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.