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Cults - And how to avoid them?

Discussion in 'Seekers Circle' started by Onkara, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Onkara

    Onkara Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    I was fairly concerned to find that the most active Buddhist group in my city are considered to be a cult, as I had not considered Buddhism to be a tool for manipulation before. I know these definitions are subjected and open to error, however as my local Roman says "caveat emptor". Looking into it further I found comparisons of the way the Buddhist Organisiation is run to that of definitions of cults. So I thought it would be useful to bring this topic up, in an a friendly way, in the Seekers DIR;

    Here is an interesting page, which I have quoted below.

    Avoid Cults That May Try to Convert You: - wikiHow

    Know how to respond to insults to your religion or beliefs.
    Look for one person who is in complete control. Cults almost always have that central leader. If this person founded the cult and later died, there may now be a small group of people who control everything. These people are egomaniacs who love attention. The religious leader that decides whether the members views are valid or not and carefully explains the rules that only his/her opinions and answers to provocative questions are true and not to be questioned is likely a cult leader.
    Check to see if the religion is legal. Some countries in Europe and other places actually have a list of which religions are allowed and are considered legal. This may be helpful.
    Look on the internet for information about the religion. See if there are any possible problems with it or its founder. If you believe that the religion's beliefs are not true, don't join them!
    If you are threatened by the cult, call the police.
    Do not go to live in an isolated area away from the people you know. No matter how bad your life is where you are, it will not be better if you go to live with an organization. These compounds are often in remote or rural areas, and although you will be told you can leave at any time they will not let you go, either through physical force, gates, or intimidation.
    Avoid groups or people that try to impose rules on the non-moral aspects of your life such as who you can talk to or where you can shop for groceries, which movies you can see, what books are appropriate, etc.
    Watch out for people who just keep telling you what you want to hear, constantly flatter you, or tell you that everything is OK.
    Be sure your religious group does not support violence or discriminate against others, such as saying others are going to hell because they are not us.
    Beware of the techniques that include your giving up control of the details of your life. Anyone that can obtain control of your thinking will control your distribution of your resources for the cult's benefit.
  2. WayFarer

    WayFarer Rogue Scholar

    Sep 8, 2009
    :eek: That sounds like some of the more well known religions to me... I knew it! ;)
    Seriously, thanks for the post. I guess we sometimes forget that there are predators out there working every angle.
  3. Onkara

    Onkara Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    Yes, one could easily find a reason to stay in bed after reading the horrors of cults. Some key facts seem to be:

    1) Surrendering your time and freedom to the organisation
    2) Follow one or more defined leaders
    3) Only doing what the leaders suggest or say
    4) Reducing your personal life or freetime
    5) Dressing in a certain way and having to follow strict behaviour patterns.
    6) The promise of a better life or a future with rewards and answers.

    When I look at that list I think of my job! :D
  4. xkatz

    xkatz Well-Known Member

    Nov 27, 2009
    Christian- Orthodox Catholic
    Also look out for religions/religious organizations/religious leaders that require you to pay them for spiritual "lessons".
  5. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
    Premium Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    None (atheist)
    This list of warning signs for dangerous groups (which can include cults, but aren't just cults) might be helpful:

    Warning Signs

    Also, there's the other side: how can you spot a safe group? From the same page, here's a list of signs of a safe group:

    IMO, I think the biggest warning sign is isolation... either when you see a loved one who cuts himself/herself off from contact with others, or when you yourself are encouraged not to associate outside the group you've joined.
  6. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
    Premium Member

    Jul 23, 2005
    When I look at that list I find it extremely difficult to pick a religion that would not be a cult. so to answer the title of the thread:It seems that one has to avoid EVERY religion.

    A system of religious belief and worship.
    [1913 Webster]
    #6 Mestemia, Aug 24, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  7. Venatoris

    Venatoris Active Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    You should be pretty safe as long as you don't drink the kool-aid.