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May 2, 2018 / C H Thompson


The terms “sects” and “cults” are often used interchangeably. While cults tend to be small groups with extreme practices and ideas, sects are religious offshoots of other groups.

The definition of a cult is: ‘a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object’

  • Cults such as Scientology were said by Robertson, (1992) as believing their teachings are the first one of many paths to the truth
  • Wallis developed the distinction between sects and cults, with cults being more individualistic and loosely open to the outside world
  • They, cults, have a non-exclusive membership that is open to all, allowing many to drop in and out as they please
  • Hierarchies are usually discouraged and so cults are loosely structured.
  • They are world-affirming which means that they accept the world as it is with no opposition or links to the state.
  • Unlike sects, cults don’t claim to have a monopoly of truth and so are tolerant of other religions.

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