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While few religious movements flowered immediately after World War II, two dropped seeds in the U.S. during the 1950s that took root and eventually grew into giant global businesses. Scientology and the Unification Church became two of the more controversial religious movements of the next few decades.

Overview of the 1950s

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Dance Shaken by the Vietnam War and the John F. Kennedy assassination, the U.S. became a nation obsessed with the mystical and exotic during the turbulent '60s. Fundamentalist Christian groups and Eastern-style religions won converts in the so-called youth movement. Parents hired "deprogrammers" to win back their children.

Overview of the 1960s



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Werner Erhard The "Jesus Freak" movement and Eastern gurus became even more popular in the '70s. A new category of self-help philosophies took hold, too. Entrepreneurs cashed in on what became known as the human potential movement by developing expensive training seminars.

Overview of the 1970s

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Women Hugging Many Christian fundamentalist groups adopted lower profiles during the '80s but continued recruiting worldwide. Political extremism, meanwhile, spread quietly in the United States. Groups espousing anti-authority and anti-government philosophies took hold in rural areas.

Overview of the 1980s

Lyndon LaRouche

David Koresh

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Prayer Meeting Several small groups made sensational news in the 1990s, inflaming public fears about extremism. Mainstream churches stirred debate, too, over new movements in their ranks. A 1995 book published in Britain, "The Pope's Armada," attacked the new Catholic-affiliated groups called Focolare, the Neocatechumenate, and Communion and Liberation.

Overview of the 1990s

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