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12 - Succession, religious switching, and schism in the Hare Krishna movement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2009

James R. Lewis
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Sarah M. Lewis
Affiliation:
University of Wales, Lampeter
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Summary

Studies of disengagement from new religions have treated defection largely as an individual experience that involves a breakdown in the ideological and cognitive linkage between a convert's values and beliefs and the religious doctrines and practices of the group. Defection thus becomes an act of “falling from the faith” (Bromley 1988). Yet as new religions develop, internal conflict and factionalism produce mass expulsion, group defection, religious switching, and schism (Chancellor 2000; Ofshe 1980; Rochford 1989; 2007a; Rochford and Bailey 2006; Wallis 1976; 1979; 1982; Wright 1988). Some or all of these outcomes are especially likely upon the death of a charismatic founder, should the departed leader fail to authorize an alternative system of authority (Leatham 2003; Miller 1991; Rochford 1989; 1998a; 2007a; Wallis 1979: 187; Zald and Ash Garner 1987: 136).

Beginning in 1977, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), more widely known as the Hare Krishna movement, experienced ongoing succession problems after the death of its founder, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Ideological conflict over the behavior of Prabhupada's successors and the basis of organizational authority caused large numbers of devotees to abandon ISKCON's communities in North America, western Europe, and other locations worldwide. Because, in most cases, those disaffiliating remained committed to their Krishna conscious beliefs, many sought alternative sources of authority to Prabhupada's successors. While some joined related Krishna-based religious organizations, others stood their ground and pushed to change ISKCON's system of religious authority.

Type
Chapter
Information
Sacred Schisms
How Religions Divide
, pp. 265 - 286
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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