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When does religion become a cult?

Yet every coercive religious group harbors one telltale trait: untoward secrecy. As opposed to a cult, a religious culture ought to be as simple to enter or exit, for members or observers, as any free nation. Members should experience no impediment to relationships, ideas or travel, and the group's finances should be reasonably transparent. Its doctrine need not be conventional—but it should be knowable to outsiders. Absent those qualities, an unorthodox religion can descend into something darker.


Asked by tasches at 6:14 PM on Feb. 25, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 48 (298,202 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (12)
  • I didn't click on the link,but I'd say it changes when the members begin to worship the leader moreso than God. Jim Jones was a perfect example. He had them so bamboozled, that they all followed him to Guyana, and ultimately their deahs, instead of trusting God. There are many more examples of cults, all over,but the Jonetown tragedy is the one that always sticks out for me.

    Answer by cbk_mom3 at 6:18 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • I like the paragraph you posted in the opening.

    It is true that once you stop listening to God(s) and your own common sense in favor of have a problem. Leaders should lead but if you base your doings on their every little word and take it as gospel without questioning it or letting your questions come forth it can lead to darker paths.

    If you are in something that doesnt really allow questions or you dont dare ask them(and Ive known places and people that fall into this category) for fear of retribution or if you ask to leave or do leave and you are harrassed or treated like contaminated waste...thats a sign of something ugly.

    Problem is you would never know you are a part of it til it was too late or until you woke up and realized something seems off and you start questioning. Then you deal with fallout.

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:31 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • This reminds me of the Waco, Texas tragedy where 38 people believed what David Karesh was telling them about how they could be beamed up to a spaceship in the tail of the Hale Bopp comet...or something like that. Normal everyday folk, yet something about him caused these people to believe him and commit mass suicide.
    I have a friend now who attends a church that addresses the preacher as "The Apostle" and another man as "The Prophet". I'm sorry, but that's cultish in my book.

    Answer by popzaroo at 8:12 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • Commense sense doesn't seem to exist these days. People believe what they want

    Answer by jujubean1979200 at 8:40 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • Wow popzaroo..

    Ok I will tell you what is cultic.. when the pastor thinks that he is the comet coming to earth and his wife thinks she is the Prophetess who can tell your husband that he as the jezebel spirit and tells him to fast for eight days or else he will not enter the kingdom of Heaven and to repent of letting others not enter in. She then comes to you and tells you that you are the head of the house hold and to make all the decisions .... it all began when you told the pastor and his wife that you were going to have a child and they say what you should have consulted us first now this will hinder our plans of going forward with the Church.
    After you break through this and find out you have been controlled by the jezebel spirit and then you find out the pastor had been having an affair with your best friend and she was supposedly his concubine and told her if she left he would kill himself continued...

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 8:54 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • THAT is a CULT and yes that is my story and experience.
    It happened over 15 yrs ago and I have been free of it but my now ex husband refused to be healed of it... sad really.
    by the way that is just a small bit of the story as a whole. Its really 9 chapters long!

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 8:55 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • When you have no say so.
    When they, take over "your life" and you have to answer--to them.

    Can you get a copy of "How the money, is spent ?"

    Can you ask questions, about groups, money, sermons?

    If not, I suggest you leave.


    Answer by SissyAnn141 at 4:47 AM on Feb. 26, 2011

  • WOW Shaneagle, I am glad you got out of that situation.

    Answer by pnwmom at 10:05 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • This is a good article. It was posted on a blog that I frequent about a cult that I am familiar with. Secrecy seems to be a common theme in groups that become cults. There also seems to be an element of money and power at the top that is unethical.

    Answer by Anna92464 at 11:20 PM on Feb. 25, 2011

  • Anna yes secrecy is huge.. I know because the one thing I was never taught in this church ( I was a young Christian then) was to evangelize. We were told not to work to bring people in and that God would do it himself. It was always small and secretive. oh and another huge sign is when the pastor chooses not to be accountable to anyone else and tells you NOONE has anything to add to what I know... looking back in retrospect the moment he said that was the day he stopped learning and growing in Christ the way he should have. He hindered his own walk with the Lord and that changed him radically. I have forgiven them and have love and compassion for them but they wont ever be a part of my life while on this side of earth.

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 12:09 AM on Feb. 26, 2011