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Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women's Roles in New Religions

Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women's Roles in New Religions (Hardback)

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Celibate sister or devoted Hindu wife; domineering, sexually expressive lover or veiled Nubian bride in polygamy; or perhaps, an asexual shaman. Such are the various roles available to women in some of today's new religious movements. This is one of the first books to delve into feminine conversion or opportunities for leadership which women have in these contemporary communal or millenarian groups. Based almost exclusively on interviews and first-hand data, Susan Palmer shows what innovative roles are afforded those women who choose to become members of these groups. Palmer focuses on seven specific groups: the International Society for the Krishna Consciousness, the Rajneesh Movement, the Unification Church, the Institute of Applied Metaphysics, Northeast Kingdom Community Church, the Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being, and the Raelian Movement. Each of these groups allow women to experiment to varying degrees with new concepts of gender and sexuality. Krishna-conscious women, for example, are defined solely as mothers. Unmarried or childless women alike hold the same status. The sexually expressive Rajneeshee is strictly a lover to the Swamis in the commune, but she is not permitted to give birth or raise her existing children and must ultimately reject marriage. Women begin their careers in the Unification Church as celibate sisters and become daughters of Reverend Moon who then blesses them in marriage to one of their brothers. More roles are then available to the women, but only in increments and as designated by the leader. No matter which group it is, whether lover or wife, a woman transfers spiritual qualities not just to her lover or husband but to thewhole community. Through this transfer, she may earn power and respect and often authority within the organization. Why do women join such groups? Palmer's research indicates that women sometimes see these religious movements as a temporary refuge in which they may accomplish a

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