Universal Definition of CULT
Any group, which has a pyramid type authoritarian leadership structure with all teaching and guidance coming from the person/persons at the top. The group will claim to be the only way to God; Nirvana; Paradise; Ultimate Reality; Full Potential, Way to Happiness etc, and will use thought reform or mind control techniques to gain control and keep their members.
This definition covers cults within all major world religions, along with those cults, which have no OBVIOUS religious base such as commercial, educational and psychological cults. Others may define these a little differently, but this is the simplest to work from.
How They Do This
1. Their leader/s may claim a special, exclusive ministry, revelation or position of authority given by God.
2. They believe they are the only true church and take a critical stance regarding the Christian church while at the same time praising and exalting their own group, leader/s and work.
3. They use intimidation or psychological manipulation to keep members loyal to their ranks. This could be in the form of threats of dire calamity sent by God if they leave; certain death at Armageddon; being shunned by their family and friends etc. This is a vital part of the mind control process.
4. Members will be expected to give substantial financial support to the group. This could be compulsory tithing (which is checked); signing over all their property on entering the group; coercive methods of instilling guilt on those who have not contributed; selling magazines, flowers or other goods for the group as part of their “ministry”.
At the same time bible-based cults may ridicule churches that take up free-will offerings by passing collection plates and/or sell literature and tapes. They usually brag that they don’t do this. This gives outsiders the intimation that they are not interested in money.
5. There will be great emphasis on loyalty to the group and its teachings. The lives of members will be totally absorbed into the group’s activities. They will have little or no time to think for themselves because of physical and emotional exhaustion. This is also a vital part of the mind control process.
6. There will be total control over almost all aspects of the private lives of members. This control can be direct through communal living, or constant and repetitious teaching on “how to be a true Christian” or “being obedient to leadership”. Members will look to their leaders for guidance in everything they do.
7. Bible-based cults may proclaim they have no clergy/laity distinction and no paid ministry class - that they are all equal.
8. Any dissent or questioning of the group’s teachings is discouraged. Criticism in any form is seen as rebellion. There will be an emphasis on authority, unquestioning obedience and submission. This is vigilantly maintained.
9. Members are required to demonstrate their loyalty to the group in some way. This could be in the form of “dobbing” on fellow members (including family) under the guise of looking out for their “spiritual welfare”. They may be required to deliberately lie (heavenly deception) or give up their lives by refusing some form of medical treatment.
10. Attempts to leave or reveal embarrassing facts about the group may be met with threats. Some may have taken oaths of loyalty that involve their lives or have signed a “covenant” and feel threatened by this.
Refugees of the group are usually faced with confrontations by other members with coercion to get them to return to the group.