Religions, are by a majority of people on earth, viewed as positive institutions. And whenever they commit evil, their loyal members say it’s not the religion that is evil, it’s just a bad actor.
Conversely, cults are seen, by a majority of people, as negative institutions. In fact, several countries outlaw cults. Germany outlaws them but has no problem with religions.
Here’s a definition of both.
- the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
- a particular system of faith and worship.
- a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance
- a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
- a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
- a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
These are supposed to be two significantly different things. They are not. Here’s why. I’ll tell you why everything about a religion is available in a cult and why everything in a cult is evident in a religion.
Let’s start with religion.
1. The Branch Davidians actually believed (are there any left?) in the same god that all the Islam, Christianity and Judaism believe in. They differ on David Koresh’s claims.
2. The Branch Davidians had a system of faith and worship. Was it a moral one? Maybe? Was David Koresh immoral? Probably. But if a religion’s leader’s immoral choices invalidated a religion, then name any religion on earth that hasn’t had an immoral leader.
3. Seeing as the Branch Davidians were willing to defy a government enforcement agency and risk arrest and subsequently risk (and many lost) their lives, I’d say they ascribed supreme importance to their belief system.
Let’s see if the horrible things ascribed to cults occur in religions.
1. Every major religion on earth venerates a particular figure or figures. Name one that doesn’t.
2. This is the only interesting difference. The word relatively is loaded and fraught with statistical nuance. Is there a minimum number of followers a cult needs to be a religion? Is it a relative percentage of the population? The 2nd phrase is evident in every religion. You won’t find any religion that isn’t viewed as sinister or strange by SOME people. Maybe not the majority, but certainly not nobody.
3. Do any religions have adherents who have a misplaced or excessive admiration? Hmm. Well, Catholicism has started a bunch of wars in the name of their beliefs. Some extremists Muslims (and by far a very, very small percentage) advocated killing cartoonists for drawing pictures of one of their venerated figures. Not to mention, virtually every religion has a history of forcibly and violently converting people to their belief system. And if they didn’t go along, well, the consequences weren’t very loving.
If the only real difference between the two is the number of members, doesn’t that just mean that a cult is just gathering signatures so that it can file for religion status?
That doesn’t seem like much of a difference to me.
#agnostic #atheist #religion #cult #cults #nodifference #thistimesizedoesnotmatter #sizematters #birdsofafeather