Charles Sarno, PhD, associate professor of sociology at HNU, and Helen Shoemaker, PhD, former associate professor of counseling psychology at HNU, received first place for the Thomas Robbins Award for Excellence in the Study of New Religious Movements, an award given by Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions for the best article to appear in the journal. Sarno and Shoemaker earned the recognition for their article “Church, Sect, or Cult?: The Curious Case of Harold Camping’s Family Radio and the May 21 Movement,” which appeared in Vol. 19, No. 3 of Nova Religio.
As reported in a previous HNU news article, in “Church, Sect, Or Cult?: The Curious Case of Harold Camping’s Family Radio and the May 21 Movement,” Sarno and Shoemaker examine the development of Camping’s Family Radio organization, from 1959 to 2014, with respect to church-sect-cult typologies. In working on the paper, Sarno and Shoemaker spent about a year with the Alameda Bible Study and interviewed both its trustees and attendees, along with current and former employees of Family Radio. Sarno and Shoemaker were also able to interview Camping a few times during the period when he was recovering from his June 2011 stroke. They found that Camping’s theological teachings had evolved significantly over the years; changes that were also reflected in the organizations he founded—Family Radio and the weekly Bible fellowship, which moved from identifying with orthodox beliefs to more heterodox and sectarian ones.