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playfultree Profile
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religion vs cult


My 15 year old asked me a good question, What makes a religion a cult rather than an accepted faith?

I have to admit I am not sure of the answer.

Buddhist is considered a religion, while the Moonies are a cult.

Wiccan is a religion but Satanist are a cult.

Catholic are considered religion even though the follow one leader the Pope, but Jim Jones was a Cult even before the mass suicide.

Any ideas???

---
Love and Light

tree



May your journey be full of happiness and blessings
12/11/2009, 8:35 pm Link to this post Send Email to playfultree   Send PM to playfultree Yahoo
 
heritage ranch Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


my simple version of the answer

cult = following

religion = belief

i dont fit in either i have a way of life
12/11/2009, 11:04 pm Link to this post Send Email to heritage ranch   Send PM to heritage ranch
 
TexasMadness Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


I think it just boils down to the number of followers. Once enough people adhere to a belief system, it becomes an acceptable religion. When it's just a few "kooks" it's a weirdo cult. Or if it's something totally foreign to you, you could call it a cult. I don't actually think there is much of difference honestly...
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Zephra2 Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


Cults may be following a certain religion and the members are truly faithful but when it comes down to personal rights the leaders impose some very bazaar [sign in to see URL] they take away your ability to leave when you want, tell you you take on a vow of poverty by giving them all your money and possessions, giving them your children to raise, cutting you off from your family, then I would say that is a cult. They tell you what you need to hear to convert you, that you are so loved and would be better off following "them".
Just don't drink the kool-aid and wait for the mother-ship to come get you.
12/14/2009, 10:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zephra2   Send PM to Zephra2
 
TexasMadness Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


I was reading about this again last night. Apparently, the official sociology definition has changed in recent years. My definition of a cult (small, new religious movement that is different from your own) is now classified as a "new religious movement". A cult has the negative definitions already listed by other folks here - mind control, potential for harm, restrictions on leaving, etc.

So the OFFICIAL definition of cult is now more in line with what most people believe it is. It used to include anything "new". I'm glad they separated the two!
12/15/2009, 5:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to TexasMadness   Send PM to TexasMadness
 
Zephra2 Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


Many things have what they call a cult following as in Books, Movies or Bands.
 I can see how my own beliefs can and have been called a cult by those who did not know me or what I believed.
 The word "Cult does have many negative aspects so it is good that there are separate definitions.
 It was just the cult vs religion question that got me thinking about all the scary ones back in the 70's and 80's.
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GlassPainter Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


The way I've always explained it when people ask me is that a cult is an unpopular religion, while a religion is a popular cult.

In both a cult and a religion there are people who share a belief system of some sort and who worship the same god(s). The difference in what it is called by outsiders (cult vs religion) is whether the outsiders approve of it or not.

I don't think anybody says or thinks that they belong to a [sign in to see URL] involved all feel that they are participating in a valid religion. Outsiders are the ones who apply the tags of cult or religion.
12/23/2009, 3:44 pm Link to this post Send Email to GlassPainter   Send PM to GlassPainter
 
Toriach Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


Alright folks,

This is one of those few topics that I do not believe much in debate. The reason being is that Cults present a very real and active danger to people's well being, both material and spiritual.

Fortunately one of the finest minds in the Pagan community Mr. Issac Bonewits came up with an Objective way to evaluate whether a group is a Cult or not. It is known as The ABCDEF which stands for Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame. [sign in to see URL]

The ABCDEF has 18 categories and you give the group as objective a rating as you can from 1 to 10 and then calculate the results.

The categories are...

01: Internal Control: Amount of internal political and social power exercised by leader(s) over members; lack of clearly defined organizational rights for members.

02: External Control: Amount of external political and social influence desired or obtained; emphasis on directing members’ external political and social behavior.

03: Wisdom/Knowledge Claimed by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared or implied about decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations; number and degree of unverified and/or unverifiable credentials claimed.

04: Wisdom/Knowledge Credited to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations made by leader(s); amount of hostility by members towards internal or external critics and/or towards verification efforts.

05: Dogma: Rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility or “fundamentalism;” hostility towards relativism and situationalism.

06: Recruiting: Emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing; requirement for all members to bring in new ones.

07: Front Groups: Number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group, especially when connections are hidden.

08:Wealth: Amount of money and/or property desired or obtained by group; emphasis on members’ donations; economic lifestyle of leader(s) compared to ordinary members.

09: Sexual Manipulation of members by leader(s) of non-tantric groups; amount of control exercised over sexuality of members in terms of sexual orientation, behavior, and/or choice of partners.

10: Sexual Favoritism: Advancement or preferential treatment dependent upon sexual activity with the leader(s) of non-tantric groups.

11: Censorship: Amount of control over members’ access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s).

12: Isolation: Amount of effort to keep members from communicating with non-members, including family, friends and lovers.

13: Dropout Control: Intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.

14: Violence: Amount of approval when used by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s).

15: Paranoia: Amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; exaggeration of perceived power of opponents; prevalence of conspiracy theories.

16: Grimness: Amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).

17: Surrender of Will: Amount of emphasis on members not having to be responsible for personal decisions; degree of individual disempowerment created by the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).

18: Hypocrisy: amount of approval for actions which the group officially considers immoral or unethical, when done by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s); willingness to violate the group’s declared principles for political, psychological, social, economic, military, or other gain.

Now obviously no system is perfect. But this is the best tool I've come across so far and I keep my eyes out.

Bottom line if a group you or someone you care about are in, makes you uncomfortable, give them an objective looking over. Probably it's not that big of a deal but it's better to be safe than sorry.


Edited to make the link clickable and to avoid unintended smilies.

Last edited by Firlefanz, 1/11/2010, 5:44 pm
1/10/2010, 9:09 pm Link to this post Send Email to Toriach   Send PM to Toriach
 
muladzh Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


good information there.
I class anything that is secret, avoiding scrutiny, to be a cult.
Anything open, and inviting visitors, and members, is not a cult.

Religions are a bit harder to define.

If something demand worship to participate, it would be a religion. By that reasoning, the Path I follow, is not a religion.

---

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de Corbin Profile
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Re: religion vs cult


While I think that you are all technically right - in one way or another - from what I've seen, the term "cult" is commonly used when one wants to give a group a negative image, while "religion" is commonly used when one wants to give either a positive or neutral image.

Example: Those freaks over there are a cult, but we're a religion.

In other words, the terms are largely interchangeable, but which you use depends on your attitude toward the group.

---

1/19/2010, 2:24 am Link to this post Send Email to de Corbin   Send PM to de Corbin
 


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