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Old 24th January 2019, 03:10 PM   #81
ahhell
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Cult actions ......... hummm. Can you point to an authority that defines these? I see arth has had a bash at putting together a list which was comprehensively answered by Hellbound ^.

Don't see much difference between Jim Jones and the local preacher to be honest.
I've generally seen this phrased as "Cult like behavior" or "cult like features"

There's lots of lists and most groups and organizations exhibit some cult like features. Unfortunately most interested parties tend to have a pretty obvious bias. Traditional churches and anti-cult activists, that doesn't mean the lists aren't useful they just need to be taken with a grain of salt.
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Old 24th January 2019, 03:33 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I've generally seen this phrased as "Cult like behavior" or "cult like features"

There's lots of lists and most groups and organizations exhibit some cult like features. Unfortunately most interested parties tend to have a pretty obvious bias. Traditional churches and anti-cult activists, that doesn't mean the lists aren't useful they just need to be taken with a grain of salt.

I find it all to be somewhat meaningless to be honest.

I detailed an account of how hundreds of children were sacrificed some hundreds of years ago in Peru in another thread. Is this cult like behaviour? In spite of the fact that belief in a god who wanted this sacrifice was mainstream?

We can also look at the bloody history of the Catholic Church. Do we really have to wrestle with the idea that all those executions were results of other than cult like beliefs?
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Old 24th January 2019, 05:31 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
I think they'd be right, it is really a matter of degree. A large degree, yes, but the basic ideas are the same, just carried to extremes in cults. For example, to borrow from your earlier list of cult traits and apply to Christianity:
Most of the rest of your post is an examination of how Christianity differs from my admittedly incomplete list of features. Jesus is dead. The Pope's influence has faded. Separation isn't enforced. You're also treating Christianity as though it is just a single thing. There are absolutely Christian sects that are more cult-like than other Christian sects (the Exclusive Brethren comes immediately to mind). But I don't think it's correct to label all of Christianity as a cult, as though there is one single thing.
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Old 24th January 2019, 05:33 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I find it all to be somewhat meaningless to be honest.
Of course you do. No offense intended, but I think you believe that all religion is meaningless nonsense anyway, right? So what does it matter what flavour of meaningless nonsense you're talking about? It's all worthless.
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Old 24th January 2019, 07:36 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Of course you do. No offense intended, but I think you believe that all religion is meaningless nonsense anyway, right? So what does it matter what flavour of meaningless nonsense you're talking about? It's all worthless.

Hey! I'm starting to win you around arth.
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Old 24th January 2019, 08:03 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Hey! I'm starting to win you around arth.
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Old 25th January 2019, 06:47 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Most of the rest of your post is an examination of how Christianity differs from my admittedly incomplete list of features. Jesus is dead. The Pope's influence has faded. Separation isn't enforced. You're also treating Christianity as though it is just a single thing. There are absolutely Christian sects that are more cult-like than other Christian sects (the Exclusive Brethren comes immediately to mind). But I don't think it's correct to label all of Christianity as a cult, as though there is one single thing.
Good thing I didn't do that .

Yes, there are differences, I don't disagree. But those differences are of degree, not type. They exist because the cult leader is long dead, it's socially accepted, etc. AS to variations, yes, there are, and I was speaking generally. It doesn't matter exactly where they are on the scale for the different traits, all of them are somewhere on there. Jesus may be long dead, but try telling a Christian that the red text in his Bible says something wrong

My point was not to demonize religion or anything of that sort, just pointing out that it is a difference of degree rather than kind. Just like overeating is a difference of degree rather than kind. Doesn't mean that eating is bad, but too much of it is.

Of course, I think religion in it's current form has problems, mainly because of the focus on faith over fact and lack of critical thought. I don't have real issues with things like spiritual humanism and similar (that acknowledge a need for religion/spiritualism without contradicting reality).
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Old 25th January 2019, 08:54 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I find it all to be somewhat meaningless to be honest.

I detailed an account of how hundreds of children were sacrificed some hundreds of years ago in Peru in another thread. Is this cult like behaviour? In spite of the fact that belief in a god who wanted this sacrifice was mainstream?

