What religions/organizations aren't a cult?

by Jules Saturn 29 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • scratchme1010

    So we've already established that most religions can be classified as high control groups, we can name the WBTS, Church of Scientology, LDS, etc. the list goes on and on. But are there any religions or organizations that aren't classified as a high control group or aren't as bad as the ones I've just mentioned? Are ALL organized religions classified as cults? Would a religion have to lack organization to avoid being classified as a cult?

    First, as far as I know it has not been established that most religions can be classified as high control groups. Not sure where the research that supports that is. Please let me know where can reliable support for that statement can be found.

    Second, according to researchers in the matter, cult as a label doesn't cover what it is supposed to be addressed. Instead of labeling an organization or group as a cult, it is more accurate to describe a dynamic, and effect, something that occurs as a consequences of certain intended actions. That's where the terms "high demand", or "controlling" groups, or "cultic relationships" come from. The purpose of using those terms is to address and effect, not to label a given group.

    The reason that difference is relevant is because a lot of people may be under the negative influence of a group or a person, and not realize it because the idea that people have of a cult doesn't fit with what they are going through.

    That "cultic" effect can happen pretty much in every group. If you think of it as an effect and not as a label, you may better understand why you may find that pretty much every religion can have people who have been negatively harmed. Furthermore, thinking of it as an effect includes a whole lot of non-religious groups that cause as much harm.

    Keeping that in mind, there are groups which sole purpose is nothing other than their own interest and agenda. Those are set with the intention of using and manipulating people and misled them to believe that they are in need of that group. Not all religious groups fall in that category; some, however, fir the profile perfectly.

    The President of the International Cultic Studies Association mentioned to me that he knew of a 12-step meeting that people started calling "The Children of the Corn group". That group was being led by people who had the intention of enticing their members to feel like they needed that one particular meeting to save themselves, and that they should dedicate their entire lives to grow that group. That was not a religious group, and that cult effect was evident in that one particular meeting.

    I'd suggest to start rethinking the use of the term cult and start thinking of the harm and the effect that it causes in people, at the same time that some groups can be identified as harmful to people.

  • venus

    I agree with you that all religions are cultic--but in varying degree. There is a hidden agenda behind every religion:

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true,

    by the wise as false,

    and by the rulers as useful."—Seneca

  • Jules Saturn
    Jules Saturn


    I came to that conclusion analyzing Steven Hassan's BITE model. Now in my honest opinion, I feel like that BITE model can be applied with most Christian religions, but maybe that's just my personal opinion

  • Londo111

    A religion is to a cult, what a government is to a dictatorship.

    Not all governments are dictatorships. Even democracies have laws and law enforcement, but it is a matter of degree.

    As Steven Hassan said, it is a spectrum.

    Not all religions are cults. Most Christian groups are not cults...you can walk away and still talk to your family.

    Mainline Protestantism especially is pretty benign. Of course, fundamentalist and charismatic Christian groups have cult characteristics, some more, some less. Some of these groups border on being cult-like, if not cross the line.

  • dozy

    Maybe the Quakers would roughly fall into the "non cult" description. They seem to have very much a "bottom up" structure.

    While JWs / WTBTS certainly has many of the hallmarks of a cult , I sometimes think it is better understood in terms of a commercial religious literature publishing and ( with that trade in something of a decline , increasingly nowadays ) real estate trading business that exploits free labour.

  • OneEyedJoe
    While JWs / WTBTS certainly has many of the hallmarks of a cult , I sometimes think it is better understood in terms of a commercial religious literature publishing and ( with that trade in something of a decline , increasingly nowadays ) real estate trading business that exploits free labour.

    You can best understand the business decisions of the WTS by viewing it as a publisher turned real-estate empire, but you can best understand it's control over and negative impact on it's volunteer work force by viewing it as a cult.

  • jp1692
    Dozy: JWs / WTBTS ... exploits free labour.


    And the methods the organization uses to do that are classic cultish behaviors.

    It's not WHAT a group does that determines if it is a cult--the specific activities are irrelevant. It's HOW THEY TREAT THEIR MEMBERS!

  • Doubtfully Yours
    Doubtfully Yours

    Child abuse in its many forms exists everywhere, not only in this or any other organization.

    How it's dealt with is where the problem lies. When an accusation of sexual abuse is presented, why first call the Legal Dept. instead of the local authorities? Why not advise the victim to report it to the authorities immediately?


  • EverApostate

    Any leader who advise you to leave your family and come after him, is a cult leader. Jesus said that and hence, I consider any form of Christendom to be a cult.

    Of course, many christian sects are not such fundamental and we can discount those.

  • Brokeback Watchtower
    Brokeback Watchtower

    It all depends on what you understand the word cult to mean:


    The term cult usually refers to a social group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. The term itself is controversial and it has divergent definitions in both popular culture and academia and it also has been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study.[1][2] In the sociological classifications of religious movements, a cult is a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices,[3] although this is often unclear.[4][5][6] Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults on the basis that cults arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.[7] The word "cult" has always been controversial because it is (in a pejorative sense) considered a subjective term, used as an ad hominem attack against groups with differing doctrines or practices.[8][9] Groups said to be cults range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions.[10]
    Beginning in the 1930s, cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior.[11] From the 1940s the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, and it labelled them as cults for their "un-Christian" unorthodox beliefs. The secular anti-cult movement began in the 1970s and it opposed certain groups, often charging them with mind control and partly motivated in reaction to acts of violence committed by some of their members. Some of the claims and actions of the anti-cult movements have been disputed by scholars and by the news media, leading to further public controversy.
    The term "new religious movement" refers to religions which have appeared since the mid-1800s. Many, but not all of them, have been considered cults. Sub-categories of cults include: Doomsday cults, political cults, destructive cults, racist cults, polygamist cults, and terrorist cults. Governmental reactions to cult-related issues have also been a source of controversy.

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