Massimo Introvigne

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Massimo Introvigne
head and shoulders photograph of a man
Born (1955-06-14) June 14, 1955 (age 64)
OccupationSociologist, Author

Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955, in Rome) is an Italian patent/trademark lawyer and independent scholar.[1] He is a founder and the managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), a Turin-based organization which has been described as "the highest profile lobbying and information group for controversial religions".[1]

Life and work[edit]

Introvigne is the author of tens of books and hundreds of articles in the field of sociology of religion.

Introvigne is a proponent of the theory of religious economy developed by Rodney Stark.[2] Introvigne has participated in a series of academic projects on the influence of esoteric movements on modern art, including "Enchanted Modernities",[3] "Theosophical Appropriations"[4] and others.

Introvigne was born in Rome on June 14, 1955.[citation needed] From 1970 to 1973, Introvigne attended the Instituto sociale, the Jesuit high school of Turin.[5] In 1972, he joined conservative group Alleanza Cattolica.[5][better source needed] In 1975, Introvigne earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Rome's Gregorian University.[5] In 1979, Introvigne earned his J.D. from University of Turin.[5][better source needed]

In 1980, Introvigne began work as an intellectual-property attorney at the firm Jacobacci & Partners.[6][better source needed] In 1986, he became a partner.[7]

In 1982, Introvigne married Silvia Scaranari.[citation needed]

In 1987, Introvigne presented a paper at a conference of the Mormon History Association. The following year, he founded the CENSUR; He has since served as the group director.[8] He taught short courses in the sociology of religious movements at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum. [9] In 2005–2006, Introvigne taught at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.[citation needed]

From 2008 to 2016 he has served as vice-president of the Catholic movement Alleanza Cattolica[10]

In 2010, Introvigne was included in an advisory board to the Italian Ministry for Internal Affairs, advising on issues related to Islamic minority in Italy. [11] In 2011, Introvigne was a "Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions" of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.[12]

Beginning in 2012, Introvigne was listed as a "invited professor of sociology of religious movements" by the Pontifical Salesian University[13][better source needed] In 2012, Introvigne was appointed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be chairperson of the newly instituted Observatory of Religious Liberty.[14]. He maintained this position until 2016.

In 2013, Introvigne theorized that the election of Pope Francis led some 'lapsed' Catholics to return to the church.[15][16] In 2016, Introvigne published Satanism: A Social History (Leiden, Brill).[17][18] In 2018, Oxford University Press published his book on the Plymouth Brethren.[19]

Beginning in 2018, Introvigne was editor-in-chief of the daily magazine on religion and human rights in China, Bitter Winter.[20][21]

Introvigne is a member of the board of the journal Nova Religio[22] and the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.[23].[better source needed] He is also a member of the "Sociology of Religion" group of the Italian Association of Sociology.[24]

Introvigne and new religions[edit]

Introvigne is the director, and a founder, of the Center for Studies on New Religions CESNUR. In 2006, Introvigne testified on behalf of Scientologists in a criminal trial in Lyon. [1]

Introvigne is a vocal critic of what he terms the "anti-cult movement".[25] Particularly in France, after the publication of the 1997 report on cults by the French government, of which Introvigne was one of the main critics, journalists hostile to the cults called Introvigne a "cult apologist" and tried to construct his relations with the Catholic Alliance and Silvio Berlusconi's then ruling party as "right-wing extremism," a serious accusation in France.[26] Introvigne himself answered this criticism by stressing that his scholarly and political activities were not connected.[27] In 2016, Introvigne left all his positions in the Catholic Alliance.[28] Critics continue to object, however, to what they see as his defense of "cults" under the banner of religious liberty.[29]

Introvigne has written "The demise of the largest American anti-cult organization, the Cult Awareness Network, finally occurred because of its involvement in a violent and illegal activity, i.e. forcible deprogramming."[30] He agreed with the view that "the great majority of members of the new religious movements derive positive experience from their membership".[30]

Anti-cult activists and scholars sympathetic to the anti-cult movement such as Thomas Gandow, Stephen Kent, as well as Benjamin Zablocki see Introvigne's framing of scholars and academics (those who agree with CESNUR) vs. anti-cult movement (those who do not agree with CESNUR regardless of their academic qualifications) as biased, not to mention the term anti-cult terrorism he coined.[31]

On the other hand, Introvigne says that "anti-cult terrorism" has not always been a metaphorical term, pointing out that:

acts of terrorism in the strictest sense of the word were indeed perpetrated in France in 1996 and later. Premises of both the Unification Church and New Acropolis (a movement headquartered in Argentina) were bombed in Paris.[30]

One of the main points which are questioned regarding Introvigne's work is his attitude regarding brainwashing and the CESNUR information he presents on that subject. Gandow refers to what he calls the "APA-Lie" (i.e. the way Introvigne presented the position of the American Psychological Association on brainwashing) as a scientific scandal.[32] Introvigne's reply[33] was regarded as useful even by critics (see e.g. the review by Jean-Bruno Renard in "Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions", 52ème année, avril-juin 2007, no. 138, p. 97–99, of the book on the controversy Introvigne co-authored in French with Dick Anthony), since he went to great lengths to obtain, post on the Internet, and later publish crucial and previously unavailable documents of the original U.S. brainwashing controversy.[34]

