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Cults and sects, similarities and differences.

In the previous article I wrote about cults, and commented on the similarities with sects. The origin of the word sect is from the Latin ¨seco, secare¨, it indicates to cut, it is used to allude to a system of opposite ideas; it is a subgroup of a religion or belief with differences in their points of view. Generally speaking, a sect is nothing more than a group of people associated by the fact of following a certain theory or leader, and frequently they have separated from some dogmatic congregation. No group recognizes itself as a sect, it is always a term used by others. The members of a sect, in general, live in society, although they question it, and the adhesion to it was voluntary, being these two differences with the members of a cult that live in seclusion, and in most cases they have to be convinced. It is worth mentioning that cults dissolve faster than sects, since they lack the structures that make a human community last.

Although not all cults are religious, in fact some reject this label, we can say that the sectarian attitude is traditionally registered within religions. As examples we have the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, both groups call themselves Christians, however, both refute the omnipotence of Christ and salvation by faith, accrediting them as sects. Shiites and Sunnis within the religion of Islam, members of both sects believe they are pure Muslims and oppose each other. In Scientology, Scientologists claim their similarity to Christianity, but the Bible is opposed to all the ideologies they defend: they believe in reincarnation, strictly deny the God of the Bible, heaven and hell. For a Scientologist, Jesus Christ was simply a teacher.

"If the Bible exists, I am Christ," said David Koresh, leader of the Waco Branch Davidians, a separate branch of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Convinced that the apocalypse would be imminent, he imposed a doctrine where all marriages that joined the group were annulled and Koresh became the only man who could have relations with women, since he pretended to have 24 children who would serve as the 'wise men' who would guide the world until the return of Christ. He apparently had 15 children with various women.

This is one of the most poignant and tragic cases when talking about cults. Koresh, who claimed to have unlocked the Seven Seals in the Book of Revelation and with a deep biblical knowledge, dragged 82 of his followers to their deaths, including children under the age of 10, when the authorities raided the ranch to try to execute a search warrant for alleged charges of illegal possession of weapons and sexual abuse. As the police raid began, when an Abrams tank entered the grounds, knocking down walls and dropping tear gas canisters, a terrible explosion caused a horrific fire that originated from inside the house.

"Supreme Truth" a sect organized in the 1980s by Shoko Asahara, who claimed to be the new Jesus Christ and enlightened after Buddha. This apocalyptic Japanese sect was responsible for the horrific assault with deadly Sarin gas on the Tokyo subway in 1995, where more than 12 people died, thousands were injured, and Japan's legendary security experienced a violent setback. The extreme beliefs of the group founded by Shoko Asahara have a modern version called "Aleph", considered legal in Japan, but classified as a dangerous sect and subject to surveillance.

Outside of religion we have the Ku Klux Klan, one of the oldest sects, founded in December 1865 in Tennessee by Confederate officers. Although it is not a mass movement, it still exists. Its followers no longer wear white sheet hoods, but suits and ties, and continue to defend the main bases of the KKK: racism, idolatry to white supremacy, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and xenophobia.

In conclusion, whether cult or sect, the dynamics of these groups can cause in their members emotional instability and the progressive destruction of their psychic apparatus.

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