Ageing in New Religions: The Varieties of Later Experiences

Professor Eileen Barker has recently published an open-access article on ageing in new religious movements.
 
Diskus 12 (2011): 1-23. 
 
 
Ageing in New Religions: The Varieties of Later Experiences
Eileen Barker
London School of Economics / Inform
 
 
ABSTRACT
In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s and 1980s a wide variety of new religions became visible in the West, attracting young converts who often dropped out of college or gave up their careers to work long hours for the movements with little or no pay. Half a century or so later, those converts are now in their fifties or sixties, and approaching an age when, in the wider society, they would be considered of pensionable age; some are beginning to develop medical problems, and quite a few are anxious about what their future might hold. Few have paid into pension plans or for medical insurance.
 
This paper addresses some of the challenges that the new religious movements (NRMs) and their members are facing with this demographic shift from a movement consisting of enthusiastic young converts with few dependents to one in which there may be a substantial proportion of children and a growing number of ageing members able to offer only a limited contribution to the resources of the NRM as they find themselves increasingly dependent on others. A brief comparison with the arrangements of a few longer-established religions is included.