that is to the point to explosion: God’s anger. The emergency alarm has started to ring: the time of the end is imminent!

2.1 The actual account of Apocalypse: a translation of modernity

From the outset, we will establish the actual apocalyptic discourse (of apocalyptic preachers) based on a fundamentalist reading of the prophecies. The answers to humanity’s destiny would be written textually in the Book of Revelation and its interpretation would turn out to be the fruit of a revelation, reserved only to the Chosen of God. The founder or the leader of the group claims often this title. Here is an example extracted from a sermon of the well known apocalyptic preacher David Koresh:

You know that we both know that we want to know when the end is coming. Not just guess. But the key is when? This Book is about : there will be no more time! (...) It happens so we can go there. (Koresh)

It is this fundamentalist reading that brings them the certainty they look forward to, that appease anxiety induced by modernity.

This radical fundamentalism gives an authority to the sacred book : God’s authority. In overshadowing all human actions in this book, fundamentalists believe God himself wrote it! If you don’t know the Scriptures, you don’t know God! (Koresh) For sure, with this viewpoint on the Scriptures, everything written is equally true and nothing is false! The premise of their biblical teaching is defined in a clear way: promises of God on the one hand and what God demands to man on the other hand.

And this ideology, this deep belief possesses one quality: it is very reassuring. God is the strongest and He is the master of history. God has a plan and the End is part of it. Therefore, history becomes the realization of His plan. The program of the End is given in the Book of Revelation and believers only have to follow it. In God’s plan, everything has been taught, it’s all clear now.

To believe that God’s plan exists and that it cannot be affected by the catastrophes of history and human mistakes, it is perhaps to find a guarantee : God’s plan favours the believer and it progresses through history despite all opposition.[7]

The end of the world discourse is thus a call to conversion in order to obtain this final protection. It is motivated by fears facing a situation that seems to get worst, a reality lived in a dramatic way and a very uncertain future of humanity. The apocalyptic discourse contains less an offer for salvation than an offer for a rescue. Conceived totally by a fundamentalist reading of the sacred books, by an emotional and subjective interpretation of modern events, it contributes to deep fears in order to find a certain security within a God that is a lot more powerful than humans.

3. Eschatologism

Bergeron suggests this offshoot of the contemporary sect : eschatologism. Even if the waiting of the return of Christ is part of the Christian beliefs, theologians are not in a position where they could approve interpretations based on so-called revelations, on a fundamentalist reading of the Bible and/or on a simplistic application of the sacred writings.

This eschatological radicalism provides a dichotomist vision : sacred and secular, sons of Light and sons of Darkness, the outside world and the group, God and Satan. Everything is black and white and no gray zone exists. It rejects any compromises with the world that it considers fundamentally evil, perverse and corrupted. There is nothing on this earth except evil and from above will come down the kingdom of heaven as expected. Cut off from the human reality, everything becomes either God’s intervention or satanic manifestations.

The God-Satan opposition is essential to the apocalyptic believer. The latter is not afraid of Satan, he is afraid of complexity; he thinks the only way to understand it is by denouncing it and by reducing it to Satan’s action, from which make the apocalyptic discourse effective.[8]

These new preachings institute a new language. Any rationality is in conjunction with it. The hermetic language of apocalyptic communities is defined by an inappropriate expansion of the Christian eschatological beliefs, that is called eschatologism.

4. Relationship to Time

Everybody has seen or has heard about the famous movie of Spielberg Back to the Future where the fantasy to correct present time by a trip into the past can be visualized on giant screen. This movie constitutes a good example of the utopia in which some apocalyptic groups believe. Going back before Adam and Eve’s Fall in order to correct this sin that should never have been committed would reestablish the order of things on earth. Fundamentalism is used as a time machine in order to live today the spiritual state of the Primitive Church. As we saw earlier, the historical part of the scriptures is easily forgotten.

