Professor Bassem Chaaban
17 June 2013
The Right To Religious Belief: Cults
When you first hear the world 'cult', many things might come rushing to your mind. The main thing though in many peoples mind when they hear the word 'cult' 'brainwashing, torture, extremist group' are the first couple of words to come to mind. Throughout history there has been numerous of cults, or groups of people coming together and either practicing or worshiping something that is not main stream, or something coming out of left field for the rest of humanity and society during the time the cult exist. For some examples, The Manson Family, Scientology, Heavens Gate, The Peoples Temple (Jonestown), and The Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. But what people also don't understand is that the word Cult has been taken out of it's original context and people want to assume that anything outside of their religion could be consider a cult just for the fact they are worshiping something that is something very foreign to them. This is very correct, but even under the definition of the world cult, they are also ones apart of the organization too, if they are apart of an organized religion.
To be able to understand where most of the well known cults and what they are about, everyone must be informed on what classifies someone, or some group as a cult. Under the English dictionary, Cult is referred to as:
“a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies”, “an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers”, “a group of sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc”, “a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols”. (cult)
So under the correct definition, everyone who assumes that common religions such as, and not limited to, Mormons, Christianity, Muslims, Scientology, Islam, Judaism, ect.
But many people believe that this point of view would be a little bit too extreme for them, just for the fact that they do not like being said that they are apart of a cult being organization. So in the social context of the world Cult, is seems like it is being said to be classified under this is you are apart of a religious organization, and the leaders are corrupt, bringing false hopes, and ultimately hurting their followers, in modern society, this would be consider a cult. But in reality this is just something that should be considered a destructive cult. Some of the characteristics would be:
“Self-appointed messianic leader(s) who focuses followers' veneration upon him or her, claims divine selection, and exercises autocratic control over members' lives.”, “Use of deception and misrepresentation for purposes of recruitment, retention and fund raising.”, “Techniques aimed at controlling individual thought and person privacy that frequently lead to a coerced reconstitution of personality.” (“What is a Cult”)
A cult would have to have only one of the above qualities to be able to classified as a destructive cult. And when the media wants to talk about The Mason Family, or Jonestown, they are more aimed towards this definition, because it is something that will culture shock a lot of people in today society, and use it as a scare-tactic just for the fact a lot of younger generation people are becoming mixed up in a lot of groups of the sociology standards that is bizarre and irrational. But families seem like they are taking this a little bit too far in the fact that they do not do their research or understand where a lot of religions that are very big, and have been around for generations, that are not within the medias standard of a destructive cult, but just for the plain fact they do not like their children having a mind of their own, and finding their own place in the world and society that we live in today. In my opinion, this is the