The objective of this article is to encourage scholars of religion to retain an awareness of the significance of new religious movements (NRMs) being new. It arises as a response to three propositions made by J. Gordon Melton in this issue. The first of these is that NRMs have more in common with their religious traditions of origin than with each other. The second is that NRM is a residual category——it is not a church, a sect or an ethnic religion. Melton's third proposal is that NRMs might best be defined as religions that are greeted with antagonism by significant elements of the wider society, including traditional religions. My response is, first, that however related or unrelated they are to their respective traditions, NRMs are likely to share certain characteristics with each other merely because they are new. Second, these characteristics are deserving of attention in their own right and cannot be reduced to their not being various types of other religions. Third, rather than being used as a defining characteristic, the antagonism with which NRMs are met can be more usefully thought of as a consequence of their newness.
- ©© 2004 by The Regents of the University of California