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Explain the Emergence and Increase of New Religious Movements with Special Reference to New Age.

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Essay title: Explain the Emergence and Increase of New Religious Movements with Special Reference to New Age.

New religious movements are always increasing. These movements have always existed but there was a big increase in the 20th century, especially since the 1960s. Although it can be difficult to classify these movements, there have been numerous attempts to classify them.

With the number of new religious movements present in the 1970s, Wallis classified these movements into three types according to their relationships to the outside world. The first type which is world-rejecting new religious movements is similar to sects as described by Troeltsch. Most movements of this type are not traditional and want a change in the world which seems to be evil or corrupt. The members have to obey strict rules and have to leave their social life behind them. Some of these movements are millenarian. These movements attract mostly those people who are marginalized. An example of this type of movements is The Moonies. The second type is world-accommodating movements, which are normally offshoots of a church or denomination. They neither accept nor reject the world but simply live within it. They are even tolerant of other beliefs; such an example is the Pentecostalists. The last type which Wallis classifies is the world-affirming new religious movements. These do not have any form of organization and do not have specific rules because its members believe mostly in human growth. They normally tolerate other religions, and they try to attract people mostly from the middle class through the media. Examples of these types of movements are the New Age and the Church of Scienthology.

These movements are increasing a lot. There can be various reasons which may lead to this growth. Weber argued that it can be due to the marginality within groups in society. These new movements mostly attract people because they can feel they are not receiving the rewards that they deserve. Wilson points different situations which may encourage people to turn to these new religious movements such as economic problems, natural disasters, etc. But in the 1960s and 1970s, the most members of world-rejecting movements where middle class youths. Despite their class backgrounds, they were usually hippies, drug users, etc. They had a communal lifestyle which attracted them to these movements.

Relative deprivation can be another reason for people being attracted to these new religious movements. This reason can be more suitable to explain why middle class youths turn to these movements. According to Wallis, poor people can be more deprived from middle class people but members from middle class-who do not lack material wealth- may feel spiritually deprived in today’s impersonal world.

Wilson argues that these movements tend to increase during times of social change. Sects offer a sense of security and stability when the traditional norms and values are breaking down. He uses the example of the early Methodist movement. Wallis also says that the movements have increased due to the social changes during the 1960s. There was higher education, development

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