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Peter B. Clarke’s in-depth account explores the innovative character of new religious movements and new forms of spirituality from a global vantage point. Ranging from North America and Europe to Japan, Latin America, South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, it is the perfect introduction to NRMs such as Falun Gong, Aum Shirikyo, the Brahma Kumaris, the Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood, Sufism, the Engaged Buddhist and Engaged Hindi movements, Messianic Judaism and Rastafarianism.
Charting the cultural significance and global impact of NRMs, he discusses the ways in which various religious traditions are shaping, rather than displacing, each other’s understanding of notions such as transcendence and faith, good and evil, of the meaning, purpose and function of religion, and of religious belonging. He then examines the responses of governments, churches, the media and general public to new religious movements, as well as the reaction to older, increasingly influential religions, such as Buddhism and Islam, in new geographical and cultural contexts. Taking into account the degree of continuity between old and new religions, each chapter contains not only an account of the rise of the NRMs and new forms of spirituality in a particular region, but also an overview of change in the regions’ mainstream religions.