What are the New Religious Movements Doing in a Secular Society?

Bryan R. Wilson and Eileen Barker

in Understanding Social Change

Published by British Academy

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263143
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734939 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Centenary Monographs

What are the New Religious Movements Doing in a Secular Society?

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This chapter discusses one of the major social changes that have taken place in late twentieth-century Britain — secularisation — the process whereby religion loses its social significance. In the second half of the twentieth century there was a major decline in Britain in formal church membership and attendance, although the decline in religious belief is less well established. The chapter also discusses the emergence of new religions in the secular society. They derive from a wide variety of sources: some such as the Jesus Army from the Baptist tradition of Protestant Christianity, others such as the New Jerusalem claim to represent the true Orthodox tradition; many others have a non-Christian character, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the Brahma Kumaris have their roots in Hinduism, while Buddhism has given rise to Soka Gakkai and Shinto to Konkokyo; and also Paganism, Wicca, Satanism and traditions deriving from science fiction. The most important point to be made about these new religious movements is that because of their diversity, any generalisation concerning them can almost certainly be shown to be untrue for one or another of their number.

Keywords: secularisation; religion; Jesus Army; Protestant Christianity; New Jerusalem; International Society for Krishna Consciousness; Brahma Kumaris; new religious movements

Chapter.  9934 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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