Triggers of violence in new religious movements
Taylor, David M.
Struve, Kristopher W.
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The research for this study has aimed at determining whether New Religious Movements (NRM) shared certain attributes (i.e., characteristics) that might help determine their propensity for violence. The goal was a model that a government or civil authority could use to compare a budding religious movement to determine whether it might become violent. This study only included post-World War II NRMs to limit the scope of research, and religious sects were excluded. A review of relevant literature in the study of NRMs and religious violence highlighted ten attributes that seemed to be prevalent in violent NRMs dramatic denouements, strict rule of law/high commitment, supernaturalism, new religion/teachings, isolationism, apocalyptic teachings, charismatic leader, absolute authority, group fragility, and repression. These ten attributes were used to grade all of the NRMs and the results were analyzed using Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques for similarity. The results showed that violent NRMs clustered together meaning that they were more closely associated with certain attributes. The attribute scores for dramatic denouements, strict rule of law, apocalyptic teachings, and isolationism were substantially more associated with violent NRMs than with nonviolent NRMs.
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