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what makes a cult, a cult? I keep hearing some people saying that jw's and mormons are a cult. but what makes them that. i've only met 2 mormons and they seemed ok, a little creepy the guys that i met, but nice. i met a few jw's and they seemed ok too. so, what makes a cult a cult? thanks.


Asked by Anonymous at 2:45 PM on Nov. 28, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

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Answers (33)
  • as a Jehovah's witness, I can say that we are not under any mind control, no one is forcing us to go to the kingdom hall or making us stay, they have never tried to make me do something that i dont want to do, we have our free will. I love being a JW, its a beautiful religion with caring people. The first time that I walked into a kingdom hall, I have never felt so welcomed in all my life, i felt like I was with family. Just because we dont believe in the trinity or that we believe that people will reside on a paradise earth, doesnt mean that we belong to some horrible, mind controlling cult.

    Answer by proudmomma777 at 1:28 AM on Nov. 29, 2009

  • I don't think there is one absolute definition of the word. But cult pejoratively refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are generally considered sinister or radically different from what is accepted mainstream. So neither Mormons nor Jehovah's Witnesses (of which I'm one) consider themselves a cult and are not officially, by Goverment, thought so either.

    BUT, cult is often used as: a derogatory term by members of the general public; to refer to a religious group who are uncompromising in their beliefs; have relatively few members; or who have only recently (within a century for example) been recognised as a religion by goverment. Hence why Jehovah's Witnesses (amongst others) are referred to as a cult in the States.


    Answer by CosyMama at 3:00 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • The word is misused. What it really means, in a technical sense, is a small group with a shared belief. There are tiers for groups. A sect is a small group that begins spontaneously. A cult is a small group that breaks off from a larger group to form a new group. A denomination is the result of a cult or sect that attracts enough members to grow and branch out. And this works in cycles. A cult can break off from a sect or a denomination, then grow into a denomination, while a denomination can break off from a larger religion (see Catholics and Protestants), and then have sects sliver off to start the process of growing into denominations.

    What people around here mean when they say cult is "people who act different from me and that scares me"

    Answer by NotPanicking at 3:02 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • * that should say cults sliver off, not sects sliver off

    Answer by NotPanicking at 3:03 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • As the mormons go there are two types one is a cult one is not, I have family members that are mormon they all have one wife, live like the rest of us, they wear their hair anyway they want and dress in pants. Then you have the ones who live on compounds with however many wives they choose and all the women wear their hair the same way wear long dresses and have no say in how they live who they marry and how many children they have.

    To me a cult is anything that takes away your free will, your ability to make your own decisions, cuts your communication with the outside world, and works hard are cutting your ties to your family. There are many more things that make a cult but these are the basic things that when i hear about that scream cult to me.

    Answer by 3_ring_circus_ at 3:08 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • In my Sociology of Religion class we've gone over many definitions of the term. Now they are called "new religious movements" more so than cults. Any given NRM has certain characteristics that they all share. Most have a "charasmatic leader" such as Jim Jones. They also tend to start out as small in nature and then start to expand. The term cult refers to how culturally acceptable the NRM is. Moromonism isn't considered a cult or a new religious movement anymore as they have become more acceptable. Jehovah's witness' are by definition a sect. The diagram that is used most often in sociology goes cult-sect-denomination-church (I think that's all the "categories"). They are not a cult. By definition, The People's Church lead by Jim Jones was a cult.

    Answer by SaraP1989 at 3:10 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • What people around here mean when they say cult is "people who act different from me and that scares me"

    Yep that is what most people mean. The working definition of a cult is often a group with a single strong leader that controls the lives of followers. That can apply to sooo many groups, especially if "control" is applied selectively, so an amendment is often added so that the working definition in effect becomes a group with a single strong leader that controls the lives of followers in ways that the majority of the society is uncomfortable with.


    Answer by nysa00 at 3:13 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • "What people around here mean when they say cult is "people who act different from me and that scares me"

    Yes, people around here really need to start using a dictionary. They throw around words like 'cult' and 'oppression' without really understanding the true meaning. It's kind of sad, the amount of ignorance that flies around here on a daily basis.


    Answer by anime_mom619 at 3:39 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • meaning of the word cult.
    cult (klt)
    a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
    b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
    2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
    3. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
    4. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
    a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
    b. The object of such devotion.
    6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

    Answer by somuchlove4U at 4:14 PM on Nov. 28, 2009

  • Mainstream Mormons, or the LDS, are NOT a cult. But the FLDS, a fundamentalist offshoot of the modern Mormon religion, ARE indeed a cult. I can't speak about JWs because I don't know that much about them.

    Answer by caitxrawks at 4:22 PM on Nov. 28, 2009