Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1948-) Professor of Sociology, joint campus of Indiana University-Purdue University (Fort Wayne).

Shupe completed his doctorate in political sociology at Indiana University in 1975 under the direction of Lawrence E. Hazelrigg, a sociologist in the Weberian tradition who worked in the areas of theory and stratification. Shupe's research and teaching both continued to reflect a strong Weberian influence. During the late 1970s, he began combining his interests in religion, politics, and deviance, publishing more than half a dozen books and numerous articles in professional journals, analyzing the post-World War II cohort of new religious movements and the countermovements that arose in opposition to them.

Conducting fieldwork among several new religious movements, most notably the Unification Church, as well as their organized opponents in the anti-cult movement, Shupe played a key role in constructing the social science understanding of the phenomena. He incorporated a historical viewpoint of such movements into his writings, drawing parallels with earlier cohorts of religious movements, and contributed a number of concepts—"apostate," "atrocity story," and "anti-cultism"—that were widely employed in analyzing the controversy surrounding new religious movements. Among his most notable books on new religions and countermovement are Moonies in America: Cult, Church and Crusade (with David Bromley, Sage 1979), The New Vigilantes: Anti-Cultists, Deprogrammers and the New Religions (with David Bromley, Sage 1980), and Strange Gods: The Great American Cult Scare (with David Bromley, Beacon 1981).

Shupe subsequently diversified his research to include a separate, but related, set of religious groups and movements—the New Christian Right, religious broadcasting, and the role of fundamentalist religious traditions in the global resurgence of political revolution—that yielded more than a half-dozen books.

Continuing his interest in deviance, Shupe also produced another body of research on violent and abusive practices within families, most notably The Family Secret (with William Stacey, Beacon 1983) and The Violent Couple (with William Stacey and Lawrence Hazelwood, Praeger 1994). He combined his research interest in family violence and his prior work on religion in a new line on violation of trust by clergy, most notably In the Name of All That's Holy: A Theory of Clergy Malfeasance (Praeger 1995). Exploring in deductive fashion the dynamics of instances when clergy violate their fiduciary responsibilities and exploit their institutional trustees, this work constitutes a contribution to a rapidly developing interdisciplinary area of study in religion and deviance.

Throughout his career, Shupe frequently employed a collaborative research style. He worked with a number of other scholars in the sociology of religion, including David G. Bromley and Jeffrey K. Hadden. Based on his active scholarship, Shupe was elected to office in several professional associations, including the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Association for the Sociology of Religion. He also became an articulate advocate, through his writing for both popular and professional audiences, for religious libertarianism.

David G. Bromley


J. N. Lapsley and J. H. Simpson, "Speaking in Tongues," Pastoral Psychology 15(1964):48-55

J. H. Simpson, "Sovereign Groups, Subsistence Activities, and the Presence of a High God in Primitive Societies," in The Religious Dimension , ed. R. Wuthnow (New York: Academic Press, 1979): 299-310

J. H. Simpson, "Moral Issues and Status Politics," in The New Christian Right , ed. R. C. Liebman and R. Wuthnow (New York: Aldine, 1983): 188-205

J. H. Simpson, "Toward a Theory of America," in Secularization and Fundamentalism Reconsidered , ed. J. K. Hadden and A. Shupe (New York: Paragon, 1989): 78-90

J. H. Simpson, "Globalization and Religion," Religion and Global Order , ed. R. Robertson and W. R. Garrett (New York: Paragon, 1991): 1-18

J. H. Simpson, "The Body in Late Capitalism," in Abortion Politics in the United States and Canada , ed. T. G. Jelen and M. A. Chandler (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994): 1-13.

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