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Some sects dissolve without growing into denominations. Sociologists call these established sects    . Established sects, such as the Amish or Jehovah’s Witnesses fall halfway between sect and denomination on the ecclesia–cult continuum because they have a mixture of sect-like and denomination-like characteristics.

A denomination    is a large, mainstream religious organization, but it does not claim to be official or state sponsored. It is one religion among many. For example, Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, and Seventh-day Adventist are all Christian denominations.

The term ecclesia    , originally referring to a political assembly of citizens in ancient Athens, Greece, now refers to a congregation. In sociology, the term is used to refer to a religious group that most all members of a society belong to. It is considered a nationally recognized, or official, religion that holds a religious monopoly and is closely allied with state and secular powers. The United States does not have an ecclesia by this standard; in fact, this is the type of religious organization that many of the first colonists came to America to escape.

A young Mennonite boy in a straw hat is shown eating a piece of pizza.
How might you classify the Mennonites? As a cult, a sect, or a denomination? (Photo courtesy of Frenkieb/flickr)

One way to remember these religious organizational terms is to think of cults, sects, denominations, and ecclesia representing a continuum, with increasing influence on society, where cults are least influential and ecclesia are most influential.

Types of religions

Scholars from a variety of disciplines have strived to classify religions. One widely accepted categorization that helps people understand different belief systems considers what or who people worship (if anything). Using this method of classification, religions might fall into one of these basic categories, as shown in [link] .

One way scholars have categorized religions is by classifying what or who they hold to be divine.
Religious Classification What/Who Is Divine Example
Polytheism Multiple gods Belief systems of the ancient Greeks and Romans
Monotheism Single god Judaism, Islam
Atheism No deities Atheism
Animism Nonhuman beings (animals, plants, natural world) Indigenous nature worship (Shinto)
Totemism Human-natural being connection Ojibwa (Native American) beliefs

Note that some religions may be practiced—or understood—in various categories. For instance, the Christian notion of the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit) defies the definition of monotheism    , which is a religion based on belief in a single deity, to some scholars. Similarly, many Westerners view the multiple manifestations of Hinduism’s godhead as polytheistic , which is a religion based on belief in multiple deities,, while Hindus might describe those manifestations are a monotheistic parallel to the Christian Trinity. Some Japanese practice Shinto, which follows animism    , which is a religion that believes in the divinity of nonhuman beings, like animals, plants, and objects of the natural world, while people who practice totemism    believe in a divine connection between humans and other natural beings.

Questions & Answers

What is population studies?
onoja Reply
What are the subjective reality of mass communications
isah Reply
preconditions that give rise to deviance behavior
James Reply
what do you mean by "power to constraint"?
Chisom Reply
can someone please elaborate the main elements of ethnicity.
Tinya
What is social thought? And the difference between social thought and sociological thought
onoja Reply
Please some one should explain this theories for me.. Functionalism,, conflict theory and symbolic interaction
onoja Reply
functionalism: interrelated parts designed to meet the biological and social needs of the individuals in that Society
Lisa
conflict Theory: the way inequalities contribute to social differences and perpetuate difference in power
Lisa
Symbolic: one to one interactions and communications
Lisa
Can this theories be criticise?
onoja
How can I have access to rural sociology lecture notes?
KIEH Reply
what is Karl max.
ALIYU Reply
karl Marx is a economist and he worked in sociology he proposed theory of communism
Zakir
communism said that Every member of society acquired equal rights means equal basic needs of life ...he said capitalism gain all the profits and worker remain in same situation they can't effort even his three times meals in a day
Zakir
What are the main tasks of Sociologist
Adamson Reply
Does a full Moon really trigger strange beh
Abubakar Reply
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Pascal
Actually am doing sociology
Abubakar
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Any body define Global implications nd technology
BILAL
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Elias
what are the differences and similarities between August Comte and Herbert Spencer theories? pls I need some response on that.
Elias
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BILAL
what are the advantages and disadvantages of multi​ culture
fazil Reply
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Pascal
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Pascal
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ram
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shoaib
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yuusuf
trying to answer the advantage and disadvantage of multiculruralism. 1. The advantage is multethnic countries are home to majority of migrants a signifacant population of it being a highly educated skilled of workforces aroun the world.
yuusuf
2. Disadvantage may couse risk of social conflict occurs due to differences in relegios, beliefs, and practoces though ethnic retuals or certain weys of life that may couse rift between two or more groups.
yuusuf
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yuusuf
How would you classify crimes like child abuse, human trafficking and domestic violence?
Omego Reply
I would say that these are very serious crimes especially because they hinge on the rights of human beings, therefore they would be classified as felonies. Felonies;are the most serious of crimes that one can commit.  
Douglas
what are the factors responsible for drug addiction using the theories of deviance
Cora Reply
parents are the first responsible for drugs addiction in our society today
Yakubu
what are the unique features of rural areas?
Gidion Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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