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New religious movements

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New religious movements

  1. 1. New Religious MovementsNew Religious Movements April 2013April 2013
  2. 2. New Religious MovementsNew Religious Movements • Throughout history, there have been many religiousThroughout history, there have been many religious groups distinct from the larger world religionsgroups distinct from the larger world religions • Perhaps 100,000,000 people worldwide adhere toPerhaps 100,000,000 people worldwide adhere to groups that may be characterized as “New Religiousgroups that may be characterized as “New Religious Movements” (NRMs)Movements” (NRMs) • These groups are quite diverseThese groups are quite diverse – Some originate as offshoots from mainstream religionsSome originate as offshoots from mainstream religions – Some seek to reclaim ancient and/or secret practices andSome seek to reclaim ancient and/or secret practices and wisdomwisdom – Some are based upon the teachings of a charismatic leaderSome are based upon the teachings of a charismatic leader • There are far too many New Religious Movements to listThere are far too many New Religious Movements to list – Each year, new movements arise, fragment, disappear, orEach year, new movements arise, fragment, disappear, or institutionalizeinstitutionalize
  3. 3. CultsCults • In academic terms, a cult is a religious group which is distinct fromIn academic terms, a cult is a religious group which is distinct from larger traditions, while a sect is a subgroup or offshoot of a largerlarger traditions, while a sect is a subgroup or offshoot of a larger traditiontradition • Since the mid-20Since the mid-20thth century, the word “cult” has taken on acentury, the word “cult” has taken on a pejorative meaning in the popular media; academics tend to usepejorative meaning in the popular media; academics tend to use the term “New Religious Movement” insteadthe term “New Religious Movement” instead • Stark and Bainbridge identify three types of cult:Stark and Bainbridge identify three types of cult: 1.1. Audience cults: these do not require conversion; a person may listenAudience cults: these do not require conversion; a person may listen to the teachings of the leadership, perhaps attending workshops orto the teachings of the leadership, perhaps attending workshops or meetings, but may also hold other religious affiliations and no regularmeetings, but may also hold other religious affiliations and no regular participation is requiredparticipation is required 2.2. Client cults: these offer a service to members such as therapy. AClient cults: these offer a service to members such as therapy. A client’s involvement may begin in a casual way but generally deepensclient’s involvement may begin in a casual way but generally deepens over timeover time 3.3. Cult movements: these are organizations which require conversionCult movements: these are organizations which require conversion and do not allow membership in other religious groups. The level ofand do not allow membership in other religious groups. The level of commitment may be partial (members may still carry on a life outsidecommitment may be partial (members may still carry on a life outside of the cult) or total (members are cut off from society)of the cult) or total (members are cut off from society)
  4. 4. Charismatic LeadershipCharismatic Leadership • Many NRMs are started by charismatic leaders whoMany NRMs are started by charismatic leaders who attract a community of followersattract a community of followers – The term “charismatic” means “having gifts”; a charismaticThe term “charismatic” means “having gifts”; a charismatic leader is one who has the unusual capacity to inspire; in theleader is one who has the unusual capacity to inspire; in the case of religions, a charismatic leader may be viewed as a guru,case of religions, a charismatic leader may be viewed as a guru, prophet, or messiahprophet, or messiah • NRMs based around charismatic personalities may notNRMs based around charismatic personalities may not survive the death of their leader; those that do are ablesurvive the death of their leader; those that do are able to “routinize” the charisma and produce new leadersto “routinize” the charisma and produce new leaders – Some may become more institutionalized, behaving more likeSome may become more institutionalized, behaving more like churches than sectschurches than sects – Most major world religions originated as cults/NRMs based uponMost major world religions originated as cults/NRMs based upon the teachings of a charismatic figurethe teachings of a charismatic figure
