Problem

Experimental religion

Other Names:
Religious dilettantism
New Age spirituality
Spiritual dabbling
Unorthodox religion
Unauthorized religion
Non-traditional spiritual belief
Undirected spirituality
Self-designed religion
Nature:
New forms of religion (developed as a result of the inadequacy of traditional religious doctrine, "new" spiritual insights, or as a result of commercialism) may be austere or orgiastic, based on mysticism or scientific data. They constitute a threat to traditional organized religions, and because they are cut off from the long-term experience of these religions they may lead their supporters into error.
Incidence:
Experimental religion is most marked in 'Western' industrialized countries where traditional values are being challenged and there is no one, overriding ideology. Followers of the New Age movement are generally affluent and well educated. A monthly New Age magazine in the USA has 180,000 subscribers, more than 50% of whom have attended graduate school and whose average household income in over $60,000.

The emergence of the New Age movement has provoked new social boundaries for many evangelical Christians leading them to label many contemporary social movements and institutions as either demonic or potentially evil.

Claim:
1. Various forms of spirituality which have inundated the Western world in recent decades, and which are characterized by a series of values, actions, rituals, and life-styles that are usually partially or totally separated from any original religion in the world, cannot claim to be true religious spirituality.

2. Spirituality is now being fed through the grid of the commodity culture. The controlling paradigm in faith has become individual choice. Individuals design their religion as part of their lifestyle choice, adapting it as necessary. The emphasis is placed on the elimination of authoritarian and doctrinaire elements in favour of personal experience. Such undirected spirituality is associated with the individualized, fragmented, self-selective characteristics of post-modern society.

Narrower Problems:
Cargo cults
Manipulative cults
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
24.01.2000 – 00:00 CET