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J. Gordon Melton is the director in Santa Barbara, California, of the Institute for the Study of American Religion. He is the author of the influentialEncyclopedia of American Religions"and some twenty other works, co-author of the award-winningReligions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices," and a frequent contributor to scholarly books and journals on the subject of new religions. His previous book in this series, Scientology," was praised in theJournal of Church and State"as a crisp, cogent study by one of the foremost experts on new and unconventional religions, noting that few books pack as much information into so little space or in such an insightful, objective, and scholarly way."