New Religious Movement
New Religious Movements are relatively recent religious movements that operate outside the dominant religious traditions of a given society.
You may also hear these groups referred to as "alternative religious movements" or "marginal religious movements" - especially as juxtaposed with "mainstream religions".
New Religious Movements often emerge as responses to social, cultural, or spiritual changes in a culture.
Inspiration and beliefs often draw on a variety of sources, including existing religious traditions, mystical or esoteric teachings, scientific discoveries, or contemporary philosophies.
It's also difficult to define the "new" aspect of new religious movements. Some consider any offshoot of major world religions as a new religious movement, whereas others may reserve the designation for groups that have form in recent decades or centuries. It is very difficult to lump groups together under such a nebulous category.
Some New Religious Movements gain significant followings, while others remain relatively small and obscure.
While not always, the reason some New Religious Movements gain notoriety is their proximity to or display of cult-like patterns. This can include a number of distinctive characteristics, such as charismatic leadership and coercive practices.
It's worth noting that the term "cult" is often used pejoratively to refer to New Religious Movements, and can carry negative connotations of manipulation or abuse.
Many scholars, helping professionals, and religious leaders prefer the term "new religious movement" to avoid more common, sometimes loaded terminology.
It's also important in the United States (and other places with freedom of religion) to recognize the existence of some new religious groups as valid expressions of spiritual diversity.