Handbook of UFO Religions


Volume Editor:
The Handbook of UFO Religions, edited by esteemed scholar of new religions Benjamin E. Zeller, offers the most expansive and detailed study of the persistent, popular, and global phenomenon of religious engagements with ideas about extraterrestrial life. The present work considers not only new religions founded on ideas about extraterrestrials and UFOs, but how those within more mainstream religions have responded to the science, scientific speculation, and popular culture involving extraterrestrials, UFOs, and related concepts. Global in reach, it includes chapters considering South and East Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and draws on several interdisciplinary methods. In addition, the handbook traces connections between UFO religiosity and cultural patterns such as science and scientism, esoterism and occultism, millennialism, and popular culture.

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Benjamin E. Zeller is Associate Professor and Chair of Religion at Lake Forest College. He studies North American religion, focusing on such topics as new religions, the religious engagement with science, and the quasi-religious relationship people have with food. Most recently he is author of Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion (NYU Press), and co-editor of The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements (Bloomsbury).

Contributors are: Rafael Antunes Almeida, W. Michael Ashcraft, Stefano Bigliardi, Susannah Crockford, George D. Chryssides, Carole M. Cusack, Regis Dericquebourg, Holly Folk, David J. Halperin, Olav Hammer, Kelly E. Hayes, Joseph P. Laycock , Layne Little, Paul O. Myhre, Erik A. W. Östling, Susan J. Palmer, Lukas Pokorny, David G. Robertson, Mikael Rothstein, Christa Shusko, Karen Swartz, Diana Tumminia, Hugh B. Urban, and Franz Winter.
"Handbook of UFO Religions is a massive and significant contribution both on the critical study of ufology and on its ties to contemporary minority religions … the text will surely serve as a significant starting point for future research into the intersections of religion and ufology." - Benjamin D. Grace, American University of Kuwait, in: Nova Religion, no. 3, 2022
Notes on Contributors

Benjamin E. Zeller

1 Scholarship on UFO s and Religion: The First Seventy-Five Years
W. Michael Ashcraft

Part 1: Religious Engagement with UFO s

2 Vimānas and Hindu Ufology
Layne R. Little

3 Judaism and the UFO; with Emphasis on the Vision of Ezekiel
David J. Halperin

4 Unmasking the Alien Deception: Why Evangelicals Are Studying Ufology
Joseph P. Laycock

5 Aliens among Native Americans?
Paul O. Myhre

Part 2: Methods and Themes

6 Ancient Aliens
Olav Hammer and Karen Swartz

7 They Knew Too Much: The Entangled History of Conspiracy Theories, UFO s and New Religions
David G. Robertson

8 ‘I Figured That in My Dreams, I Remembered What Actually Happened’: On Abduction Narratives as Emergent Folklore
Erik A. W. Östling

9 ‘Focused Gatherings’?: Notes for a Study of a UFO Conference
Rafael Antunes Almeida

Part 3: Case Studies: Individual Proponents

10 A Martian God: Eleanor Kirk’s Extraterrestrial Epiphany in The Christ of the Red Planet
Christa Shusko

11 Of Polenta and Elohim: Mauro Biglino’s “Ancient Aliens” between Anti-Religion and New Religiosity
Stefano Bigliardi

12 Maitreya, Crop Circles, and the Age of Light: Benjamin Creme’s UFO Thought
Lukas Pokorny

13 Raymond W. Bernard, Hollow Earth, and UFO s
Holly Folk

Part 4: New UFO Religions Emerging from the American Context

14 Scientology
Hugh B. Urban

15 The United Nuwaubian Nation
Susan J. Palmer

16 Norman Paulsen and the Brotherhood of the Sun / Sunburst
Carole M. Cusack

17 Heaven’s Gate and Charismatic Leadership
George D. Chryssides

18 A Retrospective on the Unarius Academy of Science
Diana Tumminia

19 Starseeds
Susannah Crockford

part 5: New UFO Religions Emerging from the Global Context

20 Spirits of the Space Age: The Valley of the Dawn as a UFO Religion
Kelly E. Hayes

21 The Aetherius Society: A Ritual Perspective
Mikael Rothstein

22 Rael and the Raelians
Régis Dericquebourg

23 UFO s as Players in History: A Japanese New Religious Movement, ‘Spiritual Technology,’ and Ancient Astronauts
Franz Winter

24 East Asian UFO Religiosity
Lukas Pokorny

All those interested in contemporary religion, especially the relation of religion to science, technology, and popular culture, will find this book valuable.
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