6 Answers

  1. For beginners – a very good still Soviet book, which is called -“Atheist's reference Book“. Brief information on religions, confessions, creeds and their branches, the geography of confessions, religious studies as a science, the history of religion, mystical directions, etc. Statistics are a little outdated. Otherwise, it provides an excellent objective overview of the topic. A good bibliography for further reading.


    Even in the introduction it is written: “If you fanatically believe that the religion you profess, whether it is Christianity, Buddhism, or Sufism, is 'the true and only correct way to salvation', and all other religious 'trends' are 'heresy', why should you read this book?!”.�

    Content: how the sect works( and just cults), why people go there, how the participants ' consciousness changes, a description of real life in the sect and how to get rid of psychological control and how to avoid getting into the sect.

  3. Dworkin. “Introduction to Sectology”. “Sectology”. A recognized expert on sects. It is written simply, clearly, and at the same time-exhaustively. Perhaps, after these books, he wrote more. I didn't track it.

  4. I think you will be interested in Ilya Nosarev's book ” Masters of Illusions. How ideas make us slaves.” In it, the author examines the development of religion from the point of view of meme theory. From Nosyrev's point of view, ideas that supposedly served people are a kind of information virus.

    The idea of the book was born in the process of studying the Russian sect of Eunuchs. The phenomena of ashrams of Hindu movements, Manichaean communities are also considered, and the idea of asceticism is considered in detail. Nosarev's main point is that modern religions are becoming more and more totalitarian due to selection for effective dissemination. According to the author, initially the title contained “religious ideas”, but the publisher left just”ideas”. But even without this, the book did not arouse enthusiasm among the Russian Orthodox Church. Despite the sold-out circulation, there were no repeated editions, but I think you will find them on the Internet.

    And of course read Richard Dawkins:

    “The Selfish gene”,

    “Brain viruses”,

    “God as an illusion”.

  5. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. Interesting books (“God as an illusion”, “The Selfish Gene”), a wonderful author, a scientist, but at the same time uses analogies to better understand people who are far from this field of activity. There are also online discussions with well-known religious figures.

  6. Books on religious studies are a loose concept. Sects are also extensible.

    If you understand “New Religious Movements” (NSD) as sects, then there are such books:Falikov B. Z.-Cults and Culture: from Elena Blavatsky to Ron Hubbard, Moscow: RSUH, 2007.Ozhiganova A. A., Filippov Yu. V. – New religiosity in modern Russia: teachings, forms, and practices. – Moscow, 2006.

    There are a lot of books in English (no one translates them into Russian for some reason), for example. Stark Rodney, William Sims Bainbridge. 1986.�Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival and Cult Formation; Heelas Paul. 1996.�The New Age Movement: Religion, Culture and Society in the Age of Postmodernity; Heelas Paul, Linda Woodhead. 2005.�The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion Is Giving Way to Spirituality&

    Hilas about New age can be read briefly here. I also recommend The Works of Grace Devi. This article briefly describes her idea of believing without belonging.

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