Curiosity and Interest
There are numerous reasons why the study of new and minority religions should be included in RE programmes. Perhaps one of the most appealing of these reasons is that they are intrinsically interesting, opening up new worlds of possibilities. Children and adults alike tend to be fascinated by the variety of beliefs and practices that can be found in contemporary society – whether they find these attractive, alarming, incredible, stimulating and/or amusing.
But exploring new and other minority religions (including those within broader traditions) does not only improve students’ religious literacy, it can also play a significant role in increasing the understanding of key issues relating to religion more generally. For example, processes involving the origins, development and decline of religions are more easily recognised in new religious movements than in major traditions or organisations; studying new religions offers a good opportunity to examine the role of choice and change in religion; and phenomena such as extremisms are readily observable both in the new religions in the reactions to them.