Psychological Reasons of Participation to New Religious Movements: Quest of the Individual? or Success of the Movement?


İLAHİYAT TETKİKLERİ, no.51, pp.445-456, 2019 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.29288/ilted.539805
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.445-456
  • Keywords: New Religious Movements, Homeless Mind, Existential Questioning, Seeking for Meaning, Pursuit of Meaning, Deprivation
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


In the last half century, psychological studies on the New Religious Movements have shown a significant increase not only in the discipline of psychology but also in sociology, history of religions and other religious studies. Today, it is a judgement that people seek a measure to protect themselves from the alienating and degenerating effects of modern life. In this context, firstly the inclusion of a New Religious Movement (NRM) reflects a desire to take back time in behalf of experiencing the truth in the modern world. Secondly, this belonging refers, at the same time, to the desire to carry the ancient truth to modern times and move it into action on a contemporary and secular level. At this point, New Religious Movements are characterized as a protest against modernity. In the aim of this argument, there is the deconstruction of the institutionalized religion and the secular structure by the hand of individual. This situation realizes with the participation of the 'new' and the movement, which is a modern social structure, to the 'religion'; and with the participation of the religion to the 'new', that is, the 'secular'. For this reason, many New Religious Movements blend themselves with modern, anti-modern, sometimes even post-modern elements. These include both elements of adaptation to modernity and elements of resistance to it. The new religious movements are quite diverse and colorful. Some are theoretically highly conservative, but some of them are radically innovative. Some of them emerge from traditional religions, while others show an eclectic and syncretic appearance. It is a fact that the target group of the New Religious Movement is a group of young people aged 15-25. Since their target majority is young people, such religious movements are also defined as "youth religions/sects". Is attending YDHs a strategic success only in New Religious Movements? Or is it the possibility that the lifestyle in the modern age presents the individual? Or a sense of meaning in which his quest corresponds to it? Or is this a grueling vicious circle that he can't afford to become an addict? In this context, the following elements are explained in general as the main reasons for the participation in a new religious movement for the individual: deprivation, alienation, the tendency to be engaged with religious issues, the instability of one's own personality and the experience of personal crisis. The individual experiences a life in "homeless mind" mode. In "homeless mind" approach, the individual perceives modernization and existence as secular, not as sacred as it used to be. The existence and life in the Western thinking experiencing this process have been seen as "rationally understood", but the Western man feels himself homeless and free of refuge in the cosmos and social life when big problems are encountered. The New Religious Movements have precisely aspired the field of meaning that this feeling corresponds to, and they have met the individual in the claim of satisfying this feeling. In this study, the relationship between NRMs, psychology and personality are tried to be discussed with descriptive and partly analytic approaches. The nature of modern man's ontological entity requires the interpretation of the belief trend in the context of psychology and also requires developing a perspective that prioritizes the effectiveness of comprehension and analysis.