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The fourth category, the denomination, is a large group but one with less than a majority of the nation's citizens. Like the sect, it is concerned with all aspects of life and behavior. It is usually supported by private gifts rather than government subsidy. Since it is still a minority, it does not feel 'as much pressure to accept all majority social norms as does the eccIesia. Thus, at least until recently, Methodists deviated from the majority in their criticism of drinking and gambling, and Catholics differed in their opposition to divorce and birth control, On the other hand, the denomination is too large to prevent deviation among its members, and their behavior tends to follow general social practices: Yet the denomination attempts to influence the behavior of both its own members and the general society. The idea of separation of church and state is accepted in theory but often violated in practice. Classification. of a religious group as ecclesia, cult, sect, or denomination does not imply any value judgment concerning its validity or prestige. Rather, the classification reflects a difference in emphasis and in pattern of relationship to the general society. There are no churches, however, which are "pure" types, and the classification is a continuum with degrees of difference rather than a dichotomy with absolute contrasts [Stark and Bainbridge, 1979]. Since no single church claims a majority of Americans, it is probably correct to say that the United States does not have an ecclesia and that all the larger groups are denomination.

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