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Catastrophic New Age Groups and Public Order

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This article examines the recent emergence of separatist, countercultural groups observing a disaster-prone view of the future shaped by variations of New Age religion. While these groups have not uniformly adopted violent strategies against outsiders, the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo case should alert authorities to the potential for violent activism that exists in some New Age collectivities during periods when the group is experiencing an episode of stress. Particular attention is given here to the psychodynamic shift which took place in a Montana-based New Age religious movement as its visions of a forthcoming earthly disaster mobilized the membership to prepare for a cataclysmic event. It is likely that law enforcement agencies will encounter more cases of millennial excitement in catastrophic New Age groups in the near-term future as the approach of the year 2000 stimulates the apocalyptic imaginations of these countercultural movements.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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