Hamblin & Peterson: New religious movements meet widely varied needs

Published: Saturday, Nov. 16 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

Most new religions are small and ephemeral, often lasting only a few years and seldom surviving the death of their founders. A few contemporary NRMs flourish, however, creating stable institutions and communities that lay the foundation for future growth.

Many scholars believe that the most successful New Religious Movement of the past millennium has been The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now numbering more than 15 million members. Should current growth trends continue, its membership could near 100 million in the coming century. If so, the Latter-day Saints are poised to become the first new world religion since the beginnings of Islam some 14 centuries ago.

Daniel Peterson founded BYU's Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, chairs The Interpreter Foundation, and blogs on Patheos. Among other books and articles, William Hamblin co-authored “Solomon's Temple: Myth and History.” They don't speak for BYU.

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