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New Religion in America

The dominant faiths in America today include the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. But an incredibly diverse range of smaller, less-known religions are flourishing, too. Sociologists say about 20 new religions pop up each year in the United States. Some survive; some live only for a season. In a four-part series, NPR explores some of the new religious trends.

Part 1: The Trends

Religions adapt and arise to reflect changing times. NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty starts the series with a look at why new religions can be influential -- even if they're short-lived.

Part 2: The Toronto Blessing

Bradley Hagerty reports on The Toronto Blessing, the fastest growing Christian church. Pentecostal worshippers display a personal, physical connection with God through manifestations such as speaking in tongues and barking like dogs.

Part 3: Soka Gakkai

NPR's Mandalit del Barco explores a modern version of Buddhism known as Soka Gakkai. It was brought to the United States by Japanese war brides, and in the 1960s, it caught on with hippies. Now it has more than 300,000 adherents in the United States, most of them middle class, from all ethnic groups.

Part 4: Teens and Wicca

In the last installment, Bradley Hagerty looks at the popularity of Wicca, or witchcraft, among young people. Teens seem to be drawn to Wicca, among other reasons, because it can be tailored to the individual's needs. Some of the teens' parents are Wiccans themselves. But other parents are alarmed.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty
Barbara Bradley Hagerty is the religion correspondent for NPR, reporting on the intersection of faith and politics, law, science and culture. Her New York Times best-selling book, "Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality," was published by Riverhead/Penguin Group in May 2009. Among others, Barb has received the American Women in Radio and Television Award, the Headliners Award and the Religion Newswriters Association Award for radio reporting.