Week 3 Reflection

This week, we learned about four different kids of religion: churches, denominations, sects, and cults. Churches accept an ordinary level of religiosity, but they expect it to be diffused throughout everyday life. One example is the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, which exerted immense authority over entire countries and societies. If, however, the church ceases to exert this sort of monolithic influence, it becomes denominational, as the Catholic Church has become since Vatican II. Meanwhile, denominations function similarly but allow for its adherents to separate religiosity from their everyday lives. For example, the Presbyterian Church does not expect to dominate the culture and allows their followers to practice religion only once a week. Cults allow this separation of religious parts of life and do not claim exclusivity; one can follow several cults at once. Many Catholics in countries colonized by Europe continued to follow indigenous cults and even integrate them into aspects of Catholic life. Finally, sects demand perfection from their followers and expect that they follow their religion in all aspects of their life. Jehovah’s Witnesses are an example of a recent sect, with high demands for their followers at all times, acting as a reaction to a modernizing world. Converts especially are required to show their dedication with extensive time spent missionizing. These sects often have difficulty maintaining followers after the second generation.