The Kabalarian philosophy: Charismatic control and sexual convictions

Brodie, Renee Anne (2005). The Kabalarian philosophy: Charismatic control and sexual convictions PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Brodie, Renee Anne
Thesis Title The Kabalarian philosophy: Charismatic control and sexual convictions
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Hume, L.
Total pages 290
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subjects L
780199 Other
440207 Religion and Society
Formatted abstract

Operating in relative anonymity throughout its seventy year long history, the Kabalarian Philosophy is a Canadian New Religious Movement that became known to the public during the much publicized criminal trial of its most recent leader, Ivon Shearing. Charged with twenty counts of sexually based offenses including rape, indecent assault, and sexual assault, a jury found Shearing guilty of sexually violating the rights of many of his female devotees. The violence Shearing perpetrated against his own members in a religious setting brought to the forefront several interesting dynamics and questions, including Shearing's ability to convince members to submit to his sexual demands. To reveal Shearing's exploitative actions, the contributing factors that enabled him to engage in abusive behavior for twenty years need critical analysis and detailed understanding. This study, therefore, explores the theoretical models that characterize and outline charisma and charismatic authority, sexual violence, and power differentials that coalesced to give rise to an environment where Ivon Shearing was able to sexually manipulate his followers. 

While the theoretical models do help in creating a model potentially capable of predicting situations of sexual violence, the Kabalarian Philosophy's case identifies a significant obstacle in establishing a foolproof predictive model: members gave no outward indications that they were in a sexually abusive environment. The failure to be able to apply a predictive model of violence in the Kabalarians' case, however, does present the opportunity to explore the breakdown of control within the movement that led to outside agencies discovering the ongoing abuse. Moreover, the research gained when examining the Kabalarian Philosophy also shows how Shearing used his charismatic authority and control to demand adherence to his unconventional rituals. 

By relying on reputedly esoteric doctrine to ultimately justify his actions. Shearing was able to imbue profane acts with an aura of sacred importance convincingly. Since the image of perfection Shearing portrayed was so skillfully maintained, had the internal controls restricting members' interaction with each other not waned, his secretive abuse could have continued indefinitely. This analysis explores each of the elements and unique features of the Kabalarian Philosophy to see how Ivon Shearing was able to manipulate the movement's teachings and beliefs to engage in the sexual exploitation and abuse of his female devotees. 

Keyword Order of Kabalarians
Parker, Alfred J., 1897-1964
Shearing, Ivon
Charisma (Personality trait)

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:47:23 EST