The major fault in the academic research into Prem Rawat's Divine Light Mission is the uncritical acceptance of most information supplied by the organisation's administrators and members without appropriate skepticism. From it's inception in the West, DLM not only engaged in the normal exuberant exaggeration found in any rapidly growing millenial spiritual cult but had a policy of means justifying ends in which "protection" of the Divine Leader was the paramount unwritten rule.

Sociological Analysis 1988, 49, 2:104-118

Slogan Chanters to Mantra Chanters: A Mertonian Deviance Analysis of Conversion to Religiously Ideological Organizations in the Early 1970s1

Stephen A. Kent
University of Alberta

This paper uses Merton's theory of deviant responses to social norms to interpret the action of former political activists in joining new religious movements. Faced with the contradictions of partial success and continued failure of social movement organizations seeking a redistribution of power in society, some political activists deviated from movement means, norms, or both, through their involvement in religious groups. In so doing, they transformed institutional means and norms of the political activist movements.

A cherubic, ice-cream loving adolescent guru landed on this continent in 1971, much to the excitement of his North American followers - all six of them. By the end of 1973, the now sixteen year old "perfect master," Guru Maharaj Ji, had 40,000 American followers alone, with one of the most prominent American activists from the 1960s quite literally sitting at his "lotus" feet - sitting at them, and even kissing them in homage (Gray, 1973: 39). As cultural commentators shook their heads in disbelief, former activists seemingly abandoned their politics and converted in droves to any number of new religious groups, and new religious centers sprang up in every major city in North America. Observing this phenomenon in the San Francisco Bay area, Robert Bellah commented that "the burned-out activist was almost as common in the early 1970s as the burned-out drug user … Every one of the new religious groups, from the Zen Center to the Christian World Liberation Front, has had its share of former activists …" (Bellah, 1976: 87).2



The data on these groups from the early 1970s was a gold mine for sociologists, and from a spate of studies some lasting contributions to sociological theory resulted. Theoretical work on secularization and church-sect theory comes to mind, as well as insightful analyses of conversion and ideology. Fruitful, also, were the functionalist interpretations of the socially integrative benefits that individuals accrued who involved themselves in these new religious groups. Analysis, however, of the transition from "the political" era to "the religious" one has not produced significant contributions to social movement theory, despite the intimate conceptual connections between social movement literature and sectarian studies (Zald, 1982; Bromley and Shupe, 1979b, etc.). Scholarly material on that transition has made contributions to understanding the relationship between religious ideology and social meaning, but with few exceptions (such as Richardson, 1973; Lofland, 1985) these contributions were little influenced by social movement theories, and in turn have had little impact on them. A few examples will better illustrate the point. Francis Westley, for instance, insisted that the religious groups of the 1970s represented examples of the Durkheimian "cult of man," and people converted to them in reaction to the increasing specialization, differentiation, and cultural and geographical diversification of modern society (Westley, 1983: 5). Daniel A. Foss and Ralph W. Larkin wrote what may be the most lively description of the politics-to-religion transition, and insisted that the religious conversions of activists were the result of a "life construction crisis" caused by "the contradiction between the [1960s] movement 'vision' and the declining possibilities of its fulfillment" (Foss and Larkin, 1979: 267). From about 1971 to early 1974, they claimed, conversions to new religious groups were "alternatives to the meaningless participation in a dying movement and to the meaninglessness of a middle class existence" (Foss and Larkin, 1979: 275).3

The most prominent of the politics-to-religion interpretation, offered by Steven Tipton, asserts that "[y]outh of the sixties have joined alternative religious movements of the seventies


and eighties basically … to make moral sense of their lives" (Tipton, 1982b: 185). In an argument that resonated with the perspectives of his mentor, Robert Bellah,4 Tipton claimed that American culture was in crisis by the early 1970s, and people gained a sense of moral purpose amidst this crisis by joining or participating in new religious movements (Tipton, 1982b: 187).

A related but somewhat broader interpretation of the relationship between rising religious expression in the wake of overt political action appears in David Bromley and Anson Shupe's discussion of the dramatic expansion of the Unification Church in the United States during the 1970s. They cite four specific reasons for the counterculture's decline (e.g., partial achievement of some goals; apparent insolubility of other social problems; internal fragmentation; and political repression [Bromley and Shupe, 1979b: 63]), but then they interpret the rise of religiously ideological groups according to factors that have little necessary or direct relationship with those reasons. These four reasons suggest that overt political action had been partly effective but at the same time largely ineffective, yet Bromley and Shupe's own summation of them pay little attention to the question of effectiveness that they identified. Following Bellah, they assessed that "the emergence of these groups [in the early 1970s] and the religious revival with which they coincided have been traced [in the previous chapter] to the continuing crisis of meaning and the erosion of traditional legitimating values and beliefs within American society. The discrediting of secular solutions and the failure of the scientific revolution to provide a metaphoric system of meanings to replace those it had weakened produced new interest in religious meaning systems" (Bromley and Shupe, 1979b: 87). While they had identified four historically and culturally specific reasons for the decline of political protest activity, Bromley and Shupe did not then weave them into logically progressive, historically specific reasons why religious activity (rather than, for example, mass despair) emerged when and how it did.

