Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


School of Communication Studies


Lindsey Harvell-Bowman

Matthew Brigham

Jared Featherstone


Cults are a unique aspect of modern and past society, and their study is driven by questions of persuasion and communication. One of the key critiques against cults is their use of coercion and persuasive messaging to recruit new members. This study examines the rhetorical methods used by two groups labeled as cults, the Twelve Tribes and Full Circle, and the Cult Information Centre, an anti-cult group, on their public website domains. These specific groups were chosen because they are understudied and lesser-known with few publications about their practices. This study uses a traditional Burkean analysis of rhetorical methods through an ethical lens. The study found that groups often share the same goal, but their motivation, ethical usage, and implementation of ethical strategies vary greatly. The implications of this study show that in ethical rhetorical methods must be motivated by good intentions, untarnished by coercion and groupthink, and based on sound logic and clarity of thought.



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