Date

5-4-2020

Description

The early 1960s brought a rise in new religious thought and expression in the United States, along with an increase in fear and rejection of new religious movements (NRMs). There have been many organizations, using fear, outlandish claims, and scare tactics in the media, aimed at stopping new religious movements from gaining new members, credibility, and acceptance. The campaign against new religious movements has in part been successful, because the very term "cult" has become an intensely negative term, and it is often used this way against new religions. Thus, anyone associated with an NRM is often seen as ethically questionable, religiously unstable, or in extreme cases, dangerous. In this paper, I will show a more accurate picture of NRMs and the people who join them, revealing their normality. This picture is based partly on research in academic literature and partly on one-on-one interviews with members of NRMs in the southeast region of the United States. The interviews demonstrate the day-to-day lives of NRM members and the discrimination they have experienced by being members of a marginalized religious group.

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May 4th, 12:00 AM

Normalizing New Religious Movements: A Deeper Look Into the Effects of Social Opinion on New Religious Movements in the Southeastern United States

The early 1960s brought a rise in new religious thought and expression in the United States, along with an increase in fear and rejection of new religious movements (NRMs). There have been many organizations, using fear, outlandish claims, and scare tactics in the media, aimed at stopping new religious movements from gaining new members, credibility, and acceptance. The campaign against new religious movements has in part been successful, because the very term "cult" has become an intensely negative term, and it is often used this way against new religions. Thus, anyone associated with an NRM is often seen as ethically questionable, religiously unstable, or in extreme cases, dangerous. In this paper, I will show a more accurate picture of NRMs and the people who join them, revealing their normality. This picture is based partly on research in academic literature and partly on one-on-one interviews with members of NRMs in the southeast region of the United States. The interviews demonstrate the day-to-day lives of NRM members and the discrimination they have experienced by being members of a marginalized religious group.