what makes a cult a cult?

by BlackSwan of Memphis 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • greendawn

    All power centralised in the hands of a small inner circle who do not in any form or shape tolerate anyone whatsoever to challenge it and whoever tries to do so is speedily neutralised usually by expulsion and shunning to ensure that s/he can not continue to challenge their authority within the group. This monopoly of authority is jealously guarded at all costs.

    The same inner circle decides all doctrine and they guard them with equal ruthlessness however absurd they may be.

    They know the Bible inside out and often twist it in order to fit their agenda.

    They do not allow their followers to read other sources on religious issues demonising them as satanic and death dealing lies of Babylon the Great. They expect the Bible to be solely understood through their writings.

  • IT Support
    IT Support

    I agree with this definition:

    The modern definition of a mind control cult is any group which employs mind control and deceptive recruiting techniques. In other words cults trick people into joining and coerce them into staying. This is the definition that most people would agree with. Except the cults themselves of course!

    How Cults Work

    I think this is an excellent, concise, summary of 'how cults work.'

  • WTWizard

    I found a "secret society" that the Watchtower Society has strongly cautioned against, and found out why. After reading the books, I found out that they were based on Aristotle's philosophy. And there is no police, no one to hound you into staying or doing ever more, and no constant lists of what to do and what not to do. The web site, in fact, accepts both positive and negative comments, and they do not say a word against people who look for independent or even negative information on the Web. I have seen one such place (the Ripoff Report--finding whole Web sites bashing them is nearly impossible), and the comments are blatant lies.

    Here is a good case for doing independent research. It is possible to have a group of people grow quite large because they make sense. As long as no top-down authoritarian system develops and they do not start cutting people off from independent information, there can be no snare. And they encourage people to think independently--a recommendation that would be death to any cult. In fact, like Aristotle, they encourage people to make decisions based on objectivism--which is the most logical way to do it.

    Another program I sampled (an MLM, I will not name names here) was fairly deceptive. The problem was that they kept requiring one account setup after another, and seemed quite disjointed. Also, they had quite a few meetings and sales pitches for a product that was of questionable quality. I checked the brochures, and the net weight of the contents was often not apparently visible in the catalog. And the web site had no integrated formula for computing sales tax that would be correct in all 50 states, since there are products in some states that have tax and others in the same state without. That was enough to send a red flag up. Turns out that this is a prime example of a business cult, of which I did little once I found that out.

    Be wary of joining MLMs and secret societys. Some are safe, even beneficial. Some (like the secret society I joined) will help you out of cults by training you to see through illusions (which would be the death of any cult if they practiced that). Others are based on the Church of Scientology, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, or some other mind-control that you do not want to be involved with. It is best to do all the research you can about any MLM or secret society you are thinking of joining, so you will not fall into a scam.

  • DannyHaszard
  • BlackSwan of Memphis
    BlackSwan of Memphis

    These are some great sites OTWO, IT and Danny.

    There are definitely some common themes and as OTWO pointed out Hassan does differentiate between benign and dangerous.

    I thought this was interesting:

    (from howcultswork.com)

    Cults that use a belief system as their base are very common. Their belief system could be standard Christianity, Hinduism, Islam or any other of the world religions, or they may have invented their own belief system. What makes them a cult is the fact that they use mind control, not what they believe.

    Cults that use commercial gain as their base are called "cults of greed". They will promise you that if you join them and follow their special programme for success then you will become very rich. Often they will hold up their leader as an example and explain that if you do what he or she says then you will be successful too. Commercial cults use mind control to get you working for them for free, and to make you pay for an endless stream of motivational tapes, videos, books and seminars all of which are supposedly designed to help you succeed, but in reality are designed to enhance the cult's mind control environment and keep you believing in their almost impossible dream of success. Of course they never mention that the primary way the leaders make money are by selling these motivation materials to their group! For more information see below under the section, "Pressure Selling".

    Self Help & Counselling
    Cults that use "self help" or counselling or self improvement as their base often target business people and corporations. By doing their courses and seminars they claim you and your staff will become more successful. Business people locked away in hotel rooms are subjected to quasi-religious indoctrination as they play strange games, join in group activities, and share their innermost thoughts with the group. Once you have completed one course you are told you need to do the more advanced course, which naturally costs more than the last. These cults will sometimes request that you do volunteer work and that you help recruit your friends, family and work mates. These groups specialize in creating powerful emotional experiences which are then used to validate your involvement in the cult. The religious overtones are couched in terms which don't sound religious. They usually come to the surface as you near the end of a seminar. Many people have been bankrupted by involvement with these cults.

    Cults that use political ideals as their base are well known throughout history. Hitler's Nazi Germany and Stalin's Communist USSR were classic examples of mind control on a very large scale. On smaller scales white and black supremacists, terrorists, and rebel groups commonly use forms of mind control to recruit and dominate their members.

    It is indeed mind control.

    From Hassans site:

    Being in control of your own mind includes: being in touch with your feelings; having the ability to question and think analytically; the freedom to act independently as well as the ability to look at issues from multiple perspectives.

    Now, the thing is, I have met too many people from various backgrounds who may or may not be involved with some group, who seem completely out of touch with their own self. Like they are speaking from a programmed way of thinking.

    These ones have included Christians, Muslims, Politically Conservative Individuals, Politically Liberal Individuals, Atheists etc.

    It has been put forth that the Witnesses are a cult.

    If a cult is based on the premise of mind control, anything can be a cult, if one allows a person OR program, to think for them.


  • heathen

    Too me the word cult and religion are the same thing . Yah ok the control thing but it applies to all religion not just the j-dubs . They all take control of what's in the bible and if given half a chance want control over more. The WTBTS argues that it isn't a cult because they don't worship a person , object or idea .The word cult was first coined by the orthodox church of england and used to defame dissenters . My websters says it a religious system and it's adherents...

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