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Author Topic:   Semantics of Cults: What's a cult?
kjsimons
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Posts: 665
From: Orlando,FL
Joined: 06-17-2003


Message 31 of 37 (259990)
11-15-2005 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Nighttrain
11-15-2005 1:02 AM


Re: OneDefinition of cult
Well that's the definition of a cult from the cult of Christ's point of view! :D
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Phat
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Posts: 12254
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 32 of 37 (422752)
09-18-2007 7:16 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by Omnivorous
11-05-2005 7:20 PM


Re: Branches
RAZD writes:

Walks like a cult leader, talks like a cult leader...

What about John Calvin?


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pbee
Member (Idle past 4139 days)
Posts: 339
Joined: 06-20-2007


Message 33 of 37 (422761)
09-18-2007 9:03 AM


quote:
Cult;
1. 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.

I love the definition. From the get go we can observe the limitations. In other words, a cult is any sect identified by opposing doctrines. While a Christian will claim Muslims of cult worship, Muslims will claim Christians(faith of a mule) as being a cult. Why? because both believe they are right.

The entire term and concept is nothing but a an underlying stab at religious discrimination which fits hand in hand with *pagan worship.
Don't share in my beliefs? well your in a cult.


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macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2039 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 34 of 37 (422779)
09-18-2007 10:28 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by pbee
09-18-2007 9:03 AM


i said this before, nobody listened to me. they claimed i hadn't read the thread.


i'm not going to capitalize my posts, get better eyes.
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RAZD
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Posts: 19819
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 35 of 37 (422788)
09-18-2007 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by pbee
09-18-2007 9:03 AM


As pointed out in the OP I didn't want to dwell on the negative and subjective aspects. That would mean using something more in line with definition 2. So we can delete the negative & subjective element from what we are looking at here:

quote:
Cult;
1. 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.

Also as noted in the OP the word did not used to have a negative connotation, but was more like sect in description. Several ancient beliefs were described as cults without the negative connotation.

While a Christian will claim Muslims of cult worship, Muslims will claim Christians(faith of a mule) as being a cult.

This has more to do with devaluing all other religions (something most religions do to all other beliefs) than with the beliefs really being cults.

The entire term and concept is nothing but a an underlying stab at religious discrimination which fits hand in hand with *pagan worship.

Thanks for making my point on devaluing other beliefs ...

So is a cult under the domination of a charismatic leader, but a sect has matured (possibly after the death\removal of the charismatic leader) somehow?

David Koresh was a charismatic cult leader by most people's views. Is Dobson? Robertson? Ted Haggard?

{abe}BTW

It is also instructive to look at the definition of sect:

sect –noun 1. a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination.
2. a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition.
3. (in the sociology of religion) a Christian denomination characterized by insistence on strict qualifications for membership, as distinguished from the more inclusive groups called churches.
4. any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine or under a doctrinal leader.

Definition 2 is more like cult 1a ...
{/abe}

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : sect def


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1709 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 36 of 37 (422791)
09-18-2007 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
11-05-2005 10:19 AM


cult = abuse
It's fashionable to think of all religions as pretty much the same and the label 'cult' as just one of the religious pots calling another one of the religious kettles black.

People who actually make cults a serious object of research--such as the psychologists who help people deal with the wreckage--recognize characteristic features that define cult behaviour. These characteristics are not typical of all groups--even all religious groups.

One important and measurable feature of cult groups is personality change. The people who join most groups--the Tri-Delta sorority, the Democratic Party, the Marine Corps, the Order of Saint Benedict, the EvC internet forum--retain their essential personalities after joining. Introverts remain introverts and extraverts remain extraverts. Athletic types remain athletic types, artistic types remain artistic types, gearheads remain gearheads.

Not so in cults. In cults, newcomers display the same mix of personalities at the time they join as any other population--but show, a year or two later, a decided skew. The skew is toward a single personality type: the personality of the group's leader. The people will tell you they are the 'happiest they have ever been'--yet, when asked about details, show more anxiety all across the board. They express less self-acceptance of the way they are and express more anxiety about 'doing better.'

These skews are measurable. This skew is accompanied by daily top-down control of the individual's environment, circle of friends, contacts with outsiders, etc. Cults routinely fleece members of money, deprive them of the companionship of lifelong friends, and re-arrange their life goals by constantly threatening to withdraw from members the only support network they have been permitted to have.

It is this control of member's lives and thought that distinguishes cults. You can build a cult around any idea. Cults are often built around religious ideas, but not always. They can be built around political causes (left or right), business ideas, science fiction scenarios (Heaven's Gate), anything.

Those looking for a better understanding of cults, and a working definition of them, would do well, as a first stop, to explore the web sites mounted by people who have left them. RightCyberUp, for example, is a web site managed by former members of the International Church of Christ (ICOC or ICC--also 'Boston Movement" and 'Crossroads Movement'). You can find some discussion of the characteristics of cults and the research models that exist for exploring them at this page:

http://rightcyberup.org/bite.html

You might feel you've wandered into the middle of a conversation at such sites, though, because you have. The focus of such sites is practical. Former members of abusive groups are talking to each other, coming to terms with the treatment they have endured and hoping to make contacts with former friends who remain inside. As you will see, there is a great deal to get over.

_______

Edited by Archer Opterix, : typo repair.

Edited by Archer Opterix, : html.

Edited by Archer Opterix, : html.


Archer

All species are transitional.


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19819
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 37 of 37 (422814)
09-18-2007 12:20 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Archer Opteryx
09-18-2007 11:25 AM


Re: cult = abuse
People who actually make cults a serious object of research--such as the psychologists who help people deal with the wreckage--recognize characteristic features that define cult behaviour. These characteristics are not typical of all groups--even all religious groups.

This is more the direction I wanted to go with this topic. Thanks.

One important and measurable feature of cult groups is personality change.

How do you measure this for people brought up in the system? I'm thinking of the 14 yr old FLDS\mormon girl in the spouse\leader rape case as an example (news item 14-year-old bride sobs, describes wedding at polygamist leader's trial). This is not "picking on" mormons but is just an example from current news.

The people who join most groups--... the Marine Corps,...--retain their essential personalities after joining.

There is evidence of mind control techniques being used in basic training, and I would submit that there is some measurable personality change as a result, but this is a minor quibble. The point would be that mind control techniques are often used by cults, and these techniques are identifiable.

These skews are measurable. This skew is accompanied by daily top-down control of the individual's environment, circle of friends, contacts with outsiders, etc.

This would apply to religious communities (like the mormon enclave referred to above), as well as the Jones sect, Koresh, etc. We also see this in the effect of some foreign religious schools (Red Mosque in Pakistan?).

You might feel you've wandered into the middle of a conversation at such sites, though, because you have. The focus of such sites is practical. Former members of abusive groups are talking to each other, coming to terms with the treatment they have endured and hoping to make contacts with former friends who remain inside. As you will see, there is a great deal to get over.

And being "debriefed" from the mind control. Learning what happened to them.

So where do we draw the line between total domination cults and less invasive but still coercive sects that use mind control techniques to control their followers? Do the mormon\FLDS polygamists above fit the cult designation based on use of mind control and coercion? Does Fred Phelps?

Enjoy.


Join the effort to unravel AIDS/HIV, unfold Proteomes, fight Cancer,
compare Fiocruz Genome and fight Muscular Dystrophy with Team EvC! (click)


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAAmericanOZen[Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by Archer Opteryx, posted 09-18-2007 11:25 AM Archer Opteryx has not yet responded

  
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