Ian Reader

Ian Reader is Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester. Previously he has held academic positions at higher education institutes in Japan, Hawaii, Denmark and Scotland. He focuses on the study of religion in various contexts, mainly in Japan; on emergent religious groups; on links between religion, violence and terror; and on studies of pilgrimage and travel. He has authored or co-authored 11 books, co-edited numerous volumes and written over 100 academic journal articles and book chapters. His most recent book, co-authored with Erica Baffelli, is Dynamism and the "Ageing of a Japanese 'New' Religion: Transformations and the Founder."

The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

With the execution of the Aum Shinrikyo leader and six of his followers, Japan looks to leave behind an era of tragedy.  On July 6, 2018, Japanese authorities executed seven members of the religious movement Aum Shinrikyo (Aum true religion, or supreme truth), which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack and a series of other atrocities. None of the executed men were directly... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Hajj 2015: The Precarious Balance Between Pilgrimage and Consumerism

The fine line between consumerism and religious credibility has been eroding at pilgrimage sites around the world. Preparations for this year’s Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken by devout Muslims at least once in their life, have been marred by the collapse of a crane at the Grand Mosque, which killed more than 100 people. The tragedy came just over a week before the pilgrimage was... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Aum Shinrikyo’s Spiritual Journey From Meditation to Mass Murder

How did Aum Shinrikyo, which began as a peaceful Buddhist sect, devolve into violence? Twenty years after Japan was shaken by Aum Shinrikyo’s nerve gas attack on March 20, 1995, which killed 13 people and injured thousands, the last of the court proceedings are finally coming to an end. In April 2015, Takahashi Katsuya was sentenced to life imprisonment. Takahashi was one of those who helped... Continue Reading

Fair Observer
Fair Observer, 461 Harbor Blvd, Belmont, CA 94002, USA