The sectarian paradigm places newly formed religious groups not sanctioned by the state into a category of sectarian (jiaopai). In imperial times such groups were treated as heterodox and banned officially. They nevertheless traditionally survived well in the margins of society, in provincial centers, or allied with newlyascendant social groups. This paper discusses Falun Gong in light of this paradigm. Falun Gong is compared with two other religious groups that to some extent also reflect the sectarian paradigm, Three in One and Yiguandao. The paper first introduces each group's history, then focuses on ideology as contained in doctrinal statements and writings. The sectarian model is found to be inadequate in analyzing newly arisen popular religions and trends in contemporary China. There are no apparent genetic links between many such groups, and ideas do not consistently overlap. The paper proposes an alternative model of new syncretic movements. This model looks beyond the adversarial stances implied by the sectarian rubric.

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