CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne

The 2017 CESNUR Conference

Co-organized by:
Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR)
The Israeli Information Center for New Religious Movements (MEIDA)
The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
The Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought (Ben Gurion University)
International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR)


jerusalemThe Van Leer Jerusalem Institute - 43 Jabotinsky Street, Jerusalem, Israel
2 - 6 July 2017


Sunday July 2, 2017


4 p.m. - 5 p.m. / Registration

5 p.m. - 7 p.m. / Session 1 - Opening Session

Welcome Greetings:

Presiding and Introducing: Adam KLIN- ORON (MEIDA Center)


Shai LAVI (The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute)

Boaz HUSS (The Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought)

Holy Land and Sacred Histories: Israel and the World

Beholding New Jerusalems: Holy Lands, Holy Cities, Holy Grounds and Holy HopesEileen BARKER (London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom) 

Perceptions and Practices Related to Holy Lands and Sacred Histories and the (Re)Creation and Invention of Sacred Histories in New Religious Movements: The Case of the Twelve Tribes and Their Relation to Judaism
Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD (University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France) 

New Religious Movements in Israel: Global Aspects and Local Characteristics
Boaz HUSS (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel)

7 p.m. - 9 p.m. / Banquet


Monday July 3, 2017

9.30 a.m. - 11 a.m. / Session 2 – Plenary

Holy City: Jerusalem in New Religious Movements

Presiding: Milda ALISAUSKIENE

When “Jerusalem” Means Jerusalem. Christian Prophecy Belief on the Ground in the Holy Land
James D. TABOR (University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA)

Is Nothing Sacred? Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Significance of Bible Lands
George D. CHRYSSIDES (University of York St. John and Birmingham, United Kingdom)

Jerusalem. The Globalization of an Idea
J. Gordon MELTON (Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, Waco, USA)

11 a.m. - 11.15 a.m. / Coffee Break 

11.15 a.m. - 1.15 p.m. / Session 3

American Movements and Their Holy Land, from Joseph Smith to the Twelve Tribes

Chair: J. Gordon MELTON

You Shall Be as Gods: The Mormon Sacred Story
Robert T. PTASZEK (The John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin, Poland)

A Temple in Torino: Exploring the Boundaries of Church and State
Michael HOMER (Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, USA)

Spiritism in the United States: A Growing Heterogeneity
Constance A. JONES (California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, USA)

Spanking Bans and The Faith of Families: The Twelve Tribes in the European
Court of Human Rights

Jean Swantko WISEMAN (Attorney, Vermont, USA)

11.15 a.m. - 1.15 p.m. / Session 4

Holy Lands and Religious Pluralism in Israel I

Chair: Shai FERARO

Between Spiritual Pilgrimage and Religious Tourism. The Construction of Sacred Space in Contemporary Kabbalistic Movements
Nicole BAUER (Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany)

Kabbala within Communities of Repentant in Israel
Anat FELDMAN (Achva Academic College, Beer Tuvia, Israel)

Is Lev Tahor a Destructive Cult?
Gabriel CAVAGLION (Ashkelon Academic College, Ashkelon, Israel)

11.15 a.m. - 1.15 p.m. / Session 5

The Holy Lands of Scientology

Chair: Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD

The Role of the Spiritual Places in the Definition of Scientology as a Church
Frédéric-Jérôme PANSIER (University of Pantheon Sorbonne, Paris, France)

The Aesthetic Theory of L. Ron Hubbard and the Freewinds as a Mobile Holy Land
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Torino, Italy)

Respondent: Eric ROUX (Church of Scientology)

1.15 p.m. - 2.15 p.m. / Business Lunch

3 p.m. - 4.15 p.m. / Session 6 - Plenary

New Research on/from Israel

Chair: Boaz HUSS

A Holy Tomb within a Mosque: Contesting Perceptions of an Islamic Sacred Place in Israel
Kobi PELED (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel)

“The House of the Messiah” Out There: Holy Place and Practices of Embodiment among Chabad Hasidim
Yoram BILU (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel)

