Cults and New Religions: A Brief History

Cults and New Religions: A Brief History

Cults and New Religions: A Brief History

Cults and New Religions: A Brief History


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 controversievidence-based interventions for dealing with specific difficulties of reading comprehension in children aged 7-11.

    • An in-depth introduction to the poor comprehender profile , which describes children who despite being fluent readers have difficulty extracting meaning from text.
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    • Includes an overview of psychological theories of reading comprehension, evaluating their practical applicability.


We are very gratified by the reception of the first edition of this book. It has become a popular textbook in both Europe and North America for introductory courses on cults and new religions, and has been translated into German, Czech, and Japanese. We hope to see more translations in the future. We have tried to provide a detailed, yet accessible text for both students and instructors, something that will serve as much to inform their research as to spark their interest in further study. New religions continue to appear – some contested, others less so. the issues and questions with which we deal remain central to the study not only of new religious movements, but religion itself. Both of us regularly field media inquiries about this new movement or that. Reporters still want to know, for example, if the Church of Scientology is a “real” religion. Our response to all these inquiries remains the same: there is so much more to new religious movements than you can capture in your newspaper, television report, or blog post.

Cults and New Religions: a Brief History is intended for instructors who have little formal preparation in the field and for students interested in the central questions that have defined new religions study for nearly half a century. We hope that it will encourage a broader and richer understanding of these movements, an appreciation for their diversity and resilience that moves far beyond the stock and superficial descriptions so common in society.

Much has happened since the first edition, some of which we were able to incorporate, much more of which happened so fast that it was simply impossible to include. Sun Myung Moon, for example, the founder of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity – known colloquially as the Moonies – passed away in 2012. As Max Weber, one of the founders of modern sociology, taught us, the death of a charismatic leader puts profound pressure on the organization, and we are seeing this in the Unificationist movement now. On the other hand, although we present jz Knight, also known as Ramtha, as a foil to the notion of the “dangerous cult,” in 2014 she was sued by one of her former students because of racist and homophobic comments she made on a video. What we learn from all this is that religion is, for better or worse, a human phenomenon, subject to the foibles and fortes of our shared humanity.

In addition to a thorough updating of the groups included, this edition of Cults and New Religions: a Brief History included two components we think will be . . .

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