"In ratio to the entire analytical literature body, Mormonism constitutes 54.59%, Jehovah's Witnesses make up 14.75%, the New Age is 9.34% and cults, in general, comprise 4.1%. However, together these four categories comprise an overwhelming 82.79%! The remaining 31 categories combined as a mere 17.21% of the total analytical literature. It is interesting to note that not one article on Islam or Judaism appeared in all of this literature in 1987. In fact, they become conspicuous by their absence."Tolbert went on to speculate as to why a handful of groups receive such a high concentration of treatment by the countercult. He felt that "one major reason for the article disparity is the perceived danger of these groups" (emphasis in original). I agree with Tolbert's reasoning, and although this document was written in the late 1980s, and no doubt some expansion of focus has taken place, I would conjecture that there still exists a large disparity between religious groups that receive analysis by the countercult, and that the perception of threat to the church and orthodoxy are the (perhaps unconscious) factors.
One of the religions that receives little treatment is Santeria. I was looking through various issues of Books & Culture recently and came across an advertisement for a book on the topic titled Santeria (Eerdmans, 2004) by Miguel A. De La Torre. I found an interview with De La Torre by the book's publisher, and was pleased with the author's treatment of the topic. He brings an approach that seeks to understand the religion on its own terms without imposing EuroAmerican cultural or evangelical doctrinal perspectives. De La Torre also notes that while American Christians tend to view Santeria as a "demonic cult," the religion plays an important part in maintaining a sense of identityfor the oppressed and marginalized who are threatened by the mainstream religious culture.
I was not only impressed with De La Torre's approach to Santeria, but a review of his website reveals an interesting body of work on cross-cultural theologizing and mission, religion and popular culture, and other areas of interest. Dr. De La Torre is associate professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. I hope to secure his book, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in Santeria as well as those interested in a sound scholarly and Christian approach to a growing religious movement often ignored by evangelicals.