- Evaluate the varying ways that sects have been understood over time.
- Although in the past the term “sect” was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and principles.
- The historical usage of the term sect in Christianity has had pejorative connotations, referring to a group or movement with heretical beliefs or practices that deviate from those of groups considered orthodox.
- Among the first to define sects were the sociologists Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch.
- There are differences between sects and cults in the degree that members are recruited and kept. A sect may also have members who choose to leave later, whereas a cult uses any means necessary to keep its members, including coercion.
- Sectarianism is sometimes defined in the sociology of religion as a worldview that emphasizes the unique legitimacy of believers’ creed and practices and that heightens tension with society.
- Sectarian violence refers to violence inspired by sectarianism. Some of the possible inputs for sectarian violence include power struggles, political climate, social climate, cultural climate, and economic landscape.
- cult: A group of people with a religious, philosophical or cultural identity sometimes viewed as a sect, often existing on the margins of society or exploitative towards its members.
- sectarian violence: Sectarian violence or sectarian strife is violence inspired by sectarianism, that is, between different sects of one particular mode of ideology or religion within a nation or community.
- sectarianism: Rigid adherence to a particular sect, party, or denomination.
Church-sect continuum: Before describing these different religions, it is important for the reader to understand that these classifications are a good example of what sociologists refer to as ideal types. Ideal types are pure examples of the categories. Because there is significant variation in each religion, how closely an individual religion actually adheres to their ideal type classification will vary.