CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne
www.cesnur.org

The 2024 CESNUR Conference

Co-organized by:
Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR)
Université Bordeaux Montaigne — CLIMAS (Cultures et littératures des mondes anglophones
International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR)

THE CONTRIBUTION OF MINORITY RELIGIONS TO SOCIETY

Vilnius Bordeaux, France, 12–15 June 2024
Université Bordeaux Montaigne
(Lecture Hall B 200 and Bâtiment E)
19 Esplanade des Antilles - 33607 Pessac
(Tram B, Montaigne-Montesquieu stop)

PRELIMINARY PROGRAM
REGISTRATION FORM (DEADLINE: MARCH 22, 2024)

Wednesday June 12, 2024

9.30–10 / Registration

10–10.45 / Session 1 (Plenary)

Opening Plenary Lecture

Chair: Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD

Greetings by local authorities

Where in Heaven’s Name Did That Come From? Innovative Contributions to Society by New Religious Movements
Eileen BARKER (London School of Economics [em.], London, UK)

10.45–11.15 / Coffee Break

11.15–13.30 / Session 2 (Plenary)

Asian New Religions’ Contributions to Society

Chair: James T. RICHARDSON

The Golden Mother of the Jade Lake: A Taiwanese New Religion Comes to New York
YAO Yushuang (Fo Guang University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan) and J. Gordon MELTON (Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA [em.])

Peace, Love, and Tax Reform: Tai Ji Men’s Global Outreach
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Turin, Italy)

100 Years of Cao Dai: A Cao Dai Missionary’s Reflections on Faith and Identity
TRAN Canh (Cao Dai Overseas Missionary, Tay Ninh, Vietnam) and Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD (University of Bordeaux Montaigne [em.], Bordeaux, France)

A Qualitative Study on the Social Contributions of Korean New Religious Movements: Focusing on the Three Major Works of Daesoon Jinrihoe
BAE Kyuhan (Daejin University, Pocheon City, South Korea)

Who is Wangchan Laozu?
Benjamin PENNY (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

Wangchan Laozu in Weixin Shengjiao Practices
Fiona Hsin-Fang CHANG (Weixin Shengjiao College, Nantou, Taiwan)

13.30-14.30 / Business Lunch

14.30–16.30 / Session 3 (Plenary)

“Storming Zion” Revisited: Militarized Raids and the Resurgence of Brainwashing Theory—Emic and Etic Perspectives

Chair: Rosita ŠORYTĖ

“Government Raids on Yoga Students? What Were They Thinking!” A Comparative Analysis of the 2022 BAYS Case in Argentina and the 2023 MISA Case
Susan PALMER (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

Anti-Cult Theories in the Discourses on Human Trafficking in Argentina: Some Discussions
Maria VARDÉ (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Strange Victims: Should Sacred Eroticism Be Outlawed? 
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Turin, Italy)

Tantra, Yoga, and Sacred Sexuality: Spirituality, Enlightenment, and Controversies
Alessandro AMICARELLI (Attorney, London, UK)

Discussants:
Diana CACCIALI (Institute of Applied Arts, Bahía Blanca, Argentina)
Camelia MARIN (Soteria International, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Martin KRAJCA (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)

16.30–17 / Coffee Break

17–19 / Session 4

American Contributions—and Concerns

Chair: J. Gordon MELTON

Doing the Millennial Thing: Realized Eschatology in the Here and Now
James TABOR (University of North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)

Waiting for the Presidential Elections. Red God, Blue God: American Politics Meet the New Religious Landscape
Dyron DAUGHRITY (Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA)

Unsettling Trends: Confluences and Differences in the Treatment of QAnon and New Religious Movements
Edward IRONS (The Hong Kong Institute for Culture, Commerce and Religion, Hong Kong)

Too Much to Lose: Dead Sea Revivals and the Spirits of Democracy
Anne KREPS (University of California Santa Cruz, USA)

Resurrecting a City, Catholic Style: The Case of Steubenville, Ohio
Marie GAYTE-LEBRUN (University of Toulon, France)

17–19 / Session 5

Peace, Justice, and Tax Reform in Taiwan and Internationally: New Religious Movements, the Common Good, and the Case of Tai Ji Men

Introducing:
Eileen BARKER (London School of Economics [em.], London, UK)

Panelists:
Linda CHEN (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Karolina Maria KOTKOWSKA (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)
Lara HUANG (Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan)
Camelia MARIN (Soteria International, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Stella LIN (Tax and Legal Reform League, Taipei, Taiwan)
Donald WESTBROOK (San José State University, San José, California, USA)
Joyce HUANG (Degree candidate, National Taipei University of Education, Taipei, Taiwan)
Rebecca WANG (Tax and Legal Reform League, Taipei, Taiwan)

Discussant:
Alessandro AMICARELLI (Attorney, London, UK)

