Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy

James R. Lewis, Editor Prometheus Books $34.98 (395p) ISBN 978-1-57392-842-7
This valuable compendium of data about religious minority groups, many of which have been branded as ""cults"" by the media, challenges commonly held stereotypes and offers objective criteria for determining the actual danger such religions may pose. Lewis (professor of religious studies at the University of Wisconsin and author of Doomsday Prophecies: A Complete Guide to the End of the World) presents an insightful critique of media representation, arguing that American society tends to project its own worst shortcomings on marginalized groups. The book's three dozen (regrettably anonymous) contributors go on to discuss the histories, leaders and theologies of various groups, including the Unification Church, the Hare Krishna movement, Heaven's Gate, the People's Temple, the Church of Scientology, Adventists of various affiliations, Koresh's Branch Davidians, numerous white-supremacist religious groups and the so-called ""UFO religions."" The anthology also addresses popularizations and new interpretations of long-established religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, and also paganism. The book contains much in the way of legal history, as many of these groups have had battles about their beliefs and practices in court. The contributors are knowledgeable and evenhanded, making this a useful text for anyone who wishes to learn about alternative religions in contemporary America. Overall, this is a thoroughly researched, well-coordinated collection of clear information on a much-distorted topic. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Religion
Open Ebook - 435 pages - 978-1-61592-705-0
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