What causes people to join religious cults?

I’ve been reading about the Waco Seige on the Mount Carmel compound in Waco (a very suspicious situation regarding both the US government AND the Branch Davidians…different topic :slight_smile: ) and I’m just wondering as I see the profiles of members of the cult what causes people to join a cult?

They’re not all uneducated and unstable people as one might think. A lot were actually pretty well read people such as nurses for example. There were even lawyers among them and a man who held a masters in…theology of ALL topics!

How do these people fall for the manipulative message of men like David Koresh who have a ninth grade education, drink, and molest women and children?

Is it just because Koresh (or the leader in other cases) is/was highly adept at sounding like he knew more than them?

Donuts . . . :thumbsup:

So you’re saying Catholic donuts aren’t good? :frowning:

Scapularkid8, people join cults for the same reason people commit adultery: they want something but can’t have it, so they get something similar elsewhere. Or, they think they can get away with being bad. Or, they think it’s the right thing to do. Many, many reasons.

He was probably charismatic, and there was probably something wrong with the people who joined him. There had to be something missing in their lives, that Koresh convinced them could be find in his religion.

Being a lawyer is no guarantee against psychological turmoil. I read an article recently about horders in which the author described a horder who to the world looked like a normal, neat pulled-together person. She was a nurse.

People with psychological problems are found in every profession.

Insert jokes about politians below. :wink:

Just for the record, the Branch Davidian compound was 10 miles outside of Waco in a hamlet called Elk, It wasn’t “in” Waco.

Rant: I was born and raised in Waco and have family still there. The press at the time made Waco appear to be a poor ramshackle one-stop-light town with only MacDonald’s and rusted out buildings. It’s actually a nice little city and home to Baylor Univerisity and didn’t deserve the black eye it recieved from Koresh or the press./Rant/

We have several members of a cult on this forum. As you stated, they are very intelligent. However, I would say that they don’t have any common sense (which is a gift of the Holy Spirit). They refuse to accept any evidence that their religion is false relying instead on “the burning in the bosom”. They think this burning in the bosom is the Holy Spirit even though scripture warns of those who preach a different gospel.

They have great faith, to believe in a religion established by a man. The more evidence you show them that proves their religion is false, the stronger their faith becomes. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. They puff themselves up because of this faith thinking they are better than those of other “false” religions, not unlike the Pharisees who thought themselves better than others. Their religion teaches that they must have this “faith” in order to believe the “truth” of their religion and of course if they don’t believe then they are led to believe there is a deficiency in them because of that lack of faith. In other words it is just another form of brainwashing. The JWs have a different tactic in that they tell the person that all other religions are pagan and they are not to listen to what anyone tells them as they may be led astray. That’s one reason there are so few JWs on this forum.

Conclusion: Always some promise is made to make the person think that the false religion is the only true one. Different tactics are used such as “you must have faith” or “all the other religions are false”, “don’t believe what they tell you, they’re lying” etc.

Are you politely declining to name said cult? :smiley:

I have a friend who had joined a cult before I met her. She was away from them during the time we spent together, but she went back to them.

Her group was called the “circle of friends” by a newspaper in New Jersey, that did many articles about their activities. The head of the cult was a former Prime Minister of Hungary. She has been in the cult since the 1970’s, but there has never been anything reported about her, the cult leader, or anyone else involved on the internet.

Every once in a while I search the net, and I have also been in touch with her father over the years. He had been keeping track of them, but he lost interest.

How the group is not on the net, I really don’t understand…

I woudn’t want to throw any names out there but I can tell you it began with a guy sticking his face into his hat.

You know, I think anyone is susceptible to joining a cult. People want to belong. It is very easy to sit here on the outside and say, “why?”.

Every time I read parts of the OT I think, “why didn’t those Israelites learn?!” VERY easy for me to say this far removed from the situation…

So why is it that when I wake up on Monday mornings I forget what the homily was about the day before?

hmmmmm

in Christ
Steph

In the case of the Jim Jones cult, maybe it was the Kool Aid that brought 'em in?

On a more serious note, cults are attractive to people who want to place all their faith into a personality that makes audacious, amazing claims like Jones did as well as some of the Hare Krishna folks and guys like the Mormon “prophet” Warren Jeffs. Often these people either have violent aspiritions or excessively-peaceful ones and both possess a great deal of naivete to put all their faith into one man’s personality. These cult leaders usually possessive extraordinary ability to convince, motivate, and convert people. They are dynamic, larger-than-life folks and the people who come to listen are down-and-out or suicidal or feel that they don’t fit into the mainstream of popular culture. The members are anti-social, lost, and want a voice to guide them. Some people seek out a cult personality that fits the prejudices or hopes or views they already have and some have just been mentally manipulated into joining. Some people have sought out spirituality somewhere and felt it lacking and just want to feel a sense of belonging. Belonging to a group is a natural desire for the human condition but these people have an inability to see the forest for the trees when joining up.

