Religio Nova in Flux: The Emergence of New Religious Movements and its Social Consequences

Religio Nova in Flux: The Emergence of New Religious Movements and its Social Consequences

Cilt/Sayı

2023 34. cilt – 3. sayı

Yazar

Ali Rafet ÖZKANa , Indira AKHMETOVAb , Nurgul SALYMATOVAc

aAnkara University, Faculty of Divinity, Department of Philosophy and Religious Sciences, Ankara, Türkiye

bKaraganda University, Faculty of Philosophy and Psychology, Department of Philosophy and Theory of Culture, Karaganda, Kazakhstan,

cL.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Astana, Kazakhstan

Abstract

New Religious Movements usually refer to religious movements that emerged in the 20th century. The great majority of these movements emerged in the Christian World in the West, especially in the United States. So much so that , we can say that there are thousands of new religious movements in the United States. Here is a point that, these movements emerge in many regions of the world where they find suitable ground. Since the target group of many of the new religious movements that emerged after the 1950s is young people, these kind of religious movements are also defined as “youth religions”. The term “youth religions” was first started to be used in 1974. They are called “youth religions” or “youth sects” because their target group are people between the ages of 15 and 25. They mainly carry out activities for people who are in high school and university years. In our study, in which we used the methods of history, comparison and philology, the reasons for the emergence of these movements, on what social basis they emerged and their social consequences were thoroughly examined.

Keywords

History of Religion; new religious movements; sect; social consequences; youth religions

Öz

Yeni Dini Hareketler genellikle 20. yüzyılda ortaya çıkan dini hareketleri ifade eder. Bu hareketlerin büyük çoğunluğu Batı’daki Hıristiyan dünyasında, özellikle de Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’nde ortaya çıkmıştır. Öyle ki Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’nde binlerce yeni dini hareketin ortaya çıktığını söyleyebiliriz. Şurası bir gerçek ki, bu hareketler dünyanın uygun zemin bulduğu pek çok bölgesinde ortaya çıkıyor. 1950’li yıllardan sonra ortaya çıkan yeni dini hareketlerin birçoğunun hedef kitlesi gençler olduğundan bu tür dini hareketler aynı zamanda “gençlik dinleri” olarak da tanımlanmaktadır. “Gençlik dinleri” terimi ilk kez 1974 yılında kullanılmaya başlanmıştır. Hedef kitleleri 15-25 yaş arası kişiler olduğundan “gençlik dinleri” veya “gençlik mezhepleri” olarak anılmaktadırlar. Tarih, karşılaştırma ve filoloji yöntemlerini kullandığımız çalışmamızda bu hareketlerin ortaya çıkış nedenleri, hangi toplumsal temelde ortaya çıktıkları ve toplumsal sonuçları kapsamlı bir şekilde incelenmiştir.

Anahtar Kelimeler

Dinler Tarihi; yeni dini hareketler; tarikat; sosyal gruplar; gençlik dinleri


EXTENDED ABSTRACT

New Religious Movements usually refer to religious movements that emerged in the 20th century. The great majority of these movements emerged in the Christian World in the West, especially in the United States. So much so that , we can say that there are thousands of new religious movements in the United States. Here is a point that, these movements emerge in many regions of the world where they find suitable ground. Since the target group of many of the new religious movements that emerged after the 1950s is young people, these kind of religious movements are also defined as “youth religions”. The term “youth religions” was first started to be used in 1974. They are called “youth religions” or “youth sects” because their target group are people between the ages of 15 and 25. They mainly carry out activities for people who are in high school and university years. Some of them are; New Age, Satanism, Scientology and Moonism, and the Far Eastern movement of Hera Krishna, Ananda Marga, Transcendental Meditation, Divine Light

Mission, Brahma Kumaris and the Osho (Rajneesh) Movement.   Since the 1990s, these new religious movements, which have accelerated their activities for young people, have continued to be called “youth religions”.

Some of the new religious movements (NRM) emerge as a sub-branch of some major religions or sects and they show themselves as a new religion. From the point of view of religious sciences, it is seen that these do not have a religious identity independently. In the West, these religious movements are named in different ways: “New Religious Movements”, “sect”, “harmful religious movements”, etc.