All four of these analyses see the conversions to ideologically religious groups in the early 1970s as providing resolutions to crises of meaning, and in doing so have continued the widely held but disputable assumption that religion is necessary to society because it provides a unique sense of meaning and order to social life (see McGuire, 1981: 21-41; also Bibby, 1979: 9-10). With the exception, however, of Bromley and Shupe's important work, these studies were not designed to analyze either the politics-to-religion transitions or the activists' religious conversions as social movement phenomena, and an examination of their bibliographies shows how little they were influenced by literature on social movement dynamics. It is an observation and not a criticism to say that the sources for their scholarly inspiration came from elsewhere, and likewise their contributions lie in other areas.

In an attempt to provide a conceptual framework that establishes the activists' conversions as a social movement process, I offer a complementary interpretation of the change, one might say, of the slogan chanters into the mantra chanters. Rather than claiming that purported crises of meaning caused activists to convert to religiously ideological groups in the early 1970s, I stress the causal factor as being a crisis of means within the political counterculture. Viewing the conversions in this manner, sociologists are able to analyze them as a social movement


phenomenon, the participants of which engaged in deviant behavior along lines first identified by Robert Merton several decades ago and subsequently clarified by other sociologists of deviance. Presenting my argument through the terminology of resource mobilization and social exchange theory, I claim that the conversions of activists to the new religious groups were innovative deviant responses to activists' appraisal of increasing costs and diminishing returns of political action, with activists-turned-converts believing that through these religious groups they were adopting new means to the same goal. In short, I view actors' conversions from the political protest groups of the 1960s to the religious organizations of the 1970s as part of a shining pattern of deviant social exchanges - exchanges whose potential rewards altered in relation to events within the dominant culture, the prevailing subculture, and the social movement itself.

The first step in theorizing about the activist conversions in the early 1970s is to develop a language that enables us to speak about the period precisely and systematically. In order to do this, I will utilize a number of terms from resource mobilization theory, a perspective in social movement literature that first appeared in 1966 and which has gained wide acceptance in recent years. As viewed within resource mobilization theory, a social movement is "a set of opinions and beliefs in a population which represents preference for changing some elements of the social structure and/or reward distribution of a society" (McCarthy and Zald, 1977: 1217-1218). Various causes in the late '60s - university reform, antiwar (in Vietnam), student representation, community power, etc. - all fit within broadly defined boundaries of a "power redistribution" movement (see Levitt, 1984: 102; Oberschall, 1978: 281 ; Albert and Albert, eds., 1984: 28-29), a movement whose aspiration or goal was "the revolution" - a term often used but rarely defined (Albert and Albert, eds., 1984: 38-39); and whose popular phrase was, "power to the people" (Levitt, 1984: 102). Broadly speaking, the movement wanted to achieve a fundamental restructuring of social and political power in society. Within the power redistribution movement there existed a number of "social movement organizations," which were "complex, or formal organization[s that] identif[y their] goals with the preferences of a social movement or a countermovement and attempt … to implement those goals" (McCarthy and Zald, 1977: 1218). Among the more memorable social movement organizations from the late 1960s were Students for a Democratic Society, Student Mobilization Committees to End the War in Vietnam, and the Youth International Party. Viewed together, all the "social movement organizations that held as their goal the attainment of the broadest preferences of a social movement" are called a "social movement industry" (McCarthy and Zald, 1977: 1219). Those persons "who believe in the goals of the [social] movement" are called "adherents" (McCarthy and Zald, 1977: 1221), and persons who provided resources for a social movement, but who need not be actual adherents, are known as "constituents" (McCarthy and Zald, 1977: 1221).

With these concepts now at our disposal, I want to focus specifically on the power redistribution movement in the early 1970s, a period when its overtly political nature was undergoing transition, and by most accounts, decline. The movement's apparent decline during this period occurred primarily for two contradictory reasons: it had both failed and partially succeeded. With hindsight we can see an impressive legacy of social change that originated in the turmoil of the '60s. The 'humanization' and reform of education, increased public awareness of both ecology and the burden of sexual discrimination, the affective rewards to be found in interpersonal and sexual relationships, the creativity of religious heterodoxy, increased international dialogue between the superpowers, and even some unsurpassed rock and roll - all of these achievements, in fundamental ways, stemmed from the power redistribution movement of that era (Levitt, 1984: 101; Oberschall, 1978: 281-283). Beyond these achievements, the movement's continuous antiwar activities contributed to the U.S. government's decision to withdraw its ground troops from Vietnam in late March, 1973,


two months after the government had ended the controversial military draft.