His Encyclopedia of Religion in Italy was one of the most reviewed books in Italy in the year of its publication and those reviews were positive for the most part. Many of the reviews came from the most important newspapers of the country.[35]

Sociologist Roberto Cipriani has called Introvigne "one of the Italian sociologists of religion most well-known abroad, and among the world's leading scholars of new religious movements".[36]

Popular Culture and Vampires[edit]

Introvigne is also director of CESPOC, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture,[37] an institution which hosts his large collections of dime novels and comics, and collects his articles on these subjects. Introvigne's CESPOC collection hosts inter alia the largest collection in Europe of dime novels and other materials featuring the literary character Nick Carter. In 2006, Introvigne published a bibliography of Nick Carter's Italian translations in the specialized magazine Dime Novel Round-Up (vol. 75, no. 1, February 2006, pp. 12–15). The collection has also important holdings and earlier editions of Fantômas, Zorro, Dracula, and other characters which defined the popular culture of the 20th century.[38] In 2008, with the help of the American scholar J. Gordon Melton, Introvigne published on CESNUR's web site a bibliography of English-language vampire comics between 1935 and 2000, which includes more than 11,000 entries and is defined as a "lifetime achievement" by the authors.[39]


Melton was the American President of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, and Introvigne was the Italian director of the society, which included the leading academic scholars in the field of the literary and historical study of the vampire myth.[40][41] The Italian and American chapters however ceased their activities with the death of the Society's founder, Romanian vampire scholar Nicolae Paduraru (1937-2009),[42] although the Romanian, Canadian, and Russian chapters are still active. An informative page in Italian about the society is still hosted at Introvigne's CESNUR institute for the study of new religious movements, with which Melton is actively involved.[43] Through this page it is still possible to access the bulletins of the Society published between 2001 and 2008.

Melton and Introvigne also participated in several international conferences on vampires, including one on "Buffy, the vampire slayer", in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2004. Introvigne was titled as: "president" of the Transylvanian Society in Italy, and Dr. Melton was titled as the "Count Dracula Ambassador to the U.S".[44] The large bibliography on vampire comics Introvigne and Melton posted on CESNUR's Web site in 2008 is discussed above, under "Work".

In 1997, J. Gordon Melton and Introvigne organized an event at the Westin Hotel in Los Angeles where 1,500 attendees came dressed as vampires for: "creative writing contest, Gothic rock music and theatrical performances".[40] Melton came dressed as Dracula.[45] Apart from creative dressing, the conference also included scholarly papers, including one by Introvigne on vampire scares.[46]



  • Le nuove Religioni, SugarCo (1989), ISBN 978-8871980904.
  • Il cappello del mago: i nuovi movimenti magici dallo spiritismo al satanismo, SugarCo (1990), ISBN 978-8871980218.
  • Il ritorno dello gnosticismo , SugarCo (1993), ISBN 88-7198-216-9.
  • Les Mormons, Brepols (December 30, 1996), ISBN 2-503-50063-3.
  • The Unification Church (Studies in Contemporary Religions, 2), Signature Books (September 1, 2000) ISBN 1-56085-145-7.
  • Rodney Stark and Massimo Introvigne, Dio è tornato. Indagine sulla rivincita delle religioni in Occidente, Piemme (2003), ISBN 978-8838465840.
  • Laurence R. Iannaccone and Massimo Introvigne, Il Mercato dei Martiri. L'industria del terrorismo suicida, Lindau (2004), ISBN 978-8871805146.
  • Satanism: A Social History, Brill (2016), ISBN 978-90-04-28828-7.
  • The Plymouth Brethren, Oxford University Press (2018), ISBN 9780190842420.
  • Il libro nero della persecuzione religiosa in Cina, SugarCo (2019), ISBN 978-88-7198-753-8.


  • New Age is Mistaken Answer to Search For Meaning, Interview with Introvigne, Turin, Italy, March 19, 2003 (Zenit News Agency). Available online
  • "The Secular Anti-Cult and the Religious Counter-Cult Movement: Strange Bedfellows or Future Enemies?" in New Religions and the New Europe, Robert Towler, ed. (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1995), pp. 32–54.
  • "Christian New Religious Movements: A Roman Catholic Perspective" and "New Religious Movements and the Law: A Comparison between Two Different Legal Systems – The United States and Italy," in New Religions and New Religiosity, Eileen Barker and Margit Warburg, eds., (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1998), pp. 243–261 and 276–290.
  • "Children of the Underground Temple: Growing Up in Damanhur," in Children in New Religions, Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, eds., (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999), pp. 138–149.
  • "After the New Age: Is There a Next Age?" in New Age Religion and Globalization, Mikael Rothstein, ed., (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2001), pp. 58–69.
  • "Lectorium Rosicrucianum: A Dutch Movement Becomes International," in New Religions in a Postmodern World, Mikael Rothstein and Reender Kranenborg, eds., (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2003), pp. 11–22.
  • "Occult Masters and the Temple of Doom: The Fiery End of the Solar Temple," (co-authored with Jean-Francois Mayer) in Cults, Religion and Violence, David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton, eds., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 170–188.


