Principal Investigator

Susan J. Palmer

Contact: [email protected]

Susan J. Palmer is an Affiliate Professor at Concordia University, where she teaches. She is an affiliate member of the School of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts at McGill University and a researcher at the ‎Centre d'expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux et la radicalisation (CEFIR) at the Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. Her research in the field of new religious movements has been funded by six federal grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In April 2017 she was awarded a five-year Insight Grant (SSHRC).

Selected Publications


Dilmurat Mahmut

Dilmurat Mahmut

Ph.D (McGill)

Contact: [email protected]

Dilmurat Mahmut (Maihemuti Dilimulati)'s research interests include Muslim identity in the West, equity, violent extremism, immigrant/refugee integration and Uyghur diaspora identity.


  • “Conflicting Perceptions of Education in Canada: the Perspectives of Well-educated Muslim Uyghur immigrants,” in Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education, 15(1), 2021;
  • “Belonging to Quebec and English Canada as Muslims: Perspectives of the highly educated Muslim Uyghur immigrants,” in Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 41(2), 2021
  • “‘Lost in Translation’: Exploring Uyghur identity in Canada,” in Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education, 20(1), 2021 (with Waite)
  • “Controlling Religious Knowledge and Education for Countering Violent Extremism: Case Study of the Uyghur Muslims in China,” in Forum for International Research in Education, 5(1), 2019
  • “Revisiting Muslim Identity and Islamophobia in the Contemporary World,” in Brandon D. Lundy, Akanmu G. Adebayo and Sherrill W. Hayes (eds.), Atone: Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation (Lexington Books, 2018)
  • “Can Education Counter Violent Religious Extremism?” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 23(2), 2017 (with Ghosh et al.)
  • “Education & Security: A Global Literature Report on Countering Violent Religious Extremism” (Tony Blair Faith Foundation, UK, 2016, with Ghosh et al.).
marie-eve melanson

Marie-Ève Melanson

Ph.D Candidate (McGill)

Contact: [email protected]

Marie-Ève Melanson is a PhD candidate in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. Her fields of research are freedom of religion and minority rights in Canada. In this project on Children in Minority Religions, she investigates alternative modes of education in Quebec, notably homeschooling and privately funded religious schools. Her research focuses on the Christian Essene Church, the Society of Saint Pius X, and the Mission de l’Esprit Saint. She is interested in issues related to the transmission of minority religious worldviews in the context of a secular society. Currently, she is conducting research on the upbringing of children in the Twelve Tribes community, which recently relocated from Germany to the Czech Republic. She received the SSHRC Joseph-Armand-Bombardier Scholarship in Honour of Nelson Mandela for her PhD research and was a collaborator on the SSHRC Connection Grant awarded for McGill-CREOR’s Religion and Violence Colloquium.

(See her profile)

SR 20200716_150506 (2)

Sean Remz

M.A. Candidate (Concordia)

Contact: [email protected]

His M.A. in the Concordia's Department of Religions and Cultures (Judaic Studies) focuses on the ritual, familial, and gendered significance of food and death, as illustrated in an array of memoirs of Hungarian-speaking Holocaust survivors. His interests include the humanistic dimensions of affect theory and the kaleidoscopic denominational pluralism of the Montreal Jewish community from a socio-historical perspective. He presents on understudied aspects of Hungarian Holocaust survivors’ lives through their memoirs. This includes everything from their literary and cinematic preferences in cultural-historical context to their domestic pets.

For his thesis, he studies the community-building and institutional reception of these Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Montreal and Toronto. This builds on an earlier M.A. in History where he studied Holocaust survivors’ interethnic relations in the Hungarian borderlands during the WWII era.


Matheus Grillo R. de Carvalho

Ph.D Candidate in Second Temple Judaism (McGill)

Contact: [email protected]

Matheus Grillo is interested in observing how new religious movements are born and develop, and in understanding which factors determine the emergence and disappearance of religious movements. He expects that through these observations, he will be able to gain insights into human religious behaviour that may apply to his research on Second Temple Judaism, a time of increasing religious diversity. He is also interested in rites performed by divine beings within myths and cosmologies.

