New religious movement

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New religious movement is a term that is used for certain religious communities. Such communities are usually small, compared to world religions. Very often, they do not have a long history. In most cases, the following will be true:

  • Most people in the movement converted from another religion; the case where the parents and children are part of the same movement does not occur often.[1]
  • The members are all part of the same social group, for example the new middle class.[2]
  • There is a charismatic leader.[2]
  • There is a clear distinction between people who are part of the movement, and those that are not. This distinction can often not be made easily, for mainstream religions.[2]
  • The way the group is organised may change.[3]

Other names for such movements include sect and cult. They are problematic though, because they have a negative connotation. Examples for movements that have been called cults are Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, Unification Church, Family International also called Children of God, Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate and Wicca.

References[change | change source]

  1. Eileen Barker: Perspective: What Are We Studying? In: Nova Religio 8, 2004, Vol. 1, pp. 88–102.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Eileen Barker: New religious movements: A practical introduction. Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, London 1989, pp 10f.
  3. David G. Bromley, Anson D. Shupe: Anti-Cultism in the United States: Origins, Ideology and Organizational Development. In: Social Compass 42, 1995, pp. 221–236,the statement is on page 228.