How do you know you are not in a CULT? Have you ever pondered?


Point being, how do I know I am not in a CULT?

Just seeing what comments get posted.

Can people in CULTS really understand they may be in a cult?

Let’s just use JW’s as an example. JW realizes they are in a CULT. Then they become anti-JW - but the JW’s see THEM as APOSTATES.

Kind of a vicious circle - but could apply to Catholic’s, Born Again Believers - Separatist Independent Fundamental Baptists …


I guess it depends on the definition of Cult.

The most basic definition is: a particular system of religious worship. According to that, Catholicism is a cult.

Culturally though, this definition may be more relevant: a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding population considers to be outside the mainstream. According to that, Catholicism is not a cult today but would have been when it started.

But I think most people define a cult to be: a group with extreme or dangerous ideas that can harm other people. I think for a group of people that belong to this type of cult, they don’t believe they are in a cult, but that they are doing the right thing because they’ve been brainwashed. (eg. Heaven’s Gate)


There are many good sites, books and other media sources to help people recognize whether they are in cults or not.
The currently accepted definition of “cult” is what is also known as an abusive group. The majority of American abusive-group members are actualy in fitness/diet/health, psychotherapy/self-help/motivational, or marketing cults, rather than religious cults. Because the word “cult” is considered defamatory, it can lead to lawsuits, thus the preference for “abusive group”. Similarly, we now prefer to call brainwashing “coercive persuasion”.
Can you tell I’ve thought about it before?
Signs a group may be abusive include:
a ** self-appointed** leader with ** no accountability** who uses coercive persuasion techniques and/or personal appeal and crowd-pleasing techniques to spread a doctrine with **no traceable history or evidence outside ** what the leader him/herself has created or invented.
Overcommunication: shouting or talking far too long, far more than almost anyone could process, even after being asked to slow down/calm down. Required participation in overcommunication sessions. E.g. harangues that go on for hours without a break, screaming until members’ ears hurt, required video presentations that go one several times as long as feature films, no napping or leaving.
Isolation. Required or strongly-pressured several-day-long campouts in unfamiliar, quiet locations where overcommunication or extended silence is imposed, presented as basic part of membership. Not voluntary monasticism but pressured participation in isolation for all membersof belief system as prerequisite of salvation, mental health, success, weight loss or what-have-you. Gradual isolation of members socially by alienating them from family and friends or keeping them too busy or paranoid to keep in touch with anyone outside group.
Shifting/double standards, so that whatever member does is wrong while leaders are always presented as right.
Increasing demands for money and work until members are exhausted by demands of group, and going broke. Group audits members’ ability to pay and work but does not allow auditing of its use of labor and funds.
There are more.


There is no way of knowing - IMNSHO, far too much is made of knowing things. This is wrong, not least because it limits faith in Christ to the intelligent. :mad: :frowning:

AFAIK, any Church can have cultish tendencies; ISTM that there is no sharp division between cults & Churches, but that they exist along a continuum, & are sometimes less cultish in this way or that, & sometimes more.


What almost any organization working to alert the public to cult tactics will tell you is essentially what I’ve quoted here from FACTnet:

A destructive cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of its members’ behavior. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail not only what members believe, but also what members wear and eat, when and where members work, sleep, and bathe, and how members think, speak, and conduct familial, marital, or sexual relationships.
A destructive cult tends to have an **ethical double standard. **Members are urged to be obedient to the cult, to carefully follow cult rules. They are also encouraged to be revealing and open in the group, confessing all to the leaders. On the other hand, outside the group they are encouraged to act unethically, manipulating outsiders or nonmembers, and either deceiving them or simply revealing very little about themselves or the group. In contrast to destructive cults, honorable groups teach members to …act ethically and truthfully to all people in all situations.
A destructive cult has only two basic purposes: recruiting new members and fund-raising. Altruistic movements, established religions, and other honorable groups also recruit and raise funds. However, these actions are incidental to an honorable group’s main purpose of improving the lives of its members and of humankind in general. …
A destructive cult …]leader claims to be **breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the ONLY viable system **for change that will solve life’s problems or the world’s ills. …
A destructive cult …leader is regarded as the supreme authority. He or she may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader’s wishes. There is **no appeal outside his or her system **to a greater system of justice. For example, if a schoolteacher feels unjustly treated by a principal, an appeal can be made to the superintendent. In a destructive cult, the leader claims to have the only and final ruling on all matters.
A destructive cult’s leader is a self-appointed messianic person claiming to have a special mission in life. …
A destructive cult’s leader
centers the veneration of members upon himself or herself.
Priests, rabbis, ministers, democratic leaders, and other leaders of genuinely altruistic movements focus the veneration of adherents on God or a set of ethical principles. Cult leaders, in contrast, keep the focus …on themselves…
A destructive cult’s leader tends to be determined, domineering, and charismatic. Such a leader effectively persuades followers to abandon or alter their families, friends, and careers to follow the cult. The leader then takes control over followers’ possessions, money, time, and lives.
…This editorial opinion provided by FACTNet, Inc.

Bold script and undelines mine. I’ve elipsed some for brevity.
It’s a useful place to start if you’re concerned.
I find huge differences between the Catholic Church and cults. RCIA uses very respectful, pressure-free means of communication. The absence of paranoia and fear-mongering is refreshing compared to almost any religious, political or philosophical/self-help/therapeutic type of organization or gathering with which I have experience. Everyone encourages me to keep up all my old relationships, on any basis that remains moral and reasonably safe. Offerings are quiet and discreet. No one harangues us about how we must give however much or any of that.
I’m getitng more and more worried that some of the people in my old church are becoming the beginning of a cult. At least one friend who is still there has independently mentioned that as well. I’ve asked her to look around for another church. Praying for my friends there.


Father Ted: “I’m not a fascist, I’m a priest. Fascists dress in black and go around telling people what to do, whereas…priests…”
:smiley: :smiley:


Why would I care? “Cult” can mean a lot of things. If, as another poster has suggested, it means an “abusive religious group,” well, practically every group is abusive in some way or at some time. Certainly any large religious group existing over a period of decades or centuries is going to be abusive to some extent. It’s called original sin. The proper response is to fight the abuses, not to get out.

The proper question to ask about a religion is not “is it a cult” (in the sociological sense), but “is it true?”

Of course, if by “cult” you mean “false religion,” that’s something different–but then why didn’t you just say “heresy”?



:hypno: Repeat after me, I am not in a cult… I am not in a cult… I am not in a cult. :hypno:

God Bless,


I am often teased about being in a cult by non catholic family members. I myself have asked myself the question. I spent five months in an enclosed religious community and their exclusivity smelled a bit cultish to me and this bled over into how I saw the The Church. This was the hardest time of my life. Our assurance can breed an arogance that is stifling and controlling . This is hard for me to explain this pain I went through when I saw the Church as cultish. It all came from the time I spent with the sisters. I can only say that I believe in the church that Christ estabalished and I no longer pray for religious vocations outside of the priesthood. I leave that totally in the hands of God.


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