There are many reasons that prepare the emergence of NRMs. Secularization, subjectivity, social indifference, individualism, hedonism, rapid change, globalization, pluralism are some of these reasons. These movements, which are the result of many reasons, have many social consequences and are usually of negative character. In order to dominate and even enslave their supporters, they use methods such as brainwashing, individual and group therapies, psychotherapies, drug addiction, taking advantage of young people’s weakness for sexuality and entertainment, and these movements oppress and terror their supporters with the suggestion that the end of those who leave the group will be very bad. In addition to these, individual and mass suicides, mass killings of people with mustard gas or any other theo-political occurrences that desire somewhat parallel state within the actual State in order make such equalized State, killing of many innocent people and because of many other reasons have negative effects and harms both regionally and globally.

In our study, in which we used the methods of history, comparison and philology, the reasons for the emergence of these movements, on what social basis they emerged and their social consequences were thoroughly examined.

The definition of New Religious Movements is often used for groups that emerged after the 1950s and identify themselves with a religious identity. It is possible to say that Marxist-Leninist and hedonist student movements in the United States, defined as the 68 generation, are the major motivator reasons behind the gaining speed of these new religious movements in the West.[1]

Some of the New Religious Movements (NRM) emerge as a sub-branch of some major religions or sects and they show themselves as a new religion. From the point of view of religious sciences, it is seen that these do not have a religious identity independently. In the words of Bianchi, since “the history of religions is a science (discipline) that is difficult to define and depict, studying the manifestations of human behavior, which we call “religion” in universal time and space”[2]  he also examines movements that present themselves with a religious identity and name. However, they are called “new religious movements” because they present themselves with the name of religion. This name has been used since 1970. In the West, these religious movements are named in different ways: “New Religious Movements”, “sect”, “harmful religious movements”, etc.

In terms of religious sciences, we cannot see the most important conditions that a religion must carry in order to become a religion. For example, they do not have the necessary basic conditions such as being original, not being copied from any religion or system, and that not being established for political, economic and earthly purposes. Therefore, although some of them have cult or sect characteristics, none of them have religious characteristics on their own. We call these movements “New Religious Movements” in terms of the history of religions science.

    1. DESCRIPTIO ET IDEM DESCRIBING AND ANALYZING OF NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

As mentioned above, New Religious Movements usually refer to religious movements that emerged in the 20th century. The great majority of these movements emerged in the Christian World in the West, especially in the United States. So much so that, we can say that there are thousands of new religious movements in the United States. Here is a point that, these movements emerge in many regions of the world where they find suitable ground. Since the target group of many of the new religious movements that emerged after the 1950s is young people, these kind of religious movements are also defined as “youth religions”.

The term “youth religions” was first started to be used in 1974. They are called “youth religions” or “youth sects” because their target group are people between the ages of 15 and 25. They mainly carry out activities for people who are in high school and university years. Some of them are; New Age, Satanism, Scientology and Moonism, and the Far Eastern movement of Hera Krishna, Ananda Marga, Transcendental Meditation, Divine Light Mission, Brahma Kumaris and the Osho (Rajneesh) Movement.[3] Since the 1990s, these new religious movements, which have accelerated their activities for young people, have continued to be called “youth religions”.[4]

New developments have made the emergence of religious pluralism very clear. Many groupings and movements about the worldview and religious fields are considered as “sect”.

The word “sect” comes from the Latin word “secta” and is the name form of the verb “sequi” (to follow). The word “sect” means a philosophical school, party or a certain doctrine of thought and behavior. During the first period of Christianity, “sect” word considered negatively by the church and this word was used in the meaning of “delusion”.[5]

In the New Testament, the concept of “sect” is used in the meaning of “delusion” and “separation”.  In Christian literature, “sect” is used for small groups that leave or are expelled from big churches.[6] It is believed that “heretic, infidel” religious ceremony (rituals) are the basis of such a separation.  The history of religions science has always used the concept of “sect” in an objective meaning. Sect is defined as “standing against a religious practice or teaching in which it is separated from the main group as a minority”.[7] This approach means that “sect” is described by its main religion. There are also sects in religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

The concept of “New Religious Movements” was first used in Europe in the early 1970s. Some of these movements that emerged and spread in Asia were defined by Christian churches as “Youth Sects” due to their activities to make young people their members and their world views. Today, these movements targeting young people are defined as “Youth Religions”. Some of the religious movements of Far Eastern origin evaluated in this context are as follows: Hera Krishna, Ananda Marga, Transcendental Meditation, Divine Light Mission, Brahma Kumaris and the Osho (Rajneesh) Movement. These movements have arisen from Buddhism and Hinduism. For this reason, these are defined as “Far Eastern cults”.[8] Their discipline (doctrine) usually has mysterious (occult) character. Since metaphysical systems have always been a complex mixture of mystical systems, efforts to fully explain these ideas have led to the emergence of different branches by ramifying.

