Critically examine sociological explanations for the emergence and growth of religious sects in an apparently secular society.

5615 WordsDec 11, 200423 Pages
The widely accepted definition of a sect is a religious group with characteristics, which distinguishes it from either a Church or a denomination. Many groups which fit this definition now prefer the less contentious title of "new religious movements", because over the last fifty years, sects have become linked with brainwashing, mass suicide, and even a murder. One of the examples is the suicide of 900 members of the People's temple. Sects are not a new phenomenon and they have always attracted controversy. Throughout History, humanity has formed secret societies and secular groups to try to make sense of the world. Most of the time, their strong beliefs have sprung from dissatisfaction with mainstream religions, although the influence…show more content…
All members are allowed to have free dealings with the wider society, although they maybe asked to behave in a religious manner when dealing with other people. However members are not asked to cut off all their relations with the outer world or to devote their whole lives to religion. They can play a full part in social life and are not expected to withdraw from society. Unlike churches, sects are not organised through a hierarchy of paid officials. The only central authority which exists in the sect is a single charismatic leader, whose personality and perceived special qualities persuade the followers to adhere to his or her teachings. Religious sects are rapidly growing since 1950s and church growth is declining. People join sects for a variety of reasons. The popularity of so-called 'accepted' religions is declining, and the interest in mysticism, new age teachings and supernatural is certainly growing. Particularly in the west, where spirituality has been blocked by the joys of wealth and gratification, more and more people seem to be looking for a spiritual aspect to their lives. If mainstream religion fails to supply this, then there are numerous sects around which appear to promise either guaranteed salvation or at least a close knit community of like minded friends. The industrialisation and the growth of scientific knowledge have led the world to secularisation. It is

More about Critically examine sociological explanations for the emergence and growth of religious sects in an apparently secular society.

Open Document