Background and activities


Briefly about ...

I was trained in History, Sociology, and History of Religions at the University of Oslo, and started working as lecturer at NTNU in January 2000. I became an associate professor in 2001 and full professor in 2010. 

I enjoy teaching, especially undergraduate courses, I am an enthusiastic popularizer of what others find strange, weird, or uncanny, and I'm as full time science/academia geek as my other geeky interests (and family life) allows.

Not always with equal enthusiasm, I've acted as vice chair or chair since 2002, at the Dept. of Religious Studies (reorganized 2003), the Dept. of Archaeology and Religious Studies (reorganized 2013), and Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies (2013- ).

Among other things, I'm a member of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), the International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR), Föreningen forskning och information om nyreligiösitet (FINYAR), and  Norsk Religionshistorisk Forening, where I've been secretary for a long decade.

I'm a past (co-) editor of the Nordic journal Chaos, and I'm currently editor (with Alex Norman, Sydney) of International Journal for the Study of New Religions, and on the editorial board of a handful of other journals. I'm national contact for and on the management committee for the COST-action Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theory. I'm member of the Academy of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters.

I've been editor of the Norwegian online journal Skepsis since the early 2000s. I later became editor for the whole set of webpresences for the Norwegian Skeptics Society. 



My research tends to be about contemporary religion, its different expressions and conditions, with a sideways glance at questions of theory or method that catch my interest. The religious expressions cover the spectrum from "fundamentalism" and "New Age", to Satanism and conspiracy culture. The past few years, whenever administrative duties has allowed, I've concentrated mainly on Satanism, apocalypse- and conspiracy culture. Currently, the latter is almost sole focus, taking a more psychological (cognitive) turn.

Current collaborative ventures includes:

-Shifting Boundaries: Definitions, Expressions and Consequences of Antisemitism in Contemporary Norway (SHIFTBOUND)

- Conspiracy Mentality in a Religious Minority

- Conspiracy Mentality in Norway

- Political Ideology and Conspiracy Mentality

- Brill Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion


I've taught as broadly in the history and sociology of religion as has at times been needed, but my main competences revolve around a type of contemporary western religion we could call 'occulture', and the theories and methods of the discipline. Among the current courses we offer, I've most often taught

RVI1010 Theories of Religion

RVI2125 Contemporary Western Religion


Thesis supervision

I primarily supervise projects related to

- new religious movements and alternative spiritualities

- western esotericism

- religion and popular culture

- conspiracy culture

- apocalypse culture


I'm also interested in relevant projects on the cultures and practices of alternative medicine, and comparative studies of rationalist movements, their discourses and practices.

Anything else is open to discussion.


Select list of publications


New Age and Norwegian 'Conspirituality'. pp.159-181 in Gilhus, Ingvild, Siv-Ellen Kraft & James R. Lewis (eds.) New Age in Norway. Equinox.



Satanism in Norway. i Olav Hammer & Henrik Bogdan (red.): Western Esotericism in Scandinavia. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. ss.481-488.

Conspiracy Theory and New Religious Movements. i Inga B. Tøllefsen & James R. Lewis (red.) Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements vol. 2.  New York: Oxford University Press. ss. 198-209



w/James R. Lewis og Jesper Aa. Petersen. The Invention of Satanism. Oxford University Press.

w/Egil Asprem. Conspirituality Reconsidered: How Surprising and How New is the
Confluence of Spirituality and Conspiracy Theory? Journal of Contemporary Religion  Vol.30, No.3: 367-382

Norwegian Conspirituality: A Brief Sketch. i Lewis, James R. & Inga B. Tøllefsen  (red.)  Brill Handbooks of Contemporary Religion vol.11 Nordic New Religions. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, pp.268-290.  


Hidden Knowledge, Hidden Powers. Esotericism and Conspiracy Culture. Ss.200-225 i Egil Asprem & Kennet Granholm (red.) Contemporary Esotericism. London: Equinox Publishing 2013

m/Egil Asprem. Sorte brorskap, mørke korrespondanser og frelsende avsløringer. Konspirasjonsteorier som esoterisk diskurs. Din. Tidsskrift for religion og kultur. nr. 2 2013. ss.32-61

m/Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair. Om religion fra et evolusjonspsykologisk perspektiv. Impuls. Tidsskrift for psykologi. nr.1. 2013 ss.62-69.


