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Template:COI James R. Lewis is a professional writer and academic specializing in new religious movements and New Age. He was born in Leonardtown, Maryland, and raised in New Port Richey, Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Wales, Lampeter, in the United Kingdom, and pursued a career as a professional reference book writer in the 1990s. He currently teaches in the University of Wisconsin system and, on an adjunct basis, at DePaul University. A prolific author, he won Choice book awards for his Cults in America and for The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements. He currently edits a series on Contemporary Religions for Brill, and co-edits a series on Controversial New Religions for Ashgate.[1]

Aum Shinrikyo

In May 1995, after the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, he and fellow scholar Gordon Melton flew to Japan to hold a pair of press conferences in which they announced that the chief suspect in the murders, religious group Aum Shinrikyo, could not have produced the sarin that the attacks had been committed with. They had determined this, Lewis said, from photos and documents provided by the group.[2] Police reports describe that they had discovered at Aum's main compound in March a sophisticated chemical weapons laboratory that was capable of producing thousands of kilograms a year of the poison.[3] Later investigation showed that Aum not only created the sarin used in the subway attacks, but had committed previous chemical and biological weapons attacks, including a previous attack with sarin that had killed seven and injured 144 persons.[4] During the Aum Shinrikyo incident Lewis and Melton's bills for travel, lodging and accommodations were paid for by Aum, according to The Washington Post.[5][6]


  • Lewis, James R. (2009). Scientology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195331494.
  • (with Sarah Lewis) Sacred Schisms
  • (with Murph Pizza) Handbook of Contemporary Paganism
  • The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements
  • (with Jesper Petersen) Controversial New Religions
  • (with Olav Hammer) The Invention of Sacred Tradition
  • (with Daren Kemp) Handbook of New Age
  • The Order of the Solar Temple
  • Cults [in America][7]
  • From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco
  • The Gods Have Landed
  • Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft
  • (with J. Gordon Melton) Perspectives on the New Age
  • Doomsday Prophecies
  • (with Carl Skutsch) The Human Rights Encyclopedia
  • The Dream Encyclopedia
  • (with Evelyn Oliver) Angels A to Z
  • The Astrology Encyclopedia
  • The Encyclopedia of Afterlife Beliefs and Phenomena
  • The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions
  • The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of New Age Religions
  • Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy
  • Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions
  • Legitimating New Religions
  • Peculiar Prophets
  • Seeking the Light: Uncovering the Truth About the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and Its Founder John-Roger
  • Satanism Today
  • Sex, Slander, and Salvation


  1. "Lewis, James R.".
  2. Apologetics Index, Aum Shinrikyo, Aum Supreme Truth; Aum Shinri Kyo; Aleph, 2005
  3. CDC website, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aum Shinrikyo: Once and Future Threat?, Kyle B. Olson, Research Planning, Inc., Arlington, Virginia
  4. CW Terrorism Tutorial, A Brief History of Chemical Warfare, Historical Cases of CW Terrorism, Aum Shinrikyo, 2004
  5. Tokyo Cult Finds an Unlikely Supporter, The Washington Post, T.R. Reid, May 1995. "The Americans said the sect had invited them to visit after they expressed concern to Aum's New York branch about religious freedom in Japan. The said their airfare, hotel bills and 'basic expenses' were paid by the cult"
  6. Japan's Waco: Aum Shinrikyo and the Eclipse of Freedom in the Land of the Rising Sun, James R. Lewis, 1998
  7. Lewis, James R. Cults 1[in America]: A Reference Handbook. ABC-Clio, Contemporary World Issues series, 1998: ISBN 157607031X22005: ISBN 1851096183. At Google Book Search
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