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Controversial New Religions

James R. Lewis and Jesper Aa. Petersen


In terms of public opinion, new religious movements are considered controversial for a variety of reasons. Their social organization often runs counter to popular expectations by experimenting with communal living, alternative leadership roles, unusual economic dispositions, and new political and ethical values. As a result the general public views new religions with a mixture of curiosity, amusement, and anxiety, sustained by lavish media emphasis on oddness and tragedy rather than familiarity and lived experience. This book looks at those groups that have generated the most attention, includ ... More

Keywords: new religious movements, communal living, leadership, The Family, Unification Church, Scientology, Jim Jones, People's Temple, Pagan groups

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199315314
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199315314.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

James R. Lewis, editor
University of Tromso, Professor of Religious Studies

Jesper Aa. Petersen, editor
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Associate Professor

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Front Matter


James R. Lewis and Jesper Aa. Petersen

Part One Western Religious Traditions

2 The Unification Church

Sarah M. Lewis

4 The Branch Davidians

Eugene V. Gallagher

6 Kabbalah Centre

Jody Myers

Part Two Western Religious Traditions

8 The Earth School

James R. Lewis

13 Falun Gong

Helen Farley

Part Three Western Esoteric and New Age Groups

14 Scientology

Kjersti Hellesøy

17 New Age Spiritualities

Siv Ellen Kraft

18 Contemporary Paganism

Manon Hedenborg-White

Part Four Other Groups and Movements

22 Wolf Age Pagans

Mattias Gardell

23 Carnal, Chthonian, Complicated

Jesper Aa. Petersen

End Matter