Those of us in the 1980s view all of these achievements with the grace of retrospection. From the viewpoint of the participants at the end of that decade, the picture, as many saw it, looked quite different. The social movement theorist, Anthony Oberschall, commented that "the U.S. involvement in the war did not end as rapidly and as completely as the movement sought," nor did the efforts of the social movement in the era "result in a major redistribution of power in the U.S. as was hoped by some activists" (Oberschall, 1978: 281; see Levitt, 1984: 101). Indeed, movement literature from the late 1960s and the early 1970s indicated how frustrated, if not despairing, many activists were with regard to the efficacy of their political efforts. Writing in January, 1971, for example, the Chicago 7 defendant, David Dellinger, already sensed the toll that seemingly ineffective protests were having on his fellow social movement adherents. He astutely observed that:

… the antiwar movement is paying a price for a period of ideological confusion and tactical mistakes. Even more serious, it has been struggling to overcome the feelings of frustration and despair that have gripped people after they discovered that neither a million people in the streets (November, 1969) nor several hundred schools and colleges on strike (May, 1970) altered Washington's determination to escalate its war of aggression in Indochina (quoted in Zaroulis and Sullivan, 1984: 343).

Even Cyril Levitt spoke about the sobering effects in 1970 of the Kent State/Jackson State killings in the United States (and the War Measures Act in Canada).5 "[T]he ante had been raised," Levitt concludes, and activists realized "that it was going to cost them considerably more to stay in the game" (Levitt, 1984: 105). Within this frustration, fear, and despair, I claim, lies the key to the rapid transformation of the slogan chanters of the late 1960s into the mantra chanters of the early 1970s. Whether the power redistribution movement actually had failed was not the point - activists perceived that it had, and they acted accordingly. I soon will argue that, in order to "stay in the game," frightened and frustrated activists simply changed the rules.

Social exchange theory, especially as refined in Jonathan H. Turner's (1978, 1986) clarification of Peter Blau's early work (1964), suggests that "the game" involves an assessment of rewards, costs, and profits in associations (Turner, 1986: 263). Individuals and groups seek a profit from their social exchanges, and they calculate profit as rewards minus cost (Turner, 1986: 263). Using these basic insights to view the political climate of protest in the early 1970s, many activists were assessing the cost of their political protests to be potentially so great, and the rewards so sparse, that continued confrontations might be inadvisable, even though they still believed in the power redistribution goal that lay behind their demands. In these circumstances, if activists relinquished political protest, then they protected their physical safety (even if the military draft still threatened young American men) but sacrificed the goals for which they had striven so arduously. If, on the other hand, they continued their legal or illegal protests, then they risked their freedom and their safety for a


goal that still remained elusive. Caught in this dilemma, a sizable portion of the New Left suffered what I call a "crisis of feasibility" regarding the means they had been using to reach their goal.6 In the early 1970s, the crisis of feasibility was not one of ends ("the revolution") but of means ("continued political action"). I propose that the widespread involvement of former activists in new religious groups was an attempt to answer this crisis.

From a theoretical perspective, resource mobilization insists, in classic exchange language, that a social movement organization "must have a payoff to its supporters," and this claim seems equally true for an entire social movement. "Aside from the joys of participation," the theory adds, a social movement organization's "major payoff is in the nature of its promise; its goals or at least some of them must appear to have a reasonable chance of attainment" (Zald and Ash, 1966: 333). Again in language easily applicable to an entire social movement, resource mobilization theory indicates that a "failing [social movement organization] loses members because they no longer believe their goals can be achieved with that instrument" (Zald and Ash, 1966: 334). In sum, a social movement will lose support when its adherents lose confidence in the feasibility of achieving its goals through its established patterns of social exchanges, but this insight leaves open the possibility that members of an apparently failing social movement may attempt to reinvigorate it by adopting a new "instrument" in their effort to achieve the social movement's goals.

One way in which the instrument or means of a social movement loses its attractiveness to adherents is when major societal or political events render those means ineffective. Politicians, for example, may satisfy one social movement demand among many, but in doing so eliminate a major rallying point used against them by their opponents. Politically disarming events of this nature occurred to the floundering power redistribution movement during early 1973, at which time the United States signed a cease-fire with North Vietnam and ended the draft (January 27), and then withdrew its remaining troops from South Vietnam on March 29 (Karnow, 1983: 684). Through these three acts, the United States government removed the most contentious issues that power redistribution organizations had used to gain support from adherents. Already slowed by activist disillusionment and fear, the power redistribution movement suffered a further blow from the occurrence of the very events it had been clamoring to bring about. The movement's partial success, paradoxically, was also its most dramatic failure, as America's disentanglement from South Vietnam took place without a revolution in social and political power coming to pass.

