Cults and New Religions: A Brief History (Wiley Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)

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9781405161275: Cults and New Religions: A Brief History (Wiley Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion)

An overview of the development of new religions and the controversies surrounding them in late modern society.


  • A stimulating, course-friendly overview of the history and development of new religious movements (NRMs) in the late twentieth century
  • Explores eight cults and NRMs, including the Church of Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, Unificationism, The Family International, the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, and Wicca
  • Each chapter reviews the origins, leaders, beliefs, rituals and practices of a NRM, highlighting the specific controversies surrounding this group
  • Covers debates including what constitutes an authentic religion, the validity of claims of brainwashing techniques, the implications of experimentation with unconventional sexual practices, and the deeply rooted cultural fears that cults engender.

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Book Description:

Cults and New Religions offers an overview of the history and development of eight new religious movements in the late twentieth century: the Church of Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, Unificationism, The Family International, the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, the Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate, and Wicca. Each chapter profiles a new religion, describing its origins, doctrines and rituals, leadership and organization. Each chapter also includes a discussion of one of the major sources of controversy surrounding these movements, controversies that have led to these movements being popularly regarded as "cults" : whether they are indeed authentic religions, the validity of claims that brainwashing techniques are used to gain and retain members, their potential for violence, the implications of experimentation with unconventional sexual practices, and the deeply rooted cultural fears they engender.

About the Author:

Douglas E. Cowan is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison University College, the University of Waterloo. He is the author of Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet (2005), The Remnant Spirit: Conservative Reform in Mainline Protestantism (2003), and Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult (2003). He has also edited Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet (with Lorne L. Dawson, 2004) and Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises (with Jeffrey K. Hadden, 2000). He is one of the co-general editors of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions.

David G. Bromley is Professor of Religious Studies in the School of World Studies and an Affiliate Professor in the Sociology Program in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. His most recent books are Defining Religion: Critical Approaches to Drawing Boundaries Between Sacred and Secular (2003), Cults, Religion and Violence (2001), Toward Reflexive Ethnography: Participating, Observing, Narrating (2001), and The Politics of Religious Apostasy (1998).

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Cowan, Douglas E., Bromley, David G.
Published by Wiley-Blackwell (2007)
ISBN 10: 1405161272 ISBN 13: 9781405161275
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Book Description Blackwell Pub, 2007. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st edition. 276 pages. 7.50x5.75x0.75 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 1405161272

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