There are different types of religious societies, which are a type of category for religions. These three religious societies are: natural community religions, voluntary religious groups, and founded religions. In natural community religions, there religions are based on the family ties, race, and things of that nature. They use society to cultivate their religion; however, as Max Weber explains, religious beliefs also help to influence social action, thus causing society and religion to work together. Natural community religions incorporate religion in everyday life and often have many rituals, such as the rites of passage involving death, marriage, and puberty; these religious groups are either born into or married into and the people can be strict on marrying within the society rather than outside of the society. An example of a natural religious community could be Japanese State Shinto.
Voluntary religious communities can be within natural communities; however, there are numerous differences between this category and the previous category. Voluntary religious communities break family bonds and promote fellowship with people who share the same sacred experiences. Within this community, there are less rites of passage, marriage is generally a private affair, and the religion may not be found in everyday life. Examples of voluntary religious communities include Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. Founded religions can have their own category, but can also be considered as voluntary religious communities. Founded religions are depicted as religions established through a religious leader who by Weber’s standards may be considered as charismatic. These religious leaders may consider themselves as prophets, but at times they may build on an existing religion (such as the Davidians building off of Christianity), or they could come about on their own. One particular example of a founded religion that became a voluntary religious community is Christianity. Christianity was led by the prophet, Jesus and he had disciples who followed and spread his word. The Christians faced the challenge of having their leader die and wrote some of the different books of the Bible (ex: Mathew, Mark, Luke, & John) to relay the word of God. Christianity is now a widespread voluntary religious community that anyone can choose to join in a church or fellowship in the name of the Lord.
Voluntary religious communities may go through times of change and disagreements, which may cause a separation in the church or even the religious group. These separations give rise to new religious groups, and may actually go on to form sects, denominations, or New Age Religious Movements.