Djevelske konstruksjoner. En historisk-tematisk oversikt over skandinavisk satanismeforskning. Aura. Tidsskrift for nyreligiøse studier. Vol.4 2012, ss.156-179

'Hidden Persuaders and Invisible Wars. Anton LaVey and Conspiracy Culture'. ss.123-139 i  Per Faxneld & Jesper Aagaard Petersen (red.) The Devil's Party. Satanism in Modernity. Oxford University Press 2012. 

Guds lov, Guds regime? Amerikansk kristenfundamentalisme og totalitarisme. ss. 165-197 i Øystein Sørensen, Bernt Hagtvet & Bjørn Arne Steine (red.): Politikk og religion. En farlig kombinasjon? Oslo: Dreyer forlag 2012

m/Jesper Aa. Petersen. Satanism.  ss. 215-229  i O.Hammer & M. Rothstein (red.):Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2012

Satan and the Beast. The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Modern Satanism. ss.369-394 i Henrik Bogdan & Martin P. Starr (red.): Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism. An Anthology of Critical Studies. New York: Oxford University Press 2012.

Diverse bidrag i Mona H. Klausen & Kjetil Hope (red.). Skepsis. Guide til kritisk tenkning. Oslo: Humanist forlag 2012.



m/ Olav Hammer. 'Hvad kan man vide om religion? Mod en kritik af den metodologiske agnosticisme', ss.117-136 i Torben Hammersholt & Caroline Schaffalitzky de Muckadell (red.)  At kortlægge religion. Grundlagsdiskussioner i religionsforskningen. Højbjerg: Forlaget Univers.

Ulrika Mårtensson, Jennifer Bailey, Priscilla Ringrose & Asbjørn Dyrendal (red.). Fundamentalism in the Modern World: vol. 1: Fundamentalism, Politics and History: The State, Globalisation and Political Ideologies. London: I.B. Tauris.

Ulrika Mårtensson, Jennifer Bailey, Priscilla Ringrose & Asbjørn Dyrendal (red.) Fundamentalism in the Modern World: v. 2: Fundamentalism and Communication: Culture, Media and the Public Sphere. London: I.B. Tauris.




"Oh no it isn't!" Skeptics and the Rhetorical Use of Science in Religion. i Olav Hammer & James R. Lewis (red.) Handbook of Religion and the Authority of Science. ss.879-900. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.

Sykdomsindustrien. Moderne medisin i alternativkulturens demonologi. DIN: Tidsskrift for religion og kultur 1-2 2010, ss.141-160


Darkness Within. Satanism as Self-Religion. i Jesper Aagaard Petersen (red.). Contemporary Religious Satanism. Oxford:Ashgate.

m/Didrik Søderlind. Social-Democratic Satanism? Some Examples of Satanism in Scandinavia. i Jesper Aagaard Petersen (red.). Contemporary Religious Satanism. Oxford:Ashgate.

Media, kriminalitet og religion: satanisme som sterk ondskapsforståelse. i Impuls. Tidsskrift for psykologi. nr.2 2009. ss.30-39

Satanism and Popular Music. I: C. Partridge & E. Christianson (red.): The Lure of the Dark Side. Satan and Western Demonology in Popular Culture. London: Equinox. 

Illuminerte, frimurere, katolikker og kommunister: Konspirasjonsteorier om den indre fiende i amerikansk historie. Humanist. Tidsskrift for livssynsdebatt. nr.4 2009, ss.36-51 

m/Titus Hjelm, Jesper Aagaard Petersen & Henrik Bogdan. Nordic Satanism and Satanism Scares. The Dark Side of the Secular Welfare State.  i Social Compass 56:4, ss. 515-529



Devilish Consumption: Popular Culture in Satanic Socialization. Numen Vol.55 No.1, ss.68-98.