Writing about the consequences of a social movement organization's failure, Zald and Ash reflect that one consequence of such an occurrence is "the search for new instruments" among the disaffected adherents. "Either they search for a more radical means to achieve their goals within the movement, decrease the importance of their goals, or change the focus of discontent." The two theorists conclude with a suggestion that I am about to take up. "A Mertonian analysis of anomie," they offer, "might be relevant to this point" (Zald and Ash, 1966: 335). They are proposing, in essence, that disaffected adherents might try to establish new types of social exchanges involving the use of alternative means to reach the same goals, the same means to reach lesser goals, or alternative means to reach alternative goals.

In order to take up Zald and Ash's suggestion about examining the effects of social movement failure as a form of anomie, one must refocus slightly the orientation of both Merton's analysis (1949) and many of the related studies that utilized deviance schemes which addressed deviance from, and conformity to, dominant cultural values. Zald and Ash's suggestion - that we look at anomie regarding adherents who are involved in a failed social movement - implies that we could use a Mertonian scheme to examine anomie in a social


movement context - a context that might be deviant, subcultural, or countercultural to begin with. An extension in this direction already occurred with Richard Cloward's analysis of different access opportunities to illegitimate means of behavior among subculture members (Cloward, 1959: 167ff.), and Merton himself accepted the extension (Merton, 1959: 187-189). Put in terms applicable to my theoretical study, a modified Mertonian scheme can be just as useful for conceptualizing the type of deviance against the counterculture's power redistribution movement during the early 1970s as it would be for analyzing the rise of such a movement against the dominant culture in the first place.

Among several qualifications to Merton's original scheme, Robert Dubin's may be the most promising, despite Merton's own criticisms of it (Merton, 1959: 177-186).7 Whereas Merton had distinguished only between cultural goals and institutional means, Dubin distinguished between cultural goals, institutional norms, and institutional means. In order, however, to specify the importance of these categories for my study, I will define them in subcultural rather than dominant cultural terms. Subcultural goals are "purposes and interests, held out as legitimate objectives for all or for diversely located members of the social movement" (modified from Merton, 1949: 186). Institutional norms are "boundaries between prescribed behaviors and proscribed behaviors in a particular institutional setting" (Dubin, 1959: 149), and institutional means "are the specific behaviors, prescribed or potential, that lie within the limits established by institutional norms. [They are] actual behaviors of people; the things they do in carrying out functions in the institutional setting in which they are acting" (Dubin, 1959: 149). Institutional norms, therefore, specify the types of social exchanges that are permitted or expected, and the institutional means specify people's actual behaviors in social exchanges.

With Dubin's modified version of Merton's anomie scheme as our guide, two questions present themselves. First, what type of deviant adaptations regarding social exchanges did conversions to the religious groups offer in relation to the power redistribution movement of the 1960s, and, second, why did the adaptation of these exchanges take the form that they did? Stated directly, adherents' conversions to the religious movement of the 1970s were behaviorally innovative responses to the perceived failure of the power redistribution social movement of the 1960s, innovative responses that, paradoxically, renounced most of the symbols and social exchange activities of the 1960s' counterculture protestors, while still maintaining, in the broadest form, "revolution" as their goal. The innovations took the general forms that they did because the "defeated" adherents now were complying with the prevailing social exchange demands of the dominant culture (Foss and Larkin 1979: 271, 274) but at the same time were utilizing them, or at least believed that they were utilizing them, for the persistent goal of dramatic power restructurings.

The new religious movement, therefore, was a way to comply with the dominant culture's demands of power over social exchanges, while at the same time denying the authority of that power. Using Zald and Ash's terms, the new religious movement changed the focus of discontent from society to the individual, and this change indicated their adoption of new means to achieve the same goal. Moreover, these converts felt that their new means were more radical than ones previously used by '60s organizations. As the recently converted Rennie Davis told reporters about his new 'mission' in 1973, "Getting the knowledge [from Maharaj


Ji to the people] is the central objective. … Then we can do what the street people sought in the sixties - abolish capitalism and other systems that oppress" (quoted in Lewis and Thomas, 1973: 51).

Dubin's typology of deviant adaptations indicates that, as one type of behavioral innovation, persons or groups reject both the institutional norms and institutional means of goal achievement and substitute new ones in their place while continuing to accept essentially the same (sub)cultural goal (Dubin, 1959: 149). This general scheme applies directly to the transition that occurred between the 'political-action' groups of the late 1960s and the "religious-action" groups of the 1970s. Prior to the crises of feasibility and perceived failure between (roughly) 1970 and 1973, the countercultural goal for the power redistribution movement was "revolution" (Albert and Albert, eds., 1984: 247-249). The "institutional norms," and perhaps they could be called exchange norms, through which it believed the revolution would occur, included proscriptions against capitalism, authority and bureaucratic structures, the "work ethic," "future-time" orientations, deferred gratification, and, toward the end of the 1960s, traditional gender roles. Marxism in various forms was the dominant ideology. The behavioral means by which these norms were actualized involved cooperative, communal living and sharing; spontaneity in interactions and general lifestyle (including drug use); minimalist, "non-hassled" jobs; experimental anti-sex role traditionalism; "free-love," Marxist and neo-Marxist ideological study; hedonism; a variety of political actions; and little practical, future planning (see Albert and Albert, eds. 1984: 404, 418, 421-422, 428-430, etc.).

