World of New Religiousness
Changing appearance of NRM
Religious Movements (NRM) noticeably stand out against religions,
which histories are measured by centuries and sometimes milleniums.
Often New Religious Movements make an impression of changeable structures
without any conservatism, full of tolerance and able to make new
decisions and move on to further development.
we take any New Religious Movement, we will see, that its original
appearance may be substantially modified. For example, a movement
may shift dates in its eschatological doctrine (Adventists of the
Seventh Day) or to dismiss them altogether (White Brotherhood).
A movement may change its attitude towards the world from aggressive
or negative to positive (that, for example, can be traced in the
doctrine of White Brotherhood) or the other way around (example).
teaching of a New Religious Movement may change just as well as
its social appearance. With a background of a history that is measured
only by decades these changes seem much too dynamic.
are some of the reasons leading New Religious Movements to change
their appearance today. A country's political situation and its
citizens social life are, of course, very important factors that
influence any religion and first of all New Religious Movements.
This is because it is New Religious Movements that are the most
susceptible to the influence of the outside world and are often
permanently developing. Thus, they are the most frequent subject
of change (unlike religions that already have a formed history,
doctrine and a social structure - these hardly change at all today).
religions and relationships between them also influence New Religious
Movements. The well-known definition "nontraditional" (as opposed
to "traditional") is an excellent illustration of how a relationship
between a new religion and one historically "attached" to a particular
region is formed.
Reason of changes
New Religious Movement's behavior, its appearance, and the very
religious situation in Eastern and Western European countries can
be formed differently. It depends on a number of reasons among which
the following need to be mentioned:
Influence of history. Post-communist Eastern European countries
have their influence on a New Religious Movement's appearance and
on its followers. Some researchers, for example, V. Elenskiy, mark
a shift in the character of a Western New Religious Movement's presence
once they are in Eastern Europe. "Those that promise a proper bourgeois
perspective and not those that challenge the society become most
noticeable." Citizens often wish to move on to a quiet peaceful
life and this is reflected in specifics of New Religious Movement's
activity in countries of Eastern Europe.
Monarchic ideas. A tendency to strengthen one's cultural tradition
to which monarchic ideas are related runs strong in most of Eastern
European countries. Democratic values of the West have not had time
set roots in many Eastern European countries yet.
National factor. It dominates in those Eastern European countries,
that used to be based on the idea of national equality (although
we must certainly, consider the multinational nature of the majority
of Eastern European countries).
Level of social life. Unstable social status allows New Religious
Movements to put forth values, that are first of all connected to
Political life. Religion's interest for political struggle allows
to involve New Religious Movements on one side or the other.
Secularization. Secularization in Eastern European countries is
expressed less than in Western countries which, of course, has its
effects on New Religious Movement's behavior.
Globalization. In Eastern European countries the process of globalization
goes slower than in Western countries.
Attitude towards the world
scholars justly note, that religious movements are divided into
the following groups:
Denying the surrounding world and fleeing it or fighting it;
Striving to reshape the surrounding world;
Adapting to its social environment.
as we have already noted, New Religious Movements can change their
attitude and go from denying the surrounding world to trying to
reshape the surrounding world or adapt to its social environment.
New Religious Movements in post-soviet Russia
for spreading of New Religious Movements have been opening all around
Russia since the time of perestroika. A great number of people
turn to the Russian Orthodox Church. Aside from orthodoxy people
are also attracted to other Christian confessions and movements
including those that existed in Russia in the end of the nineteenth
century and the beginning of the twentieth. Such are, for example,
baptist and evangelical Christians movements.
there arises an interest for Eastern teachings first among which
come Buddhism and Hinduism followed by Oriental New Religious Movements
(Krishna's Consciousness Society, Unification Church etc.).
Religious Movements seem a kind of an alternative to the Russian
Orthodox Church. They are sometimes seen as compatible organizations,
if this word may be used in a sphere such as religion.
But "the fashion on religion" of the nineties is gradually passing.
People are still turning to religions but without too much astonishment
and pomp. New Religious Movements are forced to adopt to new conditions
of existence. They strengthen their positions, but they are unable
to separate themselves from social life and be completely isolated
from a social context. Thus, for today we observe the following
features of Russian life make representatives of world religions
and New Religious Movements pay maximum attention to the members.
After all they have to consider not only specifics of their inner
world, but also the not always favorable outside situation which
emerges around a religion and may leave a particular mark on a New
perhaps the most important point is, that New Religious Movements
are one way or the other involved in church-political dialog. As
a result they can't remain indifferent and are frequently forced
to defend the positions. During this dialog New Religious Movements
may change the strategy of their activity on Russian grounds and
therefore some elements of the very teaching may vary.
also should not overlook the "national" products New Religious
Movements made in post-soviet Russia. These are, for example, White
Brotherhood 'Usmalos', Church of the Last Testament, Church of the
Mother God Derzhavnaya and some others, which have their own specifics.
In protection of tradition?
us at last touch upon the subject of so-called "traditional" religions.
The claim of "traditional" (historical and/or characteristic to
a particular area) religions of a special, primary position in relation
to new religions is quite clear. However such ambitions may lead
to a heated inter-religious struggle the results of which will be
animosity towards representatives of one or another religious movement
and destabilization of religious relationships in the society.
such as "destructive cult" and "totalitarian sect" are means that
"traditional" religions use. Such labels are frequently given not
only to representatives of New Religious Movements, but also to
members of other Christian confessions. Activity of organizations
such as Iriney of Lyon's Center (Russia), informational center "Dialogue"
(Ukraine), results in sparking inter-religious animosity, that -
from our point of view - does not give any credit to representatives
of traditional religions, to which these organizations belong, or
to representatives of religious minorities, who, in turn, are forced
to be engaged in "getting square" with their offenders.
our point of view inter-religious struggle does not raise the level
of people's religiousness. It surely can influence New Religious
Movements and cause changes in their teachings. Thus, under the
influence of "traditional" religions some New Religious Movements
may choose a path of denying the world instead of former positive
attitude towards it. Which may lead to a destabilization of its
position in society. States are not likely to benefit from this
because people's moral appearance is not likely to get better in
such circumstances. Most likely it will lead to people falling away
from religion. And, strangely enough, the pace of secularization
may be hastened by the struggle between the "traditional" and the
us sum up the results. New Religious Movements are not always stable
and may be changeable. Appearance of one and the same religious
movement in countries of Eastern and Western Europe may noticeably
differ. Emerging in the post-soviet area New Religious Movements
receive a new impulse for development because of political and social
situation in post-soviet states. But we need to be cautious: changes
that take place in some communes are rather serious and may lead
to a shift in the appearance religious movement all over the world.
Therefore we cannot ignore things that happen in different countries.
There is no "private" in the sphere of religiousness because changing
in specific countries it may provoke changes all over the world.
Report was read on the
Conference of ISORECEA "Challenges of Religious Plurality for
Eastern and Central Europe" (Lviv, Ukraine, 2003).