McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

EXAMINE THE VARIETIES OF OPPOSITION TO NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS, AND CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AT LEAST TWO OF THESE

Introduction

It is quite difficult to categorise religious groups as new religious movements (NRMs) as the use of the term has been met with some objections both within academic circles and within some groups who have been 'labelled' with that term (Coney, http://www.iskcon.com/icj/6_1/6_1coney.html). Introvigne (2001) observes that doctrinal and chronological issues come into play in designating certain religious groups as NRMs. From a doctrinal perspective, religious groups whose doctrinal basis depart from already established religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism and Buddhism have been termed as NRMs (Introvigne 2001). NRMs like the Jehovah's Witnesses, The Family of God, Mormons, and the Unification Church are examples. From a chronological perspective, religious groups springing up especially in the 20th century have also been termed as NRMs, though some are of the view that groups springing up in the 19th century could also be termed as NRMs. NRMs are very diverse and highly proliferated globally. Examples are the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and Transcendental Meditation (TM). Barker (1999) thus argues that the only thing that NRMs "have in common is that they have been labelled as an NRM or 'cult'" (p.20).

Though the term NRM has gained wide currency of usage and acceptance in academic circles, other older terms like 'cults' and 'sects', which are deemed derogatory, are still being used by some as alternate terms to NRMs. These terms have been viewed as even more pejorative as they have been employed by 'anti-cult' movements in Europe, the USA and other places for political ends (Coney, http://www.iskcon.com/icj/6_1/6_1coney.html). Richardson (1978) has for instance argued that the term cult became "a 'rug' under which were swept the troublesome and idiosyncratic religious experiences of mystics and other religious deviants" (p.29).

Introvigne (2001) has for instance argued that contrary to predictions of the decline of NRMs by the beginning of the 21st century, NRMs have thrived to some extent and even flourished in certain situations. Claims that secularisation would adversely affect the existence of religion in general and NRMs in particular have not happened as globally, more people claim to be religious and NRMs like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons have had very significant growths in membership (Introvigne 2001). The membership of Mormons globally for instance, is reported to be about 10 million (Introvigne 2001). Thus judging from such success stories one could argue that opposition to NRMs from groups like the ACMs have not been successful.

It must however be argued that the resort to violence by a few NRMs like the Jonestown mass suicide and the Order of the Solar Temple in Switzerland and Quebec in 1994 and in France in 1995 (Mayer 2003), present some basis for the scrutiny of the operations of NRMs. Opposers of NRMs like the ACM thus, may be said to play a 'watchdog' role as is evidenced in their contribution to the French and Belgian Parliamentary reports (presented above) on cults.

Related Links
To Top