Conception of time is found in the heart of the millenarist utopia : a millenium of a thousand years, a date of return, a rushing time, a Judgment Day. Paradoxically, the apocalyptic believer’s discourse induces a denial of history.

The past, the present and the future simply don’t have the same significance anymore, their meaning have changed. The present is totally absorbed by the future. Tomorrow everything will change and right now, we need to prepare for tomorrow. The past, the one of the Primitive Church and the Old Testament, is preferred to the present by being careful to ignore 2000 years of history, which allows the believers to deny reality. The sect conceives itself as a new start, a new beginning, a return to the origin.[9]

The follower lives on a land of tomorrow, on a land that does not exist right now. He refuses to live the unhappy days of today by hoping for a better world. The end of the world will be the final act that will conclude the history of salvation where Jesus will at last have victory over Satan. The only value left to the present is that sinners have a chance to convert and the righteous to be tested.

5. Sociology of Hope

Hope gives movement. Translated into ideology, hope finds its strength in the emblem of God and in symbolism, dictating specific behaviors. Each group, by its particular doctrine, expresses in its own way this hope. It is the marriage of this hope with a theology that creates a moving force that keeps alive many communities. It is part of the utopia in the sense that it is, in its own way, an imaginary project of a society that would be culturally (new heavens) and socially (new earth) an alternative society. [10]

Hope and utopia like each other. One feeds the other and vice-versa. Each group has its own utopia but everybody shares the same hope: to forever leave this earthly life. The logic of hope is based on imagination that transforms biblical texts in a reassuring illusion. A real victory is anticipated by the utopia but in fact, followers and their leader live in a world that does not exist.

It is thus imagination that is part of the escape plan and which is used as an exit door away from the modernity of which they can not face.

But what sets the imaginary experience in time is the space created by hope: the waiting. [11] This waiting acts like a transition, a bridge, an in-between: the believer does not stand neither where he is, neither where he will be. The waiting gives him an appointment with the one that he has not yet become. The waiting is in fact the waiting of a metamorphosis. The promise of not being the one that he is right now gives him hope for change and makes him believe that the evil being he is will leave him at last: he will not have to fight this inner Satan anymore.

This full waiting contains an ideal (object of desire) that the subject perceives as possible and attainable : a better world translated by the millenium. He feels he has the ability to achieve this ideal and he wants to obey to what he needs to do to reach it. The Kingdom has not come yet, but tomorrow it will, it is just ahead. God is not reigning right now, but He will. Therefore, the waiting is the motor of action for the believer. The new world will replace the actual world after its destruction and then, nothing more will be a cause of a potential Fall.

The waiting is an action which transforms the ideal into reality: there is no difference between them anymore. The mirage is real. Believers are waiting for a theological reign, a theocratic state that will command the actual political states. They aspire to a god that will be at last their god, that will run this earth and that will prove that the righteous were right to believe. Their land is occupied by strangers to whom they need to submit: political states, religion, science, businesses, even artistic zones are occupied. There is only one thing left, to wait that the real master manifests himself and by waiting, preparing his return because the destiny of humanity is in their hands.

6. Fear in Apocalyptic Groups

6.1 Fear, as a Motivation to Believe

As we saw at the Middle Ages era, this process of naming the fears accompanied by the construction of an explicative discourse constitutes the first strategy allowing the mastering of the fears. [12] This is what happens today when a preacher qualifies as satanic the elements of modernity and when he places them in the context of his interpretation of the apocalyptic literature.

It is sometimes by recognizing, in the talk of a preacher, non-admitted fears that a conversion process is triggered. Curiosity will help this process. The future follower will discover, by the leader and the members of the groups, that he is not alone in being afraid of the same things. He was not able, until now, to put a label on his deep fears but now, they are well identified.

