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Thread: When Does a Religion Become a Cult?-WSJ Article

  1. #1

    When Does a Religion Become a Cult?-WSJ Article

    Not sure if it belongs in this side of the forum, but a short interesting article on religious cults.

    When Does a Religion Become a Cult?
    America has long been a safe harbor for experimental faiths. But the unorthodox can descend into something darker.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... TopOpinion


    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.

    Mr. Horowitz, the editor in chief of Tarcher/Penguin in New York and the author of "Occult America" (Bantam), is writing a history of the positive-thinking movement.

  2. #2

    Re: When Does a Religion Become a Cult?-WSJ Article

    We recently had another thread on "cults", and what does and does not constitute a "cult" (in the negative meaning) ...

    viewtopic.php?p=47212#p47212

    ... as opposed to a small religious or philosophical group practicing something that is not mainstream in a society (like Buddhism in North America and Europe ... although, of course, not in most of Asia where Buddhism -is- the mainstream and Christianity is the "small and not mainstream" and rather "strange" to local eyes. :shock: )

    By the way, we have had Buddhist groups ... including but not limited to a few Zen Buddhist groups ... in North America and Europe that, at times, have headed into cult-like and not healthy directions. I name no names, but the below description from the article could apply to those Sangha at times. (Even within the "mainstream" religions ... like the Catholic Church ... cult like 'movements' have arisen around, for example, some particular priest or saint). It can happen in any religion, and we have to be on our toes.

    Gassho, J

    Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult. The first is behavior control, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do. The second is information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group. The third is thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning. The fourth is emotional control—using humiliation or guilt. Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths. So I would add two more categories: financial control and extreme leadership.

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