17–19.15 / Session 6

Buddhist and Other “New Old” Presences and Contributions

Chair: Carole CUSACK

Buddhist Therapeutics: The Overlapping Logics of Religion and Medicine in Westernized Buddhism
Matteo DI PLACIDO (University of Turin, Italy) and Stefania PALMISANO (University of Turin, Italy)

Buddhism in Italy: Quantitative Results of a Research
PierLuigi ZOCCATELLI (University of Turin, Italy)

Production of Space and Accumulation of Cultural Capital: Material Religion as Cultural Heritage in Two European New Religions, the Aumist Religion and Damanhur
Giovanna RECH (University of Verona, Italy)

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Public Benefit: A British Perspective
George D. CHRYSSIDES (York St John University, UK)

Sanamahism of the Meitei: A “New Ancient” Religion of Manipur and New Traditionalism
Svetlana RYZHAKOVA (Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia)

Environmental Protection as a Contribution of the Evangelical Left to Society
Mokhtar BEN BARKA (Hauts-de-France University, Valenciennes, France)

Thursday June 13, 2024

9.45–12 / Session 7 (Plenary)

The Jehovah’s Witness Test: Minority Religions and Religious Tolerance in the Contemporary World

Chair: J. Gordon MELTON

Panelists:
Emily B. BARAN (Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA)
George D. CHRYSSIDES (York St John University, UK)
Joseph WEBSTER (University of Cambridge, UK)
Zoe KNOX (University of Leicester, UK)
Tharcisse SEMINEGA (Jehovah’s Witnesses World Headquarters Office of Public Information Academia, Warwick, New York, USA)
James T. RICHARDSON (University of Nevada, Reno, USA)

12–12.30 / Coffee Break

12.30–13.30 / Session 8

The Unification Church and Japan: What Is Exactly Happening?

Chair: Eileen BARKER

Introduction. The Post-Abe Assassination Crisis: A Chronology
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Turin, Italy)

Testimonies: Emic Voices from a Global Crisis
Moriko HORI
Hideaki TANAKA
Katsumi OTSUKA
Jacques MARION
Michael BALCOMB
Suzuko HIRSCHMANN

13.30–14.30 / Lunch reserved to members of the International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR) and annual meeting of the ISSNR

13.30–14.30 / Business Lunch (for participants who are not members of the ISSNR)

14.30–16.30 / Session 9 (Plenary)

Book Session: Donald Westbrook, Anticultism in France: Scientology, Religious Freedom, and the Future of New and Minority Religions (Cambridge University Press, 2024)

Chair: Susan PALMER

Scientology in France, 1954 to the Present: Origins, Resilience, and Religious Freedom
Donald WESTBROOK (San José State University, San José, California, USA)

Panelists:
Attila MIKLOVICZ (Ph.D. candidate, University of Pécs, Hungary)
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Turin, Italy)
Eric ROUX (European Office of the Church of Scientology, Brussels, Belgium)
Rosita ŠORYTĖ (European Federation for Freedom of Belief, Rome and Turin, Italy)
Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD (University of Bordeaux Montaigne [em.], Bordeaux, France)

16.30–17 / Coffee Break

17–19 / Session 10

Latter-day Saints Contributions and the “Mormon” Image in Comics and Elsewhere

Chair: Jean-Paul GABILLIET

“I Saw My Brother Alvin”: Socio-Historical Foundations and Developments in the Theology of Post-Mortem Salvation among Latter-day Saints
Carter CHARLES (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)

Ancestor Worship and Mediumship in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France
Pierre VENDASSI (University of Bordeaux, France)

Mormon Communitarianism and Its Influence on American Social Welfare Programs: A Comparative Analysis
John POTTENGER (University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama, USA)

“The Mormons Are Not All Fanatics”: The Mormon Image in Tex Willer Comics
Michael W. HOMER (Attorney and Independent Scholar, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

“Theologically Innovative Comic Books” as Platforms of Religious Experience
Amy SLONAKER (Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, California, USA)

17–19 / Session 11

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Active Participation in Civil Societies: Value for Society Resulting from Efforts to Establish Rights Based on Freedom of Conscience

Chair: Zoe KNOX

Defending Patient Autonomy and Leading Way in the Development of Progressive Blood Management Techniques
Samuel MANCUSO (La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy)

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Legal Battles and their Contribution to Establishing and Defining Religious Freedoms in Society
Shane BRADY (Barrister, London, United Kingdom)

The Unsung Heroes of Ghanaian Language Literacy: The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Contribution
Abigail AYIGLO-KUWORNU, Araba Ayiaba Ziekpor OSEI-TUTU, Esther D. MANU-BARFO, and Reginald Akuoko DUAH (University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana)