The “youth religions”, which are considered within the new religious movements, draw attention not only in terms of the history of religions but also in their structural features that have group characteristics in sociological terms. One of them is a leader who is considered an authority by his/her supporters. The starting point of the doctrine is the idea of salvation, which is considered as absolute reality for its supporters.

It is also said that the word “sect” was developed as a concept of war against all styles of groups against new religious movements that are related to occultism. With the term “sect (cult) victim”, it is tried to express clear feelings of fear and panic about the earthly groups that appear in any place. So much so that, many groups in the West were sued for being a “harmful cult” and closely followed by the states. For example, even in Federal Germany, where the freedom of religion of all people is guaranteed by the state, some of these new religious movements have been prosecuted and tried in court according to Article 4 of the Constitution.[9]

Thanks to this and many other groups like this, new and alternative recipes for salvation are becoming widespread with the earthly view and teaching branch. This includes superstitions, astrology and many esoteric methods. New Age is the most vivid example of this. Since the 1990s, “youth cults”, “youth religions and psycho-groups” have made their mark in Europe. Although they target young people, a significant number of youth religions have adult activities, and they originate from Hinduism. These include “Ananda Marga”, “Brahma Kumaris”, “Bhagwan and Krishna Movement”, “Transcendental Meditation”, which started their activities in the 1970s and 1980s. Since new religious movements have a wide range, the concept of “sect” in the history of religions does not include groups originating from their main religions. Likewise, the concept of sociological “sect” cannot be applied to all groups.[10]

These new religious movements, which shows themselves both in the Far East, in the West and recently in Turkey, often do not want to be referred to as a sect or cult of the main religions of their origin, since they distinguish themselves from traditional religions. According to some experts, their reaction to the word of “sect” has two reasons. Firstly, they do not want to be remembered with the positive and negative prejudices in people’s minds since they have new interpretations of the big religion in which they were born and left the traditional beliefs. They consider being a sect or cult of the main religion “derogatory, separative and classifier.” Secondly, in addition to the negative meanings evoked by the term “sect”, they are legal disadvantages of this concept.  These reasons are; the lack of religious freedom of small groups other than traditional religions, the characterization of different movements as “religious separatism” and considering them as crimes in the laws of some countries. New religious movements claim that they are not “sect”, but they are a “new religion” in order to prevent the negativity evoked by the word “sect” and to carry out their activities more easily.  In our opinion, it is not very true to reduce their claims that they are different religions to only two reasons. First of all, new religious movements are consciously conciliatory (syncretic) in terms of their doctrines. Although the vast majority of their dogma is adaptation from many religions and even philosophical thoughts, almost all new religious movements have a different religious texts that they consider to be equivalent, sometimes superior, to the religious texts of the main religion in which they were born. They also claim to be a different religion by relying on these mixed religious texts, which they create by combining borrowed beliefs from very different religious systems.[11] Earthly, political and economic expectations lie behind their presentation of themselves as a new system and religion. All of the groups that we will introduce in this study are seeking earthly and political power, as well as making big money. It is possible to say that they have achieved these ambitions significantly. Because they were able to attract a large number of volunteer colonial slaves, in other words, supporters, from intellectual and educated people in the modern age in which we lived, and especially in Western countries.

New religious movements are named in many different ways, especially in the West. In general, the words “confession” or “church” are carefully used to refer to the main Christian groups. Sometimes it is used for groups of “independent church” (Baptists, Methodists, Mennonites, etc.). “Different religious groups” is used for Seventh Day Adventists, Philadelphia movement, etc. And “denomination” concept refers only to Protestant groups that have emerged in the United States. “Esoteric and New Gnostic World Views and Religions” is used for Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Spiritualism, Rose Cross (Rosicrucianism) etc. “Psycho-Organizations”  is used from movements such as Scientology,  Friedrichshof Movement, etc. “Missionary Religions or Youth Religions of the East” is used for the movements such as Transcendental Meditation, Hare Krishna, Brahma Kumaris, etc. “New Religious Movements or Youth Religions”  is used for The Unification movement, Children of God, etc.[12]   In addition to these, the term “cults” or “destructive cults” is used to refer to such movements in the United States.  Likewise, the concepts of “New Religions” or “New Religious Movements”[13] are also used. In addition to these, concepts such as “community”, “communion” and “brotherhood” are used to refer to denominations and religious groups in Europe.

