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Volume 34, Issue 3, July 2004, Pages 163-189
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doi:10.1016/j.religion.2004.04.014    How to Cite or Link Using DOI (Opens New Window)
Copyright © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Alien demonology: the Christian roots of the malevolent extraterrestrial in UFO religions and abduction spiritualities

Christopher PartridgeE-mail The Corresponding Author

Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University College Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ, UK

Available online 17 August 2004.

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Initially, the sacralisation of the extraterrestrial led to an understanding of the alien as a fundamentally benevolent, messianic figure—a ‘technological angel’. This was largely because of the Cold War environment in which much UFO religion arose. Those attracted to the myth looked beyond a politically and militarily unstable planet to extraterrestrial saviours. Furthermore, because UFO religions have their roots in the Theosophical tradition, the religious understanding of the extraterrestrial tended to be fundamentally indebted to the concept of the wise and benevolent ascended master. The aim of this article is to examine the technological angel's foil. The central thesis is that, in their construction of the malevolent alien, UFO religionists and abductees turn not to Theosophy and Eastern religious traditions but to the myths and symbols of Christian demonology. Moreover, in exploring the origins and nature of the demonologies of contemporary UFO religions and abduction spiritualities, the article also draws attention to the importance of popular culture in the West, which, itself influenced by the Christian tradition, contributes to the formation of both popular demonology and also UFO mythology, which are in turn synthesised in UFO demonologies.

Article Outline

1. Introduction
2. Demonology in the West
3. Popular culture, abduction narratives and the technological demon
4. Demonising the extraterrestrial in religious discourse
5. The reptilian agenda
6. Conclusion

Volume 34, Issue 3, July 2004, Pages 163-189
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