New religious movements may also have a basis in ethics, theology, philosophy, or religion to some extent.
Usually, but not always, new religious movements are part and parcel of Christianity. Groups such as the Branch Davidian cult is one example. Cults need not be destructive in nature, however. Many people who study social psychology have adopted the term “new religious movement” as a way of describing cults in neutral language.
New religious movements may be communitarian, or they may be specifically spiritual or religious in nature. Usually what separates cults from other religious movements in society is their unique ability to isolate people from other social networks. This is where social psychology plays a crucial role. Since the family is deeply intertwined with society, the psychology of such groups affects one’s psyche. New religious movements are part of the dominant culture. Usually, however, new religious movements are on the fringe of society.
There is much controversy over what constitutes a “new” religious movement. Some people use certain dates as benchmarks for saying a religion is new—for example, a religious movement that has occurred within the last 20 years or so. People generally also have come to realize that what constitutes the stipulation of being distinct from other religions as difficult to empirically analyze. Generally, however, the distinction between new religious movements and established religions is that although the religious movement may be seen as part of an existing faith tradition, it meets with some type of clash within the religion for its varying belief systems—and thus is not an accepted branch of that religion.
This research question is important because the family structure as it relates to social psychology, is very fragile in this day and age. The way children are raised today relates much to the way the community is structured, who is involved ...
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