After the crisis of feasibility, the new religious movement rejected almost every one of the '60s institutional or exchange norms and behavioral or exchange means, and replaced them with the norms and means that often resembled, even mimicked, those of the dominant culture.8 The major exception to this pattern was with regard to religious norms and means, a point of vital importance to which I will return in a moment. Although variations existed to this ideal typification, generally speaking the institutional and exchange norms of the new religious movement emphasized pro-(adventure or rational) capitalism, wealth, the work ethic (Gray, 1973: 36; Tobey, 1976: 28 n.15; Robbins, Anthony, and Curtis, 1975: 50), bureaucracy (Foss and Larkin, 1978: 159), "present-future-time" orientation (i.e., "be here now" and thereby bring about the revolution [Ram Dass, 1971: 58; Rubin, 1976: 167, 198; Gray, 1973: 38; Tobey, 1976: 27]); subservience and obedience to authority (Kelley, 1974: 44; Rochford, 1985: 222; Robbins, Anthony, and Richardson, 1978: 105), sex role traditionalism (see Jacobs, 1984; Harder, 1974; Rochford, 1985: 123-137; Tobey, 1976: 20), (Eastern) mysticism or Western charisma, and postponed gratification (Tobey, 1976: 10; Johnson, 1976: 34-35; Levine, 1974: 38, 42).

Translated into behaviors (i.e., the institutional means), members of new religious movements lived cooperatively in ashrams or centers, but portions either of their shared wealth or of their private incomes went to support the often wealthy gurus or their organizations' religious or business ventures instead of going to support their cohorts (Messer, 1976: 64-65, see Rochford, 1985: 226-227). They worked long hours in religiously affiliated businesses and often created bureaucratic structures which were unwieldy in size, male dominated, rampant with titleism, and inefficient (Foss and Larkin, 1978: 159; Richardson, 1973: 468-



humanistic cultural Revolution


Revolution (social and cultural)


a) anti-capitalism, anti-wealth
b) anti-authority
c) anti-bureaucracy
d) anti-work ethic
e) early challenges to gender role traditionalism
f) sexual freedom
g) Marxism (some Eastern & esoteric religions)
h) present time orientation
i) present gratification
j) political action

INSTITUTIONAL MEANS (i.e., behaviors)

a) cooperative, communal living, shared wealth
b) spontaneity, drug use, long hair, colorful dress
c) participatory democracy or vanguardista
d) minimalist, 'non-hassling* jobs
e) experimental, anti-traditionalist gender roles
f) free love
g) ideological study
h) little future planning
i) hedonism
j) protests, marches, property-damaging, etc.


humanistic cultural revolution

Revolution (social and cultural through personal change)

a) pro-(adventure or rational) capitalism
b) subservience and obedience to authority
c) pro-bureaucracy
d) pro-work ethic
e) gender role traditionalism
f) sexual asceticism
g) (Eastern) mysticism/Western charisma
h) 'present-future' time orientation
i) postponed gratification
j) religious

a) lived in cooperative, (i.e., ashrams), but with portions of shared wealth or private income going to guru or organization
b) devoted to guru/teacher; renounced drugs, long hair, and adopted conservative dress
c) formed unwieldy organizations with rampant "titleism"
d) practiced techniques to enhance job performance (e.g., EST, TM, Scientology)
e) maintained male dominance in leadership roles and female subservience in traditional roles
f) controlled gender interaction, especially between unmarried persons
g) studied esoteric religious philosophy
h) espoused imminent millenarianism, apocalypticism
i) "offered up" work to God
j) practiced meditation, prayer, or psychological cleansing

* Based upon Dubin, 1959: 147-164


469). While working, they practiced exercises that they believed helped them offer their work to God (Ram Dass, 1971: 65-71; Rochford, 1985: 195-200; Robbins and Anthony, 1972: 201-208), and used ideologically inspired techniques that they believed would enhance their performances on the job (Tipton, 1982a: 209-218; Goldhaber, 1976: 134-150). Religious organizational adherents were devotedly obedient to their charismatic leaders, and chaste in their interactions with members of the opposite sex (Bromley and Shupe, 1979a: 173; Rochford, 1985: 101-122; Messer, 1976: 64). They studied psychology or esoteric (usually Eastern) religious philosophy, and espoused millenarian or apocalyptic doctrines (Johnson, 1976: 48; Tobey, 1976: 27; Gray, 1973). Perhaps the motivation of these converts was best summed up by a new Divine Light Mission premie who recently had resigned from Tom Hayden's Indochina Peace Campaign. As he explained in the autumn of 1973, "For years I have worked for peace in Vietnam and now I must turn my attention to the deepest roots of …. Imperialism, the gross qualities of the human species, and work to affect an evolution of this being, beginning with myself (quoted in Levine, 1974: 50).

