New Religious Movements

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Religion throughout the ages is always changing. New technologies, discoveries and emphasis have resulted in the breakaway from traditional religions. Secularisation is the claim that society is becoming increasingly less religious, NRM aim to show that this is not necessarily the case, the emphasis and direction of religion is just changing. 

When Did NRMs Emerge?

There have always been break away groups within religion dated back throughout the centuries but since the 1950's more and more sects have been developed. The term NRM has been used to replace terms such as 'cults' or 'sects'.

Examples of NRMs

  • Jehovah Witnesses Mormons
  • Baha'i Faith
  • Scientology 
  • Hare Krishna

NRMs are quite a hard phenomenon to define, due to their volatile and different natures. Some NRMs are variations of an established religion such as Jehovah Witnesses, others fight to find a new sense of the Divine. The factors that influence the development of NRMs also change from movement to movement. 

Causes of NRMs

The nature of NRMs is vast, so scholars have come up with six causes for NRMs: 

1. Disillusionment with established religion

When a religion has been around for a relatively long period of time it tends to lose some of its original dynamism. On times there is a tendency to become too assimilated into society and subsequently the compromise of traditional beliefs, values and practices. Members are sometimes left feeling that the relgion has been disloyal to the original views and values and so form breakaway groups, which in turn form their own religious organisation. 

Examples: Jewish Havurot Movement

2. A sense of disadvantage or deprivation

Sociologists have suggested that there is a link between NRM and the lower social groups within society. Webber argued that people need an explanation a reason for why they are in the position they are in and they need a way to feel superior over others. NRM can provide a reason for their deprivation in declaring the world as corrupt and the members of this relgious movement as the elite members of society. 

Niebuhr and Troeltsch show that NRM are linked to material poverty. Glock and Starck claim that the deprivation can be other than economic, maybe a lack of status, disability etc. If people are feeling deprived then they will often join a NRM with the hope that it will help to alleviate their deprivation. 

Karl Marx, 'religion is the opium of the people.' Relgion is a mask for people to hide behind!

Examples: Rastafarian/Black Muslisms.

3. Social Change

The scholar Wilson believes that NRMs develop in conditions of rapid change that disrupts normal life. Methodism (18th Century - response to the uncertainty of the Industrial Revolution). The constant change means that people search for a sense of belonging, support, stability and purpose which they find in these NRM. New Religious Movements offer stability in a time of uncertainty and change. 

The rise of multi-cultural societies has led to the emergence of NRMs. People born in one culture hav for one


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