An important if underdeveloped focus of scholars interested in the fate of new religions is in the factors that influence their success, decline, and failure. Among the factors most critical to the development of new religions is legitimate authority. We describe how a crisis of leadership authority at New Vrindaban, a renegade Hare Krishna community in West Virginia, brought about an exodus of community residents, financial decline, conflict, and the ultimate transformation of the community's mission. Findings from a 2003 survey are presented to assess how the community's membership has responded to New Vrindaban's transformed purpose as an institution of pilgrimage.
I can remember when I was struck with the concept of Srila Prabhupada wanting a new Vrndavana when I came in 1973. I sold myself out to that dream. The dream turned into a horrific nightmare for so many, through no fault of their own. I pray to give myself like that again. But instead I am hiding in a little closet even while I remain here [at New Vrindaban].