Difference Between Sect and Denomination (With Table)

Sect and Denomination are parts of a subgroup of a particular religion. A lot of religions have their own denominations and sects. Communities are a part of these sects and denominations, but the difference between a  Sect and Denomination is that the latter has a bigger membership, and is more widely accepted than Sects. 

Sect vs Denomination

The difference between Sect and Denomination is that a sect is a branch or an offshoot of a particular religion or a denomination. On the other hand, a Denomination is a branch under a specific religion with a particular identity, tradition, and shared principles. 

A Sect is a type of a branch of a religion or a denomination. These sects are newer religious groups that members form as a protest in the form of the parent religion or denomination. The sect shows off the elements of the religion or the denomination the sect is derived from. 

A Denomination is a branch under a particular religion. Also, it is an established group that has been existing for a long duration and is widely spread all across the world. The term Denomination is especially known for Christian groups such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, and other types of Protestantism.

Comparison Table Between Sect and Denomination

Parameters of Comparison SectDenomination
MembershipSects have a comparatively smaller membership than Denominations.Denominations have larger memberships than Sects.
HistorySects may be relatively new when it comes to their history.Denominations have a long and vast history because they have been in existence for a long time.
AcceptanceSects are not as widely accepted as Denominations are accepted.Denominations are widely accepted because of their elements and history.
FormationSects are formed as a protest against religious contexts.Denominations are formed slowly over time and due to geographical distances.
DefinitionA sect is an off branch of a religion or a denomination.A denomination is a subgroup of a religion.

What is Sect?

A sect is a smaller sub-group of a particular religion or denomination. It is an offshoot of religion, but it still retains the original beliefs of the particular denomination or religion. Still, it differs with some rules and principles, which makes its existence and allows the sect to be on its own, deviated from the mother religion or denomination.

Most of the time, sects are formed because of disputes with the officials of the religious group or denomination, which makes them keep changing their religious views and principles accordingly with the new leaders or varying beliefs amongst the members.

Sects are mainly formed because of the wavering beliefs and opinions that members come up with because of the emergence of various new ideas and interpretations, usually in religious groups or denominations.

Sects have their own independent view of the sacred book. These sects believe in and respect the original denomination or religion but keep their personal opinions and ideas.

What is Denomination?

A Denomination is a religious group that is a subgroup of a particular religion, like Christianity. These denominations are derived from the original mother religion, but they have their own set of beliefs and rules that they opt to follow. Denominations are fairly large in the number of memberships and are spread widely all across the world.

A denomination is followed and accepted far and wide because of the many years of its existence and the way it has made itself a part of history. Denominations have been existing for centuries and are heavily established and recognized by members around the world.

Two examples of a denomination are Christians and Catholics because they existed for centuries, and their traditions are spread across the world. Some examples of denominations created in Islam are the three basic branches of the Sunni, Shia, and Sufis.

There are another set of Shia denominations, namely, the Twelvers, Ismailiam, Zaidyyah, Alawiyyah, and the Alevism. These denominations follow the basic rules and principles of the mother religion, Islam, but the cultural and traditional differences are apparent within the rest. 

Main Differences Between Sect and Denomination

  1. A Sect is a branch of a denomination or a religion. Meanwhile, a denomination is a subgroup of a particular religion. 
  2. A Sect is smaller in size, and the membership is not vast. On the other hand, Denomination has a larger membership and is significant as compared to sects. 
  3. A Sect is formed because of political differences between the officials of the religions or the denominations. Denominations are formed because of geographical distances or cultural estrangements or beliefs between the members of a particular religion, making them form a different denomination. 
  4. Sects practice the same beliefs of the mother religion or denomination they have derived from, but the rules and principles of the sects are moderated to fit their opinions. On the other hand, Denominations have changed because of different psychological and theological thinking, which causes them to have varied rituals and cultural habits compared to the mother religion or sect. 
  5. Every sect is derived from a particular religion or denomination, but a denomination is always derived from religion. 


In conclusion, a Sect and Denomination are both parts of the religious world. They both individually focus on maintaining their own cultural, traditional, and individual beliefs. Denominations are more widely accepted worldwide because they have been around for centuries and have been influenced by experts and knowledgeable leaders.

Denominations like Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Masorti, Reform, and Reconstructionist are widely followed worldwide, and surprisingly all of them have thousands of sects of their own. Sects are created because of political disputes among the beliefs of the denominations. The differing thoughts and ideas make them take a different path and put their opinions in a different light altogether.

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