In the 1970s an ordained Methodist minister named Peoples Temple) from the United States to the jungles of Guyana, where he attempted to create a utopian, interracial community based on his idea of “apostolic socialism,” a version of Christianity that was influenced by contemporary Marxist liberation theology.
Jones, an increasingly authoritative and paranoid personality, warned his followers that a devastating thermonuclear war was impending.
Koresh taught a highly apocalyptic Christianity and identified himself with the Lamb of Revelation 5, which is traditionally associated with Christ.
Allegations of child abuse and the launching of a retail gun business attracted the attention of the authorities, which led to a long standoff with the FBI and a tragic fire that killed Koresh and some 80 members of the group. Indian philosophical doctrines began to influence Western thinkers such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
The Maharishi and his teachings gained great fame and attracted celebrities such as the American film star Mia Farrow, the American engineer and architect R.
Buckminster Fuller, and the English rock group the Beatles. ISKCON is fundamentally a continuation of a Hindu sect, originating in India’s precolonial period, that emphasizes ecstatic devotion to the god Krishna.
The historical roots, doctrines, and practices of the NRMs in the West are extremely diverse.
A darker side of apocalyptic expectations has resulted in mass suicides and tragic conflict with governmental agencies.Among the first new religions in the United States were the William Miller (1782–1849).Miller predicted that Christ would return to earth sometime in 1843 or 1844.These religions are, by definition, “new”; they offer innovative religious responses to the conditions of the modern world, despite the fact that most NRMs represent themselves as rooted in ancient traditions.NRMs are also usually regarded as “countercultural”; that is, they are perceived (by others and by themselves) to be alternatives to the mainstream religions of Western society, especially Christianity in its normative forms.Their appeal to Westerners may very well lie in their exotic nature and their clear-cut differences from Western religions.Many other Asian traditions, however, have been highly modified by their new contexts or have provided the foundation for the beliefs and practices of Western groups such as ECKANKAR.In 1978, after a group of concerned family members (led by a U. congressman) visited the group’s commune, Jones and his followers (913 persons in all) committed what Jones called “revolutionary suicide” rather than submit to what they thought would be an attempt to compromise their community.“Death is a million times preferable to 10 more days of this life,” Jones told his group, and, “If you knew what was ahead of you, you’d be glad to be stepping over tonight.”Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993.The group, an offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventist church, first settled near Waco in 1935.After a succession of leaders and internal power struggles, Vernon Howell, who later assumed the name David Koresh, took control of the group in 1987.