The World Religions & Spirituality Project (WRSP) was established in 2010 at Virginia Commonwealth University. The mission of the WRSP is to provide objective, reliable and comprehensive information about the world’s diverse array of religious and spiritual groups. The central feature of the WRSP website is, therefore, profiles of contemporary religious and spiritual movements, established world religions, and historical religious and spiritual movements. Wherever possible, profiles are prepared by scholars of record for the groups that they profile. Each profile includes a presentation of the group’s history, distinctive beliefs, rituals, organization and leadership, and issues/challenges. Particularly with respect to newer groups, reliable information often is less accessible, and this website offers comprehensive, balanced information for religion scholars, students, media representatives and those with a personal interest in understanding the diversity of religious and spiritual alternatives in the contemporary world. In addition to the group profiles, WRSP features an ARTICLES/PAPERS section, which contains scholarship that supplements and provides context for the profiles; an ARCHIVES section, which hosts historically important documents for some groups and provides links to other archival sites; the WRSP FORUM, which conducts interviews with individuals who offer important information and perspective on groups and issues relevant to the WRSP mission; WRSP VIDEO CONNECTIONS, which provides links to contextual video material that can be found online; and WRSP SPECIAL PROJECTS, which provide all of the WRSP components for specific topics or geographical regions.
The World Religions and Spirituality Project draws its original inspiration and impetus from the New Religious Movements Homepage Project, which was founded in 1995 by Professor Jeffrey K. Hadden in conjunction with an undergraduate course on New Religious Movements. Under Professor Hadden’s leadership the Religious Movements Homepage grew into one of the largest sites of its kind in the world and became an important Internet resource for scholarship and teaching in the area of contemporary religious movements. Following Professor Hadden’s untimely death in 2003, Professor Douglas E. Cowan, Renison College of the University of Waterloo, assumed the position of Project Director to assure the website’s continuation. In 2010, Professor David G. Bromley, Virginia Commonwealth University, became Project Director and redirected and broadened the mission of what has now become the World Religions & Spirituality Project (WRSP). New components have been added to the original project, and authors now are recruited from scholars around the world who are authors of record on the groups they profile, and groups of scholars are assuming leadership roles in WRSP through the development or WRSP SPECIAL PROJECTS.
David G. Bromley, Ph.D.
Professor, Religious Studies Program, School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University
Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Humanities and Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University
The World Religions and Spirituality Project gratefully acknowledges funding from the Virginia Commonwealth University Honors College Virginia Comonwealth University Honors College, the Shand Research Grant Program administered by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Thomas Robbins Trust. This funding was particularly instrumental in initial website construction and development. WRSP is in the process of building an endowment to support the work of building and sustaining the project.
Several outstanding students have contributed to the development of WRSP. These Research Associates have assumed leadership roles with WRSP and have co-authored and authored group profiles for the project.
Ms. Amanda Telefsen (2011-2012)
Ms. Leah Hott (2012-2013)
A number of undergraduate and graduate students have assisted in data gathering and profile drafting for WRSP in conjunction with their academic work.
Ms. Stephanie Edelman (2011-2012)
Mr. Reed Braden (2016-2017)
Mr. Luke Alexander