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    Gender performance in “cult” conversion narratives: the Twelve Tribes

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    While many scholars have attempted to understand the unique contours of the definition of “cult,” there are still rampant disagreements across different disciplines and scholarly persuasions about the way that a “cult” functions differently than other organizations. In this essay, I aim to clarify how the function of a “cult” is contingent upon a set of rhetorical strategies used by the group to systematically remove agency from group members. One of those rhetorical strategies is compelling individuals to perform according to strict heteronormative gender enactments. To understand how this strategy works, I will turn to four spiritually metanoic narratives published by the Twelve Tribes, an aberrant religious organization that exercises identity control over their members and analyze them through the theoretical lenses of gender performance, spiritual metanoia, and identification/consubstantiality