subgroup of a particular religious or ideological doctrine
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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. The term is occasionally used in a malicious way to suggest the broken-off group follows a more negative path than the original.


Alphabetized by author.
  • The Branch Davidians were a separatist, communal sect of the Seventh Day Adventists that had occupied several buildings and some acreage outside of Waco,Texas. David Koresh, the sect's leader, preached an apocalyptic message of a showdown with government forces.
    • Jeffrey B. Bumgarner (2006). Federal Agents: The Growth of Federal Law Enforcement in America. Praeger. p. 87. ISBN 978-0275989538. 
  • The Branch Davidians are an offshoot of the Davidians, a religious sect that had split from the Seventh-Day Adventists in the 1930s.
    • Ballard Campbell (2008). Disasters, Accidents, and Crises in American History: A Reference Guide to the Nation's Most Catastrophic Events. Facts on File. p. 397. ISBN 978-0816066032. 
  • Jonestown was at heart a religious community, whether classified as a new religious movement, a cult, a sect, or a church.
    • David Chidester (2003). Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown. Indiana University Press. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0253216328. 
  • Every person who is not a fellow member, and every social, religious and political institution that lies outside the sect's domain, is portrayed as a representative of Satan's world. In our research, we found that Moonies and members of many Christian sects with similar religious and political doctrines often focus on such beliefs to the exclusion of all other thought.
    • Flo Conway, Jim Siegelman (1995). Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change. Stillpoint Press, Inc.. p. 161. ISBN 978-0964765009. 
  • Like Peoples Temple, the Branch Davidians approximated the 'apocalyptic sect' as an ideal type.
    • John R. Hall, Philip D. Schuyler, Sylvaine Trinh (2000). Apocalypse Observed: Religious Movements and Violence in North America, Europe and Japan. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 978-0415192774. 
  • As with its disciplinary practices and its round of daily life, the community of goods in the Peoples Temple at Jonestown emphasizes its similarities to otherworldly sects—both the contemporary ones labeled 'cults' by their detractors, and historical examples which are often revered in retrospect by contemporary religious culture.
    • David Hicks (2010). Ritual and Belief: Readings in the Anthropology of Religion. AltaMira Press. p. 460. ISBN 978-0759111561. 
  • I remembered the devotion of those belonging to the Manson 'Family' or the 'People's Temple' of Jim Jones or the Branch Davidian Sect or the 'Heaven's Gate' sect of Marshall Applewhite It wasn't how much the 'Heaven's Gate' believers believed that there was a spaceship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet, waiting to take them to paradise; only the actual existence of such a spaceship really mattered.
    • Dave Jiang (2007). My Fortunate Brain Tumor from God. Xulon Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-1602660748. 
  • Observers of Jim Jones' Peoples Temple noted that Jones' socialist sect did not lose non-profit status or receive reams of negative publicity until the massacre at Guyana occurred.
    • M. Kienholz (1999). Police Files the Spokane Experience 1853-1995: Personal & Historical Accounts by a Career Staffer. Arthur H Clark. p. 273. ISBN 978-0870622861. 
  • There is an interesting class difference to be found among these apocalyptic sects. The victims at Waco were predominantly from the lower class, as was true of Jonestown. The Heaven's Gate believers, on the other hand, were on the whole from the middle class.
    • Walter Laqueur (2000). The New Terrorism: Fanaticism and the Arms of Mass Destruction. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 240. ISBN 978-0195140644. 
  • The Indiana Peoples Temple was essentially a sect, which was joined by new religious movement members in California, which then recruited black church members as it focused its ministry on the residents of urban California.
    • Mary McCormick Maaga (1998). Hearing the Voices of Jonestown. Syracuse University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0815605157. 
  • To read the website of the Heaven's Gate sect is to enter a world of eternal promise. Among those who are going home for good, there is only 'joy', 'the rapture of the saved', the blissful prophecy of the 'Talmudic sages'.
    • Philip H. Melling (2001). Fundamentalism in America: Millennialism, Identity and Militant Religion. Edinburgh University Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0748609789. 
  • The Peoples Temple movement began in the 1950s as an independent Pentecostal congregation of white and black working-class families … Some argue it was initially a Christian sect that then became a new religious movement.
    • Anthony B. Pinn (2009). African American Religious Cultures. ABC-CLIO. p. 314. ISBN 978-1576074701. 
  • Despite being a relatively new organization, the Church of Scientology already has had to denounce splinter groups, including sects that claim to practice Dianetics complete with E-Meters independent of the Church.
    • Richard T. Schaefer, William W. Zellner (2010). Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles. Worth Publishers. p. 30. ISBN 978-1429232241. 
  • Some of these terms, including "cult" and "sect," have long traditions of use, stretching back to the centuries when Latin was the official language of scholars. But the meanings of words often change over time; and terms that once were neutral or simply descriptive sometimes take on harshly negative implications and potentially lose their original usefulness, including the two just mentioned. Other terms have been coined more recently to circumvent the stereotypes associated with older categories. Among this newer terminology are "outsider groups" and "New Religious Movements." Sometimes the newer nomenclature is useful despite certain limitations. "Marginal religious communities," for example, is a positional designation — not a qualitative judgment — implying a location on the margin or edge of mainstream religious groups. When using these terms, it is important to recognize that they are often loaded with powerful assumptions and implications.
  • Branch Davidians are a modern religious sect that claims to be an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The church renounced any connection with the sect in the 1930s.
    • R. C. S. Trahair (1999). Utopias and Utopians: An Historical Dictionary. Greenwood. p. 47. ISBN 978-0313294655. 
  • The Heaven's Gate sect received national attention in the spring of 1997, when its thirty-nine members committed suicide in Southern California.
    • Esther Urdang (2008). Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Interweaving the Inner and Outer Worlds. Routledge. pp. 252-253; Section: The Heaven's Gate Sect. ISBN 978-0789034182. 
  • Peoples Temple and the Branch Davidians both approximated the 'apocalyptic sect' as an ideal type. In such sects the end of the world is taken as a central tenet.
    • Stuart A. Wright (1995). Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict. University Of Chicago Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0226908458. 

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