Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction

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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 are 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 why, 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. Offering a broad introduction to alternative religions, this book offers students added insights into contemporary themes such as secularization, post-modernity, links between religion, healing and human potential, and changes in our global culture.