Sects & Stats - Overturning the Conventional Wisdom about Cult Members - James R. Lewis

Sects & Stats - Overturning the Conventional Wisdom about Cult Members - James R. Lewis

5 The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness: Demographic Patterns, 1998–2011

Sects & Stats - Overturning the Conventional Wisdom about Cult Members - James R. Lewis

James R. Lewis [+-]
Wuhan University
James R. Lewis is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy at Wuhan University. He is well-published in the field of new religious movements. His publications and edited volumes include The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, Controversial New Religions (with Jesper Petersen), Scientology, Children of Jesus and Mary (with Nicholas Levine), and, most recently, Violence and New Religious Movements.

Description

In Chapters Four and Five, I examine data that I and others gathered on members of two NRMs, the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) and the Order of Christ Sophia (OCS). These two groups provide contrasting examples of longitudinal approaches, and in these two chapters findings from surveys are presented and discussed in terms of the parameters laid out by Lorne Dawson in his 1996 summary of NRM conversion research, “Who Joins New Religions and Why: Twenty Years of Research and What Have We Learned?” (later republished as a chapter in his 2003 reader, Cults and New Religions, and in his 2006 textbook, Comprehending Cults). The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness is a medium-sized New Religion that can roughly be described as a blend of Sant Mat (Radhasoami) and “new age” teachings. In 1998, a sample of 566 movement participants responded to a demographic survey administered by a colleague. Then again in late 2011, I administered a much longer, online questionnaire to MSIA’s active North American membership, eventually gathering 531 respondents. Chapter Five compares the profiles derived from these two surveys. Though in many ways the average participant remained essentially the same between 1998 and 2011, in the intervening 13 years the membership excelled in terms of the classic indicators of achievement – education, income and professional achievement.

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Citation

Lewis, James. 5 The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness: Demographic Patterns, 1998–2011. Sects & Stats - Overturning the Conventional Wisdom about Cult Members. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 83-95 Nov 2014. ISBN 9781781791080. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24747. Date accessed: 14 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24747. Nov 2014

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