Chapter summary imageMany New Religious Movements seek wisdom from places long held sacred by indigenous cultures. The elements of water, earth, fire, and air all seem to merge dramatically in Sedona, AZ.


  • Unificationists believe in one god—the capital “g” God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, the Unification Movement also incorporates East Asian spiritual traditions, describing God as a form of self-generating energy. This Source Energy is made up of two parts: the masculine and the feminine. Because of this, Unificationists argue, all things have a dual quality.
  • Wicca has traditionally eschewed a single definition of God or gods, preferring to look at the world around it for divine inspiration. Belief in a deity (or deities) spans the religious spectrum. Some Wiccans invoke the Jewish God, while others focus on internal development or the spirituality of nature.


  • The Unification Movement teaches that humans inherited original sin from Adam and Eve, who forsook a divine unity with God in favor of sexual temptation by the devil. In order to bring about a new holy kingdom on Earth, followers must marry and produce True Sons and Daughters of the Church.
  • Wiccans and Neo-Pagans focus on reclaiming the human body. Western culture, they argue, has corrupted our idea of ourselves, causing us to lose sight of the innate spirituality of humanity. Both Wiccans and Neo-Pagans celebrate the body, believing it to be an essential link to the divine.


  • Marriage is the ultimate bond between humans and God in Unificationism. Through the Blessing Ceremony, followers are initiated into the True Family, and begin spreading the Divine Principle.
  • Wiccans believe that actions, such as rituals and ceremonies, can produce harmony between humans and the universe. Shamanic practices grow out of this tradition, and seek to bring together humans, spirits, and nature.


  • The Unification Church teaches that its followers should strive to create a new, holy community on Earth. Worshipers are encouraged to establish a large family rooted in the teachings of the Church, and spread the word of Unificationism.
  • Wiccan practices can be both private and communal. Some Wiccans meet together in a coven, while others embrace the power of the Internet in order to connect to other practitioners around the world.

Key Terms


refers to the elemental quality of nature, and the relationships between natural objects.


is a wide-ranging movement that seeks to return to pre-Christian, polytheistic religious practices.

New Age Movement

describes the overarching belief in developing one’s spiritual, physical, and psychological self outside traditional boundaries.

Psychedelic Spirituality

teaches that people can find enlightenment through hallucinogenic drugs. The movement borrows elements from East Asian religious philosophy, as well as Wicca and Judaism.

True Family

is composed of male and female members of the Unification Church united in sacred matrimony, free from original sin. These families produce True Sons and Daughters.

Unification Church

is a modern interpretation of Christianity and Confucianism that stresses marriage within the church as a way of rebuilding God’s kingdom on Earth.


are modern believers and practitioners of witchcraft.

Web Links

What does it look like when 10,000 couples get married? Watch a video, with a rather tongue-in-cheek commentary, of a Unification Church marriage ceremony.

Do the Celts have a connection to Wicca? See Kardia’s blog on “Nature’s Ancient Wisdom” where she tackles the universal questions of religion and how they relate to Wicca and other ancient traditions.

Questions for Study and Review

1. Describe the steps of the Unification Blessing Ceremony.

Husband and wife begin by chastening each other three times, representing human error, but also the power of forgiveness. Next, the couple drinks holy wine, indicating the transition from false parenthood to True Parenthood. Couples are sprinkled with holy water and exchange rings. After the official wedding, couples are expected to follow a 40-day period of sexual abstinence, recalling Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. Finally, couples reenact a birthing ritual, marking their ultimate transition to True Wife and True Husband.

2. What is UFOlogy, and how does it compare to other New Religious Movements?

While some NRMs look to ancient traditions and others expand upon established religious ideas, UFOlogy focuses on the extraterrestrial. Popularized by Swiss author Erich von Däniken, UFOlogy teaches that celestial beings came to Earth long ago, bringing wisdom to humanity. In the centuries after their departure, humans slowly began to worship them as gods, and religion was founded.

3. What is correspondence and what is its importance in New Age spirituality?

Correspondence refers to the relationship between objects. Often, correspondence incorporates gods and goddesses from multiple religions, as well as objects in nature. Knowledge of the relationship between things can be used in mental and physical healing and harmonization with the universe.

Essay Questions

1. What are some of the benefits and weaknesses of having a famous person publicly support a religious movement?

2. What are some of the reasons people turn to new religious movements?

3. How do new religious movements respond to contemporary problems and concerns?

4. How are new religious movements different from, and similar to, older religions?

5. Are there any common characteristics shared by all of the new religious movements discussed in the text? If so, what are those characteristics? If not, why not?