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Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion Paperback – October 31, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"Despite the extensive media coverage of the Heaven’s Gate suicides in 1997, no single-authored academic book has yet been written about this group. This volume thus fills an important gap. This is an extremely valuable book, which should be of interest not merely in academic circles, but more widely. Anyone who has an interest in new religions and wonders how a charismatic leader can persuade 39 people to commit collective suicide will find it a highly readable account of Marshall Herff Applewhite and his followers."-George Chryssides,University of Birmingham

"A dramatic and engaging story. The writing is crisp and clear, and the argument, particularly about the indebtedness of Heaven’s Gate to the Bible and Christianity, as well as to New Age and UFO milieux, is well-articulated and persuasive. Zeller effectively captures the particularity of the members of Heaven’s Gate, why they thought and acted as they did, and what led them to the fateful decisions to take their own lives. In the process he rescues them from being dismissed as mindless 'cult members' and makes understanding them both more challenging and more rewarding. This volume should become the standard reference on Heaven’s Gate."-Eugene V. Gallagher,author of Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America

"The glare of media attention has long since passed from Heaven’s Gate and its group suicide in 1997, but Benjamin Zeller now brings a far more discerning light to the movement’s history, beliefs, and practices. He carefully situates the group within the broader religious culture of the late twentieth century, including its substantial engagement with both Protestant Christianity and New Age currents. In the process, he turns Heaven’s Gate, an idiosyncratic UFO religion, into one richly emblematic of America’s questing, apocalyptic cultural landscape."-Leigh E. Schmidt,Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, Washington University in St. Loui

About the Author

Benjamin E. Zeller is Assistant Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College.

Robert W. Balch is Professor of Sociology at the University of Montana.

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More About the Author

Benjamin E. Zeller is a researcher and teacher of religion in America. He focuses on religious currents that are new or alternative, including new religions, the religious engagement with science, and the quasi-religious relationship people have with food. Zeller serves as Assistant Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College, a private liberal arts college in suburban Chicago.

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