Cults And Their Leaders Essay

4154 words - 17 pages

Cults and Their Leaders

     For many years, cult leaders always had a psychological hold on their followers' minds. Whether it was to kill other people or to kill themselves, they did it without question. Some cult leaders used fear, violence and guilt as a means of a weapon to control the minds of their followers. Other cult leaders used persuasive and spiritual speeches that made their followers believe they were doing good and fulfilling God's plan. Because cult leaders are powerful through psychological offenses, the people that belong to their cults are brainwashed into doing things they wouldn't normally do in their right state of mind.

     For years, there have been problems surrounding the definition of the term 'cult'. The literal and traditional meanings of the word cult, which are more fully explored at the entry Cult (religion), come from the Latin cultus, meaning "care" or "adoration," as "a system of religious belief or ritual; or: the body of adherents to same." In French or Spanish, culte or culto simply means "worship" or "religious attendance"; therefore an association cultuelle is an association whose goal is to organize religious worship and practices. The word for "cult" in the popular English meaning is secte (French) or secta (Spanish). In formal English use, and in non-English European terms, the cognates of the English word "cult" are neutral, and refer mainly to divisions within a single faith, a case where English speakers might use the word "sect". Hence Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism are cults within Christianity. However, in common usage, "cult" has a very negative connotation, and is generally applied to a group in order to criticize it. Understandably, most groups, if not all, that are called "cults" deny this term. Some groups called "cults" by some critics may consider themselves not to be "cults", but may consider some other groups to be "cults". Although anti-cult activists and scholars did not agree on precise criteria that new religions should meet to be considered "cults," two of the definitions formulated by anti-cult activists are: Cults are groups that often exploit members psychologically and/or financially, typically by making members comply with leadership's demands through certain types of psychological manipulation, popularly called mind control, and through the inculcation of deep-seated anxious dependency on the group and its leaders. Cult: A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines cult as: "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents." Indeed, any religion involving unconditional worship and unquestioning obedience to...

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