Abstract: This article considers the new religious movement popularly known as Heaven's Gate within the context of American religious history, focusing on its soteriology (scheme of salvation) and the place of the individual within it. I argue that this contextualization reveals a movement that held unusual yet clearly identifiable religious beliefs reflecting popular religious subcultures and possessing clear historical antecedents. Specifically, within Heaven's Gate's soteriology one finds a synthesis of elements drawn from New Age thinking, Christian beliefs, and popular attitudes, and built upon assumptions of individualism and personal autonomy that pervade American religion. Rather than being an aberration of American religious history, Heaven's Gate was quintessentially American, albeit outside the religious mainstream.
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Research Article| November 01 2006
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Benjamin Ethan Zeller; Scaling Heaven's Gate: Individualism and Salvation in a New Religious Movement. Nova Religio 1 November 2006; 10 (2): 75–102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2006.10.2.75
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