New Books in Religion on Scientology



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Kristian Petersen

We over at New Books in Religion (really its just me) can't get enough of the creative individuals working on American religious history. We already spoke with Kathryn Lofton and Kelly Baker, and now we add a wonderful new study by Hugh Urban. In this podcast I speak with Urban about his book, The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Stayed tuned because New Books has lined up an interview with Sarah Ruble about her book, The Gospel of Freedom and Power: Protestant Missionaries in American Culture after World War II, and will continue the Blum and Harvey extravaganza when we discuss The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America.

Here is part of the brief:
In this case study, he explores the complex story of how Scientology described itself and eventually become recognized as a “religion” in the United States. As a specialist in secrecy in religion, Scientology offered a dynamic example where secrecy played several roles in shaping the tradition, including insider esoteric religious perspectives but also through the anxieties of Americans throughout the Cold War period. In our conversation we discuss the American spiritual marketplace, the science behind Dianetics, the development of the Church of Scientology, the term cult, challenges of the Internet for religious secrecy, how to approach problematic religious groups, New Religious Movements, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, The Master.

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