In sum, the failure of the power redistribution movement's attempt to reorganize and restructure society presented its adherents with the dilemma of having to comply with dominant cultural values and exchange principles that emphasized obedience to authority, bureaucracy, and the demands of capitalism - all of which they reviled. The adherents' consequent involvement in the religious movement, therefore, was an attempt to lessen the demands of compliance by developing for themselves an alternative system of exchange rewards, which they did by both adopting new religious or psychotherapeutic ideologies, and affiliating with organizations that propagated new tenets. As the social exchange theorist, Peter Blau, suggests, "[T]he more alternative sources of rewards people have, the less those providing valuable services can extract compliance" (Turner, 1978: 253, see 1986: 268; Blau, 1964: 118-119). In this case, the religiously ideological (or 'new religious') movement complied with most of the exchange norms and means of the dominant society (thereby rejecting the unsuccessful exchange norms and means of the 1960s' power redistribution movement), but basically adhered to the earlier goal of revolution.

Having failed to bring about the revolution by political action against political and economic structures, adherents to the power redistribution movement in the early 1970s adopted new means to their goal by taking personalized religious or psychotherapeutic action against themselves. For the new religious movement, the revolution still would come, but its arrival would be heralded by a personal transformation of purified individuals, and its appearance would (have to) be a divinely orchestrated event (since bitter experience had taught them that it could not be a socially orchestrated event). Transform the self of each adherent, the new logic went, and the heavenly sanctified revolution would immediately follow if not coincide (Foss and Larkin, 1979: 271). Through religious ideology and religious organizations, therefore, the new religious movement of the early 1970s established an alternative system of "rewards" that stood in contrast to those offered by the dominant society.

One passage, written by an activist who had just heard Rennie Davis speak at Berkeley in April, 1973, dramatically captures the points that I have been trying to make. Having shared with others an initial incredulity about Davis's religious commitment, Michael Rossman (see Bellah, 1976: 80) subsequently reflected that:

If Rennie was a heretic, his heresy was not one of ends, but of means; and it struck us where our faith is weakest. We have all been struggling for personal fulfillment and the social good in the same brutal climate. Few now can escape the inadequacy of the political metaphor to inspire and guide even our political actions, let alone to fulfill them. It is not just a matter of the correct line; the problem is with process. All is accomplished by organizing. But was there an activist present who had not felt despair, simple and


terrifying, at the frustrations and impossibilities of working in the organizations we form: their outer impotence, their inner conflicts, and ego games and wasted energy, the impoverishment of spirit which led us to drop out of them again and again? Here Rennie was, proclaiming the perfect means to our various ends, the ideal, impossible Organization, working in perfect inner harmony and outer accomplishment. Lay down your arms, your suffering, and the Master will give you bliss. And yet to work in the Left, to be in the Left, has meant to bear these arms, the suffering; we have known no other way (Rossman, 1979: 22).

As the power redistribution movement searched desperately to find a successful method for achieving the ever-elusive revolution, the techniques and the promises of the new religious groups became beacons of hope.

Again from the perspective of social exchange theory, the flexibility with which people can interpret religious ideologies and texts makes religion a particularly useful device for adherents of a failed social movement who are attempting to renegotiate the perceived rewards and profits resulting from social interaction. Religious ideologies are so flexible that members of a suppressed social movement can take solace in ideas that allow them to project the achievement of their defeated goals in the apocalyptic future, blame the failure of their "righteous" cause on the enemies of God, or even declare that God has in some way actually met their expectations (Zygmunt, 1972). Each of these possibilities has profound effects on the valuation placed upon social exchange and social action.

Two sociologists of religion, Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, have recognized the exchange value of religion, and have formulated it into a testable theoretical proposition. "In the absence of a desired reward," they propose, "compensatory explanations often will be accepted which posit attainment of the reward in the distant future or in some other nonverifiable context" (Stark and Bainbridge, 1980: 121, see 122). As applied to this study, adherents in the unsuccessful power redistribution movement of the late 1960s would receive the "reward" of the social revolution, but would do so as a "compensator" in the millennial future.

Religious ideology, therefore, provided the cognitive avenues by which many former activists reduced the dissonance caused by their commitment to an apparently failed social movement - in social exchange terms, a social movement in which the costs of continued participation were far higher than rewards. From the perspective of the new religious movement, the rewards for participation would be reaped in the imminent millennium. Religious organization, in complementary fashion, provided the social-structural means by which former activists established alternative sources of rewards in contrast to those offered by the dominant society. If we view the new religions of the early 1970s as constituting another segment of a broad, social movement industry that was striving to achieve a humanistic society, then apparent defections or religious conversions of former activists simply were shifts of allegiance from one failing movement to another rising one, both of which shared the same basic goals (see McCarthy and Zald, 1977: 1235). Thus, to borrow liberally language from deviance theory, the power redistribution movement provided the learning structures which the new religious movement supplemented through its new opportunity structures (see Cloward, 1959: 168). Many of the so-called new religious conversions by former activists, therefore, perhaps should more accurately be called alterations (Greil, 1977).