When fear invades a group, it binds people together. If we share the same hate, the same fear of this stranger that doesn’t have the same beliefs than us, we will be united. Hate and fear are as binding as affection. (...) We can easily find ourselves in this negative share. [13]

In contact with this new state of things, there is only one thing to do to escape the global massacre : to be converted and to join the group that is the only way for salvation. Fears are then neutralized by the adhesion to utopic beliefs. Fear of Satan is neutralized by the idea (or the illusion) of holiness; fear of judgment and of the end, by the millenarist myth.[14]

The millenarist utopia constitutes a totally reassuring answer to anxiety and fear of the problematic present of the uncertain future. This refuge into imaginary radically defuses the fear of the imminent Judgment of God. (...) The sect escapes to the anger that is coming. The Judgment, it is for the others, God’s enemies. [15]

Having hope in a safe world, where the lion will live with the child, removes every reasons to be afraid. Conversion is the only open way to the understanding of the actual world. We can say it is a simple and accessible understanding, but that leads directly to the reassuring peace so sought.

The other important element that acts against fear, is love. The new religious movements have elaborated an ethics of love and the newcomer is really welcomed in spite of his fears and his weaknesses.

Therefore at the beginning, the new member is living strong emotions. The meeting of a new welcoming, warm and loving community, often allows the experience of an affective encounter with God. These strong emotions incite the certainty of personal salvation: this experience has been felt within, therefore it is true. Conversion actualizes emotional and spiritual experiences of the new member: a religious feeling that will make opposition to the often cold and without emotion experience of the traditional Church. The foundation of faith will be installed upon the experiences of this new believer, and it will be for a fair period of time, unshakeable. The rites and celebrations of the community act as a reinforcement to the believer of the foundation event of his faith.

6.2 Structure of Credibility

We know that a convincing talk, a warm community and a lived experience are like the kindling used to start a fire. What keeps the fire of the believer lit? Berger talks about a structure of plausibility and credibility. The individual, if he wants to stay converted, has to organize his social life according to the new rules given by the group. He is leaving the main society but what he is really doing, he is moving from one structure of credibility to another. He leaves the structure of a Church or a society to join a new one.

This structure is somehow a re definition of the reality by a new language and it is by this hermetic language that re socialization of individuals can occur.

In order for the credibility structure to stay solid, the social structure of the micro society has to be logical with it. The organization of thought, the daily rules and the functions of each person have to have a meaning related to the religious teachings. The strength of the organization maintains the structure of credibility and vice-versa.

It seems that the actual apocalyptic discourse is strong enough to maintain some people long enough in this utopic belief. It is documented that 11 years is the average time passed in a sectarian group.

6.3 Fear as a mechanism of retention

The member thinks he is protected from outside evil as long as he stays within the group. But what happens to his protection from the evil within him? How can he escape?

It is this fear of the malefic agent within that prevents some members from leaving their group, believing they are moved by evil. Doubting means being rebellious and being rebellious against the group or the leader means being rebellious against God. This fear leads necessarily to guilt. In the Middle Ages, they advocated the regular confession for exorcism of the inside evil. In apocalyptic groups, they utilize public confession or denunciation of a sinner by a brother. Those exercises of humiliation have real power.

The evangelical radicalism exposes individuals to excesses and abuses. The moral rigorism and radicalism reject all forms of error. Consequently, the absolute of the teachings and their applications are very burdensome. The ethic of the sect is an ethic of the act and not of the person.[16] They are made to feel guilty for being what they are and inferior for not being what the group wants them to be (Enroth, p. 105). God will judge tomorrow but it is the leader that is judging right now. The state of perfection demanded to the members corresponds to a state of holiness that is so unreasonable that it is impossible to reach. This hyper vigilance constantly disturbs the peace experienced in the beginning and the certainty of salvation. The doubt takes place slowly, accompanied by a spiritual, physical and emotional fatigue.

Every fundamental doctrinal dissidence, every flagrant violation of the law of God, every insubordination opened to the discipline of the sect is stricken of excommunication, unless the guilty comes back with repentance or decides to leave willingly.[17]

Being expelled by a social order is always difficult but when the « outside » of this order is a world where Satan lives who consequently will lead you to the destruction with the sinners, this situation can become dreadful. These threats and the fear of the outside world break and postpone the departure of a follower that starts to have doubts, and are thus part of the mechanisms of retention used by the leaders.

