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Assess the view that cults and sects inevitably turn into denominations and churches

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Introduction

Assess the view that cults and sects inevitably turn into denominations and churches The terms cult and sect are often used interchangeably to refer to relatively small religious groups whose beliefs and practices deviate from those of mainstream religions and appear strange to most people. A cult refers to an organized social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture considers outside the mainstream, with a notably positive or negative popular perception. Cults are usually open to all and welcome those with a sympathetic interest. Cult organization is likely to be loose. Their may be a charismatic leader but hierarchies are usually discouraged. Unlike sects, cults don't claim to have a monopoly of the truth. Due to the wide range of cults, there is no common orientation to the wider society. Followers generally expect to live 'in the world' and cult related activity is likely to be part time. Many cults do not demand high levels of commitment from their followers. They simply ask that people be open to the experiences they offer. ...read more.

Middle

Gaining membership is not a right but has to be earned by personal merit. There is a clear distinction between members and non members. Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Christadelphians and the Amish are examples of sects. Sects lack a complete hierarchy and depend on the special, god given talents of their members. There is little use of ritual, and worship is usually spontaneous and expressive. Both churches and sects claim that they have a monopoly of the truth and that they are the only true religion. Sects often look forward to an act of great significance - for example, the second coming of Jesus, the anticipation of the battle of Armageddon between good (God) and bad (Satan's) forces. They are often encouraged to think of themselves as 'special' with salvation reserved for them alone, while non-believers are rejected. Sects are generally critical of wider society and expect members to stand apart from it. Contact with non-members is generally discouraged except in an attempt to convert them. Sects demand high standards of behavior from their members and high levels of commitment. ...read more.

Conclusion

Wallis said sects are not a homogenous group. He identifies three categories of New Religious Movements based on their relationship to the secular world. 'World-rejecting' sects may attract support from those who have experienced some form of 'relative deprivation'. It has been argued that this kind of sect mainly appeals to those who reject the material life for the spiritual. It may well be the case that 'world-rejecting' sects have some appeal to young people to young people who, in the 1960's and 1970's, were experiencing more freedom and fewer responsibilities tan before. 'World affirming; sects may attract members from middle class backgrounds as they often place an emphasis on using sect membership as a way to achieve success in the secular world. Finally, 'middle ground' sects seem in some cases to offer a route back into society so recruits are by definition likely to be drawn from those currently in alternative, sometimes drug-related lifestyles. Overall, it is obvious that cults and sects inevitably turn into denominations and churches. A sect is a small religious group that often forms a larger, well established religious group, known as a domination. The same often happens with cults. ...read more.

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