We can also look at the bloody history of the Catholic Church. Do we really have to wrestle with the idea that all those executions were results of other than cult like beliefs?
Sometimes a difference in degree is effectively a difference in kind and the existence of gray does not mean that there is no difference between black and white. The church on main street that has folks over on sunday for a prayer and maybe a brunch afterward and organizes social events for its members is a very different thing than the group that meets everyday, wears funny clothes, requires members to work in the restaurant the church owns or out in the farm in the back woods, requires any outside earnings be given up to the organization, and doesn't let members talk to their parents. Sure, the Catholics exhibit some cult like behavior, so do most churches but you are free to leave most and free to talk to outsiders in most, etc.

Yes, killing kids is cult like behavior. I'd disagree with the murders under the Catholic church in middle ages being cult like as it was part a of large cultural conflict but that's debatable. Aside from that, religions due evolve and things that start out as clearly cults can become not cults and things that start out as not cults can become cults.

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Old 25th January 2019, 09:23 AM   #89
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Personally I find the main problem I have with most religion is the desire for uniformity and the desire to impose it on the members. That has little to do with whether or not they are a cult.
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Old 26th January 2019, 02:13 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Sometimes a difference in degree is effectively a difference in kind and the existence of gray does not mean that there is no difference between black and white. The church on main street that has folks over on sunday for a prayer and maybe a brunch afterward and organizes social events for its members is a very different thing than the group that meets everyday, wears funny clothes, requires members to work in the restaurant the church owns or out in the farm in the back woods, requires any outside earnings be given up to the organization, and doesn't let members talk to their parents. Sure, the Catholics exhibit some cult like behavior, so do most churches but you are free to leave most and free to talk to outsiders in most, etc.

Yes, killing kids is cult like behavior. I'd disagree with the murders under the Catholic church in middle ages being cult like as it was part a of large cultural conflict but that's debatable. Aside from that, religions due evolve and things that start out as clearly cults can become not cults and things that start out as not cults can become cults.

No it's not an argument that states black is white, it's an argument that states there is no clear way to define a dividing line between different shades of grey. There is no white in the belief in any kind of woo. It's all grey - and a rather dirty shade of grey.
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Old 26th January 2019, 02:29 PM   #91
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Religions are clearly more socially acceptable, in that a Religion will have no problem calling itself a Religion. But a cult will never call itself a cult.
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Old 26th January 2019, 03:09 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Religions are clearly more socially acceptable, in that a Religion will have no problem calling itself a Religion. But a cult will never call itself a cult.
Is it an irregular adjective which changes over time?

For example Joshua Smith: magic translating spectacles; secret gold tablets (stored in a hat) that no one else ever sees; inability to "read" the same translation twice... sounds like a cult. Now, after the passage of time, a religion?

Somewhere... I came across an account of the Church of the Sacred Heart, saying that it started as a cult, but over time copied established church rituals until it became part of the establishment.

I'm sure that Steven Fry would say that it's an irregular adjective which changes according to the speaker:

My religion, your cult.
My atheism, everybody else's cults.

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Old 26th January 2019, 03:41 PM   #93
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Changes according to the speaker indeed. The difference between religion and cults is only in the eye of the beholder.
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Old 26th January 2019, 06:53 PM   #94
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That seems about right. My mumbo jumbo is religion; yours is a cult. (If I am well disposed towards you, or if your mumbo jumbo is too similar to mine, then I may magnanimously concede that yours is a religion too.)
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Old 28th January 2019, 08:07 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
No it's not an argument that states black is white, it's an argument that states there is no clear way to define a dividing line between different shades of grey. There is no white in the belief in any kind of woo. It's all grey - and a rather dirty shade of grey.
If the question is, "is ther a difference between religions and cults?" Then that is pretty much a question of whether black and white are different. Sure, all religions are a little off white and most cults are more dark grey but that doesn't not me they are not different things.

I will go back to the demarcation problem then.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demarcation_problem

"The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science and epistemology is about how to distinguish between science and non-science,[1] including between science, pseudoscience, and other products of human activity, like art and literature, and beliefs.[2][3] The debate continues after over two millennia of dialogue among philosophers of science and scientists in various fields, and despite broad agreement on the basics of scientific method.[4][5]"

An easy example is that at some point, cold fusion went from being science to pseudo-science. When did that happen? IDK. When did Mormanism go from being a cult to a religion, IDK but I think it did.

