America's Alternative Religions

Edited by Timothy Miller

Subjects: Religion
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9780791423981, 484 pages, July 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423974, 484 pages, July 1995

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Table of contents


Timothy Miller

Part I.   Established Christian Alternatives

1  The Anabaptists

Donald F. Durnbaugh

2  Symbol and Sign in Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal Spirituality

Charles Edwin Jones

3  The Adventist and Jehovah's Witness Branch of Protestantism

Jerry Bergman

4  The Latter Day Saint Churches

Steven L. Shields

5  Christian Science and American Culture

John K. Simmons

6  On the Verge: The Evolution of American Quakerism

Margaret Hope Bacon

7  Swedenborgianism

Eugene Taylor

8  Unitarian Universalism: An Interpretation Through Its History

Mason Olds

Part II.   Contemporary Christian and Jewish Movements

9  Roman Catholic Traditionalism

William Dinges

10  Hasidism and Its Effects on Alternative Jewish Movements in America

S. Daniel Breslauer

11  God and Race: British-Israelism and Christian Identity

William L. Ingram

12  The Children of God

David E. Van Zandt

13  The Boston Church of Christ

Russell Paden

14  From Holy Order of MANS to Christ the Savior Brotherhood: The Radical Transformation of an Esoteric Christian Order

Phillip Lucas

15  The Branch Davidians: A Social Profile and Organizational History

David G. Bromley and Edward D. Silver

Part III.   Religions from Asia

16  Buddhism in America: The Dharma in the Land of the Red Man

Jane Hurst

17  Hinduism Arrives in America: The Vedanta Movement and the Self-Realization Fellowship

Catherine Wessinger

18  Hindu Movements Since Mid-Century: Yogis in the States

Gene R. Thursby

19  Hare Krishna in America: Growth, Decline, and Accommodation

E. Burke Rochford, Jr.

20  The Unification Church

Eileen Barker

Part IV.   Religions from the Middle East

21  Expressions of Islam in America

Gisela Webb 

22  The American Bahá'í Community in the Nineties

Robert H. Stockman

23  Sufism in America

Gisela Webb

24  Gurdjieff in America: An Overview

George Baker and Walter Driscoll

25  Subud

Gisela Webb

Part V.   African-American Freedom Movements

26  Black Jews and Black Muslims

Timothy Miller

27  Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement

Robert Weisbrot

28  Santería and Vodou in the United States

Joseph M. Murphy

29  The Rastafari Abroad

Barry Chevannes

30  Peoples Temple

John R. Hall

Part VI.   Ancient Wisdom and New Age Movements

31  Theosophy

Robert S. Ellwood

32  New Thought and the Harmonial Family

Gail Harley

33  Spiritualism and Channeling

Shawn Michael Trimble

34  Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft

Carol Matthews

35  Whither the New Age?

J. Gordon Melton

36  The Association for Research and Enlightenment: Saved by the New Age

Phillip Lucas

37  ECKANKAR: From Ancient Science of Soul Travel to New Age Religion

Roger E. Olson

38  The Evolution of Hippie Communal Spirituality: The Farm and Other Hippies Who Didn't Give Up

Albert Bates and Timothy Miller

Part VII.   And Many More. …

39  New Religions and American Indian Religion

James R. Lewis

40  The Church of Scientology: Lightning Rod for Cultural Boundary Conflicts

Mary Farrell Bednarowski

41  UFO Religious Movements

Robert S. Ellwood

42  Satanism and Satanic Churches: The Contemporary Incarnations

David G. Bromley and Susan G. Ainsley

43  The Evolution of Modern American Anticult Ideology: A Case Study in Frame Extension

Anson Shupe and David G. Bromley

Appendix I:  A Bibliographical Guide to Alternative Religions

Appendix II:  Chronology of Alternative Religions in America

List of Contributors


This is a source of reliable information on the most important new and alternative religions covering history, theology, impact on the culture, and current status. It includes a chapter on the Branch Davidians.


This is a single-volume source of reliable information on the most important alternative religions, covering for each such essentials as history, theology, impact on the culture, and current status. The chapters of the book were written by experts who study the movements they have written about.

Timothy Miller is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas.


"Given the sometimes inflammatory rhetoric and less than objective stance of many of the books published about what are often called 'cults,' Miller's collection provides a sorely needed balance and a dispassionate source of information about these groups. The book provides a broad and deep coverage of the topic. The appended bibliographies guide the reader to further sources of reliable information. The concluding essay by Shupe and Bromley on the 'Evolution of Modern-American Anticult Ideology' explores and interprets the reaction that these alternative religious groups have engendered. Indeed, many of the so-called anti-cult groups have made it their business to publish books about these groups that are often less than accurate and filled with attempts at a 'theological' debunking of them. This book serves as a voice of sanity and of tolerance in what has often been an overcharged and less than rational environment of debate. Miller's book enters into the fray of this cult and anti-cult debate where it will be welcomed by those who have often been pained at the misinformation and provocation that has been all too common in this arena.

"We are still at a very primitive stage of mistrust and of (what one of the authors calls) the 'satanizing' of whatever religious or spiritual groups do not fit into the culture's prevalent categories. Persecution follows on the heels of ignorance and mistrust. This book goes a long way toward helping to dispel ignorance about these alternative religions. " — Paul Muller-Ortega, Michigan State University

"America's Alternative Religions fills a real need in the literature of non-mainline religions, religions that have typically been marginalized and misunderstood by outsiders. The burning of the Branch Davidian's Mount Carmel center in Waco—the death of so many innocents—shows the extreme tragedy that may result from such misunderstanding. No other book provides such a useful consideration of so many smaller groups in America's diverse religious landscape. At the same time, this book clearly shows how yesterday's 'cults'—persecuted and scorned by society—become today's acceptable members of America's long-standing religious pluralism. A serious reading of this book will go far to reveal the scare tactics and reductionistic thinking so effectively promulgated through sensationalist media presentations and by organizations like the Cult Awareness Network. America's greatness is revealed in its diversity and through its ability to accommodate alternatives to consensus reality.

America's Alternative Religions reveals this long-standing diversity and accommodation. There are other books that survey the same topic, but none that I know of combine the same mix of breadth and depth. " — Jeffrey Timm, Wheaton College