[Wikipedia-l] Re:Culte, cult, secte, sect

Anthere anthere6 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 31 09:34:10 UTC 2003

 > Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 11:59:43 -0300
> From: sgilbert at nbnet.nb.ca
> Subject: [Wikipedia-l] Re:Culte, cult, secte, sect
> To: wikipedia-l at Wikipedia.org
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> Matt M. (that's what the header says, but I think it
> may have been 
> Anthere) wrote:
> > That is a tricky word, not to mistranslate
> > unintentionnally :-)

of course that is me :-) I wonder how you recognised
my unmistakable english :-)
> It's a tricky word to use, too. One person's "cult"
> is another's 
> religion. Many conservative Christians consider the
> Church of 
> Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("Mormonism") a
> cult, but I doubt 
> such a label would stand in the state of Utah.
> Some people argue that a cult is simply a newer
> religion that hasn't 
> yet established itself. The word "sect" is more
> neutral; the term 
> "new religious movement"  is sometimes used in
> academic 
> research. In most cases, when we call a group a
> "cult" in 
> Wikipedia we should probably attribute it.
> Stephen G.

That was one of the contentious points in july, on the
article secte (your cult). 

the etymological origin of secte meant it was a
division of a religion, or one part of a religion
following a specific guru . Quite neutral and non
pejorative definition.

We gave another definition which is a religious
extremist group, not very well integrated by social

The more modern definition we finally settled on is
highly disparaging. It does not limit itself to
religious groups anymore, and is about a group which
is dangerous for its members.

It usually refer to groups which practice some of the
following, mental manipulation, power centralization
in the hands of a guru or a small group of people,
with a pyramidal organisation, with money exactions,
and a doctrine that can not be disputed.

Note that we could say catholic religion to be there,
so additional points usually come along to avoid this
It often rather refer to small groups in terms of
members, new organisations and often organisations not
very well integrated in a society.

Along those definitions, a french public commission
established a list of organisations listed as sects.

The issue is highly contentious on Wikipedia because
anti-sects wanted the list to appear on the secte
article, as THE list of sectes. This is only a french
definition and judgement of what a sect is.

At the same time, some wanted some religions not cited
in the report to appear as well (such a the catholic
religion, with the Pape as its guru)

And some wanted some religious to be removed from the

After lengthy discussion, there is a list appearing in
the sect article, under the title "groups usually
considered as sect", with a disclaimer below, stating
who established this list.

I am very unhappy with this list, because it is
limited to the french public position and the fact it
is written "usually". Are listed secte (with the above
definition), some organisations that are in other
places in the worlds just regular religions.


Jehovah witnesses

Now, it is easy in an article, to discuss whether a
group should be said a secte or not, and to attribute
position, but when in a list, this is much tougher :-)

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