Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is It A Religious Cult? Introduction.

This will be my first experiment with a "jump break," to keep the front page uncluttered.

Edit: I put a jump break at the top of the list, but it doesn't appear to be working. I'm sort of new to Blogger, so if anyone minds explaining how to make it work, please leave a comment. Otherwise, it's no big deal. It's not terribly clutter-y without it.

After the jump, you'll simply find a long list of things that characterize religious cults. It's a general list, and doesn't give any examples, as a result. So the information can be used and applied to any organization for the purpose of determining, "are they a cult?" Examples of organizations you might enjoy evaluating with the help of the list below would be political organizations, media groups, various advocacy organizations, religious groups, etc and etc. What I intend to do is to leave this here for now, and later on, I'm thinking about uploading an article to the effect "Is the Democratic Party a Religious Cult?" Now THAT is sure to ruffle some feathers! But I believe it will also be a gold mine for overjoyed conservatives to link to, assuming I write it well enough and it gets spread throughout social media, to a large enough audience.

As a clarifying note, just because something displays characteristics coinciding with the points given does not mean it is a cult, automatically. But organizations that are cults will have characteristics in common with the points listed. It's an issue of correlation.

Have fun using it for your own personal benefit! I should mention that the first two parts of the list were gotten from different sites, which I've since forgotten--so that content is not totally original. The third part is my own contribution.

At the bottom, I've given a few examples for fun. Enjoy!

The following is a description of what cult is:
1. A cult is a religious group with extreme beliefs and practices - beliefs that are often contrary to science and logic but they are believed as "obvious" truth by the cult members.
2. The members of cults often isolate themselves from friends, family and society and use deceptive and unethical recruiting techniques
3. Use manipulative methods to control the minds of followers
4. Venerate a human leader or leaders
5. Recruiting work is performed by all of the members
6. People are not allowed to criticize the leader, the doctrine, or the organization, or read information that is critical of the cult.
7. Members are trained to reject and disbelieve criticism of the cult as lies from Satan.
8. Members spy on one another and report improper activities or comments to leaders.
9. Members are taught to suppress anything which might reflect negatively to outsiders about the cult.
10. The doctrine is absolutist and the ideology is internalized as "the Truth."
11. Members are told to avoid contact with ex-members or critics, even their relatives.
12. Members are instilled with a deep fear about ever leaving the organization, and anyone who does depart is of the devil and sometimes severely punished.
13. Members are emotionally controlled and warned of being caught and punished.
14. Disciplinary action is administered by group leaders, which may involve excommunication for such things as questioning organization policy or doctrine.
15. People are encouraged to sacrifice education, career and family interests to serve the interests of the cult.
16. Advocate socializing only with other members in the organization and avoiding outsiders.
17. Eschatological belief in an apocalypse and Dooms Day.

•  Cults teach their members elitism, meaning that by being a member of the group, you are elite. You are special.
•  Cults often require their members' unquestioning obedience.
•  Cults teach their members that life outside the group is miserable and confusing.
•  Cults are preoccupied with bringing in new members.
•  Cults are usually profit oriented.
•  Cults require their members to pledge everything they have to the group.
•  Cults require many sacrifices from their members, including time and money.
•  Cults teach their members that they have a special mission to save the world from some evil.
•  Cults teach undying loyalty to their leaders and founders, who have a divine calling. The leader is to be obeyed at all costs and his word is law, even above the laws of the land.

