Fifty years ago Soka Gakkai was an organization of a few hundred people, all of them in Japan. Today it is one of the world's most rapidly expanding religious movements with members in virtually every country in Europe, the Americas, and Australasia, in most of Asia, and in several parts of Africa. It is also increasingly well publicized, sponsoring and promoting a variety of cultural and educational causes and establishing a high profile for itself in world affairs. All of this has created a movement which is a significant social phenomenon; yet to date Soka Gakkai has received little attention from Western academics. Bryan Wilson and Karel Dobbelaere draw on their thorough survey of the UK membership to trace the source of the movement's attraction and analyze its potential. They also carried out some 30 interviews with members, whom they encouraged to tell their story in their own way. As the decline in belief in an anthropomorphic deity, the sense that traditional religious institutions have become hollow, and the emphasis on the private nature of belief and on personal autonomy become characteristic features of contemporary western values, Wilson and Dobbelaere suggest that Soka Gakkai has found a ready resonance with these changing currents of thought in contemporary society. They conclude that Soka Gakkai's appeal to young people in particular makes it a faith whose time may have come.
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