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Related to sect: SCET, ecclesia, Christianity, set, SECR


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


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.


On drawings, abbr. for “section.”
References in periodicals archive ?
He said it was mandatory to respect the sects and religions of each other for promotion of peace.
Dr Zia said it was the authority of the state to declare any sect non-muslim as Qadiyanis were declared constitutionally in the past, adding that Ulema should teach the people about right and wrong.
SECT could be used to estimate the unit and scale-up costs of providing the program to help the government, potential donors, and service providers with budgeting and planning.
Indeed, this new video was coming 24 hours after the President Muhammad Buhari has claimed in his new year message that the sect had been beaten and they only carried out sporadic attacks.
If IMCTC is directed against certain countries or against certain sect, this venture will play havoc with not only to that sect but also with humanity on the earth.
Chandigarh: The son of a journalist, who had first exposed sexual exploitation of female disciples of Dera Sacha Sauda sect by sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in 2002, on Monday said that their stand against him had been vindicated following his conviction and imprisonment for 10 years for the rape of two woman followers.
According to the Independent, the decree was issued by Satmar leaders in New York and applies to members of the sect worldwide.
Quiboloy founded the sect with 15 followers on Sept.
Military government with the assistance of oil rich Gulf States promoted a particular sect while Iran assisted their rivals.
Kale allegedly used abusive language against the Deobandi sect before more Barelvis gathered at the spot and beat up Shamim.
He was a defence witness in the High Criminal Court where the Bahraini writer is accused of defaming the sect and a religious symbol, subverting public security and sowing division in society.