Types of Religious Organisation

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  • Created by: Ashleigh
  • Created on: 29-05-13 14:07

Church

Membership- Open to all and membership is easily obtained. Dominant religious organisation. Seeks to be universal and all-inclusive to all members.

Organisation- Complex formal hierarchy made up of professional clergy.

Worship and ritual- Restrained rather than spontaneous. Traditional rituals e.g. fixed order of service, regular prayers

Sense of Legitimacy- Claims to be the monopoly of truth. Only their teachings offer truth and claims to be the only legitimate religion.

Relation to wider society- Accept society and it's norms and values. It is often linked with society's main insitutions.E.g. Queen is the head of the Cof E

Involvement and commitment- Encouraged to regularly attend but it is not compulsory. Low level of involvement or commitment.

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Denomination

Membership- Not universalistic (doesn't seek to make members of the whole population). Membership is open to all. There is no test of merit however members tend to be middle class. 

Organisation- Have a professional clergy but hierarchy is simpler than a church but more developed than the hierarcy of a sect.  

Worship and ritual- Relatively formal worship and ritual. Stand to sing, sit to pray etc. Still no spontaneous "Hallelujah" or cry of faith.

Sense of Legitimacy- Don't claim exclusive monopoly of truth. More tolerant of alternative beliefs. They will more readily co-operate with other religious groups.

Relation to wider society- Seperate from the state, but do not reject the state or wider society.

Involvement and commitment- There is little pressure on potential recruits to commit althought they do want their membership to grow. They interpret scriputures for themselves (the individual) without the help of the priest.

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Sect

Membership- Highly exclusive with strong boundries between themselves and society. They exclude those deemed "unworthy". They earn membership by personal merit and draw a distinct line between members and non members.

Organisation- Lack a professional clergy and complex hierarchy. They depend on the God given talents of it's members.

Worship and ritual- There is little use of ritual and worship and tend to be emotional, expressive and spontaneous. Tend to cry out when the spirit takes them e.g. "Praise the Lord"

Sense of Legitimacy- Claim to have the monopoly of truth and claim to be the only true religion. Look forward to events of great significance, e.g. Armageddon, as memebers are encouraged to think themselves "elite" with salvation reserved for them alone.

Relation to wider society- Critical of wider society and expect members to stand apart from it. Contact with non-members is discouraged except to convert them.

Involvement and commitment- Demand high standards of commitment and behaviour from members. Members spare tieme is spent in sectarian activities e.g. Bible study. Members who don't meet standards are expelled or punished.

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Cult

Membership- Membership is usually open to all and welcome those with a sympathetic interest. No real concept of membership people can drop in and out as they wish.

Organisation- Loosely organised. Tend to have a charismatic leader but ideas of hierarchy and seniority are discouraged.

Worship and ritual- N/A

Sense of Legitimacy- Don't claim to have the monopoly of truth. Therefore quite tollerant, if not welcoming, of other religions.

Relation to wider society- As there is a wide range of cults there is no common orientation to the wider society.  Cult related activity is likely to be part-time.

Involvement and commitment-  Don't demand high levels of commitment nor do they demand you to accept their teachings. They ask that people be open to the experiences they offer. If they find the experiences rewarding then they are likely to learn more about the cults teachings and increase their involvement.

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Examples

Church - CofE(Church of England), Anglican, Catholic

Denomination - Methodists, Baptists, United Reformed

Sect - Jehovah's Witness, Seventh Day Adventists, Amish, Christadelphians

Cult- NRM's and NAR's

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