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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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000


On drawings, abbr. for “section.”
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in classic literature ?
Her mission had extended also to the followers of the Prophet, and from them she had received the courtesy and kindness which all the contending sects of our purer religion united to deny her.
Ahl-e-Tashi are altogether a different sect, other than Sunnis.
It was sparked by a heated discussion between Mohammad Shamim,a Deobandi,and Mohammad Kale Waseem over the religious practices of the two sects. Kale allegedly used abusive language against the Deobandi sect before more Barelvis gathered at the spot and beat up Shamim.
Islam further admonishes a "faith-based" attack as well as wars among sects or groups of the same religion.
"I am astounded and have always been asking this question from myself why these (western) countries are not concerned about the majority of Iranians who are under their harshest inhumane sanctions to the same extent that they are concerned about this minority sect (Baha'ism)," Larijani said on Saturday.
Assigning government posts according to sect is not a new idea in Middle East politics.
DBAYEH, Lebanon: "Sect 19," the new stage play by the brothers Farid and Maher Sabbagh, interrogates the future of Lebanon's sectarian political system.
But on the other hand, some Sunnis are doing nothing but pushing their sect towards intolerance and internal strife.
Readers understand what motivates her to save Usla and her baby from the Sect's Huntsman towards the end of the novel.
diplomats identified possible targets of the sect known locally as Boko Haram as the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels.
VIC Godard has forged his own trajectory since emerging from the 100 Club punk scene of 76 where Subway Sect debuted alongside contemporaries The Clash and Sex Pistols.
After three other sell-out shows in five months, VIC GODARD AND SUBWAY SECT are the latest names to play The Georgian Theatre.