new religious movements

new religious movements (NRM)

sectarian or communitarian groups of worshippers, not necessarily Christian, who have usually undergone an intense conversion experience, and are often regarded with suspicion or even hostility by the public and press. Barker (1989) estimates that there are at least five hundred different new religious movements in the UK. This apparent diversity – expressed in the differences of outlook and constituency and in the methods of recruitment of the many various groups – has been usefully conceptualized by Wallis (1984), who divides them into ‘world rejecting (e.g. the Moonies, Hare Krishna), ’world affirming (e.g. Transcendental Meditation, Scientology) and ‘world accommodating movements (e.g. evangelical, charismatic, ’born again Christian renewal groups).

World rejection movements expect their converts to reject their past lives, and to separate themselves from family and friends. The outside world is regarded with suspicion and hostility. Personal identity is submerged into the collective identity of the community which always takes priority over the individual, and which encourages the sharing of possessions and affection. World affirming movements see the external world more benevolently. These movements tend to be more individualistic, with belief systems less clearly codified and articulated and acts of worship less organized. World affirming movements tend to regard everyone as having hidden potential and capacities which can be unlocked by believers and practitioners. Happiness and contentment are seen as something within everyone's grasp, provided that new ways of relating to the world (rather than rejecting or transforming it) are adopted. World accommodating movements tend to emphasize the importance of individual religious experience. Evangelical church groups are typical, where collective celebrations of faith are the vehicle for feelings of intense personal involvement with the spiritual and sacred realms addressed in acts of worship.

Though diverse and numerous, NRM tend individually to have only a small number of members. Public hostility is thus not justified by their numerical strength. Rather, this hostility should be seen as a product of the particular orientation which different groups adopt towards the world: in so far as world rejecting movements demand the total involvement of their members, and the breaking of family ties, anger and resentment are going to be almost inevitable consequences. NRM seem to have grown as a result of people's dissatisfaction with the kind of religious experience offered by the traditional Christian churches. Arguably too, they can be seen as a response to the crisis of identity’ in late modernity discussed by GIDDENS (1991). Given, however, the relatively small number of people actually involved in NRM, and the fact that they seem to appeal mostly to the young middle class, and then only for a few years, their recent growth cannot be seen as something which seriously offsets the trend towards SECULARIZATION. See also SECT, CULT, SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
It details the theological, philosophical, and scientific shifts in the concepts of nature and the supernatural in the 17th and 18th centuries; the practice of magic, witchcraft, and treasure seeking; the case against the supernatural in formal treatises, literature, theater, sermons, and broadsides; and how supernatural claims created new religious movements, including Shakers, Native American prophets, and Mormons, as well as Wilkonsonians, Cochranites, Osgoodites, and Babcockists.
And for some younger people finding their way through life, it provides calm in a fast, changing social world, through cults, sects and 'new religious movements'.
Encyclopedia of new religious movements. (reprint, 2006)
Her keen eye for the contradictions of individualism versus collectivity, submission versus authority, and ideology versus practice make this an engaging read that is relevant beyond the scope of this now defunct small group or even the study of new religious movements. Awesome Families provides an in-depth look into the lives and experiences of members and demonstrates the power of communal accountability in forging religious identity.
Richardson explores the myriad ways in which religious groups, especially new religious movements, are investigated, intimidated, and often restricted in their rights and activities.
Other important dates are the founding of Information Network Focus Network On New Religious Movements (INFORM) in London in 1988 and The Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) in Turin the same year.
have helped to foster conditions in which new religious movements arise and flourish.
NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS, and new religious interpretations as well as the changing relations, instruments, discourses of them constitute an essential segment of the historical and philosophical flux in which we are living.
New religious movements find their identity ma direct experience of the presence of God, rather than in a given confessional tradition.
Shamanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity, as well as a whole spectrum of new religious movements, coexist peacefully in one of the most religiously pluralistic countries in the world.
The persistent allegations that the Russian Orthodox Church is in effect or aspires to be a state church -- or at least has advantages over other religious communities -- tend in the majority to come from active atheists and representatives of new religious movements. Thus when a member of the holy synod makes a statement to the effect that "Russian statehood is a rampart of the Orthodox Church", it puts society on the alert.(7) And the desire of government authorities at all levels for the church's support in promoting social, education or cultural programmes is likely to elicit rigorous, if often unwarranted, criticism in the press and among some politicians.
Scholars of religion, often from a social science perspective, examine the Church of Scientology, arguable the most controversial of the new religious movements because of its involvement in a number of legal conflicts.

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