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Where does being a true believer (in any religion) end and a cult member begin?

This is a spin off of my last question... But a good one.

A toddler whose remains were found inside a suitcase in Philadelphia in the spring was starved to death by members of a religious cult, including his mother, in part because he refused to say “amen” after meals, police said.

Ria Ramkissoon, the mother of Javon Thompson, was charged Sunday with first-degree murder in the boy’s death, and Baltimore police said Monday that three other members of a group called 1 Mind Ministries have also been charged with first-degree murder. Police and Ramkissoon’s family said the group is a cult.

Members did not seek medical care for Javon when he stopped breathing, and the boy died in his mother’s arms, according to court documents that described police interviews with a confidential informant and two children. He would have been about 19 months old when police say adults stopped feeding him in December 2006.

Answer Question

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 4:13 PM on May. 17, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (17)
  • Well according to some people liking Obama makes me a cult member. So I imagine it is all subjective to the outside observer.

    Answer by MythicMMM at 4:15 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • Hey, then I guess we can be cult members together... I love Obama!

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 4:19 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • Going by the "official" definition, the only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of followers. All denominations of all religions started as cults. The woman who is part of a stadium church and abuses her child in Jesus' name is not less evil than the member of the 30 person prayer circle that treats her children well. By definition, the woman in the second group is the "cult member" and the woman in the first group is just a plain old Christian.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 4:19 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • I heard of that case. I think a true believer and a cult memeber are two different things: A cult member looses all common sense. I mean, expecting a small child to say amen and be do what they are supposed to all of the time is just insane. They all go through a little rebelious phase around that time frame, it's human nature. A true believer would understand that while a cult member would just say "it's against the religion even though they're two." It's pretty sick when you think about it...doesn't it take weeks for someone to starve to death? Those people knew that child was dying and they could have stopped it at any time.

    Answer by ajguinn at 4:21 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • "Those people knew that child was dying and they could have stopped it at any time. "

    But one could argue, as I hear often in regards to other topics, that "God will provide or care for him." So who is in the right? Do they lose their right to have faith in their god when it interferes with the health of a loved one? Do they lose their right to freedom of religion?

    At what point should the gov't step the very first meal when the family doesn't feed the child? After a week? I mean they were only following their fatih. They were practicing their utmost faith practice, and placed the care of their child into God's. Why is that suddenly wrong now?

    If the child had not died, but was kept on the precipe of starvation for years, would anyone have ever known? WOuld anyone have ever said anything about them practicing their faith? Is it only when it results in death, that people should step in?

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 4:33 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • When people listen to their so called pastor and/or church and listen to everything they tell you to do putting them before the needs of your family.

    Answer by sammiesmom2000 at 4:48 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • I believe that most religions are for the betterment of each individual person and as a group as a whole. A cult has one member who defines all aspects of his followers lives. He controls their minds to the point that they lose all reason and believe (usually) that this One leader is sent by God and he'll be the next messiah, etc. So the followers of the cult somehow become so engulfed in this belief they do whatever he says whenever he says. Somehow cult members believe that abusing children and have sex with children, multiple wives, etc. is all to the praise of this one 'man.' Of course, when I think of cults I always remember what happened years ago in Waco, Texas and that cult.
    A true religion would never have anyone harming children in any way, and degrading women for these sick men's own enjoyment. As for the case above, I believe the mom and all other members involved should spend the rest of their lives in dark,

    Answer by lighthousemom3 at 5:42 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • damp, humid cells alone for the rest of their lives, scared and crying. Then, they'll know what that poor child must have been feeling in that suitcase. Starvation is a slow, cruel death. That is the definition of a cult in my book.

    Answer by lighthousemom3 at 5:43 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • I think the line is drawn when you have to give up EVERYTHING for membership. Yes, most churches ask for a tith, but they don't require you to give every penny you have left. A cult, however, requires you to hand over everything in your life (money, clothes, homes, cars) and to obey EVERY word that the "leader" says. And, generally, the leader of the cult also preaches hate. I know some religions do this as well, but the cult leader is generally willing to have his members do anything to get rid of those he hates.
    I can think of several cults of the top of my head. The Charles Manson group, the cult in Waco, and the Heaven's Gate cult. and those are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

    Answer by spiritguide_23 at 7:23 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • Cult is a derogatory term. I suppose they use their beliefs but infringe upon the rights of those that are in the cult. Such as the leader having sex with all of the little girls when they turn 12.

    Answer by prettyrayray at 7:32 PM on May. 17, 2009

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