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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42

2.—Not a Sect

2.—Not a Sect.

It seems to me that this is merely a quibble, and no fact. So long as they are a Society, and separate themselves from other sects, they also are sectarian. The word simply implies a separated body or society, and has no special religious or political meaning. Hence, so long as the members of the Freethought Association do not represent the major portion of the community they are a section or sect of it—a separated branch. There needs be no theological formulæ, no religious opinions, to constitute a sect; but simply a union of men holding certain opinions, or tenets, which cause them to differ from other men—this "cuts" them off from the larger portion of the society, and forms them a sect, whether they will or no. It is not an uncommon thing to read of this or that school or sect of philosophy, as well as of religion. However, it is probable that these men wish to be no sect, and the former topic we discussed would tend to confirm this view of their society. They must either be the main stem of society or a sect of it. If, then, they recognise only individual self as the chief object, then so far as they are concerned each man is the main stem, and certainly their society can be no sect. Of course, if they recognised themselves to be a sect, then they would have to recognise the authority of that of which they are a sect. But, despising authority, they must raise themselves into the chief position, to give a show of superiority. Only by such a step could they hope to succeed in gaining any popularity for their theory. Then, again, it is contended that they are