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  • Explain the differences between various types of religious organizations
  • Understand classifications of religion, like animism, polytheism, monotheism, and atheism
  • Describe several major world religions
The symbols of 14 religions are depicted in a circle around the edge of an illustration of Earth, with North America and part of South America visible. The Earth illustration is shown sitting in the middle of a starry sky.
The symbols of fourteen religions are depicted here. In no particular order, they represent Judaism, Wicca, Taoism, Christianity, Confucianism, Baha’i, Druidism, Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Shinto, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Can you match the symbol to the religion? What might a symbolic interactionist make of these symbols? (Photo courtesy of ReligiousTolerance.org )

The major religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many respects, including how each religion is organized and the belief system each upholds. Other differences include the nature of belief in a higher power, the history of how the world and the religion began, and the use of sacred texts and objects.

Types of religious organizations

Religions organize themselves—their institutions, practitioners, and structures—in a variety of fashions. For instance, when the Roman Catholic Church emerged, it borrowed many of its organizational principles from the ancient Roman military and turned senators into cardinals, for example. Sociologists use different terms, like ecclesia, denomination, and sect, to define these types of organizations. Scholars are also aware that these definitions are not static. Most religions transition through different organizational phases. For example, Christianity began as a cult, transformed into a sect, and today exists as an ecclesia.

Cults , like sects, are new religious groups. In the United States today this term often carries pejorative connotations. However, almost all religions began as cults and gradually progressed to levels of greater size and organization. The term cult is sometimes used interchangeably with the term new religious movement (NRM). In its pejorative use, these groups are often disparaged as being secretive, highly controlling of members’ lives, and dominated by a single, charismatic leader.

Controversy exists over whether some groups are cults, perhaps due in part to media sensationalism over groups like polygamous Mormons or the Peoples Temple followers who died at Jonestown, Guyana. Some groups that are controversially labeled as cults today include the Church of Scientology and the Hare Krishna movement.

A sect     is a small and relatively new group. Most of the well-known Christian denominations in the United States today began as sects. For example, the Methodists and Baptists protested against their parent Anglican Church in England, just as Henry VIII protested against the Catholic Church by forming the Anglican Church. From “protest” comes the term Protestant.

Occasionally, a sect is a breakaway group that may be in tension with larger society. They sometimes claim to be returning to “the fundamentals” or to contest the veracity of a particular doctrine. When membership in a sect increases over time, it may grow into a denomination. Often a sect begins as an offshoot of a denomination, when a group of members believes they should separate from the larger group.

Questions & Answers

What historical events lead to the introduction of sociology as a science?
Jonathan Reply
I don't understand the part the meaning of sex
Deborah Reply
is sociology is an easy subject
Sanjana Reply
yeah..as easy as interestingly you will go for it
rameez
Definition of sociology
Jafaru Reply
The historical events which lead to the introduction of sociology as a science
Jonathan
what is sociology?
Tapos Reply
Sociology, is the study of Man and his Environment.
MUBARAK
Sociology is the scientific study of humans, their social life and the environment
Evance
define the term socialisation
rose Reply
it is the process of learning. in which person learn the norms, value ,attitude from society, family , institutions from his birth to death...
Abhishek
sociology derive from where and called what
Gabby Reply
what is sociology
Favour Reply
sociology is simply the scientific study of human behavior and society
Shamar
facts
Kervens
sociology is the systematic investigation of man ,his environment and time in a particular society.
David
Describe the characteristics of society
Aman Reply
Why Socialization Occurs?
Hitman Reply
I think humans are social creatures because our cooperation allowed us to flousrish in the wild, when all kind of meanece lurked in the bushes, this Is why we need to teach other how reality is, so they can integrate what we consider as escential to communicate, understand and share some basic value
JV
since man is considered an "animal"he lacked a lot by imaging in the society and needed to be internalize in the society in order to attain his personal personality by working with the norms, values and culture of that society.
David
since man is considered an animal'
David
what is socity
Midhun Reply
Society is people who form the community to live together in one place for achieving the same vision or mission.
MUHAMMAD
give and explain 4 forms of alienation by Karl Marx
Timothy
zoological are birth, age, gender species economic - class, business, occupation socio-culture are culture, religion, caste base power based are elite, status,
manisha Reply
what are the determinants of social stratification
Saidi Reply
what is the gender ?
Susanta Reply
gender is the social -cultural different between women and men
France
what are the causes of crime ?
manisha Reply
Poverty Lust for Power Lack of Sensitization
Amos

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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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