    2. EVENTUM SOCIALE: SOCIAL REASONS THAT PREPARE THE EMERGENCE OF NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

It is possible to talk about many social factors that prepared the emergence of New Religious Movements. However, we will suffice here to give a few that we consider important in terms.

2.1. SECULARIZATION

In the West, secularization has been known to have a significant influence on people’s thoughts and acts for the last four centuries.  Secularization is considered part of enlightenment. In fact, enlightenment has been in the religion as well as in all areas. On the other hand, the human mind freed itself from the guidance of religion and struggled for independence. These developments have been an advantage for Christianity, which had to rationalize its own expressions, while on the other hand it has caused it to be damaged. Because churches have lost power. A wide range of new “sects” were born in them.

Secularization could not quench people’s religious longings. People have embarked on new quests in cults. Modern people, who saw the church as null and void and rejected irrational interpretations, began to believe in new teachings. For this reason, people invented the concept of “post-modern”.[14] 

According to field experts, despite the fact that all of the sects that are defined as conversionist, revolutionary and introverted defend completely different understandings from the values of the society in which they live, manipulative religious movements adapt more to the existing secular culture. What these movements are trying to give to their members is that, apart from offering alternative values for life, they offer semi-exotic (mysterious) tools for purposes that are usually everyone’s common desire in society. Although introverted and closed sects represent communities of love that care about values, group loyalty and primary relationships that increase the feelings of love and sacrifice in the individual, manipulative movements exhibit exact opposite attitude.[15]  In terms of their area of interests these sects are not an ultimate purpose, but rather a tool. Meetings of such groups are not a meeting that concerns an entire sect. On the contrary, it reminds of the meeting of people with the same mentality and level of education who have adopted the same common methods to cope with the world. They argue that they have methods of achieving salvation in their own way. Their sense of salvation is different from that of the great religions. Because such groups consider it salvation to realize ideals such as longevity, happiness, healthy life and success, and even immortality, in other words, godhood. They also offer a number of recipes, which they claim will lead their supporters to salvation in a short way. Although they present their teachings mostly in metaphysical language, they do not prefer to express their adopted methods with religious terminology. Because they are earthly movements and their purpose is largely secular and hedonist. They sometimes describe rescuing people from the yoke of the great world religions as “salvation.” They do not see turning their followers into modern slaves as an obstacle to salvation. However, it is very interesting that members of such groups cannot see it. When they realize the situation they are in, usually it is too late for them and mostly it is not possible to easily get rid of their new religious movements. In such cases, there have always been those who think of suicide as the solution.

2.2. GAUDIUM ET SPES: HEDONISM

Hedonism is a set of teachings that see pleasure as the “highest good” in the most general sense. Hedonism: Hedonism is a world view that suggests that the only measure that a person can use in all his/her activities and actions is “to escape pain and try to reach pleasure”, and it is a perspective that finds the true meaning of life and existence in “pleasure”.[16]

Hedonism is divided into two as psychological hedonism and ethical hedonism. The first of these is psychological hedonism, which claims to describe what it is, not what it should be. Psychological hedonism argues that all human actions are motivated by the desire to achieve pleasure, that people naturally escape from pain and tend to pleasure, that each person only searches his/her own pleasure or happiness, and that all people wants to increase their pleasure level to the highest. Ethical hedonism, on the other hand, is defined as an empirical ethical opinion because it makes happiness the ultimate and highest purpose of life and morality.[17]  Hedonism, which is about our subject, is psychological hedonism. Because a number of new religious movements try to make pleasure naturally a measure of utilitarianism and individual happiness. In particular, sexual pleasure is encouraged, even the act of sex is performed as a ritual. In addition, drug addiction and promises of unlimited freedom encourage young people to hedonism. In such groups, hedonism cannot be simplified only to unlimited sexual freedom and drug addiction. Religious movements that adopt the philosophy of “Do what you want, let it be your law” lead their followers to unlimited pleasure.