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Old 28th January 2019, 09:47 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
Is it an irregular adjective which changes over time?

For example Joshua Smith: magic translating spectacles; secret gold tablets (stored in a hat) that no one else ever sees; inability to "read" the same translation twice... sounds like a cult. Now, after the passage of time, a religion?

Somewhere... I came across an account of the Church of the Sacred Heart, saying that it started as a cult, but over time copied established church rituals until it became part of the establishment.

I'm sure that Steven Fry would say that it's an irregular adjective which changes according to the speaker:

My religion, your cult.
My atheism, everybody else's cults.

Again: It's about what a group will be willing to call itself. Religions call themselves Religions without any problem. Cults don't. They deny that they are a "cult". That implies that there's something about cults that even cults themselves know is bad, and so, they want nothing to do with it.
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Old 28th January 2019, 09:59 AM   #97
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Personally, like OP, I've always thought of the defining characteristic of a cult as the part where you're not allowed to leave, or if you do, the community is supposed to turn their back on you. Many religions are pretty cultish by that metric. Many others aren't. Some are or aren't just depending on where you are and what flavor you've got locally.

The dictionary definition is quite different though.

I think there might even be an element of popular perception being influenced by the sounds of the words themselves. I know a lot of people assuming 'occult' and 'cult' derive form the same words. But 'occult' is its own word simply meaning 'hidden' (as in, occluded) and 'cult' simply meant 'worship' or originally, 'tend' (as in, cultivate).

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Old 28th January 2019, 10:28 AM   #98
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I'm disappointed to hear that the Blue ÷ysters aren't actually a cult!
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Old 28th January 2019, 11:19 AM   #99
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I think that the word has come to mean the kind of organization that isn't necessarily religious at all but which tries to control the thoughts and behaviour of its members in more or less totalitarian ways: Cult: Subcategories (Wikipedia)
Thus I wouldn't describe the Church of Denmark (Wikipedia) as a cult, unlike secular organizations like the Danish Tvind (Wikipedia) or the U.S. American NCLC (Wikipedia).
Nowadays, some people think that (at least) 25% of the population in the US exhibit cultish behaviour:

Quote:
Janja Lalich, a sociologist who specializes in cults, identified four characteristics of a totalistic cult and applied them to Trumpism: an all-encompassing belief system, extreme devotion to the leader, reluctance to acknowledge criticism of the group or its leader, and a disdain for nonmembers. Eileen Barker, another sociologist of cults, has written that, together, cult leaders and followers create and maintain their movement by proclaiming shared beliefs and identifying themselves as a distinguishable unit; behaving in ways that reinforce the group as a social entity, like closing themselves off to conflicting information; and stoking division and fear of enemies, real or perceived.
Escape from the Trump Cult (The New Republic, Dec. 13, 2018)
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Old 28th January 2019, 03:53 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
Good thing I didn't do that .

Yes, there are differences, I don't disagree. But those differences are of degree, not type. They exist because the cult leader is long dead, it's socially accepted, etc. AS to variations, yes, there are, and I was speaking generally. It doesn't matter exactly where they are on the scale for the different traits, all of them are somewhere on there. Jesus may be long dead, but try telling a Christian that the red text in his Bible says something wrong
For me, I think that if a sect survives the death of its leader, that makes it no longer a cult.
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Old 28th January 2019, 03:59 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
For me, I think that if a sect survives the death of its leader, that makes it no longer a cult.

Not even if the leader is still there as a spirit?
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Old 28th January 2019, 04:57 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Not even if the leader is still there as a spirit?
No, because as I understand it, the existence of a charismatic leader is one of the defining features of a cult. Spirits and ghosts aren't real, obviously, so even if they still believe in the leader it's not the same thing.

And yes, I realise that this makes Scientology not a cult by this definition.

In my opinion, if you say that Christianity is a cult, you are changing the meaning of the word "cult" to mean the same thing as "religion". A cult is a specific thing - it's not a synonym for religion in general.
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Old 28th January 2019, 05:07 PM   #103
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I've been able to walk away from every church I've been a part of.

Every cult I've heard about, it's almost impossible to get back out once you've got in.
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Old 28th January 2019, 05:30 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I've been able to walk away from every church I've been a part of.