  5. 5. Diversity of New ReligiousDiversity of New Religious MovementsMovements • In order to explore the diversity of New Religious Movements, weIn order to explore the diversity of New Religious Movements, we will examine several different examples of NRMs:will examine several different examples of NRMs: – Baha’iBaha’i – WiccaWicca – RastafariRastafari – ScientologyScientology • We will also look briefly at instances where NRMs have beenWe will also look briefly at instances where NRMs have been associated with violence, as in the case of the People’s Temple andassociated with violence, as in the case of the People’s Temple and Aum ShinrikyoAum Shinrikyo
  6. 6. Baha’iBaha’i • In Iran in 1844, a young man named Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad, called the BabIn Iran in 1844, a young man named Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad, called the Bab (“Gateway”) by his followers, prophesied the coming of a new messenger of(“Gateway”) by his followers, prophesied the coming of a new messenger of GodGod – In Twelver Shi’ite eschatology, the Bab is the person who re-establishes contactIn Twelver Shi’ite eschatology, the Bab is the person who re-establishes contact between the hidden Imam and the Shi’ite communitybetween the hidden Imam and the Shi’ite community • Persian authorities, considering this blasphemy against Islam, put him and aPersian authorities, considering this blasphemy against Islam, put him and a large number of his followers to deathlarge number of his followers to death • Leadership passed to a Persian aristocrat named Mirza Husayn ‘Ali NuriLeadership passed to a Persian aristocrat named Mirza Husayn ‘Ali Nuri (1817-1892), called Baha’u’llah (“Glory of God”)(1817-1892), called Baha’u’llah (“Glory of God”) – Baha’u’llah had not met the Bab, but had a religious experience while in captivityBaha’u’llah had not met the Bab, but had a religious experience while in captivity • Baha’u’llah was banished from Iran to Baghdad, which was under theBaha’u’llah was banished from Iran to Baghdad, which was under the control of the Ottoman Empire at the time, and then moved to Istanbulcontrol of the Ottoman Empire at the time, and then moved to Istanbul • In 1862, he claimed to have a 12-day-long mystical experience, and beganIn 1862, he claimed to have a 12-day-long mystical experience, and began to identify himself as the new messenger prophesied by the Babto identify himself as the new messenger prophesied by the Bab • Baha’u’llah was then banished to Acre, Palestine, where he wrote prolificallyBaha’u’llah was then banished to Acre, Palestine, where he wrote prolifically and won a large number of followersand won a large number of followers
  7. 7. Baha’iBaha’i • When Baha’u’llah died in 1892, leadership of the community passedWhen Baha’u’llah died in 1892, leadership of the community passed to his son, Abdu’l-Bahato his son, Abdu’l-Baha • Abdu’l-Baha passed leadership to his son, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani,Abdu’l-Baha passed leadership to his son, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, who then passed leadership to an elected council, the Universalwho then passed leadership to an elected council, the Universal House of Justice, in 1963House of Justice, in 1963 • Baha’is consider Baha’u’llah a prophet in the same way asBaha’is consider Baha’u’llah a prophet in the same way as Abraham, Moses, the Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, and MuhammadAbraham, Moses, the Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, and Muhammad • Baha’i is universalistic; all religions are understood as worshippingBaha’i is universalistic; all religions are understood as worshipping the same godthe same god • The sacred texts of Baha’i are the writings of Baha’u’llah:The sacred texts of Baha’i are the writings of Baha’u’llah: – TheThe Kitab-i AqdasKitab-i Aqdas (“The Most Holy Book,” 1873), a book of laws(“The Most Holy Book,” 1873), a book of laws – TheThe Kitab-i IqanKitab-i Iqan (“The Book of Certitude,” 1861), containing doctrine(“The Book of Certitude,” 1861), containing doctrine – Hidden WordsHidden Words (1858), a work on ethics(1858), a work on ethics – The Seven ValleysThe Seven Valleys (1856), a mystical work(1856), a mystical work
