The Contributions of New Religious Movements in Rural Development
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A B S T R A C T
The research was designed to examine the contributions of new religious movements in rural development. The general objective of the study was to find out the areas in which New Religious Movements have contributed to rural development.
The following specific objective were used; to find out the reasons for the proliferation of NRMs, to find out the contributions of NRMs in rural development, and to find out the challenges faced by NRMs in rural development.
A cross-sectional survey research design was used in the study. Simple random sampling technique was used to select (70) respondents for the study. Structured questionnaires were administered to the (70) respondents and with all possible efforts made by the researcher all the (70) structured questionnaires were filled and return giving a return rate of (100%).
The study revealed that the growth of these religious movements has been as a result of rapid urbanization, the quest for riches, high level of education, the quest for miracles, the quest for breakthrough and their healing ability.
These religious movements have contributions in rural community development, in the provision of electricity, the provision of water, provision of lodging facilities, the provision of roads, the provision of education, the provision of health facilities, and the provision of charity support.
The study also shows that these new religious movements are facing some challenges such as being occultic, suffers a lot of prejudices from society, they are being accuse of destroying so many homes, their Prophecies/ miracles are never true, and their healings never come true. And some recommendations were made.
1.1. Backgrounds to the Study
A proper definition and conceptualization of New Religious Movements (NRMs) is a daunting challenge, scholars, media and other stakeholders failed to reach consensus on precise definition. The difficulties that usually arise in defining NRMs have been beautifully illustrated by John A. Saliba (1997).
He started with the word “New” he noted that many of the NRMs are not really new, many parts of their syncretistic teachings go back to Gnostics teachings of ancient Greeks or philosophy of ancient India, and some of them such as Eckankar and Grail Message have tried to trace their origin right to the beginning of creation.
Secondly, the term “religious” also has some problems because many NRMs do not want to associate themselves with religion. They view religion as something that has to do with superstition and dogmatism. According to the teaching of Raelian religion and New Age Movements what they practice is not a religion but pure science, Grail Message members contend that they observe higher law of nature.
Cameroon‟s religious field is a highly diversified one, characterized by a multiplicity of religious forms and their agents, such as Western missionary churches, Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, new indigenous religious institutions, independent ritual specialists, the Spiritual churches, Islamic groups, the Bahai Faith, amongst others.
The resulting religious pluralism compels the diverse traditions to compete for relevant capital and social visibility on the Cameroonian religious scenario. The goal is dominance over others in the sphere of Cameroonian religious life.
The intense religious competition in Cameroon is increasingly changing how the individual religious groups operate. Some of the religious institutions and agents are operating like business organizations– appropriating marketing strategies in a quest to attract clientele for the religious goods and services they offer.
Some are doing so by employing de-legitimizing strategies to undermine other competing religious traditions (Wuaku, 2013). In what Asamoah-Gyadu frames as “the battle of the gods” for spiritual supremacy (Johnson, 2009), the contest is observably an inter- religious contest between Christians and non-Christian. But there are also intra-religious contests, that is, contestations among the various indigenous religious traditions in Cameroon as well.
Before Cameroon‟s encounter with religions of outside provenance, the mainstay of religious life in Cameroon was the indigenous religions made up of the Roman Catholic Churches, Presbyterian churches the Baptist and the African Traditional Religion (ATR). While the influences of the Indigenous Religious Traditions are still strong in Cameroon, they do not by any means contemporaneously constitute the dominant religious culture in the nation. A strand of Christianity known as Pentecostalism has more dominant influence in Cameroon today.
The Pentecostal dominance on the religious landscape thrives, among other things, on their general negative attitude towards the other indigenous churches and their agents. This Pentecostal attitude finds expression in their direct attacks on the indigenous churches through their teachings and activities. Their main narrative on modernity, for example, characterizes indigenous religions as outmoded, irrelevant, evil and backward.
They share, and indeed bolster, popular views about “local gods and spirits that recast them as Christian demons operating under the auspices of Satan (Birgit, 2008). This attitude has generated popular fears of and hostility against indigenous shrines, priests and clients/devotees to the point where many indigenous religious traditions‟ agents have been forced to operate undercover.
Aside from the indigenous religions, Pentecostal discourse typically demonizes other religions in Cameroon as well, priding Pentecostalism with conquering these “religions of darkness.”
The coming of these NRMs in Cameroon in general and in Buea in particular has contributed in the development of Buea in so many areas that affect human live. One very important aspect of these NRMs which makes it different from the indigenous religions is its spiritual healing therapy which many of their Christians are testifying its effectiveness.
The act of God ministry is a typical example of such a religious movement found in Buea under the leadership of Apostle John Chi. All these observations motivated the researcher to design this study on the contributions of new religious movements to rural development in Buea.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
NRMs in Cameroon and Buea in particular are growing in an environment in which mainstream religions have become highly institutionalized and dominate socio-politics of the state.
A variety of reasons have converged to make the proliferation of NRMs possible in Buea ranging from international factors such as globalization; national factors such as secularism, spread of education and urbanization and individual factors such as religious experience and existential crisis (Murtala, 2013).
It is also clear that members of NRMs are facing a lot of discrimination, accusations and negative stereotypes due to their unorthodox beliefs. They are engage in blood rituals or psychological manipulation of their members. This study therefore investigates the reasons for the proliferation of new religious movement in Buea; their contributions to rural development and their challenges in rural development.
1.3. Research Questions
1.3.1. Main Research Question
In what areas has New Religious Movements contributed to rural development?
1.3.2 Specific Research Questions
What are the reasons for the proliferation of NRMs in Buea?
What are the contributions of NRMs in rural development in Buea?
What are the challenges faced by NRMs in rural development in Buea?
1.4. Research Objectives
1.4.1. General Objective
The general objective of this study is to find out the areas in which New Religious Movements have contributed to rural development.
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
To find out the reasons for the proliferation of NRMs in
To find out the contributions of NRMs in rural development in
To find out the challenges faced by NRMs in rural development in
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study has both theoretical and practical significance.
Theoretically: The study will add to the body of existing knowledge, literature and reference material on the contributions of NRMs to rural development.
. Practically: The results of this study will also enable us to now the areas in which NRMs have been contributing in rural development. This study will serve as an important document for policy formulation and strategies on how best to address the challenges faced by NRMs in rural development.
1.6. Definition of terms
According to Stark and Bainbridge (1987) NRM consider as founders to be entrepreneurs who produce, market, and sell compensators in exchange for other rewards. A compensator is an unverifiable promise of a future reward that is in low supply or unavailable at present. According to the Stark-Bainbridge theory, in a situation where some rewards are in low supply or not available at all, people are willing to accept compensators in lieu of the actual rewards.
Further reading: Linguistic project topics