New Religious Movements in Global Perspective

Peter B. Clarke

in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195340136
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 New Religious Movements in Global Perspective

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  • Religion
  • Comparative Religion
  • Alternative Belief Systems
  • Interfaith Relations


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Several of the new religious movements (NRMs) of modern times have become global movements. Among these are the Soka Gakkai of Japan; the Brahma Kumaris, Sathya Sai Baba, and Hare Krishna of India; the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassion and Relief Society of Taiwan; and Scientology, which began in the United States in the early 1950s. In order to become global movements, NRMs must often depend heavily on one particular ethnic group as they expand beyond their home base. On arrival in new cultural contexts, movements are most likely to appeal to first- or second-generation economic migrants from the same ethnic background as the missionaries who brought the movement to the region in the first place. While being themselves part of the process of ever-increasing globalization, NRMs also throw light on the dynamics and mechanics of this process, on how it plays itself out. This article discusses the globalization and “glocalization” of NRMs, as well as NRMs as vehicles of a new spirituality.

Keywords: Soka Gakkai; Japan; new religious movements; migrants; globalization; glocalization; spirituality; Hare Krishna; India; Scientology

Article.  5473 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Comparative Religion ; Alternative Belief Systems ; Interfaith Relations

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