In the West, religion is not just a private matter. At the same time, it both wants and does not want hedonism, which is popular and developing. Because pleasure and fun surround the believers with intense efforts. Young people, in particular, cannot escape falling into the trap of these pleasure groups. In our country, groups that gather fans through pleasure and perform rituals by organizing group sex, unlimited sexual intercourse and entertainment parties in luxury hotels sometimes become the subject of TV programs. For example, hedonist group called “International Raëlian Movement (IRM)” are recognized the by people of our country through hidden camera television news. At least we were aware of the presence of such groups in Turkiye.[18]  However, similar movements that have emerged in Turkey have become impudent enough to overshadow the formations they imitated in the West about hedonism. The Adnan Oktar group is the most obvious example of these.

Every pleasure and entertainment has a price. In addition to paying a large financial price, the people who participate in these groups also pay moral, spiritual and even vital price. In particular, some members of groups that encourage commit suicide kill themselves in order to feel the pleasure of death. However, it would not be right to limit this suicide incident, which is preferred by young people, only to a sense of pleasure. Especially young people who participate in groups called harmful religious movements can see death as a solution in order to get rid of the difficult position and impasse they are in. Briefly, it is not easy to leave these groups, which they became members to have innocent pleasures and then become addicted, as becoming members. In other words, people cannot break their ties from the religious movement they are members, even if they want to. The supporters, who participate with the desire for unlimited freedom and entertainment, after a while realize that they are the slaves of the group and group leader. Some members who cannot find a way out find the solution in death and suicide. In addition to these, as seen in movements such as the Adnan Oktar group, the members of the group were not able to get rid of becoming the leader’s slaves and sexual objects.

2.3. GLOLOCALE: GLOBALIZATION

Globalization is defined as “the cultural system that emerged in the unipolar world, especially after the developments in the last quarter of the 20th century and the fall of the Eastern Bloc, and the process of structuring the world as a single whole in a concrete form as part of the modernization process.”

According to Ronald Robertson; In the second half of the 20th century, the rapid increase in the intensity of communication between nation states, corporations, non-governmental organizations, arts, sports, education and religious organizations led people to see the world as a small place. The perception of the world as a small place has also revealed an urgent need to identify “humanity” as a value shared by all global actors who are increasingly interdependent. Religions provided many symbols of common human value and therefore became involved in globalization.   However, religions also have the function of mediation between the global and the local.  They filter out the experience of globalization and place it in the “local” framework.[19]

Globalization has been the magical word of the 21st century. First of all, the borders of the world are very narrow in terms of telecommunication and economics. The whole world has turned into a big market. There have been economic agglomerations where there are people and wealth. The attraction of stock shares of the world’s major stock markets became a symbol of the economic network, and “global economies” began to dominate our daily lives.[20]

Globalization is not only in the economic field, but also in many fields. However, these rapid changes and developments also trigger people’s concerns. Because today, instead of “national sovereignty”, the concept of “global sovereignty” has begun to be used. In addition, expressions such as “global warming”, “global war”, and “global pandemic” evoke the negative side of globalization.

Within the framework of the sociological assumption that social events are directly or indirectly related to each other, we can emphasize that religion also experiences and interacts with the process of globalization, which triggers researches in social sciences. With globalization, it is seen that there has been an increase in new religious movements and the number of communal religious structures.  It is known that modernization that created by individualism and rational trends changes the nature of religion and its place in the modern world. In contrast, it can be mentioned that post-modernism has returned to society with its new situation, having lost its reasonableness in some of the religious, largely individualized beliefs. 

    3. CONSEQUENTIA: SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS (NRM)

In the later twentieth century, the new religious movements became a shining star and they became the center of attention of the scientific community. Separation of these groups from the main religions and their dynamics, the economic foundations of the development of new movements, the international dimensions of these movements, the membership of young people to these movements and their position within the group, and the gender-related character of social relations and so on have gained great attention.

According to James Beckford, the main reason that made the new religious movements famous is the increase of their supporters’ deaths  and suicides.[21]  We agree with his opinion. Although individual or double suicides based on religious groups in our country began to be recognized in 1998 when Satanic young people chose death at various intervals at young ages, various countries of the world have met them much earlier. After these suicides of satanists young people satanism came to the forefront in the country, police departments began to take measures against this group and meetings for information purposes were organized for young people. For this reason, they consulted the expert religions historians of the field. As field experts, we participated as speakers in many conferences and programs organized to inform and enlighten young people about harmful and destructive religious movements throughout the country.

