Everything New Is Old Again: New Religious Movements as American Minority Religions
Spotlight on Teaching: Religious Studies News
This article situates the teaching of new religious movements (NRMs) within the scope of scholarship on American minority religions. In the course that serves as my primary example, readings and class discussions considered 20th century NRMs in light of American enthusiasms for—and anxieties about—shifting attitudes toward race, gender, class, and sexuality, particularly since the 1940s. Assignments included unconventional approaches to working with primary sources and student creations of hypothetical new religions, contextualized within NRM members’ experiences of support and scorn by mainstream legal, media, and popular culture sources. Students noted key similarities in intolerant rhetoric toward American minority religions, examined challenges specific to radical religious innovation in an American framework, and challenged the primacy of “newness” in the study of marginal American religiosity.
“Everything New Is Old Again: New Religious Movements as American Minority Religions,” Spotlight on Teaching: Religious Studies News, ed. Benjamin E. Zeller and Eugene Gallagher, January 26, 2015. http://rsn.aarweb.org/spotlight-on/teaching/new-alternative-religions/everything-new-old-again