It is becoming commonplace to refer to the global character of charismatic and fundamentalist religious movements. At its most elementary this simply means that their doctrines and their organizations tend to possess ‘global reach’. But the
expression ‘global’ in this context also refers to their propensity to borrow, imitate and project images of themselves and of others, onto themselves and others, across frontiers in time and space. The movements often exhibit a remarkable capacity to combine practices, beliefs and rituals from a wide range of sources, in ways which counteract our intuitive concept of religion as a set of institutions and beliefs rooted in tradition and resistant to change. These innumerable borrowings, and the self-images and images of others which accompany them, often seem to sit uneasily with the proclaimed beliefs of the movements in question. It is hardly the business of the social scientist to judge what is and what is not ritually or theologically acceptable to one or another religious institution, but the phenomenon, taken as a whole, does raise
important questions about the definition and interpretation of cultural boundaries and also about the relationship between ‘bundles’ of symbolism and ritual and their nominally corresponding ‘belief systems’.

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