Suicides based religious movements have been known in Turkey since 1999, while Europe and America have experienced numerous mass suicides by sects since 1979. The most famous mass suicide was in Urwald, Guayana, USA, in 1979. 900 members of the sect called “People’s Temple” died in a mass suicide. In September 1985, 68 members of a natural religious sect in the Philippines committed suicide at the same time. Two years later, in August 1987, the dead bodies of 33 workers who committed suicide on the roof of a factory in South Korea were found. Founded in April 1993 by David Koresh in the United States, the “Branch Davidians” engaged in a 51-day armed conflict with the FBI at a farmhouse in the state of Texas, resulting in the mass suicide of 86 members, including the leader of the sect. This event was announced to people live on television all over the world. On September 5, 1994, 53 members of the French Order of the Solar Temple (Ordre Temple Solaire) committed suicide all together in Switzerland. Some of the same sect members committed suicide all together at the same time as a collective consciousness between December 1995 and March 1997. In early March 1997, 39 members of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult committed mass suicide in America.[22] Ms. Heide Fittkau, psychologist of the cult Brahma Kumaris, committed suicide together with 33 of her supporters. Another notable cult event that froze the blood of the world took place in Japan on March 20, 1995. Attack of “Aum Shinrikyo” sect, founded by  Shoko Asahara, was prevented at the last minute as it was about to bomb the Tokyo subway with mustard gas (Bohn 2005: 27; Schulze-Berndt 2003: 28-29). This event is more of a bombing action aimed at mass murder of people rather than mass suicide. Initially thought to be an act of terrorism, it was an act of religious cult. When Asahara, who was arrested before he could carry out his act, was asked why he wanted to do this and for which terrorist organization he was working, ironically he answered “for God’s sake(!)”. … Because according to his theology, the world has completed its physical life and there will be doomsday scenes in which people are waiting for painful deaths. He explained that he chose to poison people with mustard gas, which would kill people mercilessly, simply because he did not want people to die in such a way. He also said that materialism puts pressure people’s spiritual freedom and prefers to bomb people’s souls with the idea of freeing them and saving them.

The last mass suicide witnessed by the world in horror and astonishment occurred in Uganda in 2000. On March 17, 2000, more than 500 people in the village of Manangu in Uganda committed suicide by burning themselves en masse at the same time. On TV channels, this incident was broadcasted live and the number of suicides was stated as 1000. More than 78 children have died in this collective suicide incident. Given the fact that 256 of the 900 people were children in mass suicide in America in 1979, it would be clear how dangerous were these cults of suicidal character for the societies. This one and other horrific events have suddenly focused the world’s attention on new religious movements. Therefore, mass suicides scare people more than individual suicides. Especially the so-called humanist esoteric groups that aim to kill all the people to save the whole world frighten people very much.

Some cults gain members with group sex rituals and entertainment parties in luxury five star hotels-Raëlian Movement is a good example for this-. They put pleasure, joy and pleasure in the first scene, while hiding mass suicides in the last scene. After limitless pleasure and fun, sect supporters may experience dramatic scenes of death, such as mass suicides, when they are sufficiently involved in the movement. Heide Fittkau incident, which resulted in the deaths of 33 people, is the most vivid example of this.

It is possible to draw a parallel between significant part of the new religious movements to a drama in which different theater plays are performed in each scene. The play in its first scene resembles to an advertising scene in which very attractive figures are displayed. In this scene, the group tries to steal the heart of the members by a play especially with full of attractive, provocative and irresistible figures, in which people’s sexual desires and emotions are praised. For this reason, sexuality is used as an incentive force, and they use many different unlimited sex preferences and actions such as group sex, opposite sex, etc., which are a very attractive method for the satisfaction of sexual desires. Following this, they introduce and start using drugs and similar pleasure-giving substances. Supporters who are beginning to adapt to the group begin to many different practices such as soul purification, individual therapy, group therapy, self-transcendence, etc. This stage is the second act of the theater play. In the last act, the members of the group become a mass who are insatiable because they taste all kinds of material pleasures and entertainments and is not satisfied even with unlimited hedonism. Perhaps at this stage, these people are asked to perform a suicide act, which is the most difficult method to implement. People who are driven to suicide are prepared for death, brainwashed, drugged and conditioned with suggestions that they will be resurrected, start a new life as a god, etc. At this stage, they enter to an irreversible path and the final act of the theater stage ends with death.

