The world’s significant faiths (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many ways, including organization and what they believe. The nature of faith in a higher power, the history of the world and religion began, and the use of holy texts and items are other variations.
Religious Organizations: What Are They and What Do They Do?
Religions arrange themselves in a variety of ways, including their institutions, practitioners, and structures. For example, when the Roman Catholic Church drew many organizational concepts from the ancient Roman military, such as the conversion of senators to cardinals. Sociologists identify various types of organizations using names like ecclesia, denomination, and sect. Scholars also recognize that these definitions are fluid. The majority of faiths go through different organizational stages. Christianity, for example, began as a cult, evolved into a sect, and now survives as an ecclesia.
Cults, like sects, are relatively new religious organizations. This phrase has a negative connotation in the United States today. On the other hand, almost all faiths began as cults and grew in number and organization through time. These organizations are frequently portrayed as secretive, overly controlling of members’ life, and ruled by a single charismatic leader in their negative connotations.
There is debate about whether some groups are cults, maybe due to media sensationalism surrounding groups such as polygamous Mormons or Peoples Temple adherents who died in Jonestown, Guyana. The Church of organized religion and the Hare Krishna movement are two groups that have as cults in recent years.
A sect is a tiny, new religious community. The majority of today’s popular Christian denominations in the United States began as sects. Methodists and Baptists, for example, protested against their parent Anglican Church in England, just as Henry VIII did when he founded the Anglican Church in response to the Catholic Church. Protestantism from the word “protest.”
A sect is a separate group that may be at odds with the broader society on occasion. They may claim to be returning to “the foundations” or question the validity of a particular theory. When a sect’s membership grows over time, it may become a denomination. When several individuals decide to separate from the larger group, a sect sometimes arises as an offshoot of that denomination.
Some sects go away without forming denominations. Established sects are what sociologists refer to them as. Accepted sects, such as the Amish or Jehovah’s Witnesses, fall halfway between sect and denomination on the ecclesia–cult continuum since they combine sect and denomination features.
A denomination is a large, mainstream religious organization that does not claim to be government-sponsored or official. It is one of many religions. For example, Christian denominations include Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, and Seventh-day Adventist.
The term ecclesia refers to a political assembly of citizens in ancient Athens, Greece, but it refers to a congregation. The word is used in sociology to denote a religious group to which almost all members of society belong. It is a nationally recognized or official religion with a religious monopoly and tight ties to governmental and secular authorities. By this definition, the United States lacks an ecclesia; many of the earliest colonists immigrated to America to avoid this form of the religious institution.
Cults, sects, denominations, and ecclesia are all religious organizational terminology that indicates a continuum of growing impact on society, with cults being the least influential and ecclesia being the most convincing.
Religions and Their Types
Scholars from a range of areas have classified religions. People’s worship is one commonly accepted category that helps people understand diverse belief systems (if anything). Faith may fall into one of these basic brackets when classified using this method.