Religion and Contemporary Culture Grade 12 Religion and Ethics Presentation 1

When we begin to explore anything new, we begin with what we know or observe about society, then apply this knowledge to religious movements

Complete the first activity by completing the Edpuzzle on Youth, Religion and Spirituality by clicking the button below.

We ask questions like;

What are the types of religious movements that we are already aware of?

Are there social examples?

What features distinguish these movements?

How has science had an impact upon belief in traditional religions??

Why are people attracted to alternate belief systems?

There are both secular and religious groups. In pairs consider ordinary groups in society that you can identify from the pictures below and ask yourself the following questions;

  • Type - Are they secular (non-religious) or religious?
  • Behaviours – What actions set this group aside?
  • Beliefs – What do they believe about themselves in particular and others in society?
  • Ethics – What system of right and wrong do they use? What are the rules?
  • Dress/appearance – How do they look?
  • Indoctrination – How is the word spread?
  • Conformity – What happens if you don’t conform?

Now consider what makes these groups different to cults and sects by beginning with a brief review of official religions nine dimensions: sacred texts; symbols; stories; sacred ethics; rituals; religious experience; religious history; social structure; sacred objects.

Some of the main motivating forces for sourcing a spiritual marketplace are;

Societal change; increase in knowledge; scientific and technological advances. Power shifts in political institutions ; speed of change; uncertainty; lack of permanence taking its toll, leads to disorientation; feelings of losing touch with self; others, environment, society. Changes in family structure…dysfunction within families

Power shifts in political institutions ; social ethical dilemmas; speed of change; uncertainty; lack of permanence taking its toll, leads to disorientation; feelings of losing touch with self; others, environment, society.

Factors: employment eg shiftwork; absence of parents from the home; alcoholism/drug dependency etc.

Life as we know it…under threat: cataclysmic disaster frightening/fear what future will hold; end of world phenomenon:

Crisis in Authority: some faith traditions can answer a need for structure and need to be told how to behave, what to believe.

They can also apparently answer a need; people can be attracted to religious groups which withdraw from the hurly burly of everyday -life; establish small communities; dreams of Utopia.

Then there is;

Scientific rationalism

People hungry for sense of the spiritual

The How but not the Why

New Religious Movements can provide this for many ; a sense of identity and connection.

What is a Sect?

Question: "What is the difference between a sect and a cult?"

Answer: The word sect comes from the Latin word secta, which means “school of thought.” It is a subjective term that may apply to a religious faith or denomination, or it may refer to a heretical splinter group. Sometimes, the connotation is one of disapproval, similar to the “destructive heresies” spoken of in 2 Peter 2:1, though there are no consistent or accepted exemplars to use to identify a sect.

Sects are found in all religions. Islam has Sunnis and Shias, Judaism has Orthodox and Karaites, Hinduism has Shiyaism and Shaktism, and Christianity has Baptists and Lutherans. These are all examples of religious sects, and they can be thought of as “branches” of different religions. There are also non-religious sects, such as capitalists and socialists among economists, or Freudians and Jungians among psychiatrists.

A sect is a small religious group that is an offshoot of an established religion or denomination. It holds most beliefs in common with its religion of origin, but has a number of novel concepts which differentiate them from that religion.

However, in many countries, the term "sect" takes on the negative meanings associated with the word "cult." The two terms are considered synonyms in some cases.

Many religions started as Sects. One well-known example was the Nazarenes. This was an reform movement within Judaism formed by Jesus' apostles after the execution of Jesus circa 30 CE They were largely dispersed or killed some four decades later when the Romans attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple.

Perhaps the most obvious North American example of a sect that evolved into a denomination is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. Their founder, Joseph Smith, had a revelation from God that the ministry of Jesus Christ continued after his crucifixion, as described in what is now called the Book of Mormon. The Mormon sect has since evolved into the Mormon denomination of Christianity with the passage of time and the gathering of increasing numbers of followers. Within a few decades, it is expected to become the dominant faith group in the American west.

When statehood was being considered for Utah, a major impediment was the beliefs and practices in the Church regarding polygamy. Shortly after a new revelation from God banned the practice, statehood was granted. This caused a number of small sects to break away from the established church, in order to allow their male followers to continue to have multiple wives. Some of these sects continue to this day in the United States and Canada, although they have been excommunicated by the main Mormon Church. A similar crisis occurred in the mid 1970's when a new revelation from God abolished the church's institutionalized racism against African-Americans. This time, the membership accepted the new ruling; there were no breakaway sects.

Sects can therefore be considered a normal mechanism by which new religious movements are generated. Most sects die out quickly; others linger; still others grow and evolve in to a new established religious movement and are properly called denominations.

There remains a negative connotation for many people to the word sect; they would much rather refer to their faith group as a denomination.

We recommend that the term "sect" never be used in articles, speeches, essays, sermons, etc., unless it is carefully defined in advance -- and often not even then. We suggest that the faith group be simply referred to by its formal name, or as a new religious movement.

From B.A. Robinson. Religious Tolerance. www.religioustolerance.com

Characteristics of Sects.

• Voluntary membership

• Exclusivism

• Elitism

• Separation from secular world

• Authoritarian leadership

• High level of lay participation

• Different Types of Sects

Created By
Juliette Bentley


Created with images by Moorelka - "cemetery all souls' day statues" • Maria G.I. - "sect" • manhhai - "BEN TRE 1968 - Photo by Wilbur E. Garrett" • Arian Zwegers - "Varanasi, sadhu" • sailn1 - "Cathares" • Spudgun67 - "WILLIAM WILBERFORCE AND THE CLAPHAM SECT WORSHIPPED IN THIS CHURCH. THEIR CAMPAIGNING RESULTED IN THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN BRITISH DOMINIONS 1833" • Mangrove Mike - "Surfers" • Ben_Kerckx - "people football footballers" • The U.S. Army - "Home at last" • Abode of Chaos - "thierry Ehrmann : l'architecture est un sport de combat dixit Rudy Ricciotti, painted portrait DDC_8489" • Wern L - "judo" • seier+seier - "john hejduk, berlin tower, social housing 1988" • Ahron de Leeuw - "Harar girls (Ethiopia)" • Jonathan Rolande - "Broke" • Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. - "2 - If The Shoe Fits" • Wonderlane - "Universal Responsibility in a Matrixed Economic World" • cdrummbks - "book of mormon"

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