This three-stage situation, which we are trying to put into theatrical form, applies to groups that encourage suicide. However, in other non-suicidal groups, the first two acts of the theater stage are frequently applied. We would like to remind you that groups of vegetarian character are away from drugs and pleasure-giving methods,-there are not many groups using those methods-.

The FETO movement, which has the same structural and basic characteristics as these groups, made a traitorous military attempt in Turkey on July 15th in 2016, striving for the destruction of Turkey, many people were martyred and many others were injured in this attempt.[23] However, it is not possible to recover the wound that this incident has caused in the hearts and souls of people in Turkey. While Turkish people bear in their hearts the pain of these attacks and massacres carried out by soldiers of this religious-looking terrorist group, the destructive FETO movement has become servants of the global powers and evil groups they serve, using many techniques such as brainwashing, conditioning and blackmail, instructing their followers that they will go to heaven if they listen to their leaders. In such movements, the issue is not just the salvation of a region or country, but essentially the whole world is going into fire and a vortex with no end.

    4. ESSENTIUM ET MYSTERIUM: CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION, DIFFERENCES OF NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS FROM TRADITIONAL WORLD RELIGIONS

Great world religions are integrated with the world. However, it can be said that new religious movements are on a collision course with the world by rejecting many of its institutions and cultures. In church and similar religious structures, there is a work sharing that shows the degree of differentiation in loyalty. After all, such a structure includes priests, monks, non-spiritual classes and members. According to the six great world religions, the top of them are those who remain faithful to the morality of abstinence.[24] If we express this in Islamic logic; “in the presence of Allah the favorite people are those who do good things and who dedicate themselves service of humanity”. However, the cult of Western and Far Eastern origin or the new religious group structure is more oppressive. Because equality is defended, different degrees of commitment are not accepted, in these groups everyone has to adhere equally to group principles.

Apart from these, new religious movements have a huge negative impact on societies. First of all, they have taken against the vast majority of the world’s population by denying the five great religions in the world, especially Christianity. Therefore, it is possible to say that they are a serious threat to social peace. Although their understanding of religious pluralism tries to tolerate this, it is very difficult to establish widespread tolerance around the world. In addition, such religious movements argue that people should get rid of all kinds of limitations, oppressions, restrictions and even the yoke of dominant religions. Despite these basic calls and claims, they monopolizes the will of their own member sand enslave people.[25]

In order to dominate and even enslave their supporters, they use methods such as brainwashing, individual and group therapies, psychotherapies, drug addiction, taking advantage of young people’s weakness for sexuality and entertainment.[26]   These movements oppress and terror their supporters with the suggestion that the end of those who leave the group will be very bad. Therefore, members of the religious movements cannot easily leave the group. Members who want to leave the group for some reasons experience severe psychological trauma due to the fear, conditioning and brainwashing. As in the example of Satanism, those who cannot find a way out and cannot overcome their psychological problems choose suicide as a solution and salvation.

Another most noticeable negative aspect of such groups is that they see their supporters as customers rather than members of the community and exploit them financially, materially, spiritually and even physically. Therefore, they cause financial harm to their supporters, they are sexually exploited, they use to psychological terrorism, in addition to political tricks, and they use pressure tactics against those who criticize them.

As a result, the negative effects of harmful religious sects and new age movements on societies can be summarized as follows:

Restricting people’s free will: Harmful religious movements restrict people’s free will by trying to control their thoughts and behaviors. This can cause people to be unable to decide freely and become corrupt.

Disruption of social norms and values: Such movements tend to disrupt social norms and values. Therefore, the spread of such movements in societies may cause people to restrict their freedom and disrupt social integrity.

Guiding dangerous activities: Harmful religious movements can lead people to dangerous activities. These movements can lead people to acts of violence such as gang activities, armed conflicts and suicide attacks. Such actions threaten social peace and stability and put the lives of innocent people at risk.

Affecting mental health: Controlling- religious leaders do not allow people to meet their natural needs and impose prohibitions. These prohibitions restrict people’s personal freedoms and hinder their personal development. This in turn affects people’s mental health.

Disruption of family relationships: Some harmful religious movements also disrupt family relationships. These currents get away people from their families and weaken their social ties.

Causing social splits: Harmful religious movements can separate different social groups from each other and cause grave social splits. This situation threatens social peace and stability.

