I am reading John A. Hostetler’s book, Amish Society. (No one can ever claim I do not have an eccentric collection of books!) It is a basic history of the Amish. For some reason the whole Amish life-style has always intrigued me.

There is a very interesting section on separatism. He gives a number of indicators collected by Sociologists of what defines a religious group as a dissenting movement or a movement with a separatist ideology.

    1. A separatist movement must establish an ideology different from that of the parent group in order to break off relations with it.
    2. The articulation of differences in belief by an enthusiastic leader claiming divine authority.
    3. A sense of urgency is vocalized by an authoritarian person who imposes negative sanction on opposing persons or groups.
    4. The goal of the group must be specific rather than general.
    5. The group must establish cultural separatism by invoking symbolic, material, and ideological differences from those of the parental group.

I wonder how far we could push these indicators in relation to modern religious movements?

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy, Theology

Comments are closed.