As we saw, the community has allowed the member to create affective links with other members. Leaving the group means leaving these dear ones too. The charismatic leader succeeded in creating, right from the beginning, an affective relationship with the member. The latter will trust him enough to reveal some confidences and personal secrets. In period of doubts and of public confessions, the leader will have in hand tools to induce more guilt in the member. The believer will identify himself more and more as a sinner. This dependence on the leader, sometimes physical and material, is another important element of the mechanisms of retention.

The divine justice always hangs over the head of the believer because a massive intrusion of the theology filled his daily life. The leader exploits this fear in order to prevent the members from leaving. Some people call this practice “spiritual terrorism”.

“And He’s your judge upon the nations”: That scares me! (...) They don’t believe in God’s propheties. So what’s gonna happen to them? The verses 21 explains what’s gonna happen to them. (...) Sincerity never saved anybody! (Koresh)

The constant conditioning that the end of the world is coming and that the world is evil combined with the threat of destruction, constitutes an open door to fear and anxiety. The belief in an apocalyptic doctrine is more than a religion, more than spirituality, it is a way of life that brings together all aspects of humans: spiritual, physical, emotional and social.

Among other things, the believer went from a fear of modernity to a fear of the world, which is in fact much worse. Going back to this chaos will be harder because the follower will believe he will have to face evil that animates each individual that he will meet. Slowly, he will be aware of the utopist nature of the beliefs of his group and will accept to be re socialized by the outside world, leaving the credibility structure in which he had had confidence. He will have to go through a wall of fear that may prevent him from leaving.


In my attempt to establish a link between fear and religion, I observed that this link is solid throughout history. This is why it appears to me that the unexplainable events, even if they are not the same for the clerics of the Middle Ages and for the modern apocalyptic believers, constitute the same source of fear. Consequently, it seems that religion, in both cases, was a source of objectivation and an answer for appeasing the fear. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the people of the Middle Ages, probably because they were holders of power, chose to exorcise the fear by eliminating its objects while the modern apocalyptic leaders choose to get far from the malefic object by retreating from the society.

Can we say that without fear, many new religious movements would collapse? The analysis that I propose specifies that it is the apocalyptic groups rather, specifically with messianist-millenarist doctrines who would collapse, because the heart of their doctrine is based on a reassuring utopia, created by a very fearful and anxious leader. In that perspective, fear of modernity gives to individuals only an additional condition, among others, to open their mind to the apocalyptic message.

After finishing this research, I was surprised to notice that finally, the most anxious and fearful people were not the population but the clerics and the apocalyptic preachers of today. Is religion, in its radical application, sufficient to appease them?


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Rondeau, Louise. 1982, Le récit de fin du monde – Orientations méthodologiques de recherche, Quebec City, Study presented to the Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 71 p.

Rousseau, Louis. 1985, (Coll. Héritage et projet), « L’historicité de la peur en Occident : l’œuvre de Jean Delumeau», La peur. Genèses. Structures contemporaines. Avenir. (Acts of the Conference of the Société canadienne de théologie hold in Montreal, October 21st to 23rd,1983), Arthur Mettayer and Jean-Marc Dufort (dir.), Quebec City, Fides, pp. 81-98.

[1] « Nous sommes corps et biens assujettis au diable et des étrangers, des hôtes, dans le monde dont le diable est le prince et le dieu. Le pain que nous mangeons, le breuvage que nous buvons, les vêtements dont nous nous servons, bien plus l’air que nous respirons et tout ce qui appartient à notre vie dans la chair est donc son empire. » M. Luther. Oeuvres V : Commentaire de l’épître aux Galates quoted by (Delumeau, 1978, p. 448). All the French quotations are the free translation of the author of this paper.