I think the idea of having a “secret knowledge” or gnosis is also provocative lure. Some people love feeling like “my group has all the answers and we’re going to be saved while these poor shmucks are doomed!”

Some people are never content with conventional wisdom or religion like the major faiths and think they need to search, like the Beatles did with the Maharishi in the 60’s. They went to India thinking the Maharishi was some sort of other-wordly sage and in the end the guy was trying to seduce Lennon and McCartney’s wives. The guy was just a letch in the end…lol…Some people just want to be “different” and outside the lines…

Yeah, but Wacko Waco had more play. What could they do with Elk? :wink:

scapularkid8,

I’m acquainted with an atheist who maintains that every Christian denomination is a cult. How do you understand the word “cult”?

Curiously,
Mick
:thumbsup:

People who join cults often do so as an attempt to meet a psychological need. This can be anything from a need to feel wanted, a need to feel loved, a need to fee special, a need to feel set apart by virtue of a secret knowledge.

Some of the very first cults were knowledge cults. The whole gamut of gnostic sects/cults from the pagan Nasoraeans to Manichaeism, to Redmon’s Celestine Prophecy have attracted their followers. People join these to find feelings of speciality in the ‘secret’ knowledge they gain. In some sense, Scientology can be considered a gnostic cult because of the special knowledge that comes from advancing in the cult.

Sex cults have long been popular as well. Springing from the ancient cults of Inanna and her new names throughout history (Isis, Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Astarte, Freya, Xochiquetzal and others. Sex cults continue through to this day but their aspects have changed. Whereas in older days they were more of a type of love/lust cult with men and women as equals from there it moved to the role of women being made to priestesses/temple prostitutes in such cults as Ba’al, Enki and others to the modern sex cult which moves far away from such “loose morals” to a darker side of the sex cult where women become chattel. These newer cults usually practice varying forms of abuse either in the sense that the priest/leader can (and in many cases must) have sex with all/most of the women or else they use polygyny to have many women “married” to one man who then is free to have sex with them all but they are unable to have sex with anyone but their husband.

While I can understand the draw of knowledge cults to individuals with psychological issues relating to power and belonging and I can understand the draw of sex cults to men with repressed inadequacy issues I can only see the draw of modern sex cults to women as manifestations of their inner feelings of unworthiness. This is probably why there is much intermarriage in these cults as their daughters are raised to feel that they cannot be complete or even able to reach heaven unless they are married to a male cult member.

Cult: a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

So I guess everyone is a cult to those not in agreement with them.

This is correct. Often times, the cult fills a void left by a bad life experience like a divorce or illness.

I deal with the same from a few that I know. To be honest, at times, I have a hard time arguing against it. :blush: When put in certain ways, Christianity as a whole, can look like perhaps the largest “cult” on Earth, started a very long time ago, by some very intelligent, well spoken individuals, that went to extremes to get others to follow them.

Christian denomination is a cult. How do you understand the word “cult”?

Curiously,
Mick
:thumbsup: Cult: a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

So I guess everyone is a cult to those not in agreement with them.
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Hi Bryan,

Many thanks for your helpful contribution. I respectfully submit that the word “cult” is in most instances used subjectively. For example, I’ve encountered Fundamentalists who actually believe that the Catholic Church is a “cult.” And most of the Evangelicals I know consider the Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints to be cultists. I talk at length with members of both those denominations whenever they knock on my door and I can report that all deny the assertion that they are members of a religious cult. So we have here a word that probably needs to be handled very carefully since it apparently means different things to different people.

By the way, how did you arrive at your definition?

Cordially,
Mick
:thumbsup:

Christian denomination is a cult. How do you understand the word “cult”?

Curiously,
Mick
:thumbsup:I deal with the same from a few that I know. To be honest, at times, I have a hard time arguing against it. :blush: When put in certain ways, Christianity as a whole, can look like perhaps the largest “cult” on Earth, started a very long time ago, by some very intelligent, well spoken individuals, that went to extremes to get others to follow them.
[/quote]

Hi Steve,

You’re right. Perhaps an initial response commensurate with Proverbs 15:23 is:

So what’s wrong with a cult, then? :stuck_out_tongue:

Biblically,
Mick
:thumbsup:

It’s great to hear one cult member talk about another cult as though they were any different. Your ripping on cults and then spitting out the same load as the cults your ripping on. Read your post again and then ask yourself why a non believer could possibly call you a hypocrite and laugh at you. Your conclusion describes the Catholic church “don’t believe what they tell you, they’re lying” lmao

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