Difference Between Cult and Religion
Cult vs Religion
Throughout the history of mankind, it has been natural for people to worship something. First there was animism and that eventually morphed into the major world religions we have today. Some people claim there are about a dozen major religions in the world today while others say that there are hundreds or even thousands of different religious beliefs and practices. After learning the difference between a religion and a cult, you should be able to make the distinction for yourself.
Traditional Definition of Cult and Religion
Cult ‘“ a new religious movement that has a limited number of followers and whose practices may or may not be mysterious and possible unsavory.
Religion ‘“ a method of thought that is meant to give meaning to man’s life by putting him in communion with a higher power through stories, rituals, and beliefs.
Modern Definition of Cult and Religion
Cult ‘“ a secretive group that brainwashes its members into engaging in obscene and harmful practices for the sake of a charismatic leader.
Religion ‘“ see above.
As you can see, the definition of cults has changed significantly over the past thirty to forty years. This is because some cult leaders, such as Jim Jones, sexually abused his followers. Other cults, such as Aum Shinrikyo, have committed high profile crimes, such as the sarin gas attack that took place in the Tokyo subway.
How to Join Cults and Religions
Cult ‘“ are joined usually through coercive persuasion. To some degree or another, a person is told that the best way to solve his problems is to join the cult. They are then given unconditional love by the cult and its leader while at the same time being alienated from their other friends and family.
Religion ‘“ is generally a family affair. A youngster will be raised in a certain religious tradition and follow a path of initiation and fuller membership. This may include ceremonies like bar mitzvah or confirmation. An adult who wishes to convert to another religion must approach that religion’s leaders directly to ask for guidance and study before being formally accepted.
Both cults and religions can help people find acceptance and belonging. They give their practitioners a framework with which to understand the world. They have a codified set of beliefs and external practices. However, while religions mutual respect each other, cults are almost universally vilified except by their own members.
1. Cults and religions are ways in which people can belong to a group and receive a way to interact with God and the world.
2. Cults are generally considered to be secretive and illegitimate whereas religion is open and legitimate.
3. Cults are joined through coercive persuasion whereas religion is generally inherited.
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