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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is Your Religion a Cult?

Have you ever challenged someone about their religious beliefs and they got extremely angry or really defensive? This may not be their fault. Most religions out there prefer that questions not be asked and for the person to just believe. There are other religions that not only prefer you not ask question but threaten you with excommunication if you do continue to ask, or as they put it doubt.

The definition of a cult is 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. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cult

The first part of this definition is a religion or sect generally considered to be extremist or false.  religions that extremely restrict the way you live can be considered a cult. for example, if they forbid you to associate with people outside  the religious group. They may discourage you from being a part of the outside world. This would include keeping children away from other children at school not letting them play sports, but focusing only on keeping their "faith". The only thing they are allowed to do is study the bible. They may say that everyone that is not part of the religion is wrong or wicked. This is the perfect way to isolate someone from the ideas or reasoning of other people that may influence the person to ask question and maybe eventually leave the organization. It is also the perfect way to hide deep seated corruption.

How can you tell if a religion is false, especially if you are already a part of it? This part is easy, just look at what they believe. Has your religion made prophesies that have never come true? It could be the coming of Christ on a certain date or even the end of the world. Maybe they keep changing the facts or dates around to suit those within the group. These are big red flags.

Now lets look at the second part of the definition: its followers may be living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader. Whenever we see the news about cults some of us assume that its a small crazy group with maybe a couple of hundred leaders or less. Maybe the one leader has several wives and commits incest. What if this organization is a very large group, under an unquestioned group of leaders, and there are no reports of polygamy? Does this still count? Regardless of how big a group is, if they are operating under one leader or an extremely small group of leaders, that will not tolerate being questioned, this is another big red flag.

People involved in these groups are often preyed upon by charismatic people that promise the impossible. They are focused upon taking away your freedoms and keeping you within the group regardless of the cost. http://www.nvcc.edu/home/lshulman/cults.htm