✅ Cult vs Religion – What’s the difference?

✅ Cult vs Religion – What’s the difference?

Support Holy Koolaid: D E S C R I P T I O N Cult vs religion – what’s the difference? Today we’re going to play a game called cult vs religion in which I’ll describe…


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  1. Kay Omholt-Montague

    The difference is primarily one of degree, not kind! To me, any organization that requires its members to worship a deity or other being – human or not – is a CULT!! Both religions and cults require the suspension of critical thinking, logic and reasoning – preferring instead that their members have FAITH, which requires belief in/for things that have no basis in fact or evidence. They both require obedience to their dogma. They both use fear to keep people in line and to control their lives. I would argue that Scientology is a cult, but it is identified as a religion. At some point, the distinction can become so blurred as to be irrelevant.

  2. Jotham Bessey

    yes, every religion is a cult at the beginning. Pentecost was considered a cult in 1906 and for a few years after.
    I think one of the characteristics of a cult should be absolutely no unnecessary conversation with non members.
    and the spread of hate towards all other beliefs.
    the second is still common among all new religions.

  3. PhysicsIsGod

    Two definitions: A cult is any group or organization held together by religious beliefs or motives. A cult is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. Therefore, all religions are cults.

  4. Zorku

    Those cult checklists aren't for determining a binary marker, but rather a list of symptoms that indicate a very toxic relationship. All of the big religions do almost everything on the checklist to a degree, but the small cults that still have a living leader frequently do these things in more severe ways.

    When Christians are discouraged from associating with friends of family that won't join the same church that's shitty, but if they express a few views their church doesn't like they're probably not going to starved for social interactions, kicked out of their homes without a penny to their name, and so out of place in the world that they don't know how to survive. That kind of threat is present in a very weak and implicit way with Mormonism (though a bit more intense in the very homogenous and rural parts of their capitol state,) whereas in a lot of the groups that we call cults, people will have directly sold or signed away the rights to all of their property, utterly alienated themselves from anyone that doesn't meet with them multiple times per week in the same building, and when they see something that they should speak out against, they're both aware that they stand to lose everything if they make themselves heard, and that every person around them will not support them if they do so.

    A lot of this is a matter of scale, and just not being able to speak with the singular ultimate authority at the top of the structure about all matters, but the superficial reflection does not have equal implications.

    Some religions have stronger cult tendencies than others, but very few of them exercise anywhere near the same level of all encompassing control over any individual member that the worst cults do.

  5. Ekitchi Hoshi

    IMO, there is only one item that matters to know if it's a cult or a religion:
    Do it's members have to shun their family, friends and other non believers? If yes, it's a cult. If no, it's a religion.

    That said, some religious people exhibit cult-like behaviors, but if they are the exception rather than the rule then it doesn't make their religion a cult.
    Any scheme that insist on it's new recruits to cut their current social ties is dangerous because it traps it's members. It makes it extremely hard for it's members to leave the cult if they change their minds because they will be alone with no support.
    On the other hand, religions allowing their members to keep/make ties with non-believers, effectively leaves an out for anyone who wants to leave.

    Islam with the way it treats apostates and non-believers can be a cult or a religion depending on which version is being practiced.

  6. lshulman58

    interesting final conclusion: if the organization continues after the leader is dead = religion. If the organization fizzles out after the leader's death = cult. Maybe so. Though what that does mean is that while the founder of a new religion is alive, it is not yet possible to determine if one is dealing with a cult or a religion.
    Other groups you might have included in your quiz:
    Scientology (leader is now dead, organization continues strong = new religion)
    Heaven's Gate (leader and almost all followers now dead, organization fizzled out = cult)
    Falun-Gong (in China) = ???
    Hare Krishnas (leader founder now dead, organization lives on = religion/sub-sect of Hinduism)

  7. muntu1221

    All religions are [religious] cults, but not all cults are religions.

    I differentiate cults from religions based on the intent. If the leader is only using the faith of others for his own gains, it's a cult. If the leader genuinely believes it, it's a religion.

    This is because [general] cults can be about business, military, academics, or anything else.

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