This means that, in application to separate movements in isolation, the term is problematic: it applies more appropriately to them collectively.[…] It is only because a number of separate religious groups became popular among some young people at roughly the same time that use of the term “NRM” can be defended.In recent years, parliamentary reports were published, which sometimes included lists of several dozens religious movements.Since armed forces are certainly not insulated from debates going on in the wider society, such controversies will also to some extent make an impact upon the way in which the military will react to this proliferation of religious groups.
There are several reasons for this absence of research, the first and most obvious one being the low numerical strength of most of the groups which could be included in such a category.
I suspect that, if I had dealt with this topic 30 years ago, our main concern would have been to examine how far believers in non conventional religious messages could adequately be accommodated in the armed forces, and what provisions should and could reasonably be made for those refusing to bear arms and claiming the right to conscientious objection.
Some aspects of those questions remain relevant for us today, but questions will also arise which we wouldn’t even have considered earlier in this century.
But a sound and realistic estimate of such potential threats should be made: when an article in a security periodical about “Cults, Rights and Terrorists” begins with comments like: “In North America, between three and ten million people are involved in 700 to 3,000 cults […].
In Britain there are 500 cults, with a combined membership of half a million […]”, even if the article concludes with the wise remark that the challenge “is how to distinguish the minority of dangerous cults from the huge number of harmless ones, and take the necessary action without encroaching on every person’s right to religious freedom”, the impression likely to linger in the mind of the reader is that any group labelled as cult belongs to a potentially dangerous category, unless it has been proven to be otherwise…