Shane Dussault Ovadia

Shane Dussault Ovadia

M.A. Candidate in Hebrew Bible (McGill)

Contact: [email protected]

In the context of this project, Shane Dussault is interested in the tension between secularism and pluralism, in the way in which public education has been used to assimilate minority cultures, and how minority religions challenge us to reflect on our own assumptions. He is also interested in radicalism and quasi-religious behaviours in digital communities. His B.A. is in philosophy (McGill) and he is preparing a thesis on the Book of Job to examine variations in the Hebrew conception of justice.

He is also the designer and adminstrator for this website.

Research Affiliates


Maryam "Farmehr" Amirdust

PhD Candidate in Religion (Concordia)

Contact: [email protected]

Farmehr is a PhD student at the Department of Religions and Cultures, Concordia University. Their project looks into Zoroastrian exegetical tradition in late antiquity and Pahlavi translations of the Avesta. Their other interests include Tafsir and Qur'anic exegesis in early Islamic period, intertextuality and hermeneutic practices.

Yasmina-Male headshot 2016

Yasmina Male

B.A. in Political Science and Gender Studies (McGill)

Contact: [email protected]

Yasmina Male is in her fourth year at McGill University and is a student in Political Science and Gender Studies. She is a recipient of the 2016 Ralph M. Barford Loran Award. Her interests include the role of women and children in religious communities. She has researched various NRMs and intervewed members of Raelian Movement, the (former) Children of God and The Source Family, focusing on gender roles in these groups. Currently, she is working on a project studying NRMs in Quebec and Massachusetts.

Jason Greenberger

Ph.D Candidate in Daesoon Theology (Daejin University)

Contact: [email protected]

Jason is a doctoral student studying Daesoon Theology at Daejin University and a member of the International Affairs Team in the Religious Research and Edification Department at Daesoon Jinrihoe Headquarters. Jason's research interests were initially in the area of Buddhism and Daoism, but his main focus today is on East Asian New Religious Movements. 
Jason Greenberger graduated from University of the West in Rosemead, California with an M.Div. in Buddhist Chaplaincy. He has presented on his research at the Association for the Sociology of Religion, Center for the Study of New Religions, and Parliament of the World's Religions. Jason is the translator of award-winning books on Buddhism, notably Living Now Book Award's 2015 gold medal-winning Meditation and Wisdom by Venerable Hsin Ting and the 2018 bronze recipient of the Evergreen Medal for Spiritual Leadership, Pick It Up! Chan Stories to Inspire by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. More recently, Jason has translated The Temple Complexes of Daesoon Jinrihoe: A Guidebook for Visitors and edited and partially retranslated Weixin Shengjiao's Gui Gu Zi Heart Dharma in Taiwan: Feng Shui Lectures on Yang Residences.
shannon clusel

Shannon Clusel

B.A. in World Religions (McGill), Graduate student (University of Hawaii)

Her studies have focused on Japanese and Japanese religions, which she will continue to study at the University of Hawaii starting in September. After taking a class with Dr. Palmer, she began working as a research assistant, focusing on the Solar Temple.

andrew ames

Andrew Ames

B.A. in Mathematics and World Religions (McGill)

Contact: [email protected]

He is interested in the interaction between religious institutions and spiritual life beyond these institutions. His research focuses on North American Protestantism and Sufism in Eastern Europe. With a background in mathematics, he also has an interest in geometrical group theory.


  • WRSP profile on Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kidz (with Susan Palmer)



Eileen Barker, OBE FBA

Professor Emeritus of Sociology (London School of Economics)

Her main research interest is 'cults', 'sects' and new religious movements, the changes they undergo and the social reactions to which they give rise. Since 1989 she has also been investigating changes in the religious situation in Eastern Europe, Japan and China.

