New Religions and the New Zealand Census

Are Meaningful Generalizations About NRM Members Still Possible?


  • James R. Lewis University of Tromsø
  • Andreas Baumann University of Copenhagen



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to demonstrate the point that the earlier profile of members of non-traditional reached in the 1970s and 1980s has been superseded, and, further, that it is no longer possible to discuss NRM members “in general,” as a class demographically distinct from members of other religious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.

Author Biography

Andreas Baumann, University of Copenhagen

Graduate Student in the Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen


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How to Cite

Lewis, J., & Baumann, A. (2011). New Religions and the New Zealand Census: Are Meaningful Generalizations About NRM Members Still Possible?. International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 2(2), 179–200.