New and Alternative Religions in Southern Alberta


February 9, 2006 :: Professor Stephen Kent
Moderated by Cathy Coates

Are cults headed by greedy, demented leaders that lure the gullible and enthrall them using mind-control tactics? Are their followers the emotionally vulnerable who live on the fringes of society? Remember Jonestown?

What draws people to cults or new religious movements?

Is it that a growing number of people are disenchanted by the teachings of the old religions and are more attracted to belief systems offering benefits now, rather than in the promised hereafter?

Tom Cruise and John Travolta are members of the Church of Scientology. Do Scientologists believe in space aliens? Who is Xenu? What does Scientology teach about sex?

Who are the Children of God/The Family? Is there any evidence that their communal lifestyle and preference for educating their offspring at home is inhibiting the full development of their children?

Speaker: Professor Stephen Kent

Professor Kent researches new and alternative religions, often combining perspectives from sociology with religious studies. He is the author of the book “From Slogans to Mantras: Social Protest and Religious Conversion in the late Vietnam War Era”, which was selected by Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries as an outstanding academic title for 2002. He has published numerous articles over the last decade dealing with Scientology, the Children of God/The Family, and newer faiths operating in Canada and elsewhere.
Professor Kent teaches at the University of Alberta’s Department of Sociology.


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