Benjamin E. Zeller is a researcher and teacher of religion in America. He focuses on religious currents that are new or alternative, including new religions, the religious engagement with science, and the quasi-religious relationship people have with food. His interests are united by an interest in expanding the conversation about religion by including less commonly studied groups, phenomena, and topics, and looking at more common topics (e.g. religion & science; American religious history) from new angles.

Zeller is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion at Lake Forest College, a private liberal arts college in the Chicago suburbs. He previously served as Director of the College Honors Program, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, and Coordinator of the Religion and Philosophy Major at Brevard College, and visiting Fulbright Fellow at Åbo Akademi (Turku, Finland).

He is available for lecturing or consulting on a variety of topics related to religion in the contemporary world, and has spoken at venues as diverse as the WorldCon science fiction convention, Rooftops Conference on non-profit real estate, National Public Radio, BBC radio, CBS's 20/20, and documentaries appearing on Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.


Ph.D. University of North Carolina
M.T.S., Harvard University
B.A., University of Rochester

Religion, Attire, and Adornment in North America, edited with Marie W. Dallam (Columbia University Press, 2023). 

Handbook of UFO Religions, ed. (Brill, 2021).

Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion (New York University Press, 2014).

Religion, Food, and Eating in North America, edited with Marie W. Dallam, Reid L. Neilson, and Nora L. Rubel (Columbia University Press, 2014).

The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements, edited with George D. Chryssides (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America (New York University Press, 2010).

For a list of articles, conference papers, and awards, please see his CV, available at

Lecturing Fields
American Religions
New Religious Movements
Religion and Food
Religion and Science
Religion and Science Fiction

Current Research Interests
New Religious Movements
Religion and Food
Science and Religion

Contact Information
Buchanan Hall, Dept. of Religion
555 North Sheridan Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045

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Scholar, speaker, academic consultant. Excerpt on new religious movements, sects, cults, UFO religions. Scholar and author on the topic of religion and food.