I have a theory related to the cult spectrum

by ILoveTTATT2 14 Replies latest jw friends

  • kpop
    kpop
    Excellent thread and your opening OP is exactly how I feel. It's interesting to note the JW's have a lot of similarities with the other cults you mention, thus correctly defining a cult.
  • Phizzy
    Phizzy

    I don't know who this is from, but very sensible and useful I think :

    Universal Definition

    CULT - Any group which has a pyramid type authoritarian leadership structure with all teaching and guidance coming from the person/persons at the top. The group will claim to be the only way to God; Nirvana; Paradise; Ultimate Reality; Full Potential, Way to Happiness etc, and will use thought reform or mind control techniques to gain control and keep their members.

    This definition covers cults within all major world religions, along with those cults which have no OBVIOUS religious base such as commercial, educational and psychological cults. Others may define these a little differently, but this is the simplest to work from.

  • Yesu Kristo Bwana Wangu
    Yesu Kristo Bwana Wangu

    That's an interesting question! Can a cult have mainstream views.

    I once read this article, about the Brazillian Christian Congregation. It has mainstream views but is extremely orthodox. For instance, after being baptised, cutting your hair as a woman is considered a sin. You can cut your hair once you have been married. I have not done a lot of research of their belief, but maybe this comes closer to what you are searching.

    it's popular in Brazil.

    https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/the-brides-veil-2d14319fc061

  • scratchme1010
    scratchme1010

    Check out the Worldwide Church of God... they were a BITE model cult, and now Grace International, from what I have read, isn't... but they went from non-mainstream to mainstream.

    I may need a little more than just a person stating that this is no longer a cult. Furthermore, mainstream and "not a cult" are not synonyms.

    Universal Definition

    CULT - Any group which has a pyramid type authoritarian leadership structure with all teaching and guidance coming from the person/persons at the top. The group will claim to be the only way to God; Nirvana; Paradise; Ultimate Reality; Full Potential, Way to Happiness etc, and will use thought reform or mind control techniques to gain control and keep their members.

    This definition covers cults within all major world religions, along with those cults which have no OBVIOUS religious base such as commercial, educational and psychological cults. Others may define these a little differently, but this is the simplest to work from.

    I am no expert, but what I have seen is that professionals an researches in the subject of cults have several different definitions and classifications of cults. In fact, some don't even use the word cult to define an organization, as it may be misleading based on the several definitions.

    Here are a few definitions:

    "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.“ – Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971)

    "A religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious...
    A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator...
    Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work...b. a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion." - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (1994)

    Then there's a "millennial" definition of a cult:

    "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 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. – West & Langone, 1986, pp. 119-120"

    That definition applies only to what they call a "totalistic type" of cult, which is one of the several ways in which some experts classify cults, such as:

    1. cults as dangerous, authoritarian
    2. cults as culturally innovative or transcultural
    3. cults as loosely structured protoreligions

    There's a 4th form of classification of cults, based on Stark and Bainbridge’s taxonomy (1985) that distinguishes:

    1. audience cults
    2. client cults
    3. cult movements

    As I mentioned, it's not that cut and dry, what is clear in any of the descriptions, classifications or definitions, is that all those groups have several typical characteristics, many of which some are:

    1. unethical influence
    2. conversion
    3. manipulation
    4. mind-control - brainwashing
    5. exploitation
    6. charismatic group
    7. new religious movement – alternative movement
    8. psychological abuse
    9. harm

    That's the school where I come from, so my question is how does one can say that some organization became/was a cult and now isn't? How is that measured, what makes them a cult before and not a cult now?

  • GLTirebiter
    GLTirebiter

    Check out the Worldwide Church of God...

    That is an unusual case. Their reformation came about when Armstrong's prophecies did not come to pass, and his successors did considerable soul-searching (if you will pardon the pun) and re-assessed their doctrine. They are now a more typical evangelical sect. If they can do it, there may be a glimmer of hope that even the WTBTS could reform itself. Long odds, but it could happen.

    Your four-quadrant graph left out the Orthodox churches, who would be far in the upper right corner--more Catholic than the Catholics, so to speak.