Triggers of Violence in New Religious Movements
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEFENSE ANALYSIS DEPT
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This thesis investigates whether New Religious Movements NRM share 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 analyze a budding religious movement to determine whether it might become violent. The research includes only post-World War II NRMs, and religious sects were excluded. A review of relevant literature on NRMs and religious violence highlighted 10 characteristics that seem to be prevalent in violent NRMs dramatic denouements, strict rule of law and high commitment, supernaturalism, new religion or new teachings, isolationism, apocalyptic teachings, charismatic leadership, absolute leader authority, group fragility, and repression from the state or politics. These 10 attributes were used to grade four NRMs Aum Shinrikyo, Branch Davidians, Peoples Temple, and Scientology, and the results were analyzed using Social Network Analysis SNA techniques. The results show that violent NRMs cluster together, meaning that they are 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.
- Sociology and Law
- Humanities and History
- Unconventional Warfare