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Flashcards in Types Of Religious Organisations Deck (18):


- large organisation
- lots of members
- run by hierarchy of paid officials
- claim monopoly of truth
- open to wider society



- Small organisations
- Quite a lot of members, more poor
- Run by charismatic individual
- Hostile to wider society



Subgroup of a religion
Midway between churches and sects
- Medium sized
- Less exclusive than sect but more restrictive than church
- Less formal leadership



- Promote ways of being more successful in world and are highly individualistic
- Members more like clients, no strong commitment required
- Leaders are usually practitioners or therapists that have special knowledge
- Accept other beliefs and organisations


Wallis: 2 characteristics distinguishing them

1. Churches and sects claim their beliefs are the only correct beliefs. Denominations and cults accept that there are other valid beliefs
2. Churches and denominations seen as respectable. Sects and cults seen as deviant due to portrayal in media


Audiance cults

Provide little beyond info services of some kind for people, and little organisation or involvement from followers. Often consumed through internet and books e.g. New Age ideas like astrology and horoscopes


Client cults

Have more organisation and offer services, such as therapy and courses (so seen more as customers). Such as spiritual contact with dead.


Cult movements

More organised, involving wide range of activities, support and personal involvement, such as scientology


New Religious Movements (NRMs)

Emerged since 1960's. Have little in common with churches or denominations, although Wallis points out many draw upon traditional Christian or other religious faiths. Contain some of the most controversial social movements in modern world posing threats to own members and wider society.


Barker's features of NRM's

1. Religious in that concerned with spirituality and supernatural
2. Most likely find supporters from young people
3. Likely to be led by charismatic leader
4. Certain they hold the only truth and are the 'chosen ones'
5. Often suspicion and hostility from outside world


New age groups

Wide diversity of mind-body-spirit ideas, interests and therapies from across the globe since 80's. Many of these ideas have little to do with supernatural dimension. Two related features:
1.Self spirituality: dip into whatever beliefs they fancy
2.Detraditionalization: rejection of traditional religions and base beliefs through personal experience


Bruce's 5 main features to New Age religion

1. Emphasis on self
2. Everything is connected
3. The self is the final authority
4. Global cafeteria
5. Therapy


Practical or pragmatic reasons for the growth of sects and cults

- Key to success: world-affirming NRMs and new age ideas appeal more to affluent, university educated and successful M/C groups. Seek techniques to capture inner selves and have money to pay for this.
- Escape: may help with difficult family, personal or work circumstances.


How secularisation has led to a growth in sects, cults and etc

Cults and New age consequence of individualism.


Other reasons for appeal of other beliefs

- Filling vacuum of meaning in PM society
- Identity formation and individual choice in postmodern society
- Globalization and media
- Social deprivation, marginality
- Relative deprivation


Theodicy of disprivilege

Weber: religious explanation and justification for social inequality and social deprivation explaining marginalisation of believers.


Why are sects thought to be short-lived?

1. Problem of maintaining commitment and fervour: people find it difficult to cope with strict rules, discipline and commitment leading them to leave the sect. Also difficult to keep it going with second-generation
2. Loss of charismatic leaders
3. Religious diversity in PM societies


Arguments against sects being short-lived

- Some sects have existed a long time e.g. Jehovah's witnesses
- Not all sects depend on charismatic leader
- Many sects have been successful in socialising children, whilst also converting adults