1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Secrecy

Edited By Hugh B. Urban, Paul Christopher Johnson Copyright 2022
    438 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    438 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Secrecy is a central and integral component of all religious traditions. Not limited simply to religious groups that engage in clandestine activities such as hidden rites of initiation or terrorism, secrecy is inherent in the very fabric of religion itself. Its importance has perhaps never been more acutely relevant than in our own historical moment. In the wake of 9/11 and other acts of religious violence, we see the rise of invasive national security states that target religious minorities and pose profound challenges to the ideals of privacy and religious freedom, accompanied by the resistance by many communities to such efforts. As such, questions of secrecy, privacy, surveillance, and security are among the most central and contested issues of twenty-first century religious life.

    The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Secrecy is the definitive reference source for the key topics, problems, and debates in this crucial field and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising twenty-nine chapters by a team of international contributors, the Handbook is divided into five parts:

    • Configurations of Religious Secrecy: Conceptual and Comparative Frameworks
    • Secrecy as Religious Practice
    • Secrecy and the Politics of the Present
    • Secrecy and Social Resistance
    • Secrecy, Terrorism, and Surveillance.

    This cutting-edge volume discusses secrecy in relation to major categories of religious experience and individual religious practices while also examining the transformations of secrecy in the modern period, including the rise of fraternal orders, the ongoing wars on terror, the rise of far-right white supremacist groups, increasing concerns over religious freedom and privacy, the role of the internet in the spread and surveillance of such groups, and the resistance to surveillance by many indigenous and diasporic communities.

    The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Secrecy is essential reading for students and researchers in religious studies, comparative religion, new religious movements, and religion and politics. It will be equally central to debates in the related disciplines of sociology, anthropology, political science, security studies and cultural studies.

    Introduction: From the Social Lives of Secrecy to the Secret lives of the Social: Notes on Religion, Power, and the Public Paul Christopher Johnson and Hugh B. Urban

    Part 1: Configurations of Religious Secrecy: Conceptual and Comparative Frameworks

    1. Mysticism and Secrecy Arthur Versluis

    2. Esotericism and Secrecy Kennet Granholm

    3. Gender, Sexuality, and Secrecy Hugh B. Urban

    4. Psychedelics and Secrecy Christopher Partridge

    5. Architectures of Secrecy Paul Christopher Johnson

    6. Secrecy, the Paranormal, and the Imaginal: The Remote Viewing Literature Jeffrey J. Kripal and Christopher Senn

    Part 2: Secrecy as Religious Practice

    7. Secrecy in Islam, Sufism, and Shi’ism Mark Sedgwick

    8. Concealing the Concealment: Towards a Theopolitics of Kabbalistic Esotericism Elliot R. Wolfson

    9. Keeping Secrets: The Social Practice of Gnostic Secrecy April D. DeConick

    10. Secrecy’s Situational Ironies: Hiding and Its Consequences for Covert Buddhists in Japan Clark Chilson

    11. Notions of Secrecy and the Unknown/ Hidden in Chinese Religions Barend ter Haar

    12. Secrecy in South Asian Hindu Traditions: "The Gods Love What is Occult" Gordan Djurdjevic

    13. Reflections on Secrecy in Yolngu Religion Ian Keen

    14. AWO: The Nature of Secrecy in YoruÌbaì Religious Traditions: Conversations with Ifa Diviners Jacob K. Olupona

    Part 3: Secrecy and the Politics of the Present

    15. Secrecy and Freemasonry Henrik Bogdan

    16. The Sacred, the "Secret," and the Sinister in the Latter-day Saint Tradition Christopher James Blythe

    17. The High Magic of Jesus Christ: Materializing Secrets in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn Kelly E. Hayes

    18. Secrecy, Sex Abuse, and The Practice of Priesthood John C. Seitz

    19. From Resistance to Terror: The Open Secret of Jonestown Rebecca Moore

    Part 4: Secrecy and Social Resistance

    20. "Crypto-Paganism" in the Late Antique World: Models of Concealment in a Christian Empire, Fourth to Sixth Century CE David Frankfurter

    21. Hopi Knowledge and the Ethnographic Allure of Secrets Adam Fulton Johnson

    22. Secrecy, Spirit Work, and Women’s Fugitive Speech in the Creolophone Caribbean Elizabeth McAlister

    23. Lifting the Eucharistic Veil: Allan Rohan Crite as Afro–Anglican Mystagogue Hugh R. Page, Jr. and Stephen C. Finley

    Part 5: Secrecy, Terrorism, and Surveillance

    24. Weaponizing Secrecy: The FBI’s War on Black Radical Religion Sylvester Johnson

    25. Varieties of Secrecy and Symbolism in American White Power Movements Damon Berry

    26. The Islamic State and the Management of Secrecy Haroro J. Ingram and Craig Whiteside

    27. Conspiracy Theories about Secret Religions: Imagining the Other David G. Robertson

    28. Xenophobia and Conspiracism after 9/11 Michael Barkun

    29. Imagining Secret Wars Mark Juergensmeyer.



    Hugh B. Urban is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University, USA. He is the author of numerous books, including Secrecy (2021), The Church of Scientology (2010), Magia Sexualis (2005), and Tantra (2003).

    Paul Christopher Johnson is Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. His books include Secrets, Gossip and Gods: The Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé (2002), Diaspora Conversions: Black Carib Religion and the Recovery of Africa (2007), and Automatic Religion: Nearhuman Agents of Brazil and France (2021).