At what point does a religion become a cult?

by nbernat 9 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • nbernat

    In your experiences and opinions, at what point does a religion stop being a religion and start being a cult?

  • beksbks

    When they make a real effort to control who you associate with, what you read, watch, think, etc.

  • digderidoo
    [edit] Definition of 'cult' according to secular opposition

    Secular cult opponents tend to define a "cult" as a group that tends to manipulate, exploit, and control its members. Specific factors in cult behavior are said to include manipulative and authoritarian mind control over members, communal and totalistic organization, aggressive proselytizing, systematic programs of indoctrination, and perpetuation in middle-class communities. [30]

    While acknowledging the issue of multiple definitions of "cult", [31] Michael Langone states that "Cults are groups that often exploit members psychologically and/or financially, typically by making members comply with leadership's demands through certain types of psychological manipulation, popularly called mind control, and through the inculcation of deep-seated anxious dependency on the group and its leaders." [32] A similar definition is given by Louis Jolyon West:

    "A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of [consequences of] leaving it, etc) designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community." [33]

    In each, the focus tends to be on the specific tactics of conversion, the negative impact on individual members, and the difficulty in leaving once indoctrination has occurred. [34]

    Many of the traits here can be found in the WBTS



  • doofdaddy

    To me a cult is when beliefs are "set in stone" and cannot be questioned without fear of humiliation or excommunication. So that includes all organised religion and most scientific theory.

  • jwfacts

    All religions start as cults, the question is at what point do they stop being a cult.

    More specific to your question, the main indicators of a cult is that they insist on shunning former members, claim the leaders have a direct connection with God, and that they alone are the pathway to truth and salvation. On that basis most religions, Catholics included, border on being cults.

  • WTWizard

    A religion becomes a cult when more effort is made to monopolize information, expect absolute blind obedience to the leaders, and weed out those who use independent sources than is made to actually find the truth.

  • Gopher

    What JWFacts said -- religious movements begin as cults.

    Only as they grow in size and starting acting more mainstream (or are perceived to be that way) do they become accepted "denominations".

    I think the distinction is best stated as "cults" versus "denominations". They are all religions.

  • chickpea

    when there is no "exit" that is acceptable

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    1876 C.E.

  • RubaDub

    One defining characteristic would be creating a rule to only allow people to use one towel in the restroom.

    Rub a Dub

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