Alternative Religions : A Sociological Introduction book cover
1st Edition

Alternative Religions
A Sociological Introduction

ISBN 9781138708549
Published November 7, 2019 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Title first published in 2003. Alternative religions attract great public, academic and government interest in our apparently post-Christian society. Yet how did all the 'alternatives' develop, what are their beliefs and practices and how significant is their impact in terms of the world's religions and society? This book presents a comprehensive introduction to the major forms of alternative religions: Cults, Sects, New Religious Movements, the New Age, Fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, Ethnic Religions and Quasi-religions. Stephen Hunt presents sociological insights into the rise of alternative religions, their beliefs and practices, their impact, who joins them, and how they are being classified and could be re-classified in the future. Public and legal controversies surrounding some alternative religions, such as the so-called 'dangerous cults', are also explored. This book offers students insights into contemporary themes such as secularisation, post-modernity, links between religion, healing and and changes in our global culture.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Alternative religion in perspective; Cults; Sectarianism; Christian fundamentalism; Pentecostalism and movements of Christian renewal; New religious movements; Some major new religious movements; The New Age; Neo-Paganism and esoteric spiritualities; Popular forms of religiosity; Human potential and healing movements; World religions and the faiths of ethnic minorities; Quasi-religions; The 'rise' of the alternatives: some implications; Bibliography; Glossary of terms; Index.

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'Ranging from recently imported oriental religions, through Christian sects such as Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses, to modern UFO-cults and Rock Stars, Stephen Hunt provides an accessibly written and useful introduction to many of the alternative religions to be found in the contemporary West.' Eileen Barker, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics , UK 'Hunt explores a wide range of systems of belief, behaviour and of organisations very broadly understood as religion or quasi-religion; the question of defining religion and, therefore, of the boundaries of the topic are discussed in a clear and balanced way. This will be a book that will prove enormously useful for courses in the sociology of religion and religious studies. It addresses issues and contemporary developments which are at the forefront of religious and spiritual life in contemporary society. Few if any other surveys of this sort set quasi-religion and what the author calls popular religion alongside the more usually covered sects and cults.' Malcolm Hamilton, Reading University, UK 'This idea of this book is good: it seeks to present within the confines of one manageable volume a basic introduction to alternative religions in the West. Some of these 'alternative religions' are splinter groups of older, more established religious bodies [...] while others are basically new in the culture in which they now exist... Both the beliefs and the behaviour of such groups are examined in an accessible style and the book has been well produced by Ashgate.' Theological Book Review 'Stephen J. Hunt writes as a well-respected sociologist of religion who has studied various forms of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, in particular Charismatic Anglicanism and the Third Wave Movement... This book contains a mass of up-to-date and well-presented information about these religious traditions. As a textbook for the students of religion it is an important contribution to the task of introducing not only religious traditions but sociological concepts as well.' PNEUMA