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Teaching New Religious Movements$
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David G. Bromley

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195177299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195177299.001.0001

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New Religious Movements and Violence

New Religious Movements and Violence

(p.245) New Religious Movements and Violence
Teaching New Religious Movements

Thomas Robbins

John R. Hall

Oxford University Press

Research relevant to teaching about NRMs and violence suggests that internal and external factors, and their interaction contribute to the occasional involvement of religious movements in violent episodes. Charismatic leadership, “totalistic” organization, and apocalyptic beliefs are among internal factors that have been implicated in violence, while external situational pressures include persecution and confrontational interaction with opponents. Teaching students about the situated connections between religious movements and violence presents special educational opportunities as well as challenges. An effective teaching program may help students understand both that elements of violence connected to NRMs have their parallels in wider social processes, e.g., in families, and that religion has the potential to exacerbate conflict. Due consideration needs to be given to defining violence, to theoretical explanations of violence, to historical and comparative cases, and to a series of basic questions about violence and religion in order to give students a basis for seeking to explain contemporary cases of NRM violence, extending even to the consideration of religious terrorism.

Keywords:   dramatic dénouements, charisma, totalistic organization, millennialism, violence, apocalypse

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