East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2003, Covering the Former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe

Polish New Religious Movements

Pawel Zalecki

Almost all New Religious Movements (NRMs) found in Poland, even those of Oriental origin, arrived from Western countries. Only a few NRMs have no agencies or"headquarters" abroad. The best known that started in Poland due to a missionary activity of their representatives from the West are: 1) Science of Identity Institute "Chaitanya Mission" (in Poland since 1988, registered in 1990, ca. 1,000 followers); 2) International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON (in Poland since 1976, registered in 1988, ca. 12,000 followers and ca. 500 persons after the religious initiation); 3) The Family, The Children of God, or The Family of Love (in Poland since 1974, ca. 150 followers); 4) Bahá'í Faith (in Poland since 1989, registration in 1992, ca. 500 followers); and 5) Unification Church (in Poland since 1980, registration in 1990, ca. 500 followers).

The rapid increase in the number of NRMs in the early 1990s has now subsided. A statement of one of the highest spiritual leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Poland captures past and current trends well: "When the system transformation started in Poland in 1989, the movement developed very fast. People were interested and joined.... It can be said there was a real Krishna Movement boom. Now, after eight to nine years, we notice this interest has diminished and the number of followers is not growing as rapidly. In fact, quantity seems to have been replaced by quality." This is perhaps true for many other NRMs.

Edited excerpt reprinted with permission from Pawel Zalecki, "Religious Revival in Poland. New Religious Movements and the Roman Catholic Church" in Pink, Purple, Green; Women's, Religious, Environmental and Gay/Lesbian Movements in Central Europe Today, edited by Helena Flam. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs/Columbia University Press, 2001.

Pawel Zalecki, "Polish New Religious Movements," East-West Church & Ministry Report 11 (Winter 2003), 11.

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© 2003 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664

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