The definition of an NRM is a term used to refer to a religious faith, or an ethical, spiritual or philosophical movement of recent origin. There are many reasons for the growth of NRM’s and why some people argue that traditional churches and denominations no longer meet people’s needs because many sociologists believe that changes in society lead to changes in religion.
NRM’s focus on the individual and don’t usually have a church, they have no collective ritual or worship and normally lack in any developed theologies or ethics. The growth of media has encouraged the development of NRM’s. People now get their morals and values from the media instead of religion. For example people read fashion and celebrity based magazines instead of the bible. Spirituality is now searched for more within people’s lives and they will find this with NRM’s and this is what is drawing people towards them. Nowadays people tend to focus more on industry and making money for themselves instead playing a big part in one community. Being part of an NRM is now more socially acceptable and people can relax more and live their own lives freely.
Marginalisation has also encouraged the growth of NRM’s. Weber argues that NRM’s appeal to people outside mainstream society because they feel they have been denied the economic rewards they deserve; it gives these people a sense of well being. People who feel deprived compared to others look to NRM’s because mainstream churches don’t satisfy them, this is called relative deprivation. The NRM’s will satisfy their search for spirituality.
Secularisation is another major reason for the growth of NRM’s, the basic definition of secularisation is the decline of religion. However in this case secularisation is used to explain the decline in traditional religion, because NRM’s are religions within themselves. The occurrence of globalization has meant that different cultures and religions are being brought into our country which is causing more NRM’s to develop. Technology has also been an influence, as now more information about particular NRM’s can be found on the internet. It is also much easier to create new NRM’s because they can be promoted via the internet.
Roy Wallis and Steve Bruce argue that since the 1960’s society has gone through massive social change, for example feminism, changes in family and youth culture. Religion changes along with society. Roy Wallis says that NRM’s have grown because of the effects that social change has had on young people. The growth of education allows young people to learn with freedom and give them more responsibility. He also says they have grown due to radical political movements such as the divorce reform act in 1971; this has encouraged changes in the family where people no longer get their morals from religion. NRM’s offer immediate gratification so young people are more attracted to them because they gain rewards now instead of later on in life.
Steve Bruce says that ‘traditional religions began to water down their beliefs in attempt to retain membership’. This is a factor that shows traditional churches are not meeting people’s needs. He also argues that rationalization demonstrates that the fragmentation of society has led to loss of identity within individuals and NRM’s offer that identity.
One example of an NRM is scientology; this is popular with celebrities such as Tom Cruise. People are attracted to NRM’s such as scientology because they read in magazines and within other sources of the media how they are popular with celebrities so therefore they wish to join themselves.
Children are now less likely to be socialised into attending church and having religious norms and values because their parents do not. There has been an increase in religious and social philosophies that go against the beliefs of the church, this shows how people do not get their norms and values from religion anymore, and for example same sex marriages became legal in 2005 which goes against the Christian faith. Bryan Wilson says that people do not get their morals from religion anymore and that established churches have had very little political influence.
Religious organisations such as traditional churches have a hierarchy and various rules which followers have to abide by. They have been around for centuries and were the main types of religion within the world. Denominations are different types of a set religion, for example Protestantism is a denomination of Christianity. The amount of people attending church has decreased dramatically which shows how traditional churches and denominations are not meeting people’s needs. Nowadays instead of going to church on a Sunday, people do a variety of other activities such as go shopping or watch football which shows that people’s priorities have changed. The broad approach by Sharon Hansen demonstrates this saying that religion has lost significance in the social system.
Will Herberg argues that we have now become a secular society and ‘authentic religion’ has disappeared. Overall religion is still important in our society because it does still give people morals and values, however the way religion is practised and its relevance to modern day society had drastically changed.