June 14, 1955|
Massimo Introvigne (b. June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religion. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of tens of books and articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion . He is also a consultant on intellectual property rights.
Massimo Introvigne was born in Rome on June 14, 1955. As he reported in a partially auto-biographical paper presented at the 2008 yearly conference of the American Academy of Religion in Chicago , his interest for non-Christian religions dates back to his reading as a young boy of the novels of Emilio Salgari, Rudyard Kipling, and Luigi Ugolini (1891–1980, the author in 1950 of the Italian novel L'isola non trovata), which included references to Hinduism, Islam and other religions not generally well-known at that time in Italy. The popular encyclopedia Le grandi religioni del mondo (The Great Religions of the World), published in 1964 by the leading publishing house Rizzoli, was – according to the same paper – also an influence on the young Introvigne, who devotely purchased its monthly instalments at age nine. Also in the Chicago paper, Introvigne mentions the crucial importance of his Jesuit high school, the Istituto sociale in Turin, Italy, between 1970–1973. As other Italian high schools in these years, that one hosted a vigorous political debate, and Introvigne attended it in the same years of future left-wing Italian leader Piero Fassino and centrist politician Michele Vietti (whose cousin, the scholar of Islam Silvia Scaranari, he will eventually marry in 1982). At the same school he met the Catholic conservative organization Alleanza Cattolica which he joined in 1972. He went on to obtain a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome, a Vatican-accredited institution, and a laurea degree (roughly equivalent to a Master's degree) in Law from the University of Turin, Italy. During the Gregoriana years he also attended (as a layman, i.e. not as a seminarian studying for priesthood) the Catholic Almo collegio Capranica, where he had as fellow students the future Archbishops Rino Fisichella, Nikola Eterovic, and many others who will later become prominent figures of the Catholic Church. His dissertation at the University of Turin was on John Rawls, and was later published in 1983 by Giuffré as I due principi di giustizia nella teoria di Rawls, the first work on Rawls in Italian. The dissertation was directed by Italian philosopher Enrico di Robilant, with whom Introvigne worked between 1979 and 1985 as an assistant lecturer. Gradually, he shifted his main interests from philosophy to sociology, and from law to religion. In 1987 he presented a paper at the international conference of the Mormon History Association in Oxford, where he started a long-lasting co-operation with Swiss historian Jean-François Mayer and with the Utah lawyer and historian Michael W. Homer, which would eventually lead to the establishment of CESNUR in 1988. He taught short courses in the sociology of religious movements at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum and in 2005–2006 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, both Vatican-accredited institutions. In the second edition of his Nuovo manuale di sociologia della religione (New Manual of Sociology of Religion) Roberto Cipriani, former president of AIS (Associazione Italiana di Sociologia) and one of Italy's leading sociologists, calls Introvigne "one of the Italian sociologists of religion most well-known abroad, and among the world's leading scholars of new religious movements".
From 1980, Introvigne also developed a parallel activity as an intellectual property attorney, He is currently a partner in the Jacobacci & Partners patent and trademark consultancy firm in Turin, Italy, and is of counsel to the law firm Jacobacci, Sterpi, Francetti, Regoli, de Haas & Associati, a firm he helped establishing in 1998. He is also one of the partners of Terrazza Solferino, a company which bought and restored the historical terrace and Liberty apartment of the same name in Turin as a center for business and culture. He is married and has four children.
Introvigne started collecting books on minority religions and esoteric-gnostic schools in the 1970s. His collection now includes more than 50,000 volumes – see online catalogue  – that are made available to the public via the CESNUR library.
He is vice-president of the Catholic movement Alleanza Cattolica and one of the founding members of the Italian think tank Res Publica initiated in 1999 by Silvio Berlusconi, to which The People of Freedom it is closely connected. Introvigne was also a member of the National Council of the Italian Christian Democrat party UDC – Union of the Centre, but disagreed with this party's decision not to support Silvio Berlusconi at the Italian political elections of 2008 (which Berlusconi eventually won) and left the party. At the regional elections of 2010 in his home region of Piedmont Introvigne emerged as one of the most vocal supporters of Berlusconi's candidate, Roberto Cota, who defeated governor Mercedes Bresso, and a vitriolic critic of the support by UDC and other Catholics to the strongly pro-choice Bresso . In 2010 he was appointed as one of the 19 members of the Comitato per l'Islam Italiano, a body created by the Italian Ministy for Internal Affairs in order to advise the government in matters related to the Islamic minority in Italy .
Introvigne is the author of more than 40 books including Le Nuove Religioni ("The New Religions". 1989), and I Mormoni ("The Mormons", 1991), and editor of nine books in the field of sociology of religion. In 2001, he was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy), one of the most reviewed Italian books in this field. A second edition, Le Religioni in Italia, was published in 2006.
He has also written hundreds of articles, both in daily newspapers (including Silvio Berlusconi's Il Giornale of Milan) and in religious and secular periodicals. Some twenty of them were published in scientific journals in various countries, as can be seen in his bibliography. The same bibliography shows him as contributor of several collective works on the sociology of religion. After 9/11 an important part of his work has been devoted to the study of Islamic fundamentalism and to the application to this field of the methodology developed by scholars of new religious movements. In Italy, Introvigne is known as one of the main proponents of the sociological theory of religious economy developed by Rodney Stark and Lawrence Iannaccone. With Stark, Introvigne co-published in 2003 Dio è tornato: indagine sulla rivincita delle religioni in Occidente (God Is Back: An Enquiry on Religious Revival in the West – Casale Monferrato: Piemme), and with Iannaccone, in 2004, Il mercato dei martiri: l’industria del terrorismo suicida (A Market for Martyrs: The Industry of Suicide Terrorism – Turin: Lindau). These books were written specifically for the Italian editions, but a part of the Introvigne-Stark study appeared in April 2005 in the first issue of the online Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.
