Definition of a Cult

Kazmarov

For a Free Scotland
#1
What is a cult, and how is it distinguished from a religion or an interest group?
 

Sequoia

Registered Member
#2
a cult would be defined as a group of people who take a previously established belief, and go out on a limb with it. To say the least, they take what is already established and alter it to suit what they WANT to believe. not only this, but they then try to force people to believe that thier "belief"(cult) is the only right way.

cheers
 

wooly

I am the woolrus
#3
I heard this before somewhere.... As far as i know, the literal sense of 'a cult' is simply a religious group that has rituals, or outside practises of some kind, that is an integral part of the group's belief system.

Many people immediately associate 'cult' with brainwashing etc. but as far as i know there's nothing sinister about the literal meaning of the word. It's just a religious group that practises rituals.
 

Hiei

The Hierophant
#4
I think the only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of people that follow that particular belief. Everything else seems the same to me. Preaching that their way is the right way, normally something is rewarded in the afterlife, and some kind of idolization.
 

Kazmarov

For a Free Scotland
#5
I see the arguments made typically break down into three constituent categories:

1. Size
2. Age
3. Ideology

Of course, one would point out in reference to size that some fringe denominations of established religions are bonafide crazy, while others are simply independent. In terms of age (there's a quote along the lines of 'what's the difference between a cult and Christianity? Two thousand years') seems to be the most consistent indicator- we generally give little to no credence to self-proclaimed Messiahs of the 20th century. And what is the basis for determining a cult based on ritual?
 

ExpectantlyIronic

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#6
Wikipedia gives a pretty good definition: "A Cult typically refers to a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding population considers to be outside the mainstream." I'd add that it's most often used as pejorative, and thus we usually don't use it to refer to groups we like. So I'd amend their definition to: A Cult typically refers to a shitty cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding population considers to be outside the mainstream.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
#7
I think the only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of people that follow that particular belief. Everything else seems the same to me. Preaching that their way is the right way, normally something is rewarded in the afterlife, and some kind of idolization.

This is the first thing that came to mind too when I think of cult. It also has a more negative tone to it (not that the word 'religion' hasn't). The higher the number of people that follow the belief or practices, the more it becomes less "cult" and more of a religion. This has probably something to do with it being more accepted by the society making the group and its beliefs less deviant.