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The Rise Of Cults

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Over the past 100 years we have been inundated with spin of religious cults. All the worlds’ major religions, from Christianity, Judaism, Islam and even Buddhism.

They range from the sublime (Jehovah Witness, New Age) to the dangerous (Branch Davidians, Heavens Gate).

It is too easy to point the finger at any belief system and label it a cult simply because we disagree with its teachings.

Without condemning orthodox religious organizations I would like to look at what truly turns a religious belief into a dangerous cult

. "...if you believe in it, it is a religion or perhaps 'the' religion;

and if you do not care one way or another about it, it is a sect;

but if you fear and hate it, it is a cult." Leo Pfeffer. A humorous quotation, but one that is uncomfortably close to reality.

With many people seeking spiritual enlightenment from the mirage of religious choices how can they know what is truly dangerous or not.

Oxford English Dictionary defined "cult" as:

"worship; reverential homage rendered to a divine being or beings"

"a particular form or system of religious worship; especially in reference to its external rites and ceremonies"

devotion or homage to a particular person or thing."

Although this definition could be,……………….. cut and past your organization here!

The following by Dr. Ronald Enroth is probably the best I have found.

•Eastern Mystical: groups related to Hinduism, Buddhism and other pantheistic Eastern religions; examples in this category are Hare Krishnas and Self-Realization Fellowship.

•Aberrant Christian: groups that claim to be Bible-based but which deviate in practice or belief, such as The Way International, the Boston Church of Christ and the Shepherding Movement.

•Psychospiritual or Self-Improvement: groups offering seminars or workshops providing self- improvement or personal transformation (a growing cultic trend), includes Transcendental Meditation, Lifespring and The Forum (formerly est).

•Eclectic/Syncretistic: a combination of several religious traditions, includes the Unification Church (''Moonies'') and the Church Universal and Triumphant.

•Psychic/Occult/Astral: these groups offer ''secret wisdom'' and ''lost truths;'' examples include UFO cults and Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment.

•Established Cults: Bible-based, cultic religious movements which have achieved mainstream status; this would include Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Science.

•Extremist/Political/Social Movements: groups cultic in the psychological or social sense which include the Aryan Nation, White Aryan Resistance and the Ku Klux Klan.

Source: John Morehead, What Is A Cult?; quoting Ron Enroth, The Lure of the Cults, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1982), pp. 22-25

Dr. Ronald Enroth, is Professor of Sociology at Westmont College (Santa Barbara, California). An acknowledged national resource person on cults and new religious movements,

What I wish to achieve here is a template for a cult. It is NOT a thread to discredit other member’s beliefs.

Here are some of what I believe identifies a cult.

1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.

2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

3. The group is preoccupied with making money.

4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

5 .Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

6.The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth).

7 .The groups is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members (for example: the leader is considered the Messiah or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity).

8. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.

9. The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations).

10. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group (for example: collecting money for bogus charities)


11. The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.

12 .Members' subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.

13. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

14. .Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.

(Source: AFF Home Page, http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/cult101.htm)

It would also be fair to mention that I am conservative/fundamentalist Christian and my perspective although biased is from having spent a many years studying cult behavior, infiltration and I have been involved in cult de-programming projects. As you can imagine it is a very sensitive subject.

If you feel that your comments or questions may offend others here feel free to pm myself and I will try to find the information you require or at leased point you in the right direction.

All the best, Irish

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This one is going to be real touchy. No flame wars please.

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