  8. 8. Baha’i BeliefsBaha’i Beliefs • Baha’is believe in “progressive revelation”: the idea that humanity is in theBaha’is believe in “progressive revelation”: the idea that humanity is in the process of maturing, and that God has revealed Godself to humans throughprocess of maturing, and that God has revealed Godself to humans through prophets at different times in history in ways that were appropriate to humanprophets at different times in history in ways that were appropriate to human culture at the timeculture at the time • God is unknowable, and the soul is eternalGod is unknowable, and the soul is eternal • Baha’is advocate for economic, racial, and sexual equalityBaha’is advocate for economic, racial, and sexual equality • The most distinctive feature of Baha’i is its call for a united humanThe most distinctive feature of Baha’i is its call for a united human federationfederation • This society would be based upon democracy, human rights, and theThis society would be based upon democracy, human rights, and the following principles:following principles: 1.1. The end of all forms of prejudiceThe end of all forms of prejudice 2.2. Equality for womenEquality for women 3.3. Acceptance of the unity and different forms of expression of truthAcceptance of the unity and different forms of expression of truth 4.4. Just distribution of wealthJust distribution of wealth 5.5. Universal educationUniversal education 6.6. The freedom and responsibility of each individual to seek the truthThe freedom and responsibility of each individual to seek the truth 7.7. Development of a peaceful community of all humanityDevelopment of a peaceful community of all humanity 8.8. Harmony of science and religionHarmony of science and religion
  9. 9. Baha’i PracticesBaha’i Practices • Baha’is pray five times per day after washing their handsBaha’is pray five times per day after washing their hands and facesand faces • Baha’is do not take drugs or alcoholBaha’is do not take drugs or alcohol • Life cycle rituals involve a simple naming ceremony, aLife cycle rituals involve a simple naming ceremony, a declaration of faith at age 15, a wedding ceremonydeclaration of faith at age 15, a wedding ceremony based on the taste of the couple, and a simple funeralbased on the taste of the couple, and a simple funeral involving prayer said in unisoninvolving prayer said in unison • The Baha’i calendar has 19 months of 19 days each,The Baha’i calendar has 19 months of 19 days each, with four extra dayswith four extra days • At the start of each month, Baha’is have a communityAt the start of each month, Baha’is have a community feastfeast – They may also gather weekly for study and worshipThey may also gather weekly for study and worship – The last month of the year is devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting,The last month of the year is devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting, like the Muslim fast during Ramadanlike the Muslim fast during Ramadan – Various holidays throughout the year celebrate important eventsVarious holidays throughout the year celebrate important events in Baha’i historyin Baha’i history
  10. 10. Baha’i TodayBaha’i Today • There are approximately 7 million Baha’is todayThere are approximately 7 million Baha’is today in communities all around the worldin communities all around the world – Approximately 750,000 Baha’is live in North AmericaApproximately 750,000 Baha’is live in North America – A large percentage live in IndiaA large percentage live in India – The Iranian Revolution of 1979 drove many Baha’isThe Iranian Revolution of 1979 drove many Baha’is from Iranfrom Iran – The world Baha’i headquarters is in Haifa, IsraelThe world Baha’i headquarters is in Haifa, Israel • Baha’is actively support the United NationsBaha’is actively support the United Nations
  11. 11. Neo-PaganismNeo-Paganism • ““Paganism” is a broad termPaganism” is a broad term originally used byoriginally used by Christians to refer to anyChristians to refer to any non-Christian religion,non-Christian religion, especially the pre-Christianespecially the pre-Christian religions of Europereligions of Europe • Neo-Paganism is an effortNeo-Paganism is an effort by modern people toby modern people to recover these traditions inrecover these traditions in modern timesmodern times
  12. 12. WitchcraftWitchcraft • In medieval Europe, pre-Christian religion wasIn medieval Europe, pre-Christian religion was identified with witchcraft and devil-worshipidentified with witchcraft and devil-worship • People suspected of practicing witchcraft werePeople suspected of practicing witchcraft were persecuted, sometimes being burned at thepersecuted, sometimes being burned at the stakestake • The extent to which pre-Christian religion wasThe extent to which pre-Christian religion was practiced in medieval Europe is unclearpracticed in medieval Europe is unclear • Some modern Neo-Pagans identify as witchesSome modern Neo-Pagans identify as witches and claim to be part of a hidden lineage datingand claim to be part of a hidden lineage dating back to pre-Christian timesback to pre-Christian times
