With reference to at least two NRMs you have visited, examine the ways in which they secure allegiance from their followers. I will compare the ISCKON movement and the Jehovah’s Witnesses for this essay as the diference in their approach is the greatest and highlights the diferences between a world renouncing N. R. M and a world accomodating N. R. M The essay will suggest that a large part of securing members allegiance is carried out not in the later stages of membership but from before they are even members as N.R. M’s tend to seek those people that fit into their structures in the first place.
There was a noticeable contrast between the ISKCON temple and the Jehovah’s Witnesses approach to securing allegiance from followers. The Jehovah’s Witnesses described how when a member of the congregation is known to be breaking the taboos of the religion, that person is mentioned in the service with an anouncement that this person is no longer a Witness.
Social taboos are held very srtictly by the Jehovah’s Witnesses but the pro active approach to discipline is in marked contrast to the ISCKON religion who also have social taboos that contrast with wider society. The ISCKON approach to discipline from the beggining of the religions move to the west has been of tolerence and accomodation, in line the Wallis typology the ISCKON religion would be a world accomodating religion. ISCKON members where described to us as being encouraged to follow the rules of the organisation but that no formal mechanism exists by which a member can be expelled.
When asked directly about members allegiance, both ISCKON and the Jehovah’s Witnesses gave a similar account of how members feel that if they follow the principles of the religion, then they have a moral sense of direction, it was argued that this sense of direction and purpose in an otherwise confusing modern world is what members most often cited as their reason for staying within the religion. The recruiting of new members differs slightly between the religions but both recruit by going out to meet people.
The diferent approach to recruiting reflects the diferent position of these movements on the Wallis typology with the ISCKON people happy to go to music festivals and other entertainment events and the Jehovah’s Witnesses prefering door to door evangelizing. The ISCKON movement would tend to attract people that like music due to their recruiting at music events and as music plays such an important role in the arati ceremony, it seems the movement actively seeks people that will fit in with the practices of the movement.
The Jehovahs Witnesses approach to recruitng is very different as they will attempt to knock on every door of a given area and therefore would seem to be aiming for everyone, however they tell people exactly what is expected and prohibited for a member so that only those willing to behave in accordance with the teachings of the movement are finally allowed to be a member, baptism is for this reason only taken by those who are absolutely sure of their commitment. The Jehovah’s Witnesses take baptism seriously and only a minority of members become baptised.
Once a person is a member in these religions, they have a variety of ways in which they can show their allegiance. It is often talked about how N. R. M’s take members money away, the anti cult organizations often make a point of this, however the contribution boxes in the Assembly Hall where described as being for voluntary donations only. The Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage members to donate as much as they can to the movement but also conduct charitable work and so can gain money through the gift aid system. Jehovah’s Witnesses also make money from selling literature from their own publishers.