What is a New Religious Movement?

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been described as a New Religious Movement.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been described as a New Religious Movement.

Religion is as old as the origin of humankind. However, religions continue to evolve with changing times and new discoveries. New religious movements refer to the modern religious systems that are coming up other than the ancient, popular and dominant religions of the world.

There are tens of thousands of New Religious Movements worldwide. The New Religious Movements occupy a peripheral position in a society of believers. The NRM differ in several aspects including their functions and the issues that they aim to tackle and the core of their beliefs with some focusing on dealing with the challenges that have come up due to modernization. New Religious Movements have faced a lot of resentment and hostility from already established religions.

Characteristics of New Religious Movements

Some of the New Religious Movements have established their own scriptures or books of reference whereas others use already existing scriptures. Some of the scripture writings incorporate scientific writings with a claim that science should be merged with religion.

Most of the New Religious Movements are founded by charismatic leaders who have a large following behind them. In most cases, power wrangles after the death of the founder or leader may lead to the breaking of the religious movement into several other denominations or the movement might just slowly fade away.

Causes of New Religious Movements

New Religious Movement comes up generally due to the dissatisfaction from the already existing dominant religions. Mormonism, for example, broke from Christianity because the founders did not agree with the Christianity resentment of hell. Some of the founders of New Religious Movements are against the leadership systems of the dominant religions. For instance, the Catholic’s papacy received a lot of opposition before the formation of New Religious Movements. Some of the New Religious Movements come up when a founder claims to possess extraordinary and supernatural powers.

Emergence of Pioneer New Religious Movements

The pioneer New Religious Movement, Latter Day Saint Movement and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, date back to 1830. They were founded by Joseph Smith. Joseph’s Religious Movements were successful in terms of membership. In 1838, Terinkyo was established in Japan. In 1844, Babism was started in Iran. Babism later led to the formation of Baha’i Faith in 1863. In 1891, in the United States, The Unity Church was formed. In 1893, a conference of world’s religions was held in Chicago. In the conference, The New Religious Movements were invited. In 1911, the Nazareth Baptist Church was the first New Religious Movement to be formed in South Africa by Isaiah Shembe. In the 1930s, Jehovah Witnesses which has been widely spread and known was formed in the United States.


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