Essay about Cults and Sects and Their Influence in Contemporary Society

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Cults and Sects and Their Influence in Contemporary Society

A sect is a small religious group that has branched off a larger established religion. Sects have many beliefs and practices in common with the religion they have broken off from, but are differentiated by a number of theological differences. Sociologists use the word sect to refer to a religious group with a high degree of tension with the surrounding society, but whose beliefs are largely traditional. A cult, by contrast, also has a high degree of tension with the surrounding society, but its beliefs are new and innovative. Sects, in the sociological sense, are generally traditionalist and conservative, seeking to return a religion to
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This description led Leo Ryan to visit Jonestown (Home of the movement) in 1978. The visit itself went well, up until the point Ryan went to leave with members of the movement who had decided they wanted to leave with him. Ryan and four others were killed by gunfire at the Port Kiatuma airport by the Temple's security guards. Fearing retribution, a consensus was later reached by the project members to commit mass suicide. 914 people died; 638 adults and 276 children. Most appeared to have died after drinking a drink which contained cyanide - others however appeared to have been murdered by lethal injection. The coroner said that hundreds of bodies showed needle marks, indicating foul play. Other signs of foul play include bodies found dead due to gunshot wounds.

The People's Temple and similar incidents (EG; Heaven's Gate headed by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles in the 1970's) generate a lot of public support for Anti-Cult and Counter-Cult Movements. The Anti-Cult Movement (ACM) consists of individuals and groups who attempt to raise public consciousness about what they feel are extreme danger. As they see it, the threat comes from small, coercive, manipulative groups -- mostly new religious movements. Although they have been largely discredited in
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