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The Nature incidence and significance of new religious movements in the West Introduction The emergence and rapid growth of many new religious movements since WWII has caught the attention of the public media and academia alike and has been the source of interest fear and controversy Sects and cults have many definitions depending on the users frame of reference Beckford describes cults as relatively small new and unconventional religious groups 1985 1 whilst other peoples perceptions of cults are far more negative A popular concept of a cult is one of groups that are to be avoided hated and feared and they are therefore a social problem They bring up images of destructive doomsday religions and thus groups all the thousands of NRMs in the same category as the small minority of groups that have been the cause of suicides and murders if you believe in it it is a religion or perhaps the religion and if you do not care one way or another about it it is a sect but if you fear and hate it it is a cult Leo Pfeffer The term New Religious Movements from hereon known as NRMs has been used to replace the terms sects and cults as it is a more neutral term Nature of NRMs There is no one generally accepted current definition for New Religious Movements While there have been many new religions coming into being throughout history there has been an upsurge in their numbers since the Second World and especially during the 1960s and 1970s and it is these that are included here in the term New Some NRMs may be unique while others may have developed from other more established religions Some of these new groups were established much earlier but have only become better known in more recent years Globalization and the internet have no doubt played a major role in the visibility of NRMs
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