Winds of Change: Rapidly Growing Religious Groups in the Pacific Islands

Article excerpt

By Manfred Ernst. Suva, Fiji: Pacific Conference of Churches, 1994. Pp. xvii, 357. Paperback $15.

In this comprehensive study Manfred Ernst, a social scientist with wide experience in research and writing and fieldwork in the Caribbean and Latin America during the 1980s, documents the invasion of new religious movements into the Pacific region, primarily in the last thirty years, and discusses their affect on the established "mainline" churches. The pattern is clear: the percentage of Pacific Island Christians in the historic mainline churches has dramatically declined during the past two decades, while some of the new religious groups are growing rapidly.

Ernst's three-year study sponsored by the Pacific Conference of Churches spans the Pacific, excluding Papua New Guinea, the Mariana Islands in Micronesia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. He surveys four categories of religious movements: (1) the most widespread and well-established new religious groups (the Assemblies of God, the Baha'i faith, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Seventh-day Adventists); (2) the most recent arrivals (nine churches discussed); (3) breakaway new religious groups (six churches studied); and (4) evangelicalfundamentalist parachurch organizations (eight organizations analyzed). …


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