4.15 p.m. - 4.30 p.m. / Coffee Break

4.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m. / Session 7

Around the Temple: Holy Places and Contested Spaces in Israel

Chair: Marianna RUAH-MIDBAR

Rewriting Individual Sacred Histories: Cultivating Wild Channeling
Adam KLIN-ORON (The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem, Israel)

Scotland and Freemasonry: The East and the Solomonic North
Stewart CLELLAND (University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland)

Feeling the Sacred: The Temple Mount and the Reconfiguration of the Jewish “Holy”
Tomer PERSICO (Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel)

Contemporary Political Challenges of Hebrew Theonomy in the Political Theology of Christian Reconstructionism
John R. POTTENGER (University of Alabama, Huntsville, USA)

4.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m. / Session 8

Holy Lands and Sacred Histories in Eastern European New Religious Movements

Chair: Eileen BARKER

Is there any Difference Between The Construction of a Global and a Local Religious Leader? The Analysis of the Cases of Shri Shri Ravi Shankar and Povilas Žekas
Milda ALISAUSKIENE (Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania)

Pokaini Sacred Grove in Latvia – Invention of a Tradition
Agita MISANE (University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia)

Krakow as a Power Center: New Mythologies of the City in Contemporary Spiritual Movements
Malgorzata Alicja DULSKA and Karolina Maria HESS (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland)

The Thousand Year Reign and New Jerusalem in Michal Hydzik’s ‘Apocalypsis. What Awaits Us?’. An Example of Eschatological Beliefs of Polish Pentecostal Church
Jan MIKLAS-FRANKOWSKI (University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland)

Searching for New Jerusalem: The Sacred City in Russian NRMs
Ksenia KOLKUNOVA (St Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow, Russia)

4.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m. / Session 9

Glastonbury and Greenham Common: Holy Lands in Contemporary Paganism and Goddess Spirituality

Chair: James R. LEWIS

The Avalonian Nexus – Understanding Glastonbury as Arena for the Exchange of Views and Ideas Between Goddess Feminists and British Wiccans and Pagans During the 1970s – 1980s
Shai FERARO (Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel)

The Goddess at Greenham: Re-writing Religion, Gender and Secularism in Modern Britain
Ruth LINDLEY (University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom)

From the Holy Land of Christianity to the Sacred Place of Spirituality
Eriko KAWANISHI (Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)

Tuesday July 4, 2017


9.15 a.m. - 11.15 p.m. / Session 10 - Plenary

From CESNUR 2016 to CESNUR 2017: What Exactly Do Yeoju, Korea and Jerusalem Have in Common?

Chair: J. Gordon MELTON

Daesoon Jinrihoe and the Yeoju Cultivation Temple Complex: An Introduction
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Torino, Italy)

Holy Acts in the Holy Land – Gongbu as a Ritual Exclusive to Daesoonjinrihoe’s Yeoju Central Headquarters Temple Complex
Jason GREENBERGER (University of the West, Rosemead, USA) and Gyungwon LEE (Daejin University, Pocheon City, Korea)

The Meaning of “Resolution of Grievances for Mutual Beneficence” and the Sacred Place in Daesoon Thought: Focusing on Its Religious Hierophany in Relation to “Harmonious Union of Divine Beings and Human Beings”
Taesoo KIM (Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea)

Daesoon Jinrihoe: An Introduction and Survey of the Group’s Membership
James R. LEWIS (University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway)

11.15 a.m. - 11.30 p.m. / Coffee Break

11.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. / Session 11

Holy Lands and Religious Movements in Korea I

Chair: Gyungwon LEE

Korean Jerusalem and Korean Jesus: A Comparative Study of Korean New Religions
Shin AHN (Paichai University, Daejeon, Korea)

International Moral Association (IMA): A Chinese New Religious Movement in Modern Korea
David William KIM (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

The Split of the Sacred History in Unification Movement
Jongsuk KIM (Korean Academy of New Religion, Seoul, Korea)

11.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. / Session 12

Metaphysical Jerusalem: Swedenborg and Christian Science on the Holy Land

Chair: George CHRYSSIDES

Heaven on Earth: The Geography of the Holy Land in Swedenborg’s Theology
Andy DIBB (Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, Bryn Athyn, USA)

