Cults Essay

1387 words - 6 pages


On March 29th, 1997, thirty nine men and women took their own lives in

the belief that they would travel to a space ship hidden behind the Hale-Bop

comet. The "Heaven's Gate" cult planted these beliefs within their members,

resulting in a mass death. It is cults such as these that weave a sense of panic

through society. What defines a cult? A cult is a group that has an intense

devotion to a person, object, or set of usually new ideas. Cultus is a Latin word

translating into "to cultivate" or "to plant". A seed is planted in a garden, as is an

idea in a member's mind, and cared for and cultivated until something, whether it

be a plant or a belief, flourishes. A cult will have two main characteristics. Firstly,

it often does not tell the truth about itself, or has an extremely altered perception

of reality. Secondly, by means of psychological and social control techniques, it

makes it's members virtually unable to resist it's influence and authority. Cults are

often isolationists, to gain and maintain control over members physically,

intellectually, financially and emotionally. Deprivation in the form of sleep or

food is often used, and is sometimes combined with constant indoctrination to

alter a new recruit's belief system to match that of the cults. Problems with cults

occur not so much in what is taught, but the often dishonest methods used to

recruit and retain followers as well as to raise funds. Cults, because of

manipulative and untruthful processes, are damaging to society. Cults endanger

society because of the techniques used to attract and gain control over members.

Once one is involved with a cult, often as a result of manipulation, it is extremely

difficult to leave. Lastly, thought reform (brainwashing) is used, which is

damaging to the individual as well as to society in general.

Everyone has various needs to be satisfied. Cult leaders find ways to fulfill

these needs through the cult, attracting members. Because of this, almost

everyone is vulnerable. Whether one is rich, poor, educated, uneducated, old or

young, a cult leader is often charismatic and manipulative, and has ways of

deceiving people into following his or her ideas. He or she will use numerous

techniques to attract new cult members. These methods, though not physically

harmful, lead to a misconception of reality, which may result dangerously. A

method known as love-bombing is often used. This is when positive affection is

constantly offered to a new recruit through word and action. The leader will

compliment them, reassure them and make them the centre of attention. Often,

cults use the influence of the Bible to add validity to their philosophy. Then, using

verses taken out of context, they are mixed with the cults beliefs, creating a

system members believe is valid. Another way a cult leader will recruit a new

member is by gradualism, which,...

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