Alternative Spiritualities, New Religious Movements, and Jediism in Australia

Adam Possamai


Australia, it could be argued, has a low rate of occurrence of religious intergroup hostility, and can be seen to have a diverse composition of alternative forms of religion; New Age and Neo-Pagan networks, New Religious Movements; and a new type of religiosity, the hyper-real religion (e.g. Jediism). However, several legal battles have surrounded the case of, for example, the Church of Scientology, the Family, and Ananda Marga. Sentiments towards new forms of religions in the Australian media can be quite negative, and two recent Government reports, which dealt with the freedom of religious beliefs, suggest that more animosity exists towards new religions than one might expect. Given the long history of relative openness toward new religious groups in Australia, these relatively recent negative sentiments might create a sense of fear and anxiety towards them, which might become more amplified in the post September 11th period.

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