17–19.15 / Session 12

New Religions and Korean Society

Chair: Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD

A Comparative Study on the Social Responsibility of New Religions in South Korea
AHN Shin (Pai Chai University, Daejeon, South Korea)

Cheontaejong and Park Sangwol: A Pro-Chinese Buddhist NRM and Its Socio-Political Impact
David W. KIM (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia - Kookmin University, Seoul, Korea)

The Place of Choendogyo in the Development of Korean New Religions
Edward IRONS (The Hong Kong Institute for Culture, Commerce and Religion, Hong Kong)

The Impact of the Korean New Religious Movements on Social Culture: Focusing on the Victor Christ, and the Olive Tree
KIM Young Suk (Society for the Scientific Study on the Holy Spirit, Bucheon, South Korea)

The Social Role and Secret Code of Prophecy: Focusing on Nostradamus and the Prophecy of Namsago
HAN Gang-Hyen (International Academy of Neo-Humans Culture, Bucheon City, South Korea)

Victory Altar’s Theory of Immortality
KANG Yun-Min (International Academy of Neo-Humans Culture, Bucheon City, South Korea)

17–18.30 / Session 13

“Cult” Critics and Their Critics

Chair: Susan PALMER

The Pragmatics of Peer Support Groups for Former Members of High-Control Groups
Sam DOWNS (Info-Cult, Montreal, Canada)

From the “Cult Watchers” to the “Anti-Cult Wars”: Tracing the Path to a Richer Scientology Research
Phil LORD (McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

The Ambash Family’s and Israeli Society
Georges-Elia SARFATI (Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France)

Friday June 14, 2024

9.30–11.30 / Session 14

Esoteric Movements and Society

Chair: PierLuigi ZOCCATELLI

The Gurdjieff Work and Literary Cultural Production
Carole CUSACK (University of Sydney, Australia)

SORRAT: The True Story of America’s Most Active Séance Group, 1961–2015
Shannon TAGGART (Artist and author, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA)

Communication Between Mediums and Spirits in Contemporary UK
Eriko KAWANISHI (Professional Institute of International Fashion, Osaka, Japan)

Theosophical Pedagogy: Overlooked Contribution of the Theosophical Movement to the History of Education
Karolina Maria KOTKOWSKA (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)

Serge Raynaud de la Ferrière (1916-1962): The Emergence of a New Religion and its Contributions to Society
Rita SANTILLAN (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

9.30–11.30 / Session 15

Food, Material Culture, and Folk Devotions

Chair: Fiona CHANG

Rambling over Hedgerows: Exploring the Intersections of Exploration, Folklore, Religious Dimensions, and Spirituality
Ray RADFORD (University of Sydney, Australia)

Capitalism and the Contribution of Religious Innovation to Culinary Heritage
Alain BOUCHARD (Laval University, Québec City, Canada)

When Adventist Prophecy Reinvented Breakfast
Ada PRISCO (L’Orientale University, Naples, Italy)

The Path to Peace and Tranquility by Wangchan Laozu: The I-Ching (Book of Changes), Feng Shui and Religious Practice
CHOU Yu-Chun (Weixin Shengjiao College, Nantou, Taiwan)

The Soap, the Whats, and the Godmother. Saint Death Devotion’s Contribution to Mexican Society
Piotr MICHALIK (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)

9.30–11.30 / Session 16

Islam, New Religious Movements and Society

Chair: Dyron DAUGHRITY

Unveiling Islamophobic Agendas. The Case of Stop Islamization of Nations
Davide S. AMORE (Italian Society of History of Religions, Rome, Italy)

Haram, Harmless, or Confirming Islam? Teaching and Learning about NRMs at a Moroccan University
Stefano BIGLIARDI (Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco)

The Concept of as-Salām (Peace) and Neo-Sufism
Ina KISELIOVA EL-MARASSY (Lithuanian Culture Research Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania)

9.30–11.30 / Session 17

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Adoption or Re-adoption of Religious Identities as a Tool of Empowerment

Chair: Zoe KNOX

Overcoming Regional and Generational Trauma within the Jehovah’s Witnesses Community in Hungary
Márk NEMES (PhD candidate, University of Szeged, Hungary)

Individual Empowerment as an Outcome in the Process of Becoming a Member of Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregation
Edward GRAHAM-HYDE (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)

Reaffiliation and “Reconversion” to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’s Community: Motivating Factors Behind the Process
Ollimatti PELTONEN (Senior Researcher, Jehovah’s Witnesses Freedom of Worship–Europe Office, Selters, Germany)

Discussant:
Joseph WEBSTER (University of Cambridge, UK)

11.30–12 / Coffee Break

12–13.30 / Session 18 (Plenary)

La Luz del Mundo: Social Outreach in a Difficult Time

Chair: J. Gordon MELTON

Charity and Resilience: How La Luz del Mundo Continues Its Social Outreach Activities in Difficult Times
Rosita ŠORYTĖ (European Federation for Freedom of Belief, Rome and Turin, Italy)

