cults and new religious movements cults and new religious movements the emergence of nrm’s

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Cults and New Religious Movements The Emergence of NRM’S

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  • Cults and New Religious Movements

    The Emergence of NRMS

  • QuestionsWhy did NRMs emerge?How do NRMs develop?What role does secularization play in emergence of NRMs?

  • The Secularization ThesisSuggests that as society becomes more industrial and technological, religion is replaced by science

  • Secularization: Two ViewsThe Old ParadigmPeter Berger & Thomas LuckmannAssumptionsReligion has become an individual choice (privatization)We have been exposed to new cultures and religions from which to choose (pluralism)This leads to the relativism of all religionsSecularization leads to the eventual decline of religion

  • The New ParadigmR. Stephen WarnerRoger Finke, Rodney Stark & William BainbridgeAssumptionsSecularization leads to religious revival or innovation

  • Has Secularization Occurred In the Way That the Old Paradigm Suggests? Question: What do you think?Seems to be the case in Europe, but not in the U.S.Churches receive more money than any other charityOver 90% say they believe in GodAround 57% say they pray on a regular basisAround 70% report that religion is very important in their livesChurch membership has increased over the years, not decreased

  • Rates of Church Affiliation, U.S., 1776-1995

  • An Alternate ViewOthers suggested that secularization leads to religious revival and/or innovationReligion will not be replaced by science

  • Why Does Religion Remain Relevant In The U.S. ?1. Cultural CompatibilityEarly churches emphasized self-government and voluntary affiliationFits well with cultural values about freedom of choice and individual initiative2. Social IdentityChurches help those who move around find a sense of community

  • 3. Disestablishment & Competition (Finke, Stark & Bainbridge)Separation of church and state ensures that no one religion or denomination is funded by the governmentThus, religious monopolies are prevented due to competitionThis wasnt the case in many European countriesCatholicism as an exampleThis creates an environment that encourages competition between churchesChurches have to adapt to meet the needs and wants of the marketplacea.k.a. a religious economyBut how do these denominations emerge to provide a religious economy?

  • First Ammendment (1791):"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

  • Church/Sect TheoryFormulated by H. Richard Niebuhr Tried to explain why there were so many denominationsHe distinguishes between two types of religious organizations, churches & sects

  • Church-Sect Theory

  • Churches and SectsDegree of Tension With SocietyAttitude Towards Other Institutions and ReligionsType of AuthorityOrganizationMembershipChurchesLowTolerantTraditionalBureaucraticEstablishmentSectsHighIntolerant,RejectingCharismaticInformalAlienated

  • Rankings on the Church-Sect ContinuumChurchSectExpert Rankings of Selected Denominations on theChurch-Sect ContinuumEpiscopalUnited Churchof ChristUnitarianPresbyterianMethodistDisciples of ChristAmericanBaptistEvangelicalLutheranReformCatholicMissouriSynodLutheranSouthernBaptistQuakerNazareneAssembliesof GodMormonSeventh-DayAdventistJehovahsWitness

  • The Process of Church/Sect FormationSectsDense social networksMembers who are predominately lower in social statusChurchesCosmopolitan social networks that are not as denseMembers who are higher in social status

  • The most important variable is social classAs the sect grows it attracts members from higher social classesThese members are more likely to want trained leadership, intellectual teaching, etc.Eventually, class schism results between the upper and the lower social classes

  • Church-Sect Formation



    Sect Sect Sect

  • Expanding The TheoryNiebuhr limited his theory to religious organizationsStark and Bainbridge have expanded itThey link church-sect theory with their concept of religious economiesThey argue that secularization creates either revivals or innovations (nrms)

  • Secularization And Revival In the 60s & 70s many social scientists predicted that religion was going to be replaced by science They noticed that the largest established denominations were losing members

  • Market Shares of Mainline per 1,000 Church Members, 1940-1985

  • Yet, these scientists neglected to look at other non-mainline denominations

  • Market Shares of Evangelicals per 1,000 Church Members, 1940-1985





    Percentage loss or gain

    Southern Baptists





    Assemblies of God





    Church of the Nazarene





    Church of God (Cleveland, TN)





  • In short, these social scientists had mistaken the decline of once powerful denominations (The Mainline Churches) for a general decline of religionStark argues that secularization is a self-limiting process that leads not to irreligion but to a shift in the sources of religion In short, secularization creates either:Revivals: The process by which sects form to re-embrace the emotionalism at the roots of a religionInnovations: The emergence of NRMs as new religions with new beliefs and traditions

  • The Geography of NRMsNRMS typically arise in those areas where sects and churches have failed to satisfy the religious marketWhat are NRMs?The beginning phase of an entirely new religionDiffers from a sect in that sects attempt to purify or return to elements of an established religion

  • Research has shown that NRMs are more successful in areas where secularization has occurredThe unchurched belt in the Western U.S.Scandinavian countries have low church membership but many NRMs

  • Church Membership Rates Per 1,000

  • Why Have NRMs Emerged?Several TheoriesNRMs as a response to cultural changeChanges in valuesThe 1960sChanges in social structureE.g. the familyChanges in the role and character of religious institutionsChurches have declined in authority & influenceNRMs as an expression of cultural continuityNRMs and American Religious HistoryFeel that NRMs are simply part of a Fourth Great AwakeningNRMs and the History of ReligionsPoint out that all religions borrow from others, adapt, and change

  • 35Changes in valuesRobert Bellah and others suggest that NRMs are successor movements to the political protest and cultural experimentation from the 1960s