By identifying the transformations in institutional norms and institutional means between the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the model used in this study may explain several disparate but well-established characteristics of the early new religious movement and its adherents. From various studies we know that participation in many religious groups in the 1970s facilitated people's (re)integration into mainstream society (Robbins and Anthony, 1972;


Messer, 1976: 61-62), while at the same time "interest in radical political change and in [countercultural movements and Personal Growth] movements tend[ed] to go together" (Wuthnow, 1976: 278). On the latter point, Tipton forcefully argued against a prevalent perspective that the new religious groups had drained political energies from the activist movement by insisting that "To depict alternative religions as simply siphoning off would-be political activists or 'cooling out' the politically disaffected oversimplifies the peculiar relationship of political concern and disillusionment in these sixties youth, and, they would say, it oversimplifies the nature of social change itself (Tipton, 1982a: 244, my emphasis). As the deviant typology offered here shows, the former activist "converts" believed that they were adhering to the same goals as the '60s power redistribution movement, but their rejection of the norms and behaviors of the '60s period in their attempts to reach the goals aligned them with important institutional norms of the "straight" world, and thereby facilitated their (re)entry in it.

Of interest to sociologists of religion might be the way in which the theoretical scheme developed in this study relates to earlier work on the assimilative functions served by various 1970s religious groups for former participants in the drug culture. In their noteworthy study on "getting straight with Meher Baba," Thomas Robbins and Dick Anthony show how youth movements "ease[d] the tension of the familial-occupational transition … by constructing value orientations and normative frameworks which combinefd] elements of both familial and bureaucratic role systems (e.g., bureaucratic universalism and familial difruseness)" (Robbins and Anthony, 1972: 192). As members of the drug culture encountered the disharmony between their expressive ideals or goals (i.e., "Universal Love" [1972: 199]), and the institutional norms (i.e., "expressive community" 1972: 195]) and institutional means or behaviors (i.e., drug-use [1972: 199-200]) that they hoped would achieve that goal, many drug-users experienced a crisis of feasibility analogous to what their politically active compatriots were about to undergo. By believing in Meher Baba as the universal, loving saviour, former drug-users-turned Baba-lover adherents were able to practice "selfless service" (1972: 206) in institutionally impersonal normative settings, thereby facilitating their rapprochement with "the impersonal institutions of the larger society" (1972:205). Thus, the strength of the theoretical model presented here is that it may provide a schematic explanation that is sufficiently general to explain the conversions of both activists and drug users to the same religious organizations in the early 1970s.

One profitable direction for future research would involve an examination of the extent to which many of the new religious organizations themselves declined as they proved unable to maintain sufficient rewards to offset both the costs of continued involvement and the allure of rewards offered by the dominant society. In such an examination, a crucial internal factor within the organizations themselves would be the fragmentation caused to the entire social movement by their exclusivistic religious ideologies. This exclusivism fostered competition among groups for constituents, participants, and resources (see Zald and McCarthy, 1980: 5), and we know that debates between certain groups in the early 1970s were exceedingly bitter (Foss and Larkin, 1979: 271; Levine, 1974: 44, 46; Gray, 1973: 39). Likewise, one should examine the depletion of personal resources that converts suffered as the result of irrational capitalist ventures by some organizations and almost insatiable charismatic demands by certain religious leaders. In short, extended applications of exchange perspectives, especially in relation to issues of deviance and conformity among 1970s' social movement participants, would be especially fruitful, since we know that soon after the Age of Aquarius dawned, the sun sank over the horizon. The day was short, indeed.



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1. Appreciation goes to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which is funding my study of sectarian groups in Canada during the 1970s. I also sincerely thank Elaine Seier for her helpful suggestions and patient editing.

