sect

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sect

1. a subdivision of a larger religious group (esp the Christian Church as a whole) the members of which have to some extent diverged from the rest by developing deviating beliefs, practices, etc.
2. Often disparaging
a. a schismatic religious body characterized by an attitude of exclusivity in contrast to the more inclusive religious groups called denominations or Churches
b. a religious group regarded as extreme or heretical

sect

a religious, or sometimes a secular, social movement characterized by its opposition to and rejection of orthodox religious and/or secular institutions, doctrines and practices, e.g., the Shakers, Quakers, Amish Mennonites.

Sociologists have identified sectarianism with a relatively low level of institutionalization and with a tendency towards doctrinal heresy. Ernst Troeltsch (1912) distinguished between ‘churches’ and 'sects’ (see also CHURCH-SECT TYPOLOGY). ‘Churches’ were characterized as conservative, orthodox, hierarchic, tradition – and ritual-bound, having a high degree of organization and institutionalization. By contrast, 'sects’ were perfectionist, radical, egalitarian, manifesting a low degree of organization and institutionalization. 'Sectarians’ valued spontaneous action above ritual practice. Troeltsch regarded sect and church as polar opposites. Troeltsch's work was concerned with sectarian movements within Christianity and is consequently difficult to apply outside of this context. This is particularly the case where many Third World sectarian movements are concerned.

More recently, Bryan Wilson (1973) has suggested that 'sects’ may be regarded as 'self-distinguishing protest movements’. The protest may not necessarily be directed at orthodox churches but against state and other secular institutions within society. Wilson rejects Troeltsch's dichotomous model and suggests that it is useful to examine sectarian movements by reference to the relation between the following social factors: doctrine, degree of organization, form of association, social orientation and action. Wilson further suggests that 'sects’ may be typified according to their ‘responses to the world’. Many sectarian movements display some degree of conflict and tension with both the religious and secular social world. Consequently sectarians are often characterized by a desire to seek both deliverance and salvation from orthodox cultural forms, traditions and institutions. Wilson suggests that there are at least seven possible responses to the world and to the ‘problem of evil’within it. He calls these the ‘conversionist’, ‘revolutionist’, ‘introversionist’, ‘manipulationist’, ‘thaumaturgical’, ‘reformist’ and ‘utopian’ responses.

By going beyond the concern with degree of organization and doctrinal heresy it is possible to examine sectarian movements which have arisen outside Christian culture. See also CULT, MILLENARIANISM AND MILLENNIAL MOVEMENT, CARGO CULTS, RELIGION, MAGIC, SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION, NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS.

SECT

On drawings, abbr. for “section.”
References in classic literature ?
These extravagances, and the persecution which was at once their cause and consequence, continued to increase, till, in the year 1659, the government of Massachusetts Bay indulged two members of the Quaker sect with a crown of martyrdom.
This young girl belonged to an exceeding devout family, whose views of Catholicism were due to the spirit of a sect improperly styled Jansenists, which, in former times, caused troubles in France.
The high, the generous, the self-devoted sect will always instruct and command mankind.
His life, before he came to Raveloe, had been filled with the movement, the mental activity, and the close fellowship, which, in that day as in this, marked the life of an artisan early incorporated in a narrow religious sect, where the poorest layman has the chance of distinguishing himself by gifts of speech, and has, at the very least, the weight of a silent voter in the government of his community.
In defiance of conventual rules, and the edicts of popes and councils, the sleeves of this dignitary were lined and turned up with rich furs, his mantle secured at the throat with a golden clasp, and the whole dress proper to his order as much refined upon and ornamented, as that of a quaker beauty of the present day, who, while she retains the garb and costume of her sect continues to give to its simplicity, by the choice of materials and the mode of disposing them, a certain air of coquettish attraction, savouring but too much of the vanities of the world.
This seems a mysterious thing," said the curate, "for, as I have heard say, this was the first book of chivalry printed in Spain, and from this all the others derive their birth and origin; so it seems to me that we ought inexorably to condemn it to the flames as the founder of so vile a sect.
These descendants of the sect of Zoroaster--the most thrifty, civilised, intelligent, and austere of the East Indians, among whom are counted the richest native merchants of Bombay--were celebrating a sort of religious carnival, with processions and shows, in the midst of which Indian dancing-girls, clothed in rose-coloured gauze, looped up with gold and silver, danced airily, but with perfect modesty, to the sound of viols and the clanging of tambourines.
The children were amazed hear that the more the Quakers were scourged, and imprisoned, and banished, the more did the sect increase, both by the influx of strangers and by converts from among the Puritans, But Grandfather told them that God had put something into the soul of man, which always turned the cruelties of the persecutor to naught.
His own marriage at a future day with a lady without not only the pale, but the influence, of this sect of religionists, had a tendency, it is true, to weaken his early impressions; still he retained them in some degree to the hour of his death, and was observed uniformly, when much interested or agitated, to speak in the language of his youth.
Yes, but I am afraid there will rise up, by the side of us, a sect like that of Epictetus, you know him well; the philosopher of Hieropolis, he who called bread luxury, vegetables prodigality, and clear water drunkenness; he who, being beaten by his master, said to him, grumbling a little it is true, but without being angry, `I will lay a wager you have broken my leg
shouted the Pharisee, who belonged to the sect called The Dashers (that little knot of saints whose manner of dashing and lacerating the feet against the pavement was long a thorn and a reproach to less zealous devotees-a stumbling-block to less gifted perambulators)--"by the five corners of that beard which, as a priest, I am forbidden to shave
Take it from one who has studied the sect," says Gentleman, "from John o' Groat's to Land's End, and back again.