Sects, Cults and the Catholic Church in New Zealand

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Sects, Cults and The Catholic Church in New Zealand

Section 1: Define the report.

The purpose of this report is to analyse religious expression in New Zealand, specifically of certain cults, sects and the Catholic Church. I have chosen The Unification Church as a cult, 7th Day Adventists for my sect and the Catholic Church. I will investigate each religious expression, as well as compare and contrast them. Delving specifically into the Social Organisation, Religious Practice and Doctrine of each. As well as how the number of followers has changed in the past 20 years, and the possible reasons why.

Section 2: Define the terms that you will be using in the report.

Sect - A religious body that has deviated from a larger domination, following many of the larger domination’s teachings but differing on a number of key issues.

Cult - A religious group normally held together by a dominant, often charismatic individual, or by the worship of a divinity or an idol of some sort. Followers adhere to an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices that they practice in their life. A cult is separate from a religion, and nowadays is often viewed as a negative, controlling religious practice due to their ‘extreme’ beliefs.

Religion - The expression of man’s belief in and reverence for a superhuman power or powers regarded as creating or governing the universe. Any personal or institutionalised system of beliefs or practices embodying this belief or reverence.

Doctrine - A principle or body of principles taught or advocated in instruction presented for acceptance or belief. Normally originating from a sacred text such as the Bible or Koran.

Ritual - The prescribed form or order of conducting a religious or other solemn ceremony. Actions believed to have symbolic value or traditional value.

Social structure - The leadership structure that’s runs the cult/sect/religion deciding the direction of the faith and it’s beliefs. The relationship between the faith’s followers.

Secularism - Religious scepticism or indifference. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

Section 3: Explain your choice of sect and cult. Explain why these groups meet your criteria of sect and cult.

I have chosen Seventh Day Adventists as my Sect as I have met a few 7th Day Adventists and had the opportunity to talk to them. I am also intrigued as to how exactly they differ from their parental counterpart, the Catholic Church, which it split from officially in 1863. Seventh day Adventists ‘follow many of the larger domination’s teachings’ (The Catholic Church) such as the Holy Trinity, Christ’s divinity, the Virgin Birth, Christ’s Second Coming and the Bible as the chosen doctrine. Baptism is used to initiate followers and they also believe in original sin. However they differ on the Sabbath day believing it’s Saturday; the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, compared to Catholics who consider Sunday as the holy day, deriving from Jewish law where it’s the first day of the Hebrew calendar week. They also believe that death is an eternal unconscious ‘soul sleep’ until the second coming of Jesus and humans do not possess an immortal soul. As well as a great emphasis, and restrictions on health and diet following the Koshers Laws in Leviticus 11. These are all examples of how Seventh Day Adventists share common beliefs with the Catholic Church but ‘differ on a number of key issues’. Thus Seventh Day Adventists meet my definition of a sect.

For an example of a cult I have chosen The Unification Church as it is a cult I know little about, I am also intrigued into their leader and the accusations of ‘brainwashing’ to recruit members. The Unification Church is based on the teaching of, and lead by Sun Myung Moon who was a Christian, and its pseudo-Christian origins. Sun Myung Moon claimed at the age of sixteen that he was visited in a vision by Jesus, who asked...
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