Med fokus på skadevirkning.

m/ Amina Olander Lap. Satanism as News Item in Norway and Denmark. A Brief History. i Lewis, James & Jesper Aagaard Petersen (red.): Encyclopedic Sourcebook on Satanism. Buffalo: Prometheus Books. s.327-360

Dommedag og kollektivt selvmord. i Arnfinn Pettersen og Asbjørn Dyrendal (red.): Dommedag! Verdens ende før og nå. Humanist forlag 2008 s.189-214.

Dommedagsbevegelser: teori og empiri. i Arnfinn Pettersen og Asbjørn Dyrendal (red.): Dommedag! Verdens ende før og nå. Humanist forlag 2008. s.27-49.


Religionsbegrepet i kristen fundamentalisme. i Sigurd Hjelde & Otto Krogseth (red.) Religion – et vestlig fenomen? Om bruk og betydning av religionsbegrepet. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk. Ss.100-116

Satanismens historie. Humanist 1-2007 ss.4-33.

Hoder på stake. Hva er Mungiki?

Psychology and the Satanic Ritual Abuse Controversy. A Brief Research Review.


Demoner. Besettende djevler og andre ondskapsfulle vesener. Oslo:Humanist forlag. 238s.

Fusk eller heksejakt? Saken mot Eva Lundgren. i Humanist. Tidsskrift for livssynsdebatt. 1-2006. ss.48-64

Satanisme og populærkultur. Din. Tidsskrift for kultur og religion. 3-4 2005 s.49-59

Usant og ubehagelig? i Dyrendal, Asbjørn, Arnfinn Pettersen & Didrik Søderlind (red.) Åpent sinn eller høl i hue? Oslo: Humanist forlag. (s.91-110.)

Den indre fiende i amerikansk historie. Din. Tidsskrift for kultur og religion, 1-2006, s.35-42.


Pseudovitenskap - en etisk utfordring? i Thorseth, May. (red.) Psevdovitenskap og etikk. Trondheim: Skriftserie ved Program for anvendt etikk nr.5. ss.35-44.

Satanisme - en innføring. Din. Tidsskrift for kultur og religion. nr.4 2004. ss.47-57.


De andres vold - og vår. Din. Tidsskrift for religion og samfunn. 3-4 2003 s.2-7

Religionsvitenskap, religionskritikk og kritisk teori. Humanist. Tidsskrift for livssynsdebatt. Nr.2. 2004 s.14-33

Religiøse organisasjoner og maktmisbruk. Humanist. Tidsskrift for livssynsdebatt. Nr.3. 2004 s.56-67

Et Satans mannfolk. Den autoriserte Anton LaVey. Din. Tidsskrift for kultur og religion. Nr.2-3 2004. ss.73-83.


True Religion versus Cannibal Others? Rhetorical Constructions of Satanism among American Evangelicals. (404s.) Acta Humaniora nr. 174. Oslo: Unipub forlag

Denne verdens herskere. Konspirasjonstenkning som virkelighetsforståelse. i Pettersen, Arnfinn & Terje Emberland (red.): Konspiranoia. Konspirasjonsteorier fra 666 til WTC. Oslo: Humanist forlag 2003. (s.18-50)

Jakten på Satans tjenere. Satanismepanikkene og den paranoide stil. i Pettersen, Arnfinn & Terje Emberland (red.): Konspiranoia. Konspirasjonsteorier fra 666 til WTC. Oslo: Humanist forlag 2003. (s.229-261)

Ritualer og ritualer, fru Blom... Humanist. Tidsskrift for livssynsdebatt. nr.3 2003. s.28-45

Autoritet, makt og motstand som retoriske fenomen. Autoriserende og undergravende tale i debatten om nyreligiøse bevegelser. i CHAOS Dansk-norsk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier nr.40 2003. s.91-102

(If you've actually come this far: it does go on a decade further back, but a select list should stop somewhere. Nor have I included an embarassingly large number of academic blog posts, book reviews, popular essays on irrelevant topics etc.)