The Challenges of Universalising Religions: the Kabbalah Centre in France and Britain.

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Abstract

The Kabbalah Centre is an offshoot of Judaism which since the 1990s has spread kabbalistic teaching in several countries to a religiously diverse audience. This article compares two European branches of the Kabbalah Centre: the flourishing London Centre, and the Parisian Centre that declined in the late 1990s before closing its doors in 2005. It emphasizes in particular the responses they stirred from the media, anticult movements, Orthodox Judaism and the Jewish population. Ultimately, this case study allows us to observe, in situ, the trajectory of a global religion, torn between its Jewish roots and universalistic ambitions. It emphasizes the importance, in this process, of the relationship it maintains, willingly or not, with its original religious frame. Consequently, the importance of local contexts is raised, illustrating the impact and combination of diverse factors. In addition to public and official responses to religious diversity, religious movements are affected by the religious landscape and the structures and authorities of religious organizations, as well as the religious and cultural characteristics of the population. Ultimately, this article underscores the complexity of the globalization of religion, which embraces a wide range of complex, sometimes ambiguous, situations lying between strong particularistic identity-claims and cosmopolitan, universalistic ambitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-43
Number of pages22
JournalNova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011

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