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Controversial New Religions$
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James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195156829

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/019515682X.001.0001

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Soka Gakkai: Searching for the Mainstream

Soka Gakkai: Searching for the Mainstream

(p.139) 7 Soka Gakkai: Searching for the Mainstream
Controversial New Religions

Robert Kisala

Oxford University Press

This essay examines the conflict-ridden history of the Soka Gakkai, the largest new religious movement in Japan with over eight million members in that country and over one million members abroad. Three sources of conflict are covered: Soka Gakkai’s aggressive proselytizing activities, its political activities, and its pacifist stance, which are connected to the biography of founder Makiguchi Tsunesaburo and to the exclusivist interpretation of its heritage from the Buddhist teacher Nichiren. In conflict with both the Japanese government during the Second World War and the larger Nichiren Buddhist tradition, the movement’s political power and militaristic missionary work are the most significant contributors to the bad press and popular suspicion it has generated.

Keywords:   Soka Gakkai, Japan, religious movement, Nichiren, Buddhism, mass movement, politics, peace

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