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Flashcards in Relgious Organisations Deck (23):

Define a sect

Small, voluntary, exclusive group. Demand total commitment from their followers, emphasising separateness and rejection from society


Example and history of sects

Peoples Temple led by Jim Jones
Sects really took off in the 20the century


Life cycle of a sect

Church faced times of dissent, members became radical
Those no longer happy formed a sect
People are angry with mainstream views


Growth of sects

Weber- marginality
People who feel outside of mainstream society
War and economic decline
Relative deprivation- breakaway sects
Social change- offer certainty
Sects emerged due to modernisation and secularisation


Why are sects short lived

Voluntary, second generation problem
Sometimes don't survive single generation
Rely on a charismatic leader
Ideologies can be radical
Hard to commit to


Define a cult

Loosely knit group, organised around a common theme and interest, lacking strong belief system


Differences of a sect and cult

Cults are more individualistic
Tolerate other beliefs
Have customers rather than members


What does wallis say about cults

They do not claim monopoly over truth
They are very tolerant and emphasise power or the individual


What do Stark and Bainbridge say about cults

Audience cults, client cults and cult movement


Give an example of a cult

Heavens Gate
Required members to refrain from drugs, sex and alcohol
Shows levels of commitment
Believed a comet would pass close to earth and take dead bodies
Committed suicide
Believe spirits would ascend


What did Troeltsch say about the church

Distinguished between different types of religious organisations
Church reffered to a large organisation


4 main features of the church

Mains monopoly over truth
Complex and rigid hierarchy
Close relationship to the state
Closely integrated with mainstream society


Criticisms of Troeltsch's view of the church

Church of England no longer claim monopoly over truth
Religious pluralism .


What's a denomination

Don't usually claim monopoly over truth
Have a hierarchy and are tolerant of others
Reasonably large membership
Usually not as loyal as church members
Not closely connected to the state


Example of denomination



World rejecting movements

Critical of wider society
Require total commitments
Significant lifestyle changes
Eg- The Moonies


World Affirming movements

Seek wider membership
Spiritual power- individualistic
Don't require strong commitment
Don't focus on a belief system
Similar to self help therapy groups


World Accommodating movements

Come from traditional movements
Try to re discover spiritual purity
Pentecostalism aims to bring Holy Spirit back
Allow people to carry on with current lifestyle


Why have New Religious Movements grown

Marginality- inequality and immigration, racism may marginalise some, may help it make sense of the situation

Relative deprivation
Social change


New Age Movement

Close to cults and world Affirming movements
Spread through cultures such as crystal healing
Beliefs are dedicated to self spirituality
New science, new ecology and new psychology


Why do New Age Movements appeal

Those who turn from traditional movements
People can find peace within themselves
People cope with uncertainty
M/C, women especially
Cultural changes, mass communication and very postmodern



Type of new religious movement
Claim there's going to be a horrific event where social order is overthrown
Members part of the group will survive


Example of milenarianism

Ghost dance
Plain tribes in North American
Believed a storm or earthquake would return the buffalo

Associated with deprived groups
Radical social change