Brian Wilson argued that many religious and spiritual organisations operating in contemporary society do not fit into categories such as churches and sects. This has led to the development of typologies of cults and other New Religious Movements. According to Roy Wallis cults differ from sects in that they are individualised, loosely-organised, tolerant and make very few demands on their adherents. This is almost the opposite of what we tend to mean by cult in popular usage and popular culture. For Wallis, cults do not claim to have found the truth, nor do they condemn those who are not part of their group.
New Age Movements and Cults
World Accommodating New Religious Movements – ReviseSociology
NRMs are characterized by a number of shared traits. These movements are often highly eclectic , pluralistic, and syncretistic; they freely combine doctrines and practices from diverse sources within their belief systems. The new movement is usually founded by a charismatic and sometimes highly authoritarian leader who is thought to have extraordinary powers or insights. Many NRMs are tightly organized.
World Accommodating New Religious Movements
Various sociological classifications of religious movements have been proposed by scholars. In the sociology of religion , the most widely used classification is the church-sect typology. The typology states that churches, ecclesia, denominations and sects form a continuum with decreasing influence on society. Sects are break-away groups from more mainstream religions and tend to be in tension with society. Cults and new religious movements fall outside this continuum and in contrast to aforementioned groups often have a novel teaching.
New Religious Movements is a label covering a broad spectrum of world-wide spiritual ferment that has been especially pronounced since the s. Use of the expression has partially superceded the terms "sect" or "cult" in reference to non-mainline religious movements — although the latter more pejorative terms are still widely used in public discourse. While it is not possible to gage accurately the total number of individuals involved in these movements, the scale on which they have emerged since the s is unique. NRMs in North America vary considerably in size, in theological and organizational characteristics, and in their spiritual techniques, therapies and rituals.