New religious movements - popularly know as 'cults'- arouse strong public opinion and most books on the subject are polemical, giving hostile reaction rather than informed exploration. Exploring New Religions provides an account of a wide variety of new religions, focusing on their origins, beliefs and practices, which are set out in a compelling but dispassionate way, leaving readers to form their own judgements. Chryssides provides important analysis of the 'killer cults' - the Jonestown Peoples Temple, Waco, the Solar Temple and Heaven's Gate - and examines the factors that made their followers willing to die for their cause. Older groups like Jehovah's Witnesses and the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) are discussed, and the author traces the development of a variety of strands of spirituality, ranging from New Thought to Transcendentalism and Theosophy. Subsequent chapters include: the Baha'i, The Family (formerly Children of God), the Hare Krishna Movement (ISKCON), The jesus Army, the Rastafarians, the Church of Scientology , Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the Unification Church ('the Moonies').Some less well-known groups are also featured: est (Erhard Seminar Training), the new Kadampa Tradition, Brahma Kumaris, Sai Baba, Subud and the Western Buddhist Order.
Also included is a study of the New Age phenomenon, and an account of responses to new religions, at religious, societal and political levels. This is an important new study of new religious movements, which should prove invaluable to scholars,students and clergy as well ak to those whose lives have been affected by new religions. George D. Chryssides is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. He has had many years of direct acquaintance with new religions, and has written extensively on the subject. His definitive work on the Unification Church, The Advent of Sun Myung Moon, was published in 1991.
George D. Chryssides is Honorary Research Fellow in Contemporary Religion at the University of Birmingham, UK.