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But none of these had successfully replaced ”new religious movement” by the beginning of the third millennium.

The enormous diversity within the current wave of new religions cannot be overemphasized.

A number of countries have amended their constitutions or passed laws that distinguish (crudely or subtly) between new and more traditional religions, denying the former privileges or rights accorded to the latter (Richardson 2004).

The European Court of Human Rights has accepted a number of cases from NRMs objecting to such practices, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has issued numerous statements criticizing the treatment meted out to minority religions.

Clear boundaries are, thus, drawn between “true” and “false”; “good” and “bad”; “them” and “us”; and “before” and “after” (conversion).

Fifthly, NRMs have been greeted with suspicion, fear, and even hatred by those to whom they pose an alternative.

Their belief system is seen as unquestionably True and Godly, and that of others as false and possibly satanic; their morals are good, others are bad.

The primary defining identity is member ship – one is either a Jesus Christian or one is not; and, to protect a vulnerable membership that has embraced beliefs and practices alien to those of their relatives and friends, NRMs throughout history have frequently encouraged their members to sever close contact with non members (Luke ).

That said, however, it is also the case that there are certain characteristics which the movements might be expected to share insofar as they are new and religious.

Firstly, almost by definition, NRMs have a membership of converts, and converts to any religion are notoriously more committed and enthusiastic than those born into their religion.

There are those, particularly historians of religion such as J.

Gordon Melton (2004), who have argued that NRMs have more in common with the traditions from which they emerged than with each other, and certainly it would be difficult to understand Krishna Consciousness without knowing something of the Hindu tradition, The Family without a knowledge of Christianity, or Soka Gakkai without knowing about Buddhism in general and the Nichiren tradition in particular.

With the hindsight of history, it is possible to recognize periods that have been particularly prone to the growth of new religions.

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