  13. 13. WiccaWicca • Wicca is a Neo-Pagan religion which becameWicca is a Neo-Pagan religion which became popular in England in the 1940spopular in England in the 1940s • It was popularized by Gerald Gardner (1884-It was popularized by Gerald Gardner (1884- 1964), who claimed to have been initiated into a1964), who claimed to have been initiated into a secret coven (group) of witches who traced theirsecret coven (group) of witches who traced their lineage to ancient timeslineage to ancient times • Gardner “revealed” the rituals and teachings ofGardner “revealed” the rituals and teachings of this group to the publicthis group to the public • Wicca was introduced to the United States in theWicca was introduced to the United States in the 1960s, where it became quite popular1960s, where it became quite popular
  14. 14. Wicca Practices & BeliefsWicca Practices & Beliefs • Wiccan belief and practice is highly flexible, with different covensWiccan belief and practice is highly flexible, with different covens and individuals interpreting the tradition according to their ownand individuals interpreting the tradition according to their own tastestastes • Wiccans view the world as being ordered by interconnected naturalWiccans view the world as being ordered by interconnected natural forces personified as gods and goddessesforces personified as gods and goddesses – This generally includes a supreme Goddess and GodThis generally includes a supreme Goddess and God • These forces can be accessed through rituals including dance,These forces can be accessed through rituals including dance, singing and chanting, and magicsinging and chanting, and magic • Wiccans celebrate a yearly cycle of eight “Sabbats” correspondingWiccans celebrate a yearly cycle of eight “Sabbats” corresponding to ancient agricultural festivals and the equinoxes and solsticesto ancient agricultural festivals and the equinoxes and solstices • Wiccan ethics are summarized by the Wiccan Rede: “An it harmWiccan ethics are summarized by the Wiccan Rede: “An it harm none, do what ye will” (“Do what you like as long as it harms nonone, do what ye will” (“Do what you like as long as it harms no one”)one”) • Dianic Wicca is a feminist strand of Wicca which prohibits maleDianic Wicca is a feminist strand of Wicca which prohibits male membershipmembership
  15. 15. Other Neo-Pagan ReligionsOther Neo-Pagan Religions • Many other Neo-Pagan traditions existMany other Neo-Pagan traditions exist aside from Wiccaaside from Wicca • Goddess Spirituality seeks to recover theGoddess Spirituality seeks to recover the feminine divine as a counter to thefeminine divine as a counter to the maleness of the Christian Godmaleness of the Christian God • Some Neo-Pagans seek to recoverSome Neo-Pagans seek to recover Druidism and other local traditionsDruidism and other local traditions
  16. 16. RastafariRastafari • The island of Jamaica in the Caribbean is home to aThe island of Jamaica in the Caribbean is home to a unique New Religious Movement: Rastafariunique New Religious Movement: Rastafari • Jamaica is a former British colony which isJamaica is a former British colony which is predominantly Christian; most Jamaicans are thepredominantly Christian; most Jamaicans are the descendents of African slavesdescendents of African slaves • Although sharing some scripture and beliefs inAlthough sharing some scripture and beliefs in common with Christianity, Rastafari differs from othercommon with Christianity, Rastafari differs from other Caribbean Afro-Christian religions (Vodou, Santeria)Caribbean Afro-Christian religions (Vodou, Santeria) in that it has little in common with traditional Africanin that it has little in common with traditional African religionreligion
  17. 17. Marcus Garvey & Haile SelassieMarcus Garvey & Haile Selassie • Weary of centuries of oppression, manyWeary of centuries of oppression, many Afro-Jamaicans were inspired by MarcusAfro-Jamaicans were inspired by Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), an Afro-JamaicanGarvey (1887-1940), an Afro-Jamaican activist who called for a return to Africaactivist who called for a return to Africa • Garvey often used prophetic-styleGarvey often used prophetic-style language in his speeches; he reportedlylanguage in his speeches; he reportedly said “Look to Africa when a black kingsaid “Look to Africa when a black king shall be crowned”shall be crowned” • Shortly afterwards, Ras (Prince) TafariShortly afterwards, Ras (Prince) Tafari (1892-1975) was crowned Haile Selassie,(1892-1975) was crowned Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia (at the time, the onlyemperor of Ethiopia (at the time, the only nation in Africa not colonized bynation in Africa not colonized by Europeans)Europeans) • Some Jamaicans began to view SelassieSome Jamaicans began to view Selassie as the Living God, using interpretations ofas the Living God, using interpretations of the Bible, especially Revelation, to justifythe Bible, especially Revelation, to justify their viewtheir view – Haile Selassie was an Ethiopian OrthodoxHaile Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian all his lifeChristian all his life
