Мобильный 1 Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020December 2020January 2021February 2021March 2021April 2021May 2021June 2021July 2021August 2021September 2021
News Every Day |

What is a cult?

Many religious groups often get labeled as cults.
David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images

Mathew Schmalz, College of the Holy Cross

The word “cult” is used a lot nowadays.

Former President Donald Trump has been likened to a cult leader. Democratic California congresswoman Jackie Speier recently compared Trump to Jim Jones, the infamous leader of Peoples Temple, an American religious group of which nearly 1,000 members died by mass murder-suicide in Guyana in 1978. A congressional staffer at the time, Speier was seriously wounded by temple members during an ambush that killed Congressman Leo Ryan of San Francisco.

Then there’s NXIVM, a “sex cult” based in Albany, New York. Media reports and evidence at trial revealed that NXIVM’s female members recruited “slaves,” who were branded with the initials of the group’s leader, Keith Raniere. Raniere, also called the “Vanguard,” was sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking.

One of the defenses put forward by NXIVM’s lawyers has been that media “hit-pieces” on the group led to an unfair trial.

It’s certainly true that the word cult grabs our attention. But what exactly does it mean when we use words like cult or “cult leader”?

Scholars sometimes use the term “cult” to describe groups that have distinctive beliefs and high levels of commitment. The problem is the popular use of the word is often used to describe authoritarian groups that practice mind control or brainwashing.

As an academic who teaches and writes about religion, I believe that the label “cult” gets in the way of understanding new religions and political movements.

Early Christians and cult

First, cult is a vague category.

Authoritarian leaders and structures can usually be found in groups that have a clear mission and identity. From the Catholic Church to the U.S. Marine Corps, many organizations rely on strict discipline and obedience. Using the word cult is an easy way to criticize a group, but a poor way to describe one.

Second, mind control or brainwashing theories have problems.

In popular understanding, the leaders of cults use mind control or brainwashing to remake the personalities of recruits by forcing them to do and believe things that they normally wouldn’t accept.

Brainwashing was associated with the Unification Church, or “The Moonies,” founded by South Korean Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The Moonies would isolate new recruits and shower them with attention, a process called “love bombing.”

But, as sociologist Eileen Barker showed in her research on the Unification Church, recruitment rates were still very low. If a sure mark of a cult is using love bombing, mind control or brainwashing, the results weren’t very impressive.

Third, the label “cult” is negative.

As British sociologist James Beckford has observed, cults are usually associated with beliefs and practices considered to be “unhealthy.” But what is seen as healthy in one culture may be seen as unhealthy in another.

In fact, early Christianity could be called a cult because Christian beliefs and practices – such as not sacrificing for the emperor – were considered strange and dangerous in ancient Rome.

Fourth, the term “cult” does not engage with key parts of a group’s belief system.

For example, religion scholars James Tabor and Eugene Gallagher argue that the 1993 Waco siege ended in tragedy, in part, because the FBI ignored the Bible-based beliefs of the Branch Davidians, a millenarian Christian sect.

Four agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were killed trying to arrest “cult leader” David Koresh. After a 51-day standoff, the FBI injected tear gas into the group’s compound. Seventy-five people, including children, lost their lives in the fire that followed. The cause of the fire remains disputed to this day – some argue that the tear gas ignited, and others claim that the Branch Davidians set the fire themselves.

It has been suggested, however, by some scholars that if the FBI had taken the belief system of the Branch Davidians more seriously – instead of seeing members as brainwashed followers of a mad cult leader – deaths might have been avoided.

Cult politics

The term “cult” also gets in the way of understanding American politics. There are real differences between isolated religious groups that live together communally and political movements that attract millions of people.

Calling Trump a cult leader is rhetorically powerful. But that language can simplify how and why MAGA and other slogans appeal to many Americans. And Rep. Speier’s fully reported comments about Donald Trump and Jim Jones did recognize that the issue was complex.

To be clear, religious and political movements can be dangerous and criminal beyond simply being strange. It’s also important to carefully examine the relationship between a leader and their followers.

Still, it is tempting to use words like cult or cult leader when talking about a group or a person we don’t like or can’t understand. The problem is that when people hear the word “cult,” discussion often ends before any study has begun.

This is an updated version of an article first published on April 10, 2018.

[3 media outlets, 1 religion newsletter. Get stories from The Conversation, AP and RNS.]The Conversation

Mathew Schmalz, Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post What is a cult? appeared first on The Moderate Voice.

Read also

These Naval Battles Brought Down Many a Metal Battleship

Dating App Flaunts ‘Pro-Choice’ Badge Option, Will Donate Proceeds to Planned Parenthood

Jurgen Klopp sends warning to Liverpool stars over stand-out Brentford man

Слот 7

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro

News Every Day

Do Girls Pick Their Noses Too? PLUS 3 Amazing Ways to GUARANTEE Fish Every Trip

Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here


Настроение

Вчера медали, сегодня пакетик в кроссовке. Почему людям не жаль задержанного чемпиона Александра Хютте




Новости России
Game News

How to overclock your PC


Russian.city



Губернаторы России
Дмитрий Песков

Песков не в курсе планов Путина на день рождения


Профессиональные советы для продвинутых начинающих Youtube

Путин назвал примером для молодежи отмечающую юбилей школу «Самбо-70»

Covid Free: стартовал национальный проект по добровольной сертификации

Давняя песня Земфиры для рекламы появилась в Сети


Суд отказал экс-солистке "Ленинграда" в удовлетворении иска к Шнурову

Моргенштерн выступит в Казани: протесты против концерта не помешали

Под музыку Вивальди. Артём Ткаченко - о кино молодых и фанатах Достоевского

Певица Луна выступит с концертом в Петербурге


Анна Курникова показала троих подросших детей от Энрике Иглесиаса

Кубок Лейвера: это будет убойное шоу даже без Джоковича и Федерера

Елена Рыбакина прошла во второй круг турнира серии WTA 500 в Остраве

Анастасия Павлюченкова поднялась в рейтинге WTA




ЦБ и банки обсуждают возможность расчета долговой нагрузки россиян по расходам

БЕТСИТИ Кубок России: расписание и результаты матчей 22 и 23 сентября

Титулованные бойцы провели в Гостином Дворе открытую тренировку и мастер-классы по ММА

Данила-Мастер” российская фабрика по обработке камня


Россия может напомнить Европе о долгах после вопроса о болгарском золоте

Украинские программы пополнения корабельного состава ВМСУ выглядят парадоксально

Суд направил певицу Максакову пройти проверку на вменяемость в психиатрической клинике

Вице-адмирал Украины обозначил шаги для победы над Россией на море



Путин в России и мире







Персональные новости
Moscow.media