Cults and New Religions: A Brief History / Edition 1

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This unparalleled introduction to cults and new religious movements has been completely up-dated and expanded to reflect the latest developments; each chapter reviews the origins, leaders, beliefs, rituals and practices of a NRM, highlighting the specific controversies surrounding each group.

  • A fully updated, revised and expanded edition of an unparalleled introduction to cults and new religious movements
  • Profiles a number of the most visible, significant, and controversial new religious movements, presenting each group’s history, doctrines, rituals, leadership, and organization
  • Offers a discussion of the major controversies in which new religious movements have been involved, using each profiled group to illustrate the nature of one of those controversies
  • 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
  • New sections include methods of studying new religions in each chapter as well as presentations on ‘groups to watch’
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a remarkably good book. It is probably the best introduction to the study of new religions available, providing a concise yet surprisingly comprehensive and thoughtful description of the very groups, issues, and controversies that most scholars and students wish to understand better. Engagingly written, and impeccably researched, the book shatters stereotypes and captures the true diversity of new forms of religious life in modern western societies."
Lorne L. Dawson, University of Waterloo

"This well written book provides the busy reader with a reliable introduction to the complex and often highly emotionally charged issue surrounding the discussion of cults, sects and new religions. Anyone with limited time needing to understand the crux of the issue will find a wealth of resources and valuable insights in this excellent book."
Irving Hexham, Liverpool Hope University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Douglas E. Cowan is Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo. He is the author of Cults and New Religious Movements: A Brief History, Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet (2005), Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult(2003) Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen (2008) and Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television (2010).

David G. Bromley is Director of the World Religions and Spirituality Project and Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology in the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. His most recent publications include Defining Religion: Critical Approaches to Drawing Boundaries Between Sacred and Secular (2003) and Cults, Religion and Violence (2001).

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Table of Contents

1 Cults and New Religions: A Primer

2 The Church of Scientology: The Question of Religion

3 Transcendental Meditation: The Questions of Science and Therapy

4 Ramtha and the New Age: The Question of ‘Dangerous Cult’

5 The Unification Church/The Family Federation: The Brainwashing/Deprogramming Controversy

6 The Children of God/The Family International: The Issue of Sexuality

7 The Branch Davidians: The Question of Cults, Media, and Violence, Part One

8 Heaven’s Gate: The Question of Cults and Violence, Part Two

9 Wicca and Witchcraft: Confronting Age-old Cultural Fears

10 Rethinking Cults: The Significance of New Religious Movements



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