There are two things I would like to cover in this post, one is how applicable McGuire’s chapter 5 is in terms of my experience in my visit to Pathway and the second is the nature determining what is and is not official religion. Visiting Pathway on Sunday has opened my eyes to how vastly different two sects of the same religion are. While at Pathway, I noticed a lot of differences in how people dress to how the mass is organized. While Pathway has, what McGuire describes in ch. 5, an ‘official’ religion model, it did not feel entirely like an official religion. This is mainly due to how the institutional organization is, well, organized. If one does not do research prior to walking into Pathway, you will not know what the structure is and you will feel lost during the first 20 minutes of mass. If you do research prior to mass, you will find that there is a lot of organization in terms of pastors, directors, and volunteers.
Concerning the determination of what is and isn’t an official religion, I believe that this is completely arbitrary. McGuire describes the difference official and non-official (popular) religions as being under the control of official religious organizations and uses the U.S. as an example of a nation that has many popular religions (p.116). This argument, to me, says that in order for a religion to be official, it must have some sort of organized entity (group, politically backed, etc.) that supports it. This would throw out religions that are just beginning or those who aren’t as big as Christianity. I suppose an example would be the Nestorians and how Western Christianity would refer to them as ‘heretics.’ I bring this up because while the Nestorians were not the largest sect of Christianity, they did have the support of the Mongolian Empire (though it was not the official religion of the Empire). Of course, my personal opinions aren’t to be taken as fact, I’m just stating that it is up to the individual that experiences other religions to determine if said religion is official or not.