For undergraduate courses in New Religious Movements (NRMs) or Religious Cults.
Taking the approach that new religious movements are neither new nor inherently evil or dangerous, New Religious Movements takes a more historical and cultural perspective than other books on the market.
Elijah Siegler wrote this book to counter the common misconception that NRMs first appeared suddenly in North America and Western Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. He argues that this is a myopic perspective that derives from the fear that "cults" were seducing a young and naïve generation into leaving their comfortable lives and shows that NRMs have been developing across the globe over the last few centuries. Most books about NRMs also begin from the question as to why anyone would join them but Elijah Siegler argues that this is not the most important question for students in classes on NRMs and his text assumes that people join NRMs for all sorts of psychological, theological, or cultural reasons.
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1: What Are New Religious Movements?
Historical continuity and cultural context
2: NRMS as Modern Heresy
A Short History of Heresy
Christian heresy after the Reformation
The End of Heretics and the Beginning of Enthusiasts and Cults
Development of the modern cult stereotype in nineteenth-century America
The Christian Countercult Movement
The current anticult movement
Close-up: The Unification Church
3: NRMs as Esoteric Revival
The Ancient and Medieval Worlds
From Renaissance to Enlightenment
NRMs in the nineteenth century
Mind Cure movements
Where are the nineteenth-century new religions now?
Esoteric Currents in the Twentieth Century
Esotericism meets science
The New Age
Close-up: Channeling NRMs: Lazaris and Ramtha
4: NRMs as Asian Missions to the West
The Missionary Impulse
East Asian traditions
Asian “NRMs” in the West Before 1965
The World's Parliament of Religions and its Aftermath
Asian NRMs in the West: The Post-1965 Boom
Close-up: Soka Gakkai
5: New Religions in East Asia
From prehistory to the early twentieth century
The early twentieth century
Religion in China today
NRMs and qigong
The history of Japanese NRMs
Close-up: Falun gong
6: New Religions of Africa and the African Diaspora
African Neo-traditional NRMs
African Initiated Churches
Christianity in Africa: background
The development of AICs
NRMs of the African Diaspora
African NRMs in North America
Nation of Islam
Close-up: The Kimbanguist Church
7: Islamic New Religions
Mystical Islamic NRMs: Sufism
Revivalism and Scriptural Fundamentalism
Al-Qaeda as NRM
8: The Global Future of New Religious Movements
NRMs and Globalization
Global Connections: NRMs and the Internet
Global Fears: NRMs and Violence
Is There a Future for NRMs?
Suggested Further Reading