Every cult I've heard about, it's almost impossible to get back out once you've got in.
Not impossible, as there have always been people who have escaped, but another of the defining features of a cult is that they make it difficult to do so, they set up social pressures that discourage it, and sometimes they punish people who attempt it.
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Old 28th January 2019, 05:38 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Thus I wouldn't describe the Church of Denmark (Wikipedia) as a cult...
You've gotta admit, though, that picture of the head guy in the Wiki article makes him look like some sort of Doctor Who villain.
I'd describe the current adoration of Trump by the American right as cult-like.
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Old 28th January 2019, 06:59 PM   #106
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
[snip]
I'd describe the current adoration of Trump by the American right as cult-like.
I'd add in the tenacious adherence to the word of Trump no matter how far it parts with reality is cult like as well. So that's two right off the top.
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Old 28th January 2019, 08:26 PM   #107
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But that, again, doesn't really separate cults from religions. In particular, I'm reminded of a specific thing some Trumpers had done that, I commented at the time, was a lot like one of the world's biggest religions.
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Old 29th January 2019, 07:43 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
For me, I think that if a sect survives the death of its leader, that makes it no longer a cult.
I'd say that's a part of it. Basically, once it loses it's initial focus (usually the death or removal of the initial leader), it'll follow one of two paths: it either fizzes out and dies away, or it will start the process of "mellowing" and becoming more socially acceptable/integrated, turning into a religion.

Well, to be honest, there is the occasional third option of remaining a small-scale fringe movement for a long time

But, likewise, you have the reverse processes with religions, as well. A religion can get a charismatic leader that pushes it (or a part of it) back to cult status, or can adopt increasingly socially unacceptable practices to follow the same type of route.

It's a continuum along the same scale. There is a difference between cult and religion, but it's like the difference between a wind and a tornado; same thing, just the concentration and strength make one a lot more dangerous
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Old 29th January 2019, 07:54 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Again: It's about what a group will be willing to call itself. Religions call themselves Religions without any problem. Cults don't. They deny that they are a "cult". That implies that there's something about cults that even cults themselves know is bad, and so, they want nothing to do with it.
Meh, mainstream religions also deny being a cult, I'm not sure denying that you're a cult is indicative of much.
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Old 29th January 2019, 07:56 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Meh, mainstream religions also deny being a cult, I'm not sure denying that you're a cult is indicative of much.
Try reading what I wrote next time.
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Old 29th January 2019, 09:32 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Again: It's about what a group will be willing to call itself. Religions call themselves Religions without any problem. Cults don't. They deny that they are a "cult". That implies that there's something about cults that even cults themselves know is bad, and so, they want nothing to do with it.
No all that implies is that the word cult is viewed as a word which has a negative connotations.
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Old 29th January 2019, 01:51 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Again: It's about what a group will be willing to call itself. Religions call themselves Religions without any problem. Cults don't. They deny that they are a "cult". That implies that there's something about cults that even cults themselves know is bad, and so, they want nothing to do with it.
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
No all that implies is that the word cult is viewed as a word which has a negative connotations.

Yes well that just about nails it. The word, and how we view it, is the problem. We all need to think positively about there word "cult" and all the religions will embrace the word as their own.
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Old 29th January 2019, 03:11 PM   #113
ahhell
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Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Try reading what I wrote next time.
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
No all that implies is that the word cult is viewed as a word which has a negative connotations.
Seem like Darat and I garnered the same or similar meaning from what you wrote.
Originally Posted by Ron_Tomkins View Post
Again: It's about what a group will be willing to call itself. Religions call themselves Religions without any problem. Cults don't. They deny that they are a "cult". That implies that there's something about cults that even cults themselves know is bad, and so, they want nothing to do with it.
I apologize if I misunderstood, perhaps you'd be kind enough to explain what you meant. It still looks like it just means "cult" is seen as a pejorative.
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Old 30th January 2019, 01:12 PM   #114
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
No all that implies is that the word cult is viewed as a word which has a negative connotations.
Sure, I'll grant you that that alone does not constitute the entirety of what differentiates a Cult from a Religion, and I'm not saying that that's the only criteria to consider... but it is an important and interesting difference, because why is that? Why is the concept of a Cult perceived (both by outsiders and by members) as something negative, but Religion isn't? That is something worth studying. It hints that there's a difference in how our cultures, worldwide, view cults and how they view Religions. If we didn't think they were different, we wouldn't think of one as negative and the other one as, at least, socially acceptable generally speaking.

