A sect is a subgroup of a religious, political or philosophical belief system, usually an offshoot of a larger religious group. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and principles.
For practical reasons, a cult or sect is sometimes defined as `any religious group with a distinctive worldview of its own derived from, but not identical with, the teachings of a major world religion. As we are speaking here of special groups which usually pose ...view middle of the document...
g. people are NOT told up front what the group is, what the group actually believes and what will be expected of them if they become members).” Hassan also correctly points out that cults are not only religious; they may also be commercial or secular in nature.
These basic needs and aspirations can be described as so many expressions of the human search for wholeness and harmony, participation and realization, on all the levels of human existence and experience, so many attempts to meet the human quest for truth and meaning, for those constitutive values which at certain times in collective as well as individual history seem to be hidden, broken, or lost, especially in the case of people who are upset by rapid change, acute stress, fear, etc.
Reasons for the Spread of Those Movements and Groups
Crisis situations or general vulnerability can reveal and/or produce needs and aspirations which become basic motivations for turning to the sects. They appear on the cognitive as well as on the affective level, and are <relational> in character, i.e., centered upon "self" in relations with "others" (social), with the past, present, and future (cultural, existential), with the transcendent (religious). These levels and dimensions are <interrelated>. These needs and aspirations can be grouped under nine major headings, although in individual cases they often overlap.
Needs and Aspirations
Quest for Belonging (sense of community)
The fabric of many communities has been destroyed; traditional lifestyles have been disrupted; homes are broken up; people feel uprooted and lonely. Thus the need to belong.
Terms used in the responses: belonging, love, community, communication, warmth, concern, care, support, friendship, affection, fraternity, help, solidarity, encounter, dialogue, consolation, acceptance, understanding, sharing, closeness, mutuality, togetherness, fellowship, reconciliation, tolerance, roots, security, refuge, protection, safety, shelter, home.
The sects appear to offer: human warmth, care and support in small and close-knit communities; sharing of purpose and fellowship; attention for the individual; protection and security, especially in crisis situations; resocialization of marginalized individuals (for instance, the divorced or immigrants). The sect often does the thinking for the individual.
Search for Answers
In complex and confused situations people naturally search for answers and solutions. The sects appear to offer: simple and ready-made answers to complicated questions and situations; simplified and partial versions of traditional truths and values; a pragmatic theology, a theology of success, a syncretistic...