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A sect starts out as a community of dedicated people who are engaged in conflict with the world. But this attitude is hard to maintain in the long run, and eventually the sect begins to accept more and more inputs from the surrounding society. Eventually, the sect changes into a denomination.

This process gives us a very clear example of the kind of religious change that can occur in a community. Sometimes this change occurs after the death of a charismatic founder. The new successors then need to administer a fast–growing administration and in this process an institution with authority is created to replace the charismatic founder.

Another reality that promotes the transition from sect to denomination is the arrival of the second generation. This event implies that the congregation no longer consists solely of converts. There now adherents or followers who do not belong to the group for reasons of commitment or dissatisfaction with society, but who were born into the group. Once grievances against society start to fade away and the wealthier members start to play a more prominent role in the internal life of the sect, the hostile attitude the group once had towards the world also starts to diminish.

We can see this happening today in the Hare Krishna movement (more correctly known as ISKCON). When it started out, it was a militant sect within Hinduism, trying to convert not only other Hindus, but non–Hindus too. But since the death of the founder, Sri Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta, the movement has made peace with other Hindus, built magnificent temples, and has become much less aggressive in recruiting new members. It is well on the way to becoming a Hindu denomination

When such a group also starts to demand that its leadership undergo formal theological training, the erstwhile sect is well on its way to becoming a denomination. At this stage the process starts to repeat itself. On its way to becoming a denomination, the sect starts to lose those qualities which attracted the original members. Conflict arises and often some members break away to form a new sect.

The transformation of sects into denominations is one of the best known phenomena in the history of religions. Think of the most staid, respectable church you can think of. For argument's sake, let us say the Methodist Church. Now, if you go and read up on the founding of Methodism by John Wesley and his friends, you will be amazed to find just how radical and sectarian they were thought to be at the time!


Of the four types of religious organisations discussed here, the cult is by far the most difficult to describe. Individuals are not born into a cult and do not join the cult formally. Support for a cult varies widely and official proof of support may not exist at all. Association is completely voluntary and membership of the cult does not imply acceptance of group discipline nor does it necessarily cancel one’s membership of more conventional groups. The leadership of a cult is charismatic and informal. The convictions of a cult often centre on a single function, such as faith healing. Cult adherents are often uprooted individuals who join the group when they are confronted with loneliness or other frustrations.

In Religion Studies, "cult" is a technical term only used in reference to this fourfold typology. When working with contemporary religious developments, it is preferable to use the term New religious Movement (NRM).

Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
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industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
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What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
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Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
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what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Learning about religion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 18, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11780/1.1
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