Contrary to scientific facts: Some harmful religious movements may defend views in contrary to scientific facts. This situation reduces the education level of the society and obstructs its progress.


REFERENCE

[1] See. Ali Rafet Özkan, “Yeni Dini Hareketler Sosyolojisi”, Din Sosyolojisi, ed. Emine Öztürk, Akademisyen Yayınevi, İstanbul, 2020, p. 323.

[2] Ugo Bianchi, Dinler Tarihi Araştırma Yöntemleri, Translation. Mustafa Ünal, Geçit Yayınları, Kayseri 1999, p.1.

[3] Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack, Europas neue Religion Sekten-Gurus-Satankult, Freiburg, 1993, p. 780.

[4] Ali Rafet Özkan, Kıyamet Tarikatları: Yeni Dini Hareketler,  IQ Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, 3. Baskı, İstanbul,  2023, p. 24.

[5]  Nicolette Bohn, Kleines Lexikon der “Sekten”, Pyschogruppen und Strukturvertiriebe, Leipzig 2005, p. 5.

[6]  Hartwig Weber, Lexikon der Grundbegriffe in Christentum und andere Religionen, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Hamburg, 1991, p. 443.

[7]  Hansjörg Hemminger, Was ist eine Sekte?, Stuttgart, 1995, p. 14.

[8] See. Stefan Schlang, “Neureligionen, weltweit”, Lexikon neureligiöser Gruppen, Szenen und Weltanschauungen Orientierungen im religiösen Pluralismus, Harald Baer, Hans Gasper, Joachim Müller, Johannes Sinabell, Freiburg im Breisgau, 2005, p. 891; Süleyman Turan – Emine Battal (eds.), Yeni Dini Hareketler Ansiklopedisi, Okur Akademi Yayınları, İstanbul, 2020, p. 35-624.

[9] Özkan, Kıyamet Tarikatları, p. 21.

[10] Özkan, Kıyamet Tarikatları, p. 25.

[11] Süleyman Turan, Abusionem: Yeni Dini Hareketlerin İstismar Dünyası, Okur Akademi Yay., İstanbul, 2023, p. 30-32.

[12] Horst Reller – Manfred Kiessig et al, Handbuch religiöse Gemeinschaften: Freikirchen, Sondergemeinschaften, Sekten, Weltanschauungen, missionierende Religionen des Ostens, Neureligionen, Psycho-Organisationen, Gütersloh, 1993, p. 29-949.

[13] Haack, Europas neue Religion Sekten-Gurus-Satankult, p. 7.

[14] Hermann Schulze-Berndt, Basis Wissen Sekte, Kulte, Weltanschauungen, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh, 2003, p. 10.

[15] Bryan R. Wilson, Religious Sects, translators, Ali İhsan Yitik- A. Bülent Ünal, İz Yayıncılık, İstanbul, 2004, p.171. 

[16] Haack, Europas neue Religion, p. 16.

[17] Komisyon, Felsefe Sözlüğü, Bilim ve Sanat Yayınları, Ankara, 2002, p. 647.

[18] Özkan, “Yeni Dini Hareketler Sosyolojisi”, p. 333.

[19] Özkan, “Yeni Dini Hareketler Sosyolojisi”, p. 333.

[20] Nicolette Bohn, Kleines Lexikon der “Sekten”, p. 14-15.

[21] James Beckford, “Accounting for Conversion”, British Journal of Sociology, 1985, 29:249-262.

[22] Emine Battal, Kıyametin Gölgesinde: Yeni Dini Hareketler ve Şiddet, Okur Akademi Yay., İstanbul, 2018, p.195-198.

[23] Özkan, “Yeni Dini Hareketler Sosyolojisi”, p. 342; Mahmut Aydın, Fetö’nün Uluslararası Kodları, Eski Yeni Yayınları, Ankara, 2017, p. 99-106.

[24] Wilson, Religious Sects, p. 33.

[25] Mustafa Alıcı, “Yeni Dini Hareketlerin Klasik Dinlerden Ayrıştığı Noktalar”, Nedenleri ve Niçinleriyle Yeni Dini Hareketler, ed. Süleyman Turan –  Faruk Sancar, Okur Akademi Yayınları, İstanbul, 2018, p. 71-80.

[26] Thomas Robins, “The Beach is Washing Away: Controversial Religion and the Sociology of Religion”, Sociological Analysis, 1983, 44: 207-213.