Introvigne has also written books and articles in several languages criticizing The Da Vinci Code and the documentary on pedophile priests Sex Crimes and the Vatican. In 2006, Introvigne published a book which he considered very different from his previous production: Il dramma dell'Europa senza Cristo (The Drama of a Europe without Christ – Milan: Sugarco), where he proposed a militant criticism of secular humanism, based on the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The book was sympathetically reviewed (although with some criticism on specific issues) by the Vatican-connected Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica: In 2008, Introvigne followed with a second book in the same vein, Il segreto dell'Europa(Europe's Secret – Milan: Sugarco), intended as a study guide for the groups which had been established in several Italian cities for studying The Drama.
He is also the main editor of the website www.cesnur.org. He has participated in several activities of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion and the International Federation of Catholic Universities. He is also a member of the "Sociology of Religion" group of the Italian Association of Sociology.
He is also director of CESPOC, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture , 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.. 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 ..
- He wrote, "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 ..."
- He agreed with the view that "the great majority of members of the new religious movements derive positive experience from their membership". [ibid]
Views of his work
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.
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."
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. Introvigne's reply  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.
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.
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" Melton came dressed as Dracula.
Melton is the American President of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, and Introvigne is the Italian director of the society, which includes the leading academic scholars in the field of the literary and historical study of the vampire myth. An informative page in Italian about the society is hosted at Introvigne's CESNUR institute for the study of new religious movements, of which Melton is actively involved.
Melton and Introvigne also participated in several international conferences on vampires, including one on "Buffy, the vampire slayer", in Nashville, TN 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.". The large bibliography on vampire comics Introvigne and Melton posted on CESNUR's Web site in 2008 is discussed above, under "Work".
- The Unification Church (Studies in Contemporary Religions, 2), Signature Books (September 1, 2000) ISBN 1-56085-145-7
- Osho Rajneesh: Studies in Contemporary Religion (Studies in Contemporary Religions, 4), Signature Books (August 1, 2002), ISBN 1-56085-156-2 (by Judith M. Fox, with Massimo Introvigne as the Series Editor)
- Les Mormons, Brepols (December 30, 1996), ISBN 2-503-50063-3
- I nuovi movimenti religiosi: Sètte cristiane e nuovi culti, Editrice Elle Di Ci (1990), ISBN 88-01-14260-9
- Il ritorno dello gnosticismo (Nuove spiritualità) , SugarCo (1993), ISBN 88-7198-216-9
- I nuovi culti: Dagli Hare Krishna alla Scientologia (Uomini e religioni), Mondadori; 1. ed. Oscar Uomini e religioni edition (1990), ISBN 88-04-34057-6
- Il satanismo (Collana religioni e movimenti), Elle Di Ci (1997), ISBN 88-01-00799-X
- New Age is Mistaken Answer to Search For Meaning, Interview with Introvigne, Turin, Italy, 19 March 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.
- Massimo Introvigne, I due principi di giustizia nella teoria di Rawls, Milan: Giuffré, 1983
- Roberto Cipriani, Nuovo manuale di sociologia della religione, 2nd ed., Rome: Borla, 2009, p. 470
- "Alleanza Cattolica – Catholic Alliance – a deepening". http://www.alleanzacattolica.org/languages/english/ac_menu_01.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "FondazioneResPublica.org". http://www.fondazionerespublica.org. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
- "Forza Italia Sito Nazionale – Mappa". Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. http://web.archive.org/web/20071217185624/http://www.forza-italia.it/mappa/. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- G. Esposito, in La Civiltà Cattolica, vol. 156, n. 3763, 7 April 2007, pp. 96–97
- [http://www.cesnur.org/about.htm "About CESNUR – Cosa � il CESNUR"] (in Italian). http://www.cesnur.org/about.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Italian Association of Sociology". http://www.ais-sociologia.it/. Retrieved 2008-01-05. Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; name "title" defined multiple times with different content
- "English-Language Vampire Comics, 1935–2000". http://www.cesnur.org/2008/vampire_comics.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet
- 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
- Thomas Gandow: Die APA-Lüge – ein Wissenschaftsskandal (german), Berliner Dialog 1–98, 1998, p.27
- Massimo Introvigne: “Liar, Liar”: Brainwashing, CESNUR and APA, 1998
- "CESNUR – APA Documents on Brainwashing". http://www.cesnur.org/testi/APA_Documents.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Enciclopedia delle Religioni in Italia". http://www.cesnur.org/2001/enciclopedia.htm#Anchor-49575. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Coffin Break To Vampires Everywhere, Fangs For The Memories", The Los Angeles Daily News – July 23, 1997. Carol Bidwell.
- J. Gordon Melton dressed as Dracula, 1997, "Dracula 97 Photo Album", Melinda Hayes page.
- The Board of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, American Chapter.
- The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, CESNUR
- Buffy, the vampire slayer, (May 28–30, Nashville, TN)., CESNUR website.
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, president of the TSD chapter in Italy, Count Dracula Ambassador to Italy – Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Count Dracula Ambassador to the U.S.
- CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions
- Massimo Introvigne's own site
- CESNUR critical page
- CESPOC, the Center for Studies on Popular Culture
- Terrazza Solferino