An online short course introducing cults, or New Religious Movements.
This 4-week course is a sociological introduction to cults – or better labeled as new religious movements (NRMs). The class will learn and discuss the definition of religion, church, sect, and NRM. Following this discussion, we will examine the beginning of three mainstream religions: Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. It will ask the following questions: Who were their charismatic leaders? What led them to create their movements? Next, three new religious movements will be discussed: OSHO International Foundation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and Heaven’s Gate. This class will examine how each movement has the characteristics that can define them as a NRM or sect at some point in their development. The purpose of this class is not to view NRMs as negative. Instead, it is an attempt to show how today’s major religious groups once existed as misfits, and how the word cult should no longer be understood in a purely negative fashion.
- Week 1: What is Religion in the Eyes of Sociology?
- Week 2: Mainstream Religion
- Week 3: New Religious Movements
- Week 4: Were/are these specific groups sects or NRMs? How would you describe them today?