What is a cult?

On the “ask an expert” section on this forum, it today calls Jehovah Witnesses a cult. I was surprised first of all because I had talked to a JW the other day, and this morning I reread what John Paul II said about other religions in his book* Crossing the Threshold of Truth*. He wouldn’t call Islam a cult, nor all Protestantism. But isn’t that what we have to do to be consistent if JW’s are part of a cult?

Anyway, a cult doesn’t mean **anything **except that there is something dark and probably immoral going on in a group. Many people find God in the JW church, even with and sometimes along with false predictions.

What happened to ecumenism?

Cult is to religion as brainwashing is to teaching. It is just a word that means the same thing as religion but with a negative connotation.

I mean the word cult in common usage. The actual word literally just means religion.

cult
kəlt/Submit
noun
a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.

A cult is simply the root of the word culture. It refers to a group that is living in such a way that is consistent with their profession. This cult-ure of people are religious in the sense that religion is what we bind ourselves to. As Christians, our cult should be composed of people living out a mission Jesus prescribes; it should be recognizable to others.

In recent times, in the English language, the word cult has evolved to have a negative inference. This is not what the word means, but rather something that has been added to it to reflective typical societal usage.

Yes - we have cults, i.e. particular devotions, in the Catholic Church. It’s related to “cultivate.”

If I recall correctly, there are certain criteria that have to be met for a belief to be classified as a cult:

  1. The belief system usually revolves around a single leader, who develops a cult of personality.
  2. The cult usually requires individuals to donate most or all of their money and/or worldly possessions to the cult.
  3. The cult requires members to completely cut themselves off from unbelievers, including family.
  4. The cult uses some sort of coercion to prevent members from leaving the cult. This often takes the form of forcing other members (including family) to disown them, or through blackmail.

We have a word to describe religious beliefs that are incorrect: heretical. The word cult is akin to calling someone who is ignorant of some truth stupid, rather than educating them, or agreeing to disagree.

Great answers. :thumbsup:

I would simply add that the word "cult" is used 7 times in the Catechism and generally speaking not in a negative way.

There are many “cults” within the Church today. For example, the “Consecration to Mary” would be a cult. Those who are strongly attracted to the very traditional forms of worship (the EF) as well as those who are attracted to the more charismatic forms would be “cults”.
There isn’t anything negative in these - they are simply particular views, outlooks and paths - all within the Church.

Peace
James

Sounds like Mormonism too.

Not really. But let us look…

  1. The belief system usually revolves around a single leader, who develops a cult of personality.

Mormons claim they follow Christ and a current prophet.
Catholics claim they follow Christ and a current Pope.

Both can be accused of almost being cultish in their beliefs. Anyone who has seen the millions gather at the Vatican knows what I mean.

  1. The cult usually requires individuals to donate most or all of their money and/or worldly possessions to the cult.

Mormons say 10%…what the Bible says.
Catholics are not as definite on tithing, but pass the plate twice each Mass and have constant challenges…

  1. The cult requires members to completely cut themselves off from unbelievers, including family.

That has never happened to me as a Mormon OR a Catholic.

  1. The cult uses some sort of coercion to prevent members from leaving the cult. This often takes the form of forcing other members (including family) to disown them, or through blackmail.

Though some members mistreated me when I left the LDS Church, I can also say some Catholics have been less than kind on this board and a different board.

You might want to change that. It is not a normal practice to take up 2 collections, but happens on certain occasions in some parishes.

I think that in most parishes, money is rarely mentioned. I can’t remember the last time our priests mentioned giving, but we did recently have a priest from a Catholic charity give a homily and make an appeal.

you are lucky. Every Parish I have been in here has passed two plates. And then, at least 2 or three times a year, we have one appeal or another…like The Bishop’s Appeal…they put a thermometer out to show how close we are to the goal for our parish.

So…no…I will not change it.

Not saying it is bad, either. Just stating a fact. I donated in both plates and made pledges for the appeals. I was just comparing.

Yeah, some parishes are more about money than others. I have never ever had a sense in my parish that they are just after money. When I went through RCIA it did not cost me a penny. We rarely have a second collection ever. However, my ex girlfriend told me that her parish was always asking for money and another friend told me that at his parish he got the sense that they were always after money. If I ever got that sense from my parish, I would go to a different one.

We have appeals for money when we get visiting priests from Africa but that is completely understandable because though we are not a rich parish, compared to their home parish in Africa, we are extremely rich. A few dollars extra from everyone could do so much. In cases like that, I think we should be challenged to just give a little more.

Yes…I never questioned it, or complained about it. I figured it was needed. I was just showing the lack of real differences…

Money wise, I agree there is probably not much of a difference in Catholicism and Mormonism. Doctrine wise, there is a world of difference.

I agree. There are doctrinal differences. I was merely responding to cult issue and the 4 points listed that defined cults according to the poster.

I know. I was not getting defensive :slight_smile:

As Catholics, we are not required to give any money, nor is it seen as a sign of worthiness. It’s why it’s called a donation, and a sacrifice. Nor are we ever asked about how much we have given. And it can be done anonymously. No one ever need know.

I live in a parish were a second collection is not common.

Perhaps you need to read a lot of your old posts regarding Mormonism and what they put you through. You are a lost soul in need of finding. May God guide you back.

If I recall TK’s previous Mormon experience, his children were actually kidnapped by Mormons to keep them from him.

One would have to do a search on his old posts, though. It’s been a long time since he shared that part of his Mormon experience so my recollection on what he accused Mormons of doing to his children back than may be off.

I never said the Catholic Church required it. God does that.

I just said they pass the plate a lot

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