Difference Between Sect and Cult

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    Sect vs Cult

    Religion has been an integral part in every man’s life. Most are born into one religion or another save for a few whose parents are atheists. It guides individuals as to which path in life to choose, instilling values that help shape them into the kind of people that they become. There are several major religions in the world, and from them a large number of sects and cults have deviated.

    A sect is a small body or group of people who separated from a larger established group to follow a different doctrine. It is a faction of a larger body or group, especially religious groups, which developed their own distinct beliefs and practices.

    The word “sect” comes from the Latin word “secta” which means “manner, mode,” or “school of thought.” It came into the English language through the Old French “secte” which is used to refer to a distinctive system of beliefs.

    A certain religious organization may be accepted as a mainstream institution in one country but may be considered a sect in another. It all depends on whether an organization or institution is accepted or recognized by that country.
    In almost all religions there are breakaway groups. Islam has the Sunni and Shia sects; Judaism has the Karaites; Hinduism has Shiyaism and Shaktism; Christianity has the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, and the Amish sects.

    A cult, on the other hand, is a quasi-religious group that has different and unorthodox ideologies with distinct rituals and practices and is headed by an authoritarian and charismatic leader. Members live in an unusual setting, oftentimes being completely obedient to their leader. The word “cult” comes from the Latin word “cultus” which means “labor, culture, reverence, or worship.” It entered the English language through the French word “culte” which means “a particular form of worship.” In English it came to mean “a devotion to a person or a thing.”

    Cults have a negative connotation; they are characterized by its members’ total obedience and dependence upon their leader and their inclination to take everything to extremes. They believe that the cult is the only way towards salvation, and everything outside of it is evil.
    Members live separately from their families who are non-believers. Separating members from their families is a technique to make them isolated and become dependent on the cult. They are also subjected to psychological sabotage in order to make them obedient.


    1.A sect is a small group that separated from a larger group to follow a different doctrine while a cult is a small, quasi-religious group with very unorthodox ideologies, rituals, and practices.
    2.A sect is a branch of a certain religious organization while a cult is a totally different organization.
    3.Members of a sect live in mainstream society while members of a cult usually live in isolation away from their families who are non-believers.
    4.Cult members are usually completely obedient and dependent upon their leader while members of a sect are not.
    5.Some sects have been widely accepted and recognized by other religious groups and most governments while most cults are not.

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