  18. 18. Rasta BeliefsRasta Beliefs • No central authority exists in Rastafari; belief varies fromNo central authority exists in Rastafari; belief varies from Rasta to RastaRasta to Rasta • Rasta belief is based on return to Zion, the PromisedRasta belief is based on return to Zion, the Promised Land for the African diaspora, identified as Ethiopia orLand for the African diaspora, identified as Ethiopia or Africa in generalAfrica in general – The language and symbolism of the Hebrew Bible figuresThe language and symbolism of the Hebrew Bible figures prominently in Rasta culture, especially the Exodus narrativeprominently in Rasta culture, especially the Exodus narrative and the Psalmsand the Psalms • White European culture is identified as Babylon, theWhite European culture is identified as Babylon, the realm of evil and slaveryrealm of evil and slavery • God is called Jah, Haile Selassie is identified as theGod is called Jah, Haile Selassie is identified as the returned Jesus, and the covenant people of the Hebrewreturned Jesus, and the covenant people of the Hebrew Bible are seen as AfricansBible are seen as Africans • Rasta scripture includes the Bible; Rastas believe that aRasta scripture includes the Bible; Rastas believe that a secret second half of the Bible exists within the humansecret second half of the Bible exists within the human heartheart
  19. 19. Rasta PracticesRasta Practices • Many Rastas wear dreadlocks, in keeping with theMany Rastas wear dreadlocks, in keeping with the Biblical ascetic order of Nazirites as well as to symbolizeBiblical ascetic order of Nazirites as well as to symbolize the Lion of Judah, a title for Haile Selassiethe Lion of Judah, a title for Haile Selassie • Some Rastas observe a special diet called “I-tal,” basedSome Rastas observe a special diet called “I-tal,” based on kashruton kashrut • Rastas often use the first-person pronoun “I and I,”Rastas often use the first-person pronoun “I and I,” symbolizing the unity of the Rasta with Jahsymbolizing the unity of the Rasta with Jah • Rasta ceremonies include Reasoning, in which RastasRasta ceremonies include Reasoning, in which Rastas gather, read and interpret the Bible, and smoke ganjagather, read and interpret the Bible, and smoke ganja (marijuana)(marijuana) • While some Rastas believe in equality between theWhile some Rastas believe in equality between the brethren (men) and the sistren (women), others do notbrethren (men) and the sistren (women), others do not consider the sistren to be fully capable of experiencingconsider the sistren to be fully capable of experiencing Rasta awarenessRasta awareness
  20. 20. Rastafari and ReggaeRastafari and Reggae • Rasta theology and doctrineRasta theology and doctrine is often expressed throughis often expressed through music, especially reggaemusic, especially reggae musicmusic • The most famous Rasta isThe most famous Rasta is reggae musician Bobreggae musician Bob MarleyMarley • Reggae music has broughtReggae music has brought Rastafari to a globalRastafari to a global audienceaudience
  21. 21. Scientology & L. Ron HubbardScientology & L. Ron Hubbard • One of the most well-known NRMs in contemporaryOne of the most well-known NRMs in contemporary society is Scientology, founded in 1954 by Americansociety is Scientology, founded in 1954 by American writer L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986)writer L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) • In 1950, Hubbard publishedIn 1950, Hubbard published Dianetics: The ModernDianetics: The Modern Science of Mental HealingScience of Mental Healing, in which he outlined a, in which he outlined a method for curing psychological problemsmethod for curing psychological problems • In 1954, he founded the Hubbard Association ofIn 1954, he founded the Hubbard Association of Scientologists and the First Church of Scientology inScientologists and the First Church of Scientology in Washington, DCWashington, DC – Scientology (based on ancient Greek, roughly, “the science ofScientology (based on ancient Greek, roughly, “the science of knowledge”) incorporates the psychological theories ofknowledge”) incorporates the psychological theories of DianeticsDianetics with an elaborate mythology and different levels of initiationwith an elaborate mythology and different levels of initiation
