AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Sect-Bashing in the Guise of Scholarship: A Critical Appraisal of Select Studies of Soka Gakkai

by James R Lewis

Institution: Philipps-Universität Marburg
Year: 2015
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2112449
Full text PDF: 10.17192/mjr.2000.5.3757;


We began by noting that, although certain kinds of analyses of religion have been rejected by the academic mainstream, older patterns of prejudicial scholarship have tended to persist in the subfield of new religious movements. While there is no sound reason for continuing to permit writers to articulate judgmental points of view in this subfield, popular prejudice against minority religions has served to make many scholars 'tone-deaf' to an author's biases against such religious groups. The task the present paper set for itself was to argue against this double standard. The argument was built around an analysis of select scholarship on Soka Gakkai International, an organization chosen because it has been highly controversial and because a reasonable quantity of articles and books had been composed about the group. It was also argued that the scholar's primary goal should always be to articulate a humanly meaningful understanding of a given religion – both an understanding of the world of the participants as well as an understanding of what such religions mean for society as a whole.