2. As Bellah suggests, a list of former activitists who converted to sectarian religions in the early 1970s is striking, but many of the descriptions of the converts during this period neglect this biographical fact and stress instead their former experiences with drugs. In addition to Rennie Davis, the Chicago 7 defendant who became involved in religion and psychotherapeutic groups (i.e., tantric yoga, psychic therapy, Arica, and est) was Jerry Rubin (1976: 157, 161, 164, 182-189). The former Black Panther Party leader, Eldridge Cleaver, became a born-again Christian, as did Bob Dylan (Mackenzie, 1980; Gonzalez and Makay, 1983). A former draft-resistance leader whom federal authorities twice prosecuted, Bill Garaway, also became a devout Christian, as did Dennis Peacocke, who began his political protests in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and later joined the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (Lelyveld, 1985: 36). abbot of the prominent Zen monastery, Tassajara, was David Chadwick, who had been involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and SDS (Mehnert, 1976: 357). Another former SDSer, Greg Calvert, became heavily involved in Sufism and Gestalt therapy (Kelley, 1973: 48). The feminist writer and organizer, Sally Kempten, joined Arica in 1972 but not long afterward became a disciple of Swami Muktananda (Kopkind, 1973: 47; Kempten, 1976). The founding member of the 3HO ashram in Toronto, Ted Steiner (now Gurutej Singh Khalsa), was an American draft resister and anti-war activist (Khalsa, 1983: 302). Beyond Rennie Davis, the Divine Light Mission had a number of former activists in prominent positions. Michael Donner, for example, served as the DLM's Executive Director of Personnel, and formerly he was one of the "Beaver 55's" eight defendants charged with destroying draft records and Dow Chemical property (Kelley, 1973: 54; Collier, 1978: 179; see Zarpulis and Sullivan, 1984: 288). The director of the DLM's public relations department in 1973 was a former activist, Richard Profumo, who had served a seven month prison sentence for draft evasion (Levine, 1974: 42). A Divine Light premie, Larry Canada (along with his heiress girlfriend, Kathy Noyes), had given $75,000 to the Mayday project, which was a massive protest designed to bring Washington D.C. to a standstill in 1971 (Kelley, 1973: 33-34). Although James Downton's interpretation of Divine Light premies makes the standard argument that they were drug users who were looking for greater meaning in their lives (1973: 101-128), one of the four case studies that he presents in his book on the group included a woman who had been involved in SDS (1979: 50). A Quaker-turned-Moonie, Barbara Underwood, has written about her pre-Moonie political involvements in both feminism and a radical community (Underwood and Underwood, 1979: 31-35), and in 1971 the Unification Church had a program that conscientious objectors could use as an alternative to military service (Barker, 1984: 52-53). Even the Children of God actively were practicing draft evasion {Charity Frauds Bureau, 1974: 4,18-19). I discuss briefly several examples of political content in the religious ideology of the early 1970s in Kent, 1987.

3. Although Foss and Larkin (1979: 46) claimed to make a social movement analysis of the cultural transition from the social predominance of political groups to religious groups, an examination of the sources in all three of their articles (see 1976; 1978) indicates that they utilized few if any social movement sources in formulating their presentation.

4. In Bellah's catalytic essay, "Civil Religion in America" (1967), he claimed that America was in the third great time of trial in its history. (The first two involved the question of independence and the question of slavery.) "A third great problem" the American nation faced was one "of responsible action in a revolutionary world…" (Bellah, 1967: 38). "[A] successful negotiation of this third time of trial - the attainment of some kind of viable and coherent world order - would precipitate a major new set of symbolic forms." The new form of civil religion that would successfully reconcile the nation during this crisis "obviously would draw on religious traditions beyond the sphere of Biblical religion alone" (1967: 40). Tipton, in essence, believed that the new religions and psychotherapies which he studied helped people resolve the crisis of living during this period of trial.

5. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau imposed the War Measures Act on October 16, 1970, after two public figures had been kidnapped a few days earlier in Quebec by members of francophone separatist organizations. The act suspended civil liberties across the country, outlawed the Front de Libèration du Quebec (FLQ), banned support for separatist organizations, and imposed broad censorship restrictions (Kostash, 1980: 227-228; Loomis, 1984). Unlike Levitt, I have not included Canada in my analysis, although I believe that my analysis of the transformation of the American power redistribution group during the early 1970s has at least some explanatory power for events in Canada as well. On the Canadian power redistribution movements in the 1960s, see Kostash, 1980; Westhues, 1975. The material in Westley (1983) is based upon Canadian research.

6. The importance of goal-feasibility for a social movement's participants and adherents is suggested in the work of W. C. Runciman on relative deprivation (1986: 10).

7. While acknowledging that Dubin's extension of his deviant typology was " 'sound in principle' " (Merton, 1959: 178), Merton nevertheless criticized it on several counts. None of the criticisms, in my estimation, significantly damage Dubin's elaboration, and most of them simply refine or clarify it. The criticism includes the feet that: Dubin unknowingly developed a typology of conformity; ambiguities existed in his notational system in the articles' schematic chart; some of his examples were confused; and he failed to distinguish between attitudes toward a norm, a norm itself, and behavior.

8. Foss and Larkin (1979) provide a more discriminative typology than I do here, but we agree on what I believe to be the essential points. I find useful their identification of groups such as Scientology (or Transcendental Mediation) that antedated the early 1970s but still received large numbers of converts in that period (1979: 268). In my scheme, I do not separate these antedated groups from the others, simply because I am primarily concerned with the relationship between pre-conversion and post-conversion beliefs, behaviors, and goals.