The label 'Suicide Cults' has been applied to a wide variety of different alternative religions, from Jonestown to the Solar Temple to Heaven's Gate. Additionally, observers have asked if such group suicides are in any way comparable to Islamist suicide terrorism, or to historical incidents of mass suicide, such as the mass suicide of the ancient community of Masada. Organizationally and ideologically diverse, it turns out that the primary shared trait of these various groups is a common stereotype of religion as an irrational force that pushes fanatics to undertake acts of suicidal violence. Offering a valuable perspective on New Religious Movements and on religion and violence, Sacred Suicide brings together contributions from a diverse range of international scholars of sociology, religious studies and criminology.

chapter |8 pages


ByJames R. Lewis, Carole M. Cusack

part I|44 pages

Historical Suicide Cults

chapter 1|18 pages

The Sicarii Suicide on Masada and the Foundation of a National Myth 1

ByNachman Ben-Yehuda

chapter 2|24 pages

Religious Mass Suicide Before Jonestown

The Russian Old Believers
ByThomas Robbins

part II|76 pages

Contemporary Suicide Cults

chapter 3|18 pages

Purification, Illumination, and Death

The Murder-Suicides of the Order of the Solar Temple
ByHenrik Bogdan

chapter 4|18 pages

Rhetoric, Revolution, and Resistance in Jonestown, Guyana 1

ByRebecca Moore

chapter 5|18 pages

Individual Suicide and the End of the World

Destruction and Transformation in UFO and Alien-Based Religions
ByCarole M. Cusack

chapter 6|20 pages

Apocalypse in Uganda

The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God One Decade On
ByJohn Walliss

part III|84 pages

Social-Political Suicides

chapter 7|20 pages

A Sociological Analysis of Muslim Terrorism

ByJan A. Ali

chapter 8|22 pages

So Costly a Sacrifice Upon the Altar of Freedom

Human Bombs, Suicide Attacks, and Patriotic Heroes
ByMattias Gardell

chapter 9|20 pages

Burning Buddhists

Self-Immolation as Political Protest 1
ByKatarina Plank

chapter 10|20 pages

Dying to Tell

Media Orchestration of Politically Motivated Suicides
ByLorenz Graitl

part IV|38 pages

Faux Suicide Cults

chapter 11|18 pages

Death by Whose Hand? Falun Gong and Suicide 1

ByHelen Farley

chapter 12|18 pages

The Mount Carmel Holocaust

Suicide or Execution? 1
ByJames R. Lewis

part V|40 pages

Screen Suicide Cults

chapter 13|18 pages

Rescripting the Past

Suicide Cults on Television 1
ByLynn S. Neal

chapter 14|20 pages

Why Muslims Kill Themselves on Film

From Hollywood's Racism to Girard's Victimage Mechanism 1
ByChristopher Hartney