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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Using examples from new religious movements ranging from the Children of God to Sahaja Yoga, the chapter takes a multi-disciplinary approach, reviewing insights from sociology, psychology, anthropology, and management theory. It focuses on charisma as the authority to lead and transform religious traditions, reviewing not only identified qualities of leaders, but also the role of followers in creating and maintaining a collective myth, as well as the importance of the situation and culture in which the relationship develops. Key concepts include legitimation strategies, charismatization, and the role of the “charismatic aristocracy.” Attention is paid to factors contributing to instability and violence, particularly related to the institutionalization of charisma known as routinization, as well as optimal conditions for “benevolent” and “diffuse” charisma.

Keywords: New Religious Movement, Charisma, Brainwashing, Charismatization, Routinization, Guru, Legitimation Strategies, Cult, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Sun Myung Moon, Children of God, Sahaja Yoga

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