Selected Publications

  • Chapter: 2017. “From Cult Wars to Constructive Cooperation – Well, Sometimes” in Eugene V. Gallagher (editor) The ‘Cult Wars’ in Historical Perspective. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. 9-22.
  • Chapter: 2017. “The Changing Scene: What Might Happen and What Might Be Less Likely to Happen?” in Eugene V. Gallagher (ed.) New and Minority Religions: Projecting the Future. Farnham: Ashgate. Pp.7-19
  • Chapter: 2016. “From The Children Of God to The Family International: A Story of Radical Christianity and Deradicalising Transformation” in Stephen Hunt (ed.) the Handbook of Contemporary Christianity: Movements, Institutions & Allegiance. Leiden: Brill. 402-421.
  • Article: 2015. "Here, There and/or Anywhere? Minority Religions and their Migration In and Out of Britain." Czech and Slovak Journal of Humanities Anthropologica Culturalia March 1915:18-30.
  • Chapter: 2015. “New Religious Movements”. In: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 16. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 805–808.
  • (For more see her LSE profile)

J. Gordon Melton

Distinguished Professor of American Religious History (Baylor University)

He also serves as the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Woodway, Texas. Since joining the Institute for Studies in Religion (ISR) at Baylor University, he has been developing a set of joint projects between ISR and the Woodway-based Institute, the initial project being a comprehensive census of the American Buddhist and Hindu communities completed in 2012. Since that time he has worked on a church survey of McLennan County (where Waco is located) and a project on the changing state of the church in China.

Selected Publications

Stuart A. Wright
saints under siege

Stuart A. Wright

Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice (Lamar University)

Stuart A. Wright is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Lamar. He is a former NIMH Research Fellow (Yale) and Rockefeller Foundation Scholar (Bellagio, Italy). He has authored over fifty publications in scholarly books and journals. Dr. Wright is known internationally for his research on religious and political movements, conflict and violence.

Selected Publications

Bernadette Rigal-Cellard

Professeur (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)

Bernadette Rigal-Cellard, agrégée d’anglais, est professeure en études nord-américaines à l’Université Bordeaux Montaigne. Elle y dirige le master « Religions et sociétés » et le Centre d’études canadiennes. Elle est spécialiste des religions nord-américaines contemporaines (notamment mormonisme et catholicisme amérindien), de leurs implantations internationales et des processus d’inculturation.

Selected Publications

  • Book: Les Douze Tribus, la communauté messianique de Sus en France. (Louvain-la-Neuve : EME Éditions, 2019)
  • Article:  « Katrina, signe de la fin des temps dans le discours des évangélistes millénaristes ». in Frédérie Le Blay. A Universal Imagination of the End of the World ? Cambridge Scholars, 2018, p. 119-141.
  • Article: "The Visible Expansion of Scientology and its Actors." The Journal of Cesnur. Volume 3: issue 1 (January-February 2019), p. 8-118.
  • Book: La religion des mormons (Paris: Albin Michel, 2012)
  • Prophéties et utopies religieuses au Canada (PESSAC FRANCE, PUB, 2011)
  • Article: « Kateri Tekakwitha, premier sainte autochtone d’Amérique du Nord »., Concilium, Revue internationale de théologie., 48 (2012/5) , 6 pages.
  • Article: « Un modèle d’immigration théocratique : comment l’Église mormone fit accourir les saints d’Europe pour construire la Nouvelle Jérusalem du Lac Salé (1837-1890). », Ils ont fait les Amériques... : Mobilités, territoires et imaginaires (1776-1930), PESSAC FRANCE, PUB
  • Article: « Dieux et Dieu font un : pluralisme et consensus aux États-Unis. », Actes 2010 de l’APHG d’Aquitaine, Sept 2011, 7 page(s)
(For more see U Bordeaux Montaigne or Expertes France profiles)

Liselotte Frisk

Professor in Religious Studies (Dalarna University, Sweden)