New Jerusalem: Mary Baker Eddy’s Interfaith View of Social Justice Activism
Shirley PAULSON (University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom)

Sacred Sites and Their Metaphysical Significance in Christian Science
Susan SEARLE (Independent Scholar)

Jerusalem and the Gentiles: Understanding the Spread of the Spread of Christian Science Beyond the USA
Robin HARRAGIN (Independent Scholar)

11.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. / Session 13

Case Studies I


Ana and Mia – Subtle Deification Processes Amongst High-Demand Eating Disorder Communities
Zoe ALDERTON (The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Iyengar Yoga for Women in Changing Times
Agi WITTICH (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel)

The Sacred History of Ayahuasca from Brazil to Italy. The Italian Santo Daime Organization Stella Azzurra and Its Friendship with Science
Stefano BIGLIARDI (Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue - FIIRD, Geneva, Switzerland)

France’s “Brainwashing” Law / Loi About-Picard: Case Studies of Applications of Abus de Faiblesse in the “War on Sects”, 2001-2016
Susan J. PALMER (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

1.45 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. / Business Lunch A – Business Meeting for Members of ISSNR
Presiding and introducing: Milda ALISAUSKIENE

1.45 p.m. - 2.45 p.m. / Business Lunch B (for non-members of ISSNR)

4 p.m. - 8 p.m. / Guided Tour to Religious Sites in Jerusalem (a few options will be given)

Wednesday July 5, 2017



9 a.m. - 11 a.m. / Session 14

Holy Lands and the Esoteric Milieu

Chair: Malgorzata Alicja DULSKA

The Earth as the Elohim’s Promised Land. Jean Sendy’s Joyous Esotericism
Stefano BIGLIARDI (Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue - FIIRD, Geneva, Switzerland)

A Century of Reiki Practice: From Sacred One-ness to Many-ness
Liad HOROWITZ (Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Jojan JONKER (Independent Scholar, The Netherlands)

The Place Beyond Space and Time – on the Ritual Circle in British Traditional Wicca
Joanna MALITA-KRÓL (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland)

The Reception of Shambhala Myth in the Contemporary Agni Yoga Movement
Przemyslaw SIERADZAN (University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland)

Mandarom, a Holy City in France
PierLuigi ZOCCATELLI (CESNUR, Torino, Italy)

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. / Session 15

Falun Gong: Ideology, Practices, Controversies

Presiding and Introducing: James R. LEWIS

Self-contradictions in Li Hongzhi's Statements about Illness
Yan CAO (Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)

Scientific, Para-scientific or Pseudo-scientific? – A Critical Analysis of Falun Gong’s “Science” Discourse
Chengjun WANG (Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China)

The Essence of Falun Gong’s “Killing Devils”
Yong FANG (Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)

The Construction of the Image of Cult and Anti-cult Communication in the Context of Cross Cultural Communication – Based on Textual Analysis of the New York Times
Wang SONGMAO and Lui WEIZHEN (Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. / Session 16

Case Studies II

Chair: Liselotte FRISK

The Naqshbandi: Place, Pilgrimage, and Purification in a New Sufi Order in the New Turkey
Hatice MESCIOGLU (Karabuk University, Karabuk, Turkey) and Clyde FORSBERG (American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)

Affect and Spirit: The Pre-Discursive in Afro-Caribbean Religions
Stephen D. GLAZIER (Yale University, New Haven, USA)

The Film Noah (2014) as an Intersection Between Alternative Spiritualities and Popular Culture
Marianna RUAH-MIDBAR and Lila MOORE (Zefat Academic College, Safed, Israel)

New Jersey: The New Jerusalem? Locating the Five Percent Nation
Barbara PEMBERTON (Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, USA)

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. / Session 17

Holy Lands and Asian Religious Movements I

Chair: Agita MISANE

Practical Theology in the Church of Almighty God
Holly FOLK (Western Washington University, Bellingham, USA)

NRMs in Post-Maoist China: The Case of the Church of Almighty God
J. Gordon MELTON (Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, Waco, USA)

The Birth of an NRM. The Great Way of Maitreya 
Edward A. IRONS (Hong Kong Institute for Culture, Commerce and Religion, Hong Kong)

Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram: The Temple of Moving Breath
Matylda CIOLKOSZ (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland)

The Return of the Sacred Land in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Menahem MERHAVY (The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel)

11 a.m. - 11.15 a.m. / Coffee Break

11.15 a.m. - 12.45 p.m. / Session 18

Holy Lands and Asian Religious Movements II

Chair: Massimo INTROVIGNE

Orthodoxy and Lineage: The National Ideology of I-Kuan Tao, Tientijiao and Weixin Shengjiao in Taiwan
Hsin-Fang Fiona CHANG (National Cheng Chi University, Taipei, Taiwan)

Holy Sites Within New Religions in the Chinese Diaspora: Influencing the Practices and Lives of Followers of Weixin Shengjiao
Marit HAIGHTON and Hsiu-Yi LIU (National Cheng Chi University, Taipei, Taiwan)

Holy Land and Sacred City: How Esoteric Explanations of the City of Tây Ninh Rewrite this Vietnamese Town as Both the New Jerusalem and the New Rome
Christopher HARTNEY (University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

11.15 a.m. - 12.45 p.m. / Session 19

Holy Lands and Religious Pluralism in Israel II

Chair: Adam KLIN-ORON

Renewing the Present, (Re)turning to the Past: New Age Judaism in Israel and the Reconstruction of Jewish Antiquity
Rachel WERCZBERGER (The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem, Israel)

Reinventing Sectarian Judea in Essene New Religious Movements
Anne S. KREPS (University of Oregon, Eugene, USA)

Ecumenical and Interreligious Carmel (CEI) and the Holy Land
Cristiana DOBNER (Monastery of St. Mary of the Mount Carmel, Concenedo di Barzio, Italy)

11.15 a.m. - 12.45 p.m. / Session 20

Christians and Christian Symbols and/in Holy Lands

Chair: PierLuigi ZOCCATELLI

The American-Swedish Colony: A Religious Community in Jerusalem
Liselotte FRISK (Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden)

A Shattered Sacred Story: The Rise and Fall of the Bride of Christ within the Charismatic Congregation Knutby Filadelfia, Sweden
Sanja NILSSON (Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden)

A New Maronite Diocese in Jerusalem: Birth or Rebirth?
Mouna GHOSSAIN-ZAITER (Bordeaux University, Bordeaux, France)

Holy Lands in Unification Tradition
Dan FEFFERMAN (Unification Theological Seminary, Barrytown, USA)

11.15 a.m. - 12.45 p.m. / Session 21

Holy Lands and Religious Movements in Korea II

Chair: Jason Paul GREENBERGER

A Religio-Comparative Study of Eastern Learning 
Chongsuh KIM (Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea)

The Discourses of Making the Sacred Places in Korean New Religions – Feng shui, Prophecy, Myth, and Doctrine
Ingyu PARK (Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea)

A Prophet Like Moses in Korea? The Rise and Future of a Korean New Religious Movement
Gang-Hyen HAN (International Academy of Neo-Humans Culture, Bucheon City, Korea)

1.15 p.m. - Buses depart for the field trip

The field trip will take us to old and new religious sites in the North of Israel: Safed, Acre, Galilee, and Haifa. The tour will include all meals and accommodation for the night of Wednesday July 5 and will end in Haifa on Thursday July 6 around 7 p.m. Participants can then stay in Haifa (but should arrange directly for their accommodation in Haifa for the night of July 6, not included in the package), take a train to Tel Aviv (not included in the package), or return with the tour bus to Jerusalem, with arrival around 10 p.m. (included in the package).

Suggestions for the hotel in Jerusalem
Each participant should book the hotel directly and you are of course free to select an hotel of your choice. However, we have obtained special conference rates from two hotels near the Institute:
- Prima Kings: https://www.prima-hotels-israel.com/prima-kings-jerusalem-hotel
- Prima Royal: https://www.prima-hotels-israel.com/prima-royal-jerusalem-hotel
You should book through the hotels' Web sites and use the code (case-sensitive) : cesnur2017 ("The Van Leer Institute" will then appear in the summary). Conference rates are $ 130/night (breakfast included) for the single room and $ 145/night (breakfast included) for the double room.