New Religions and the New Zealand Census
Are Meaningful Generalizations About NRM Members Still Possible?
Keywords:New Zealand, Census, Religious Denominations, Conversion, Paganism
From the very beginning of NRM studies, researchers were focused on understanding who joined new religions and why. By the 1980s, we had reached a consensus profile of young, educated converts who joined primarily via social networks. However, by the twenty-first century, the situation on the ground had changed, in part because of the rising age and greater diversity of recruits to alternative religions and in part because of changes resulting from changes such as the emergence of the Internet as a new environment for non-traditional religions. The present article examines data from the New Zealand census to demonstrate the point that the earlier profile of members of non-traditional reached in the 1970s and 1980s has been superseded, and, further, that it is no longer possible to discuss NRM members “in general,” as a class demographically distinct from members of other religious organizations.
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