Other more easy to nail-down differences:

* Cults have a living human being as a leader. Religions have an omnipotent God
* Cults are very secretive and possessive about their members, and they're typically not allowed to leave as easily as in Religions
* Because of their secretiveness, Cults behave more like Spying Agencies, monitoring everything about their members and sometimes their closed ones. Religions operate more like social communities where, generally speaking, members are not being monitored and scrutinized.
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Old 30th January 2019, 01:21 PM   #115
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Do all religions have one, omnipotent God?


And yes, really, I am that stupid.
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Old 30th January 2019, 03:18 PM   #116
ahhell
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
Do all religions have one, omnipotent God?


And yes, really, I am that stupid.
No. Even among extent religions. Shinto is more about nature spirits and ancestor worship. Hindu's have many god's though I think some versions view them all as manifestations of the one god. Buddhism is sort of agnostic. Buddha basically said gods don't really matter in terms of human salvation(reaching Nirvana) though a lot of Buddhist worship various gods.

There's a strong argument for Christianity not really being monotheistic. What exactly are angels and saints?

And most of the old pagan religions don't have anything remotely like an omnipotent gods, even the chiefs of the pantheons had somewhat limited power and knowledge.

In modern usage, I think cults are distinguished primarily by having one or rarely more than one living charismatic leader, isolating members from society(often including family member who aren't part of the cult and often by relatively extreme means), teachings that are kept secret from the outside world and often the lower level cult members and often a strong "Us vs the rest of the world" world view.

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Old 31st January 2019, 03:44 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Personally I find the main problem I have with most religion is the desire for uniformity and the desire to impose it on the members. That has little to do with whether or not they are a cult.
My issue with religions or cults is the desire to impose it on nonmembers. As in, you can't do that because my religion says so.

IMHO the difference between a cult and a religion seems to be the number of adherents, and longevity. The longer a cult survives, and more people who believe it, the more likely it is to be called a religion. Christianity started as a Jewish cult.
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Old 31st January 2019, 04:43 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No, because as I understand it, the existence of a charismatic leader is one of the defining features of a cult. Spirits and ghosts aren't real, obviously, so even if they still believe in the leader it's not the same thing.



And yes, I realise that this makes Scientology not a cult by this definition.



In my opinion, if you say that Christianity is a cult, you are changing the meaning of the word "cult" to mean the same thing as "religion". A cult is a specific thing - it's not a synonym for religion in general.


Iím the case of Scientology, when L Ron died, David Miscavige stepped right in. He is in total control of the Church and is probably worse than L Ron was. IOW, there is still one singular charismatic figure that everyone is supposed to bow down to.

I would say that what defines a cult, taking a cue from the Latin root, is how closed off a particular group is to the outside. Scientology and JWs, for example, still encourage and enforce disconnection/disfellowship. Your life as a member is heavily dictated by the Churchís rules. Then again, the members of these organizations still live and work in the secular world. But Iíd still classify them as cults because they maintain a degree of segregation from the secular world.


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Old 31st January 2019, 04:48 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Iím the case of Scientology, when L Ron died, David Miscavige stepped right in. He is in total control of the Church and is probably worse than L Ron was. IOW, there is still one singular charismatic figure that everyone is supposed to bow down to.

I would say that what defines a cult, taking a cue from the Latin root, is how closed off a particular group is to the outside. Scientology and JWs, for example, still encourage and enforce disconnection/disfellowship. Your life as a member is heavily dictated by the Churchís rules. Then again, the members of these organizations still live and work in the secular world. But Iíd still classify them as cults because they maintain a degree of segregation from the secular world.


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Also, again referencing the Latin root, cults tend to have a claim on hidden knowledge that only they (their spiritual leader) know or understand. David Koresh, for example claimed to be able to interpret the Bible stories about the seven seals (and the Bible in general) in a very particular way that was not available to normal people. He was Godís prophet and only he could establish Godís new kingdom.


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Old 31st January 2019, 04:59 PM   #120
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The standard definition of cult is not so much about belief but practice and how the religion is ran.
I think the "all religions are cults" is pretty much at attempt to discredit all religions with cheap shot.
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