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The term new religions, or new religious movements (NRMs), came into vogue in the latter part of the 20th century among scholars of religion to refer both to the influx of religions that were being brought to the West by immigrant populations and to the wide variety of innovative movements that were becoming increasingly visible and that were frequently being referred to as “cults” or “sects” in popular parlance and the media. No precise definition of either type of new religion is generally accepted, and the term is applied to phenomena that are both questionably new and questionably religious. Religions that are new to a particular society (e.g., Hinduism in North America, Shinto in Brazil, or Zoroastrianism in Europe) may have existed for centuries or ...

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