An analysis of the new religious movements in the west

Academic study of new religious movements "Three basic questions have been paramount in orienting theory and research on NRMs: Gordon Melton argued that "new religious movements" should be defined by the manner in which they are treated by dominant religious and secular forces within a given society.

An analysis of the new religious movements in the west

Although some NRMs indeed are of recent origin, many others constitute contemporary rediscoveries or recombinations of cultural themes explored by predecessor groups. Likewise, many NRMs are not religious in the traditional sense. The admixture of contemporary forms of technological innovation, therapy and medicine, economic enterprise, and global organization has given some NRMs a decidedly anomalous profile.

Finally, a great number of NRMs are cultural transplants, most often of Asian origin, new in the sense only that they are new to the West. Such groups may manifest social movement characteristics in their societies of destination but are likely to have a much more institutional form in their societies of origin.

The available evidence strongly indicates that there has been a long history of nontraditional religious groups in the United States and that these groups have maintained a strong minority presence Moore Since a high proportion of these NRMs have survived, the overall number has continued to rise.

The erosion of the cultural dominance of these established traditions along with the rapid influx of NRMs has enhanced awareness of religious diversity and of the minority traditions that historically have maintained a more subterranean presence.

The period beginning in was one of exceptional growth in NRMs, particularly of groups of Asian origin, as a result of a relaxation in immigration statutes. According to Meltoncurrently there are over 1, religious groups in the United States, and about half of those are "nonconventional" a label that excludes various mainstream groups, sectarian offshoots of these groups, and immigrant churches.

Despite these impressive numbers, the vast majority of NRMs, of course, are small and are likely to have more impact as a set than individually. The extraordinary diversity of NRMs is captured by the number of traditions represented in their ranks.

One of the most important ways that social scientists have sought to offer theoretical interpretations for NRMs, while dealing with their obvious diversity, has been to create typologies through which theoretically linked explanations for different forms of movement ideology and organization can be fashioned.

Working from the premise that NRMs constitute responses to pervasive moral ambiguity, several typologies categorize movements in terms of the kinds of meaning they offer or individuals seek.

Anthony and Robbins have distinguished between monistic and dualistic NRMs and also have developed a number of additional subtypes. Movements with a monistic perspective proclaim meaning systems that are relativistic and subjectivistic, and are likely to conceive of the sacred as immanent.

Dualistic movements affirm moral absolutism and tend to conceive of the sacred as transcendent. Monism-dualism most sharply distinguishes Eastern and quasi-religious therapies, which are more likely to be monistic, from Western religions particularly conservative Christianitywhich are more likely to be dualistic.

Hargrove divides NRMs and individual seekers into two types, integrative and transformativebased on the kind of meaning that individuals are seeking and that movements offer.

Alienation is a problem for liberal personalities, and therefore they are likely to search out transformative NRMs in search of personal growth and new experiences; conservative personalities experiencing a breakdown in moral codes are likely to seek integrative NRMs that provide greater community.

Other typologies focus on the form of movement organization and the nature of the relationship between organization and adherents. Lofland and Richardson define "elemental forms" of NRM organization based on the extent of their corporateness, that is, the extent to which individuals create a shared collective life: Stark and Bainbridge distinguish three types of cults, which identify levels of organizational and client involvement: Finally, Bird develops a tripartite typology based on the relationship between adherents and movement.

In devotee groups, adherents submit themselves to a spiritual master or transcendent truth; in discipleship groups, adherents strive for mastery of spiritual disciplines in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment; and in apprenticeship groups, adherents work to acquire a variety of skills that will allow them to unleash spiritual powers that reside within them.

Finally, NRMs have been categorized on the basis of their relationship to the prevailing structure of social relations. Wallis distinguishes between world-affirming and world-rejecting movements. The former affirms conventional norms and values and offers a means for adherents to realize untapped individual potential with minimal distancing from conventional society; the latter is antagonistic to conventional society and requires that adherents distance themselves from mainstream social life, which is deemed irreparably corrupted and doomed to destruction.

Bromley makes a similar distinction, between adaptive and transformative movements. However, he roots the distinction in the form of social relations each type of movement seeks to authorize and empower. Some social scientists regard NRMs as evidence of the fallacy of a linear evolutionary model of secularization or have offered alternative models, such as the Stark and Bainbridge cyclical model of periodic resurgence of new religious movements, with NRMs appearing and gaining adherents as mainline religious bodies secularize.

Others take the emergence of NRMs as evidence of secularization. Wilsonfor example, argues that Western societies have become highly secularized, and religion has become one component of consumer-determined lifestyle choices; NRMs are simply among the more exotic choices available in the contemporary spiritual supermarket.A new religious movement (NRM) is a religious community or spiritual group of modern origins (since the mids), which has a peripheral place within its society's dominant religious culture.

NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS: AN OVERVIEW Scholars adopted the term new religious movements (NRMs) in order to avoid the pejorative connotations of the popularly used term cult. Source for information on New Religious Movements: An Overview: Encyclopedia of Religion dictionary.

Dr. Marvin Olasky has responded here to our critique of his column in World Magazine regarding Uganda’s legislative efforts to curb homosexuality. While we respect Dr. Olasky’s analysis and commentary in many areas, we disagree with his thinking in this instance. A new religious movement (NRM) is a faith-based community, or ethical, spiritual, or philosophical group of recent origin.

NRMs may be novel in origin or they may be part of a wider religion, such as Christianity, in which case they will be distinct from pre-existing denominations.


An analysis of the new religious movements in the west

Most importantly, an extension of the field covered by criticism of cults was taking place. Originally, anti-cult groups had felt that they were dealing with a new type of movement. Over time, however, there was a process of widening, rather like concentric circles. A new religious movement from the perspective of the dominant religious community (and in the West that is almost always a form of Christianity), to be not just different, but unacceptably different." New religious movements and cults have appeared as themes or subjects in literature and popular culture.

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