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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter explores explanations for conversion to new religious movements (NRMs). Rather than sudden episodic conversion, joining an NRM can be attributed to self-discovery, following a schism, or pursuing a special interest within a religious organisation. There are definite patterns of conversion in NRMs, and notably a disproportion of Jews who join. It is argued that key factors include availability for the requisite lifestyle, and the gaining of “compensators” that the NRM offers. A further factor is offering religious experience and a forum in which to discuss it. The author explores the role of the Internet in conversion, arguing that it accounts the rise of “invented religions”, but otherwise has limited bearing on gaining new members. Finally, the religions themselves undergo change as new converts espouse them.

Keywords: Conversion, new religious movements, lifestyle, Internet, invented religions, Jews, religious experience, compensators.

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