New religious movements, or NRM, expanded in many nations in the 1950s and 1960s.

Japanese new religions became very popular after the occupation of Japan forced a separation of the Japanese government and Shinto, which had been the state religion, bringing about greater freedom of religion. In 1954 Scientology was founded in the United States and the Unification Church in South Korea. In 1955 the Aetherius Society was founded in England. It and some other NRMs have been called UFO religions, since they combine belief in extraterrestrial life with traditional religious principles.

In 1965 Paul Twitchell founded Eckankar, an NRM derived partially from Sant Mat. In 1966 the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was founded in the United States by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In 1967, The Beatles' visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India brought public attention to the Transcendental Meditation movement.

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