What Is A Religion, What Is A Cult

An insightful writer recently tried to tackle the question of cults and religions.

When we read about a charismatic person who has devoted followers who give up their money, freedom and personal lives, we quickly think of “cult”. Then, there are views about what is reality and how far from our perceived reality a leader has taken people. The farther from perceived reality the more likely is use the word cult.

The link points out that the difference between cults and established branches of Christianity are not so large. Both a cult and a more traditional brand of Christianity come from a void felt by members of the public and either or both move in and fulfill the perceived “need”.

Both cults and more orthodox versions of Christianity put pressure on followers to turn over money. Conventional wisdom is that a cult is more forceful and demanding, but the requests are there.

When we look at the teaching of so called cults, nearly all of us can see what they teach does not match up with reality. Heaven’s Gate was a group who thought that after suicide they would end up on the Hale-Bopp Comet. The Waco disaster grew out of a leader who took the book of Revelations literally. Jonestown was a mass suicide based on the perception of a coming calamity.

The link points out Christianity’s Resurrection and after life appear to outsiders as ideas not all that different from the world referred to as cult.

21 Responses

  1. entech

    Been here before:
    Not many believers in your personal vision
    You get a padded cell

    A few more
    start a cult

    More, yet more and more
    Get a tax excemption

  2. Catcher

    There are several items that are used to define a cult. Alienation of former contacts, control of all monies, thought, etc. just to name a few. See Google.

    Interesting to note at both the top and bottom of the link are the words; ” We rely on your generous support.” Mirror mirror.

  3. Adam Heckathorn

    It is shades of gray on a spectrum. All religions started as cults and the mainline ones slowly became less crazy by acknowledging that their holy books were not to be taken as factual history. Why stop there, If the Bible is not to be taken as factual why in the world should we accept it at all? It is all about cognitive dissonance and how the mind evolved.

  4. Juan Ruiz

    I believe Bertrand Russell said the difference between a cult and a religion was the number of members.

  5. Let us test cults and religions with the FIRST LAW OF GOD:

    “you shall have no other gods before-between-beside ME !!!!!!!”

    Oops: both cults and religions are bad little gods !!!!!

    1. kev 7:05 Let us test cults and religions with the FIRST LAW OF GOD:

      That’s one way to test whether a group is a cult or not. Others here have suggested just looking up in a dictionary or on-line source. I’m wondering if it would be accurate to test a group by whether members symbolically eat the flesh of the founder as in, “this is my body.” I’ve read that mafia members share blood as part of an induction ceremony.

      1. Juan Ruiz

        “members symbolically eat the flesh of the founder”

        One of Christianity’s many borrowings from pagan mystery religions.

          1. godless

            Answer my question kev, were you the one that was recently arrested for threatening emails to Senator Heitkamp?

      2. Jon,

        You propose two extending elements in :

        “I’m wondering if it would be accurate to test a group by:

        1. whether members symbolically eat the flesh of the founder as in, “this is my body.”

        It appears you are speaking of the christian ceremony of communion.

        The actual founder of christianity was Saul who became Paul, whom I dub sp-aul as in make foul with spawl or spittle. So christians aren’t actually consuming the flesh of their founder.

        The symbology you quote is only fractional, for the event was PASSOVER. PASSOVER was instituted in Egypt some 1300 years earlier when a lamb was sacrificed and the blood painted on the doorposts and lintal of the entry into a person’s home. The flesh of the lamb was them consumed to avoid it going to waste.

        If you then study the WORD OF GOD independent of cults and religions you will learn that GOD walked on the face of the earth to return the one on ONE PROCESS of ISRAEL (the verb action) to each and every one of HIS children becoming the LAST PASSOVER SACRIFICE for LIFE because HIS chosen servants had rejected HIM so HE REJECTED them, II Chronicles 36.16. The religion of judaism would be founded some 150-200 years later with the sacrificing of women and children and the men who would not join them, Ezra talks about it and he has a book in the Bible named for him.

        Each and every person can partake of celebrating the event by going to GOD in humility and with contriteness in spirit and consume a PASSOVER meal in remembrance of GOD’S ULTIMATE GRACE & MERCY without cults or religions.

        Religions, in this case, the cult of christianity, has overlaid their doctrine on the WORD OF GOD in violation of GOD’S 1ST LAW.

        2. “I’ve read that mafia members share blood as part of an induction ceremony.”

        I cannot speak directly to this because I don’t have any documentation on it.

        But if it is done in any way away from the W.H.A.T. OF GOD it is in violation of the 1ST LAW OF GOD.

        PS: For those who like to attack grammar and think I’m yelling with all caps have at it. In humility and contriteness I try capitalize everything associated with GOD to honor HIM, and for the opposite reason I don’t capitalize the so called proper names of religions.

        And those who want to go phishing off topic, you are casting your bate into a desert.

        1. Juan Ruiz

          Saul of Tarsus was one in a long parade of self-proclaimed seers, prophets, and revelators who alone knew the will of the god they created: Mohamed, Joseph Smith, Bill Wilson, Elijah Mohammad, Mary Baker Eddy, L. Ron Hubbard, Sun Myung Moon, David Koresh… Their true goal was to become wealthy based on the stupidity of their followers.

          1. Catcher

            @ 12;56; Saul /Paul, Who at first was looked at with suspicion, but after serious discussion with the Apostles, and followers of Jesus was accepted as authorative in the spreading of The Way, which later acquired the name Christian. A name which was originally derogatory.

            There is no indication that Paul died wealthy, and all indications are that he was martyred.

          2. Juan Ruiz

            Next to nothing is known about Saul of Tarsus beyond what he himself and his sycophant Luke say. Some maintain that like Homer, he never existed, and was a name various writers used.

          3. Catcher

            @ 8;13; “Some maintain”. Not a ringing endorsement. Others don’t.

            There are several verses that say Paul did not take money for his service. These would be the verses “some maintain”.

        2. entech

          If you then study the WORD OF GOD independent of cults and religions Tell me Kev — Just where do you (and I mean you personally) find the word of God independently?

          you are casting your bate into a desert. any relationship with casting your seed on stony ground 🙂 😳

          1. entech,

            Digging and sorting through the massive piles of religious overburden with GOD to find what is valuable. Then testing it with HIM against energy and matter in the COSMOS.

  6. “Both cults and more orthodox versions of Christianity put pressure on followers to turn over money. ”

    The state cult does this and sends its young people of to die for its lies.

    1. entech

      Michael, as usual a good post. One thing I would like to offer for consideration, paraphrased from Bertrand Russel when queried and derided about his pacifism.
      “Don’t you feel guilty standing back when your fellows are going off to die for you.”
      “You are the ones with guilt, sending your young men off to kill for you”

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