Assess the View That Cults and Sects Are Fringe Organisations That Are Inevitably Short Lived and of Little Influence on Contemporary Society. (33 Marks)

1090 Words Jan 28th, 2013 5 Pages
Yana Garcia Mander 13.0 hw.

Assess the view that cults and sects are fringe organisations that are inevitably short lived and of little influence on contemporary society.

Cults and sects are often hard to differentiate from one another, as a lot of them have very similar features such as a world-rejecting values and the offer of alternative explanations to traditional beliefs. According to Troeitsch, sects tend to be small, tight-knitted groups of individuals that often disagree with mainstream values and attempt to change society for the better. Cults on the other hand, are loosely knit, require a lot less commitment and do not always hold concrete beliefs.
While some sects are low profile and harmless, others carry out
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spiritual presence). Also, it is important to note that not all sects depend on second generation members to ensure their continued existence. Aldridge rejects the ideas that all cults and sects have a 'charismatic leader' and that over time they often conform to less world-rejecting views. He states that there are many cults that exclude members if they view their behaviour to be below the group's high standards, therefore they are still able to maintain their principles. Aldridge also claims that children can be successfully socialised into acceptance of the sect and share the same enthusiasm as their parents. In 1985, Stark and Bainbridge developed the 'Sectarian Cycle' which showed the four stages that sects tend to go through. Beginning with 'schism' the group breaks away from traditional religions to a world-rejecting sect which leads to 'initial fervour' which is when the members are initially enthusiastic and involved the group, however over the years the sect will lessen in its appeal which can then lead to 'denominationalism'. This is when the group is no longer considered a sect as they become less controversial and more world-accommodating, as a means to gain and maintain members. This confirms the idea that sects are extremely short-lived, as they either disappear due to lack of membership, or alternatively they become a denomination.

However, there is also evidence that sects can

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