* Cults engage in sabotaging other groups they perceive as threatening.
* To gain credibility, cults claim established status by attempting to prove the historicity of their faith.
* Cults attempt to claim great minds of history for themselves, thus making appeals to authority. The more popular the authority figures in the culture, the more effort is expended.
* Nevertheless, cults also strive to avoid resembling “your parents’ religion,” and fight to brand themselves as “cool,” “relevant,” “fresh and exciting,” novel and progressive.
* Cults attract followers by appealing to sense pleasures and selfish desires of human nature, such as food and drink, sexual lusts, material riches, a life of comfort, ‘networking,’ violent hatred and xenophobia, and the need for a scapegoat to blame for one’s lot in life, so as to rationalize one’s anger and avoid acknowledging that the problem lies within, rather than without.
* Other cults operate on the same principles, but instead appeal to people’s resentment of the culture by limiting or forbidding their fulfillment, which satisfies followers’ sense of elitist pride.
* Cults often have a formalized creed that states the group’s official beliefs. There may also be (sometimes falsely historical) ‘holy books’ from which cult members seek wisdom and guidance.
* Distrusting information from “the other,” cults will naturally establish their own centralized sources for “authoritative” knowledge of current events, and blindly listen to only those sources.
* Cults that have been around long enough will create their own version of history to teach to children, that validates their extreme beliefs. This is formally called Revisionist History.
* When small, cults will avoid integrating into society at large. When they reach a critical mass, however, they will seek to overthrow, overtly or subtly, the society and replace it with their own.
* The cult leaders usually know more than they tell their followers, and to keep their followers in line, engender cover-ups to hide the truth from the “lay members” of the cult.
* On some level, cult members know that there’s something wrong about the cult, but are strongly opposed to leaving, because it would be embarrassing to admit to being tricked for so long.
* To cement fervor in cult members, leaders will send cult members out into society in ways that will cause them to endure what they will perceive as “persecution” for holding their beliefs and trying to defend them in public, which causes the cult members who experience this to severely internalize their beliefs and “make it their own,” making them very thoroughly indoctrinated and “shielded/hardened” to future criticism. Such cult members have the potential to become leaders of the cult, and are very loyal because they now personally identify with the cult.
* Cults try to make their followers personally identify with the cult, so that when the cult is attacked, they feel personally attacked. This makes for very loyal followers.
* Followers who personally identify with the cult invariably develop resentment, anger, and eventually hatred and violent thoughts toward those who criticize their cult. This eventually leads to violent lashing-out against the perceived ‘enemy’ by cult members, which causes a backlash against the cult from the culture, which validates the feelings of persecution of all the other cult-members, inspiring more violence, and creating a runaway cycle where the cult and its critics become eternal enemies of each other. 


* To cement fervor by causing cult members to endure "persecution" for their beliefs -- Mormons do this very effectively, by sending out their children in groups of two as missionaries when they're about the age of 18 or 20 (the specific age doesn't matter). By facing ridicule for their silly beliefs, these 'missionaries' personally identify with their religion, so that whenever their religion is mocked, they feel personally attacked.
* Formalized Creeds -- your garden-variety American atheist is usually what you would call a secular humanist, and there is a creed that defines their values, called The Humanist Manifesto. There have been three, to my knowledge. The one I linked to is short. It might be interesting to read it and see what political ideals are espoused.
* Attempting to claim important historical figures for themselves -- The American Left has been phenomenally successful at doing so, with figures such as Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Galileo Galilei, and many others. Few people who grow up in the public educational system know--or are consciously aware of, at least--that MLK and Frederick Douglass were registered Republicans, for example. Or that not a single Democrat in either wing of Congress voted for the 14th Amendment.
* Appealing to sensuality -- Islam does this by offering eternal sexual bliss for its male followers. The Democratic Party appeals to people's selfishness rather than economic or moral principles.
* The belief in an impending doomsday -- the 'environmentalist' movement prophecies a global armageddon of natural disasters if their policies are not adopted. 
* Cults are profit oriented -- you don't become one of the richest people on the planet by living austerely. And that money comes from somewhere. Usually from committed followers who trust that their dues, their tithes, or their taxes will be spent honestly, in the service of the higher good that the cult claims to promote.
* Venerate a human leader or leaders -- Hitler is an excellent historical case study for how a politician comes gradually to be worshiped as an earthly messiah. And there are...some the realm of global politics today, who share remarkable similarities with that man.

Find your own! See what you can "suggest" to be a cult by using this list. 

~ Rak Chazak

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