New Religions, Media, and Authority in Occupied Japan

Celebrity GodsCelebrity Gods: New Religions, Media, and Authority in Occupied Japan, by Benjamin Dorman, focuses on the leaders and founders (kyōsō) of Jiu and Tenshō Kōtai Jingū Kyō, two new religions of Japan’s immediate postwar period that received substantial press attention.

Looking back for precursors to the postwar relationship of new religions and media, Benjamin Dorman explores the significant role that the Japanese media traditionally played in defining appropriate and acceptable social behavior, acting at times as mouthpieces for government and religious authorities. Using the cases of Renmonkyō in the Meiji era and Ōmotokyō in the Taishō and Shōwa eras, Dorman shows how accumulated images of new religions in pre-1945 Japan became absorbed into those of the immediate postwar period. Given the lack of formal religious education in Japan, the media played an important role in transmitting notions of acceptable behavior to the public. He goes on to characterize the leaders of these groups as “celebrity gods,” demonstrating that the media, which were generally untrained in religious history or ideas, chose to fashion them as “celebrities” whose antics deserved derision.

Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture
February 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3621-4 / $42.00 (CLOTH)
Published in association with the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, Nanzan University