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New religious movement

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The term new religious movement is a euphemism for "cult". They are young and have a novel mix of teachings and practices.

The question what is new is not fixed. One rule of the thumb is that they came into a country after the second world war. New religious movements are very diverse. They tend to be small, unpopular and generally receive little support from society. A notable exception to this is the Sathya Sai Baba movement that is supported by many high-ranking Indian politicians. Japan has some large new religious movements.

Many of them were founded by living charismatic leaders, in the sense used by Max Weber. Living charismatic leaders tend to be unpredictable.

One important practical question is how to deal with a family member or friend who joins a movement. The degree of involvement may vary greatly for each individual: not all new religious movements demand strong commitment.

Individual problems with a movement may only appear on leaving for a committed adherent, especially when the adherent lives in an intentional community.

Some countries, like France and Belgium, have special laws against new religious movements. The UK has a government-sponsored public education institute, called Inform. Other countries like the USA and the Netherlands have no special laws or institutes at all.

New religious movements may become less radical and less demanding over time. For example, in ISKON/Hare Krishna, not so much pressure is put on converts to live in an intentional community anymore.