The spectre of the UFO, as popularized by shows such as The X-Files, has brought an astonishing slant to the face of modern religious practice. But what motivates the fantastical and sometimes sinister beliefs of UFO worshippers? UFO Religions critically examines some of the fascinating issues surrounding UFO worship - abduction narratives, UFO-based interpretations of other religions, the growth of pseudo-sciences purporting to explain UFOs, and the responses of the core scientific community to such claims. Focusing on contemporary global UFO groups including the Raelian Movement, Heaven's Gate, Unarius and the Ansaaru Allah Community, it gives a clear profile of modern UFO controversies and beliefs.
The Handbook of UFO Religions, edited by scholar of new religions Benjamin E. Zeller, offers the most expansive and detailed study of the persistent, popular, and global phenomenon of religious engagements with ideas about extraterrestrial life.
In this analysis of the Raelian movement, the author traces Rael's philosophy and the Raelian subculture, focusing on issues of sexuality, millenarianism, and the impact of the scientific worldview on religion and the environment. Simultaneous.
In March 1997, thirty-nine people in Rancho Santa Fe, California, ritually terminated their lives. To outsiders, it was a mass suicide. To insiders, it was a graduation. This act was the culmination of over two decades of spiritual and social development for the members of Heaven’s Gate, a religious group focused on transcending humanity and the Earth, and seeking salvation in the literal heavens on board a UFO. In this fascinating overview, Benjamin Zeller not only explores the question of why the members of Heaven’s Gate committed ritual suicides, but interrogates the origin and evolution of the religion, its appeal, and its practices. By tracking the development of the history, social structure, and worldview of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller draws out the ways in which the movement was both a reflection and a microcosm of larger American culture.The group emerged out of engagement with Evangelical Christianity, the New Age movement, science fiction and UFOs, and conspiracy theories, and it evolved in response to the religious quests of baby boomers, new religions of the counterculture, and the narcissistic pessimism of the 1990s. Thus, Heaven’s Gate not only reflects the context of its environment, but also reveals how those forces interacted in the form of a single religious body. In the only book-length study of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller traces the roots of the movement, examines its beliefs and practices, and tells the captivating story of the people of Heaven’s Gate.
This encyclopedia gives readers a comprehensive map of the significant religious and spiritual groups functioning in today's world, especially in the West. The new religions, sects and alternative spiritualities are categorized according to the religious traditions from which they spring.
The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements both covers the current state of the field and breaks new ground. Its contributors, drawn form both sociology and religious studies, are leading figures in the study of NRMs.
More than half of American adults and more than seventy-five percent of young Americans believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life. This level of belief rivals that of belief in God. American Cosmic examines the mechanisms at work behind the thriving belief system in extraterrestrial life, a system that is changing and even supplanting traditional religions. Over the course of a six-year ethnographic study, D.W. Pasulka interviewed successful and influential scientists, professionals, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who believe in extraterrestrial intelligence, thereby disproving the common misconception that only fringe members of society believe in UFOs. She argues that widespread belief in aliens is due to a number of factors including their ubiquity in modern media like The X-Files, which can influence memory, and the believability lent to that media by the search for planets that might support life. American Cosmic explores the intriguing question of how people interpret unexplainable experiences, and argues that the media is replacing religion as a cultural authority that offers believers answers about non-human intelligent life.