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What do you think of when you hear the word "cult"?

There are different spins on the definition for the word, some being negative. When you think of a cult, do you think of them being dangerous?

I was thinking of the Amish, and while they're peaceful and harmless, they resemble a cult in so many ways. Either you're completely in, or you're completely out. There is rarely a gray area with them, and they are quite unconventional.

Any religions or groups that come to mind as a cult to you?


Asked by LovingSAHMommy at 12:18 AM on Dec. 9, 2010 in Religious Debate

Level 40 (115,957 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (32)
  • I think the media plays a key role in our thoughts about cults. Every story you hear or read about that includes a large number of people gathered together whether right or wrong, the media makes it out to be something ugly. I have never belonged to a cult/religion, but that doesn't mean I believe they are all wrong.

    Answer by Kathy675 at 1:01 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • Cult, to me, implies something much more severe than religious affiliation or even stricter religious communities. It makes me think of those groups that work to alienate individuals from their families, friends, etc as a means of control and manipulation, that somehow causes individuals to make radical changes in their way of thought and life in a dramatically short amount of time.

    That's the simplified version - they can also require individuals to hand over any resources (money, etc) to the community, and have a keen way of recruiting people, though the way things are don't always line up with what they tell those they recruit. I'm thinking specifically about the Zendik farm people who came to talk to our dorm at college, but also about those cults where members ended up being killed or forced to commit suicide...

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 12:34 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • When I hear cult I think don't drink the koolaid.I remember growing up hearing about extremist cults with mass suicides and the leaders screwing all the young girls.So while I know there are many definitions the one that sticks in my mind is the worst one. On the other side of that though I do not view any religions that I know of today as a cult. I think the closest we have today is Westboro, but even they do not fit the extreme definition that I have in my head.


    Answer by Alanaplus3 at 2:05 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • All religious groups are a cult. the definition of a cult: followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices

    Answer by usdragonflies at 12:21 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • "What if they restrict the communication with those that aren't in their community?"

    I guess that could work, too - but I was just thinking that they try to keep members from having contact with people they know could get through to them, could maybe talk some "sense" into them, if you kwim. Not talking to those outside the community can go along with that, but friends/family are the greater risk to the manipulation they have on people.

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 12:50 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • When I hear the word "cult" I think Charles Manson. I dont think of the Amish as a cult because they are peaceful and "plain" people.

    Answer by cassie_kellison at 7:30 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • All organized religion of any size meet the criteria. There are bigger offenders than others IMO, but it all falls in the same area.

    Answer by GrnEyedGrandma at 12:23 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • Jim Jones from back in the 70's...makes me think of "cult". Also there's this weird group out south of here called the International House of Prayer. They are very cult like.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:26 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • There are a lot of definitions of that word, and the broader it is the more it could include just about any religion or certain groups within religion. Personally, what I think of when I hear the word 'cult' is usually a smaller group with extreme views, often with a very charismatic leader (perhaps he or she is even deceptive for their own gains and power). I also think of groups where members aren't allowed to associate with anyone outside the group.

    I have a old college friend who lives in the middle of no where Wisconsin, and her neighbors are Amish. She is always posting about how friendly and helpful they are, and she has often helped them too. She feels very honored that they trust her (as one person came over once to use her phone in an emergency). They're always bringing her extra food that they've grown, and it sounds like they are good people who choose to live a simpler, unconventional lifestyle.

    Answer by pam19 at 8:48 AM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • To me a cult is any thing that requires that you look, act, or do certain things without questioning or having your own thoughts, opinions, or ideas on any subject but usually being detrimental to the people involved or others around them. To me this can even include the work place or schools in some cases. But the worsed cult that comes to mind is the Nazi's.

    Answer by BUTTERCUP777 at 11:59 AM on Dec. 9, 2010