  22. 22. Scientology PracticesScientology Practices • Scientologists strive to become “Clear,” a state of mindScientologists strive to become “Clear,” a state of mind that is free of all “engrams” (psychological problems orthat is free of all “engrams” (psychological problems or baggage)baggage) • To become Clear, one must identify one’s engramsTo become Clear, one must identify one’s engrams through a therapeutic process called “auditing”through a therapeutic process called “auditing” – Auditing is conducted by a senior Scientologist with the aid of anAuditing is conducted by a senior Scientologist with the aid of an “E-meter,” a device similar to a lie detector“E-meter,” a device similar to a lie detector • The auditing process, called “The Bridge to TotalThe auditing process, called “The Bridge to Total Freedom,” has various stages in which the ScientologistFreedom,” has various stages in which the Scientologist undergoes progressively more in-depth auditing andundergoes progressively more in-depth auditing and learns the esoteric mythology of Scientologylearns the esoteric mythology of Scientology
  23. 23. Scientology BeliefsScientology Beliefs • Scientologists call the mind/soul the ThetanScientologists call the mind/soul the Thetan • According to Scientologist myth, the Thetans were aAccording to Scientologist myth, the Thetans were a race of advanced, incorporeal extraterrestrial beings whorace of advanced, incorporeal extraterrestrial beings who became trapped in the material worldbecame trapped in the material world • By becoming Clear, a human being comes to understandBy becoming Clear, a human being comes to understand his or her true nature as a Thetan and is capable of out-his or her true nature as a Thetan and is capable of out- of-body experiences and other paranormal abilitiesof-body experiences and other paranormal abilities – According to the esoteric teachings of Scientology, alienAccording to the esoteric teachings of Scientology, alien Thetans also exist on Earth, having been trapped in the materialThetans also exist on Earth, having been trapped in the material world in the distant past by the alien warlord Xenuworld in the distant past by the alien warlord Xenu – L. Ron Hubbard worked as a science fiction writer early in hisL. Ron Hubbard worked as a science fiction writer early in his life, which may have influenced the more fantastical elements oflife, which may have influenced the more fantastical elements of Scientologist mythologyScientologist mythology
  24. 24. Scientology TodayScientology Today • There may be approximatelyThere may be approximately 100,000-200,000 Scientologists100,000-200,000 Scientologists worldwide, mostly in North Americaworldwide, mostly in North America and Europeand Europe • The current Chairman of the ChurchThe current Chairman of the Church of Scientology is David Miscavigeof Scientology is David Miscavige • The Church of Scientology hasThe Church of Scientology has attracted criticism for its secretiveattracted criticism for its secretive organizational structure, its criticismorganizational structure, its criticism of mainstream psychiatry, the fees itof mainstream psychiatry, the fees it charges for auditing, and its use ofcharges for auditing, and its use of lawsuits against its criticslawsuits against its critics • Some celebrity ScientologistsSome celebrity Scientologists include Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes,include Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, IsaacKirstie Alley, John Travolta, Isaac Hayes, and Chick CoreaHayes, and Chick Corea
  25. 25. New Age SpiritualityNew Age Spirituality • ““New Age Spirituality” is a catch-all term for a number of spiritualNew Age Spirituality” is a catch-all term for a number of spiritual movements originating in the West in the 1970s and 1980smovements originating in the West in the 1970s and 1980s • Common themes in these movements are their anti-institutional,Common themes in these movements are their anti-institutional, individualistic ethos, reverence for nature, emphasis on self-individualistic ethos, reverence for nature, emphasis on self- improvement, and adoption of shamanic themesimprovement, and adoption of shamanic themes • Given their individualistic nature, it is difficult to categorize them asGiven their individualistic nature, it is difficult to categorize them as “religions”“religions” • New Age movements may draw upon Western, Eastern, and/orNew Age movements may draw upon Western, Eastern, and/or indigenous religious practices, but are generally oriented towardsindigenous religious practices, but are generally oriented towards people in contemporary Western societypeople in contemporary Western society • Many such movements may be categorized as “audience cults”Many such movements may be categorized as “audience cults”
