Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History

Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History

In Mystics and Messiahs--the first full account of cults and anti-cult scares in American history--Philip Jenkins shows that, contrary to popular belief, cults were by no means an invention of the 1960s.

He argues that an accurate historical perspective is urgently needed if we are to avoid the kind of catastrophic confrontation that occurred in Waco or the ruinous prosecution of imagined Satanic cults that swept the country in the 1980s.Without ignoring genuine instances of aberrant behavior, Mystics and Messiahs goes beyond the vast edifice of myth, distortion, and hype to reveal the true characteristics of religious fringe movements and why they inspire such fierce antagonism.

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However for what it does it's not a bad read only a bit biased as he has a point to prove.

He believes fears of cults are driven by changing views of gender and sexuality and the perceived threat of these groups has been magnified by the media boom.

This book covers these religious groups and many more and honestly just a lot of American history.

He points out many established religious groups of today were considered cults (or at the very least were victims of violence) at one time such as the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, Quakers and Baptists. Several leaders claimed themselves as god incarnate, such as Father Divine (whose followers believed he was god). One of the female leaders said, The next Messiah maybe a woman. However, when checking with Wikipedia, there is no reference to Roerich being involved in the occult. There is one reference to Roerich being involved in Theosophy and yoga. Actions Author writes about groups and their unusual practices such as speaking in tongues a strange language unknown to linguists usually followed by someone who interprets what was said. The author writes about discrimination faced by many, who followed a different path and goes in depth about harassment of Catholics. Many groups incorporated God as both male and female. Christian feminist groups praying to Sophia. With religious bodies, which attracted African Americans, the press would print words as they were pronounced such as faithll make it well agin, but would not use the same procedure with the way many whites in different parts of the nation spoke, such as when Roosevelt said there was nothing to fear, but feah itself.

The tracking of the cyclical nature of cult formation and public reaction was also fascinating and is probably the most important thesis put forth by this book.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to know the history of cults, messiahs, mystics or certain religions in America.

Though his original training was in early modern British history, he has since moved to studying a wide range of contemporary topics and issues, especially in the realm of religion. He has published 24 books, including The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South and God's Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe's Religious Crisis (Oxford University Press). He has published articles and op-ed pieces in many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New Republic, Foreign Policy, First Things, and Christian Century. He has been interviewed on Fox's The Beltway Boys, and has appeared on a number of CNN documentaries and news specials covering a variety of topics, including the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, as well as serial murder and aspects of violent crime. Jenkins is much heard on talk radio, including multiple appearances on NPR's All Things Considered, and on various BBC and RTE programs.

  • English

  • Religion

  • Rating: 3.57
  • Pages: 304
  • Publish Date: November 1st 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA
  • Isbn10: 0195145968
  • Isbn13: 9780195145960