Liselotte Frisk has been a professor in Religious Studies at Dalarna University, Sweden, since 2006. She presented a doctoral dissertation on new religious movements in 1993 at Åbo Akademi, Finland, and after that worked as a lecturer at Umeå University in Sweden for a few years. In 1999 she moved to Dalarna University where she created a profile of studying new religious movements within Religious Studies. Research projects include two projects about New Age in the 1990s, and, later, a 3-year project about what happened to the new religious movements from the 1960s and 70s over the decades, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Another research project, undertaken together with Peter Åkerbäck, Stockholm University, dealt with a local mapping of the new spirituality in Dalarna (2008-2011), funded by Vetenskapsrådet. A research project, also funded by Vetenskapsrådet, deals with children in minority religions (2012-2015). All research projects have resulted in books and articles in Swedish as well as in English. Liselotte Frisk has been co-editor of the International Journal for the Study of New Religions (2010-2013), and is currently co-editor of Aura, a Nordic journal publishing academic articles about new religious movements. She was the director of International Society for the Study of New Religions for four years (2010-2013), and is now the vice director of FINYAR, the Nordic society for the academic study of new religions. Other research interests include new religions in Japan.
Selected Publications

Bernard Doherty

Course Director at St Mark's National Theological Centre (Charles Sturt University)

Bernard Doherty is a graduate of Macquarie University.  Following his PhD, Bernard was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University in the United States where he worked on a series of projects on New Religious Movements in Australia and abroad and on applying social science methodologies to the study of early Christianity.  Bernard has published in a number of academic journals including the Journal of Religious HistoryNova Religio, the International Journal for the Study of New Religions, the Alternative Spirituality and Religions ReviewPhronema, and the Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society.  Bernard's research interests are wide-ranging and include New Religious Movements, Patristics, Australian religious history, Church and State issues, religion and the media.

Selected Publications

  • Article: Quirky Neighbors or the Cult Next-Door? An Analysis of Public Perceptions of the Exclusive Brethren in Australia, International Journal for the Study of New Religions 3.2 (2012), 163-211.
  • Published Address: Preservation and Paradox: Challenges & Responses to Secularization on the Evangelical Fringe.
  • Article: The Smoke of Satan on the Silver Screen: The "Catholic Horror Film" through the lens of the Post-Vatican II Malaise. Religions  [Forthcoming]
  • Article: Sensational Scientology! The Church of Scientology and Australian Tabloid Television. Nova Religio 17.1 (2014), 38-63.
  • Article: The 'Brethren Cult Controversy': Dissecting a Contemporary Australian 'Social Problem.'
  • Chapter: Colonial Justice or Kangaroo Court? Public Controversy and the Church of Scientology in 1960s Australia Alternative Spirituality and Religions Review [Forthcoming]
  • (For more see his Charles Sturt University profile)
Jessica Pratezina

Jessica Pratezina

PhD student in Child and Youth Care and Sociology (University of Victoria)

Jessica Pratezina is a PhD student in Interdisciplinary Studies (Child and Youth Care and Sociology) at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Her research covers a number of topics including growing up in alternative religious movements, women’s narratives of religious transition, and the development of wise therapeutic/social work practice with people involved in these religious groups.

Selected Publications

Prophet Erin University of Florida 2019

Erin Prophet

Assistant Instructional Professor in the Department of Religion (University of Florida)

Erin Prophet, MPH, PhD, is Assistant Instructional Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida. She specializes in religion and medicine. Among her publications are “Charisma and Authority in New Religious Movements” in the Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements vol 2 (2016), and Evolution and Psychic Powers: Salvation, Healing and the Human After Darwin (forthcoming, Columbia). She is a co-author with Jeffrey Kripal of Comparing Religions (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014). She teaches on the paranormal, spirituality, and new religious movements. Since 2018, she has been a contributing researcher to the project Children in Sectarian Religions and State Control.


Sanja Nilsson

She is a Swedish scholar with a PhD from Dalarna University. She is a co-editor for Aura, a Nordic journal publishing academic articles about new religious movements.

Selected Publications

  • Thesis: Nilsson, S. (2019). Performing Perfectly: Presentations of Childhood in Knutby Filadelfia Before and After the Dissolution of the Congregation. (Doctoral dissertation). Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet
  • Book: Frisk, L., Nilsson, S. & Åkerbäck, P. (2018). Children in Minority Religions: Growing up in Controversial Religious Groups. London: Equinox Publishing
  • Chapter: Nilsson, S. (2016). Children in New Religions (vol 2ed.). In: James R. Lewis and Inga B. Tollefsen (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements: (pp. 248-263). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • (For more...)