  26. 26. New Age SpiritualityNew Age Spirituality • The cultural changes in Western society in the 1960s led some to believeThe cultural changes in Western society in the 1960s led some to believe that a “new age” was imminentthat a “new age” was imminent – This became popularly known as the “Age of Aquarius,” drawing upon the ZodiacThis became popularly known as the “Age of Aquarius,” drawing upon the Zodiac – The “new age” was to be characterized by freedom, peace, love, and universalThe “new age” was to be characterized by freedom, peace, love, and universal spiritualityspirituality • By the 1970s and 1980s, a variety of practices associated with this “newBy the 1970s and 1980s, a variety of practices associated with this “new age” became popularage” became popular • These practices included astrology, “channeling” of spiritual beings,These practices included astrology, “channeling” of spiritual beings, meditation, psychic practices and hypnosis, alternative healing, tarotmeditation, psychic practices and hypnosis, alternative healing, tarot reading, diets, etc.reading, diets, etc. • Spiritual progress is often equated with material success; practitioners ofSpiritual progress is often equated with material success; practitioners of New Age spirituality often believe that personal spiritual development willNew Age spirituality often believe that personal spiritual development will lead to “self-help” and material prosperitylead to “self-help” and material prosperity • Various thinkers, writers, and gurus have contributed to the development ofVarious thinkers, writers, and gurus have contributed to the development of New Age spiritualityNew Age spirituality
  27. 27. New Religious Movements andNew Religious Movements and ViolenceViolence • Suspicion of New Religious Movements is related toSuspicion of New Religious Movements is related to some high-profile instances of violence, including:some high-profile instances of violence, including: – In 1978, 918 members of the People’s Temple, a communist-In 1978, 918 members of the People’s Temple, a communist- influenced NRM, committed mass “revolutionary suicide” atinfluenced NRM, committed mass “revolutionary suicide” at Jonestown, GuyanaJonestown, Guyana – In 1993, 83 members of a millenarian movement called theIn 1993, 83 members of a millenarian movement called the Branch Davidians were killed in a fire when the FBI besiegedBranch Davidians were killed in a fire when the FBI besieged their compound in Waco, Texas, believing the Branch Davidianstheir compound in Waco, Texas, believing the Branch Davidians had weaponshad weapons – In 1995, members of the Japanese NRM Aum ShinrikyoIn 1995, members of the Japanese NRM Aum Shinrikyo released nerve gas at a Tokyo subway station, killing 13 peoplereleased nerve gas at a Tokyo subway station, killing 13 people and seriously injuring many moreand seriously injuring many more – In 1997, 39 members of the UFO religion Heaven’s GateIn 1997, 39 members of the UFO religion Heaven’s Gate committed suicide, believing their souls would be taken to acommitted suicide, believing their souls would be taken to a spaceship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp Cometspaceship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp Comet
  28. 28. Anti-Cult MovementsAnti-Cult Movements • Around the world, NRMs are often viewed with suspicion, and areAround the world, NRMs are often viewed with suspicion, and are sometimes persecuted by state authoritiessometimes persecuted by state authorities – This may occur in states with official or unofficial state religions, like IranThis may occur in states with official or unofficial state religions, like Iran or Russia, or in secular or atheistic statesor Russia, or in secular or atheistic states • Non-state organizations may also persecute NRMsNon-state organizations may also persecute NRMs – In the United States in the 1970s an 1980s, widespread fear of NRMsIn the United States in the 1970s an 1980s, widespread fear of NRMs using “brainwashing” techniques to control the minds of their followersusing “brainwashing” techniques to control the minds of their followers led the “anti-cult” movement to hire special agents to capture andled the “anti-cult” movement to hire special agents to capture and “deprogram” members of NRMs“deprogram” members of NRMs • Most scholars argue that the indoctrination techniques used by NRMs areMost scholars argue that the indoctrination techniques used by NRMs are not fundamentally different than those used by other religious, political, andnot fundamentally different than those used by other religious, political, and cultural groupscultural groups • Some organizations that used coercive deprogramming techniques haveSome organizations that used coercive deprogramming techniques have been sued; the practice is rare todaybeen sued; the practice is rare today

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