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The new religions: Some preliminary considerations

Bryan R Wilson
1979 Japanese Journal of Religious Studies  
Despite their diversity, and despite cultural variations between Japan and the West, new religions in both contexts are examined generically. The question asked is: in what sense does newness as such imply specific characteristics? Several answers are suggested and discussed: the offer o f more proximate salvation; the attack on spiritual elitism; open availabili ty; the accessibility o f do-it-yourself techniques; opportunities fo r social mobility through religion; and the promise o f new
more » ... promise o f new therapies. Compari son is made with the contextual deficiencies o f traditional religion. The balance o f spontaneity and discipline in new movements and the process o f routinization is treated briefly with consideration o f the extent to which rational procedures are espoused. The new religions are considered in the context o f the conventional sociological wisdom concerning the functions o f religion, and questions are raised about the extent to which recruitment into a new movement satisfies or stimu lates the felt needs o f individuals. Finally, the sociological theory o f the role o f values in social integration, and their supposedly religious origins, is confronted with the evidence o f divergent values in the new movements.
doi:10.18874/jjrs.6.1-2.1979.193-216 fatcat:imwuxc43w5gu7jpqiywgbep3fi