  1. ^ a b c Kent, Stephen A. (January 2001). "The French and German versus American debate over 'new religions', Scientology and human rights". Marburg Journal of Religion. 6 (1): 15.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Enchanted Modernities - Theosophy and the arts". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  4. ^ Video on YouTube
  5. ^ a b c d, moreorless -. "Massimo Introvigne, Twenty Years of CESNUR". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Liaisons Dangereuses Des Universités Lyonnaises , L'Humanité, June 27, 2001 by Serge Garde
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Alleanza Cattolica – Catholic Alliance – a deepening". Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  11. ^ "Viminale: presentato il "Comitato per l'Islam italiano"". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  12. ^ "Italian Catholic activist to head OSCE office on religious discrimination : News Headlines". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  13. ^ Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 13, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^, moreorless -. "Recensioni e interventi sull 'effetto Francesco'". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "Eileen Barker, "Book review of Satanism: A Social History." Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe, vol. 9, no. 1 (2016), pp. 82-84.
  18. ^ "Per Faxneld, Book reviev of Satanism: A Social History." Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion, March 7, 2017.
  19. ^ Massimo Introvigne, The Plymouth Brethren, New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  20. ^ "Bitter Winter". Bitter Winter. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Editorial - Nova Religio". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  23. ^ "Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion - Editorial Board". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  24. ^ "Italian Association of Sociology". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  25. ^
  26. ^ See for example Serge Faubert, "Le vrai visage des sectes", L'Evenement du jeudi, 4-10.11.1993, pp. 44-48; Bruno Fouchereau, "Les sectes, cheval de Troie des Etats-Unis en Europe," Le Monde Diplomatique, May 2001, 1. For a reconstruction of the whole French controversy from a point of view quite favorable to Introvigne, see the book by the Canadian academic Susan Palmer, The New Heretics of France: Minority Religions, la Republique, and the Government-Sponsored "War on Sects", New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780199735211.
  27. ^ See Massimo Introvigne, "CESNUR: a short history", In: Gallagher, Eugene V, (ed.), "Cult Wars" in Historical Perspective: New and Minority Religions. Routledge. pp. 23–31. ISBN 978-1-317-15666-6.
  28. ^ See "Massimo Introvigne non è più il reggente nazionale vicario di Alleanza Cattolica," La fede quotidiana, 28 April 2016, "Massimo Introvigne non è più il reggente nazionale vicario di Alleanza Cattolica". Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  29. ^ See e.g. the article by Italian anti-cultist Luigi Corvaglia (who, however, ignore that Introvigne left his role in Alleanza Cattolica the previous year), "Lo strano caso dell'avvocato Introvigne", "Lo strano caso dell'avvocato Introvigne". Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  30. ^ a b c MoreOrLess. "CESNUR - "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  31. ^ Massimo Introvigne: "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet (presented at the Association for the Sociology of Religion annual conf.), August 5, 1999
  32. ^ Thomas Gandow: Die APA-Lüge – ein Wissenschaftsskandal (german), Berliner Dialog 1–98, 1998, p.27
  33. ^ Massimo Introvigne: "Liar, Liar": Brainwashing, CESNUR and APA, 1998
  34. ^ "CESNUR – APA Documents on Brainwashing". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  35. ^ "Enciclopedia delle Religioni in Italia". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  36. ^ Roberto Cipriani, Nuovo manuale di sociologia della religione, 2nd ed., Rome: Borla, 2009, p. 470
  37. ^, moreorless -. "CESPOC - Center for Studies on Popular Culture - Centro Studi sulla Popular Culture". (in Italian). Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  38. ^ [ "About the CESPOC Library"
  39. ^ "English-Language Vampire Comics, 1935–2000". Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  40. ^ a b "Coffin Break To Vampires Everywhere, Fangs For The Memories", The Los Angeles Daily News – July 23, 1997. Carol Bidwell.
  41. ^ The Board of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, American Chapter.
  42. ^, moreorless -. "Nicolae Paduraru (1937-2009), founder of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula: An Obituary". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  43. ^ "Transylvanian Society of Dracula - Italy". Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  44. ^ Buffy, the vampire slayer, (May 28–30, Nashville, TN)., CESNUR website.
    Dr. Massimo Introvigne, president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula chapter in Italy, Count Dracula Ambassador to Italy – Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Count Dracula Ambassador to the U.S.
  45. ^ J. Gordon Melton dressed as Dracula Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, 1997, "Dracula 97 Photo Album", Melinda Hayes page.
  46. ^ MoreOrLess. "CESNUR - Satanism Scares and Vampirism..." Retrieved November 3, 2017.

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