[2] « Elles (les phobiques) se sentent mieux dès lors qu’elles ont affirmé : « Je vais mal à cause... » du voisin généralement, de l’étranger. Tous ces mécanismes de bouc émissaire ont une fonction thérapeutique, une thérapeutique tragique. » Boris Cyrulnik quoted by (Piquemal, p. 5)

[3] « (...) la frayeur ressentie par la plupart des directeurs de conscience de la catholicité. » (Delumeau, 1990, p. 14)

[4] « Je prends mon Apocalypse d’une main et le Time Magazine de l’autre; c’est étonnant comme il y a des correspondances! » Father Régimbald quoted by (Boutin, pp. 261-262)

[5] « L’hypothèse à examiner est la suivante : dimension secondaire de l’apocalyptique actuelle, la peur prend racine dans la ferme conviction que le monde actuel échappe complètement à la maîtrise humaine. L’apocalypticien comprend une chose : qu’il n’y a plus rien à comprendre à ce monde si l’on s’en tient aux seules lois internes de son organisation et de son évolution.» (Boutin, p.261)

[6] « Ils stigmatent volontiers, comme des manifestations de Satan et de l’Antéchrist, certains éléments de la structure sociale et ils ont une tendance innée à considérer certains événements socio-politiques comme des prodromes de la fin du monde. » (Bergeron, 1982, p. 221)

[7] « Croire qu’un plan de Dieu existe et croire qu’il ne peut pas être atteint par les catastrophes de l’histoire et les erreurs humaines, c’est peut-être trouver une garantie : le plan de Dieu favorise le croyant et il progresse dans l’histoire envers et contre tous. » (Lepage, p. 59)

[8] « L’opposition Dieu-Satan est essentielle à l’apocalypticien. Ce dernier n’a pas peur de Satan, il a peur de la complexité; il ne pense la comprendre qu’en la dénonçant et en la réduisant à l’action de Satan, d’où l’efficacité certaine du discours apocalyptique actuel. » (Boutin, p. 264)

[9] « La secte se veut un nouveau départ, un re-commencement, un retour à l’origine. » (Bergeron, 1982, p. 209).

[10] « Elle participe de l’utopie en ce sens qu’elle est à sa manière un projet imaginaire d’une société qui serait culturellement (cieux nouveaux) et socialement (terre nouvelle) une société alternative. » (Desroche, p. 22).

[11] Marcel Mauss’s theory.

[12] «  (...) ce processus de nomination des peurs accompagné de la construction d’un discours explicatif constitue la première stratégie permettant de maîtriser les peurs. » (Rousseau, p. 84).

[13] « Quand la peur envahit un groupe, elle a un bénéfice liant. Si on partage la même haine, la même peur de cet étranger qui n’a pas les mêmes croyances que nous, on va être lié. La haine et la peur sont aussi liantes que l’affection. (...) On peut facilement se retrouver dans ce partage négatif. » Boris Cyrulnik, quoted by (Piquemal, p. 6.)

[14] « La peur de Satan est neutralisée par l’idée (ou l’illusion) de la sainteté; la peur du jugement et de la fin par le mythe millénariste. » (Bergeron, 1985, p. 129).

[15] « L’utopie millénariste constitue une réponse totalement sécurisante à l’angoisse et à la peur du présent problématique de l’avenir incertain. Ce refuge dans l’imaginaire désamorce radicalement la peur du Jugement imminent de Dieu. Communauté paraclétique, la secte échappe à la colère qui vient. Le Jugement, c’est pour les autres, les ennemis de Dieu. » (Bergeron, 1985, p.131)

[16] « L’éthique de la secte est une éthique de l’acte et non de la personne. » (Berberon, 1982, p. 238).

[17] « Toute dissidence doctrinale fondamentale, toute violation flagrante de la loi de Dieu, toute insoumission ouverte à la discipline de la secte est frappée d’excommunication, à moins que le coupable revienne à résipiscence ou décide de se retirer de son bon gré. » (Bergeron, 1982, p. 223)

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