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Paper Describing Cults.

1097 words - 4 pages

The term "cult" has been interpreted in many ways through the centuries. Customarily, the loose definition of a cult "refers to any form of worship or ritual observance, or even to a group of people pursuing common goals" (Juergensmeyer, P. 6). Established groups such as Christians, Mormons, Quakers, and Catholics were once viewed as cults, but are now recognized as organized religions. Most cults, regardless of size and history, deal with religious beliefs and practices, pursue common ambitions and typically have their own doctrines.Today, however, an updated definition is used to describe blasphemous, sacrilegious groups that follow a leader who initiates unconventional beliefs and practices. To gain control of their followers, these cult leaders use psychological manipulation that can often lead to years of therapy and healing or even mass suicide. Religious cults link back to a long history and countless variety, as people enter cults under an assortment of circumstances and succumb to the strict instruction shortly after entering.Most people who join cults are searching for solutions to their pain and problems. They are generally normal people who are looking for spiritual guidance or have suffered a loss or failure (Juergensmeyer, P. 12). People are most susceptible to a cult during their first year away from home, if they are lonely or depressed, or after an unexpected death or illness. Even though many members know that cults are unethical - or even dangerous - it doesn't stop the constant flow of new believers.When someone is a member of a particular cult, they usually believe that it is not a cult, per se, in which they are affiliated. Cult members almost always regard themselves as belonging to religious organizations or movements. Still, members are usually under the stern instruction of their leaders, following strict rules and often irrational directives. Some cults believe that in order to be truly dedicated, people must give up everything that they value. Most members sell almost all of their belongings and give the profits to their leaders. They also cut off all ties with their family and friends. Most former cult members do not go in search of cults; they instead get attracted by the feeling of being a part of something larger and safer. Other members, in contrast, search for cults to explore their infamous reputations.Many different techniques and styles for executing mind manipulation exist in religious cults. In order to gain complete jurisdiction in a cult, leaders often use brainwashing techniques. For example, many use "control of environment" or "mystical manipulation" (Juergensmeyer, P. 16). Cult leaders use "mystical manipulation" to make it seem that certain events that take place are happening unexpectedly, but, in all actuality, they are really practiced and prepared plans. Cult members engage in the "dispensing of existence" act. This includes disregarding many former significant people because those people are not...

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