The Wide-scale Effects of NRMs or Cults
The article explores some of the world’s most dangerous religious cults. All of the 10 explored cults give examples of self-mutilating/harming activities that were conducted within these groups to the point where the leader’s and the members’ lives were in jeopardy; worst case being that their lives were taken. From my understanding, these cult groups can as well be identified as new religious movement (NRM) groups as they emerged in and around the 20th century.
Amongst the great debate of what new religious movements are, I argue that NRM is a ‘little tradition’. Then, I suggest that these little traditions has high tendencies of being viewed as cult. Wherein as the result of it being perceived as a cult creates tension within society; eventually actually becomes a cult through society’s categorization of NRMs as cults. Ultimately, I emphasize that NRM or cult is not only a problematic group itself, but this chaotic situation creates more issues for society.
Firstly, Dr.Hexham presented to RELS 341 students that, ‘great traditions’ are traditions of the intellectual, has order and structure, and have recognized leaders who are aware and skeptical about little traditions. On the contrary, ‘little traditions’ revolve around an individual who claim to have had connected to primal experience. These individual who have strong leadership skills persuade others— their use of words are so powerful that it is enough to convince other people to join. Nevertheless, Dr.Hexham’s lectures portrayed how these little traditions are not long lasting historical traditions. And if it does last for a longer period of time, the number of membership becomes significantly diluted. Therefore, NRM sides more with the characteristics of little traditions.
Secondly, as the article depicts the harm and life-threatening effects that NRM has on its members, their respective family and friends— the society— become concerned about the NRM’s extreme agendas that are not within the boundaries of society’s norms. These emerging or developing NRMs come to be viewed as fraudulent groups, scams, and brainwashers by society. In my opinion, the tension that NRMs causes to society inevitably leads to them being labeled as cults.
Finally, aside from the fact that these religious cults or NRMs itself are a problem in itself, its negatives influences extends beyond their own group causing various ethical problems within society. Furthermore, it manifests a sub-group of people who take advantage of opportunities that surface in terms of chaos. Incorporating what I have learned from Dr. Hexham’s lecture, there are sub-groups like ‘deprogrammers’ who claim that they have special skills to withdraw members of cults/NRMs and take advantage of the weakened emotions of families that are desperate to have their loved ones back; in return for large sums of money. Conclusively, I am suggesting that these NRM or cults are not only has harmful to its own internal members, but more broadly contributes to social disharmony, and encourages other sub-groups like deprogrammers to form; contributing to the pre-existing ethical problem created by NRM/cults.