La Luz del Mundo: Liminality and Ethnographic Paths Forward
Donald WESTBROOK (San José State University, San José, California, USA)

The Luz del Mundo Complete Wellness Programs 
Delfino GUILLEN (Educator, Houston, Texas, USA)

Respondents:
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Turin, Italy)
Bigvai ESTRADA (La Luz del Mundo, San Diego, California, USA)

13.30–14.30 / Business Lunch

14.30–16 / Session 19

Different Perspectives on the Unification Movement

Chair: George CHRYSSIDES

The Unification Feminist: Challenges and Achievements
Alexa BLONNER (Australian Association for the Study of Religion, Sydney, Australia)

The “Blessed Family” Concept of Sun Myung Moon
Mark BRAMWELL (University of Nottingham, UK)

The Contribution of Minority Religions to Society: Reverend Moon and the Ending of the Cold War
Thomas J. WARD (International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership, New York, New York, USA)

14.30–16 / Session 20

Contributions of New Religious Movements to Society in Lithuania

Chair: Rosita ŠORYTĖ

The Contribution of New Religions to Democratization? Three Cases from Lithuania
Milda ALIŠAUSKIENĖ (Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania)

Contemporary Pagans and Their Contribution to the Well-Being of Lithuanian Society: Pagan Discourse and its Reception
Eglė ALEKNAITĖ (Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania)

Worshippers of Culture and Mahatmas: About the Lithuanian Roerich Society
Audrius BEINORIUS (Vilnius University, Lithuania)

14.30–16 / Session 21

Contributions and Controversies

Chair: Edward IRONS

Positive Contributions of Christian Science to Society
Cindy Peyser SAFRONOFF (Independent scholar, Seattle, Washington, USA)

Master M. and His Spiritual Mission
Michele AMICARELLI (Psychotherapist, London, UK)

Fake News, Court Cases, and the Role of the Media: Focusing on the Netflix Series “In the Name of God” and the Case of the Providence Church
RHYEE Jong-Soo (Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea)

Astronism, Cosmism and Cosmodeism: An Analysis of the Space Religions Espousing Transcension
Brandon Reece TAYLORIAN (Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)

14.30–16 / Session 22

Minority Religions and Society in Eastern Europe and Iran

Chair: Eriko KAWANISHI

The Contribution of Macedonian Muslims as a Minority Religious Group to Contemporary Macedonian Society
Zoran MATEVSKI and Dushka MATEVSKA (Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, North Macedonia)

Approaches of Alternative Spirituality in Present-Day Romania
Radu Petre MURESAN (University of Bucharest, Romania)

Halgheh Mysticism (Cosmic Mysticism) in Iran
Hadi VAKILI (Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran)

16–16.30 / Coffee Break

16.30–18.30 / Session 23 (Plenary)

“Next Year in a South African Jerusalem”: African Prophecy, African Spirituality, and CESNUR 2025

Chair: Alessandro AMICARELLI

Imbonil uZwi-Lezwe Radebe and the Origins of The Revelation Spiritual Home
Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR, Turin, Italy)

Prophets and Spiritual Guides: A Comparison
Tshidiso GAMA (African Hidden Voices Research Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Differences between Religion, Universal Spirituality, and African Indigenous Spirituality
Palesa HLOELE (African Hidden Voices Research Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa)

The Different Sectors of African Indigenous Spirituality
Thembi TULWANA (The Revelation Spiritual Home, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Who Is Afraid of African Prophets? Religious Liberty Issues, the Aftermath of Kenya’s Deaths by Fasting, and Problems in South Africa
Rosita ŠORYTĖ (European Federation for Freedom of Belief, Rome and Turin, Italy)

Final Greetings
Bernadette RIGAL-CELLARD (University of Bordeaux Montaigne [em.], Bordeaux, France)

Saturday June 15, 2024

A one-day field trip to the Vézère Valley in Dordogne-Périgord, east of Bordeaux. We will visit one of the first Tibetan Buddhist settlements in the West, the Côte de Jor Buddhist community, above the world-famous prehistorical sites of the Magdeleine and the Moustiers. We will spend time with the Dhagpo Kagyu Ling community.
A few kilometers away, in Montignac, we will visit the world heritage Lascaux IV Cave. Those who have already visited it, however, will skip the Lascaux Cave and visit instead the nearby unique Renaissance Château de Losse overlooking the Vézère river and its sumptuous park. Its previous landlady was Nhu May, Princess of Annam (Vietnam).
Bus will leave at 7 AM from 2 Allées de Tourny (in front of L’Intendant Grand vins) and return is expected at the same location at 8–9 PM. Dinner: sandwiches provided on the bus.

 

REGISTRATION FORM (DEADLINE: MARCH 22, 2024)