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A2 SOCIOLOGY:

Churches, denominations, sects and cults

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE


BETWEEN CHURCHES AND
DENOMINATIONS?
CHURCH large organisation often linked to
the state. Members of churches tend to conform
to the norms and values of society.
DENOMINATION diluted churches. They are
separate from the state but do not reject views
held by the majority. They follow many of the
ideas of established churches but are open to new
ideas. Reject strict ceremonies of the church.

WHAT ARE SECT?


Often

associated with more deviant


elements, they are considered to be
World- affirming new religious
movements (they do not challenge
the way things are in the world).
They can be critical of other religious
movements but they tolerate their
existence.

WHAT ARE SECTS?

Some sects are described as millenarian


movements (they believe that the world will end
one day and that God will save them but not
non-religious people).

Examples:
Jehovahs Witnesses
Quakers
Amish

WHAT ARE CULTS?

Cults are Worldrejecting.


They are highly critical
of established religions
They tend to be quite
small with highly
committed members
They reject societal
values
Members tend to cut
ties with family
They tend to be led by a
charismatic leader

WHY DO SECTS AND CULTS GROW?


Weber those who feel marginalised may be
drawn to a sect or cult to gain a sense of
belonging
Some individuals joins because they are made to
feel special
Church-sect cycle theory for churches to remain
popular over long periods they have to
compromise. This upsets certain members who
decide to break away. They form new
organisations which attract people and when the
sect takes on church-like characteristics the cycle
is complete. The process will start again when
members leave the sect because of
disillusionment and form new organisations.

CLASSIC STUDY: ROY WILLIS (1984)


1.
2.
3.

World-rejecting groups whose members are


hostile to the world
World-accommodating groups whose members
largely ignore the world around them
World-affirming groups- whose members largely
accept the world but try to focus on making
individuals feel better and more successful
within the world they operate.

KEY IDEA: POTENTIAL PROBLEMS


1.

2.

Reliance of a
charismatic leader can
mean that once the
leader has died then so
to does the organisation
Those millenarian
organisations, which
predict that the world
will end, weaken their
legitimacy if that
prediction is believed to
be unfounded.

QUESTION

1. What do you understand by the term


spiritual shopper?