1st Edition

Minority Religions and Uncertainty

Edited By Matthew Francis, Kim Knott Copyright 2020
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    Religions are at their core about creating certainty. But what happens when groups lose control of their destiny? Whether it leads to violence, or to nonviolent innovations, as found in minority religions following the death of their founders or leaders, uncertainty and insecurity can lead to great change in the mission and even teachings of religious groups. This book brings together an international range of contributors to explore the uncertainty faced by new and minority religious movements as well as non-religious fringe groups.

    The groups considered in the book span a range of religious traditions (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam), old and new spiritual formations such as esotericism, New Age and organized new religious movements, as well as non-religious movements including the straight edge movement and the British Union of Fascists. The chapters deal with a variety of contexts, from the UK and US, to Japan and Egypt, with others discussing global movements. While all the authors deal with twentieth- and twenty-first-century movements and issues, several focus explicitly on historical cases or change over time.

    This wide-ranging, yet cohesive volume will be of great interest to scholars of minority religious movements and non-religious fringe groups working across religious studies, sociology and social psychology.

    1 Uncertainty and Decision-Making in Religious and other Ideological Minorities,

    Kim Knott and Matthew Francis

    2 Certain Beliefs and Uncertain Evidence – the Case of Shugden,

    Suzanne Newcombe

    3 The Muslim Brotherhood and Uncertainty: Resistance, Civil Society, and Politics, Lucia Ardovini

    4 Failures and Successes: a Japanese New Religion’s Reactions to Uncertainty,

    Erica Baffelli

    5 Extreme Movements under Extreme Pressure – British Fascists and Uncertainty during World War Two

    Graham Macklin

    6 An Uncertain Future: The Issue of Succession in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

    Angela Burt

    7 The Unknown Creed: Punk and Political Uncertainty in Northern Ireland

    Francis Stewart

    8 Consequences of Dramatic Doctrinal Change

    David V. Barrett

    9 Distinguishing the Conditions of Violent Reaction in Esoteric Minority Religions, George Sieg

    10 Scientology and Times of Uncertainty,

    Martin Weightman

    11 (Un)Certain Responses to Colonial Dissonance: The Philadelphia Bombing of MOVE and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Right Relationship Team

    Anthony Fiscella

    12 Conspiracy Narratives as Response to Uncertainty in Minority Religions,

    David G. Robertson

    13 Who can we dialogue with? Seeking Effective Interfaith Development: the Inter Faith Network for the UK,

    Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist


    Matthew Francis is executive director at the Centre for Research and Evidence Threats, based at Lancaster University, UK. His research has focused on the move to violence in religious and non-religious groups. He founded and is the editor of the website RadicalisationResearch.org and the quarterly magazine CREST Security Review.

    Kim Knott is professor of religious and secular studies in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, UK. She works in the study of religions, using sociological and geographical approaches in particular to research relationships between the religious and the secular. She is currently the deputy director of the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats.