Briefing: 35th anniversary of Inform, which researches new religious movements

The charity Inform (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements) has just celebrated its 35th anniversary and in this briefing, we look back at its work with founder, Professor Eileen Barker; honorary director, Dr Suzanne Newcombe; and senior research officer, Dr Sarah Harvey.

Inform’s role has always been to research and communicate information about minority religions, sects and new religious movements. Over 35 years, the landscape has changed from clearly visible groups like the Moonies and the Children of God, to invisible networks on social media, where ideas bounce and re-emerge across them all, and increasingly new groups within mainstream traditions. The continuing growth of new religious movements across the board looks certain to secure Inform’s future, with Dr Newcombe observing that “people’s beliefs and practices are not going away, they’re just changing contexts. And even if it appears that people aren’t identifying with institutional religion, they’re still doing similar things”.

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