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Secrecy and New Religious Movements: Concealment, Surveillance, and Privacy in a New Age of Information

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Abstract

New religious movements offer important insights into many larger issues in contemporary culture, not least of which are the issues of religious secrecy and privacy in a new age of information. However, the role of secrecy in new religious movements is neither simple nor homogeneous, but rather extremely diverse and often changing in different social, political, and historical contexts. This article outlines five major forms of religious secrecy and examines one key example of each. To conclude, it suggests that the role of secrecy in these new religions raises profound questions about the delicate balance between religious freedom and national security in a new era of government surveillance and religious violence.

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