Stephen A. Kent, Ph. D.

Professor Stephen A. Kent researches new and alternative religions, combining perspectives from sociology with religious studies.

He teaches sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Kent is a cult expert who has written extensively about the Scientology, the Children of God/The Family, and other new and alternative religions. His writings on Scientoology have made him a target for that cult‘s hate-inspired dead agenting practices.

Stephen Kent also exposes academics who are co-opted by new religious movements (e.g. CESNUR‘s J. Gordon Melton). This is one reason why cult apologists like CESNUR’s Massimo Introvigne malign him.


Secular The Globalization of Scientology : Influence, Control, and Opposition in Transnational Markets by Stephen Kent. Revised Version of a Paper Presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, November, 1991; Subsequent version published in Religion 29 (1999): 147-169.
Secular The French and German Versus American Debate Over ‘New Religions’, Scientology, And Human Rights by Stephen Kent, in the Marburg Journal of Religion, Volume 6, No. 1
Secular When Scholars Know Sin: Alternative Religions and Their Academic Supporters by Stephen Kent, Skeptic MagazineOff-site Link (Vol. 6, No. 3, 1998)


Secular From Slogans to Mantras by Stephen Kent

In this lucid and economical study, sociologist Kent examines a little-noted confluence: the same years that saw American youth delving into radical politics and protesting war also saw them turn to unusual, sometimes cultish, spiritual traditions. Kent challenges traditional scholarship by arguing that such conversions to alternative religious traditions marked “a crisis of means,” not a “a crisis of meaning,” as has often been assumed. Political activism, says Kent, was meant to accomplish something: above all, to end the Vietnam War. When it became increasingly apparent that countercultural politics were not, in fact, achieving the desired ends, activists discovered other methods in new religious groups. That a disaffected generation should turn to spirituality is not surprising; that it should do so for political reasons is indeed interesting. Just as useful as Kent’s provocative (if overly functionalist) argument is his descriptive ethnography of many of the religious paths that became prominent during the 1970s the Hare Krishnas, Transcendental Meditation, Scientology, the Unification Church and the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization. This book’s import goes far beyond the seemingly narrow scope of its subject; when coupled with the recent work of Christian Smith (Divided by Faith and Disruptive Religion), Kent’s study promises to reshape and reinvigorate the very language we use to discuss the nexus between religion and politics in America. – Publishers Weekly, as posted at

Web Site

Academic Stephen A. Kent, Ph. D. Stephen Kent’s web site at the University of Alberta

This post was last updated: Apr. 24, 2006