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  • Religious cults / the cult of religion
    #1
    What is the difference between a religion and a cult? Are there any differences?
     
    I think this is too dynamic a question to have one answer, but I’ll come up with one anyway 😝
     
    The answer is, it’s all up to the individual on a case by case basis if religion is the same as a cult. It’s how the person reacts and how they use it is what determines that…
     
    If you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim (or whatever), and it gives you peace in your heart and you live your life by a code for a positive life, then that is indeed your correct religion, regardless of what it is.
     
    Christians who live in either fear or out of obligation may as well consider their religion a cult. I don’t think it’s the religion itself, but how it’s applied. That’s what can confuse religions with cults.
     
    Cults are in and of themselves, evil. They are non-inclusive, secretive, where there is one guy at the top pretending to have all power, preying on the other’s weak will power and desire for something to believe in. They won’t let you question it and they won’t let you out. Scientology is more of an overall cult than a religion, in my opinion, but there are those who wholeheartedly believe in it so who am I to decide what gives people peace? I guess in the time of Christ, Christianity was a cult too. Priests raping kids is a cultish action, so the defining line in the sand has to come from the individual…
     
    But under the guise of promising good things under a bad premise, religious cults can be born… Like David Koresh, the hale-bop spaceship guy, and Jim Jones shows the fine line between something people need if they are looking for something and being manipulated. The Jonestown tapes are eerie, to say the least.
     
    So I guess the difference is the purpose… Can it be questioned? Is it used for a better way of life or a self-serving manipulative thing to control… I personally have no organized religion, but I believe a bit of the good stuff… Realize it has its purpose for others, while cults are useless.. Other than that, it’s one's opinion to determine what a cult or religion is…
     
    What are your thoughts?
    (This post was last modified: 07-14-2019, 05:48 PM by LZA.)
    Plenty O’Toole liked this post
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    #2
    I don't know a lot about cults. Aside from a few documentaries (mostly about Manson) and from reading up on David Koresh after that whole thing happened (yes, I'm old.)

    But, I do know what it like to be in a religious group that is so oppressive and binding that it literally feels suffocating. Don't get me wrong, this is the opposite of a cult, which is what you talked about, a man, leading people to do things for a selfish purpose, under the guise of relaying divine messages. This was people trying to one up each other by reading obscure passages from the bible and using that one verse as the foundation for a new belief that _________ is wrong and will send you to Hell.

    It started with clothes and hair. Then the men could no longer wear beards. Then no one could wear shorts. And on it goes until I found myself, at fourteen years old, sitting under a revival tent listening to a sweating, barely literate old preacher telling us why it was a sin to wear gold. As I listened, my focus wasn't really on what he was saying as much as all of the "Amen!"s coming from basically everyone that I knew. Then, I found out that he wasn't even talking about gold as a precious metal. He meant the color gold.

    Before he left out for the next town, he had helped all of the folks to cover the buckles of their shoes/belts/etc. with black aircraft paint so that the gold was no longer visible. After he left, I stewed in the realization that not only had I been a fool for a very long time, my parents, extended family, friends — basically everyone I knew — were idiots.

    It was kind of like a cult, in that it was secluded, but unlike most cults, it was not a secret. Those holy roller religions encourage their members to capitalize on every opportunity to express their faith.

    To me, the line between religion and cult is paper thin. The older I get, the more I realize that it is all horse shit. I agree that if it gives someone peace (as I have seen proven in studies of patients with and w/o religious beliefs) then more power to them. As for me, I will just accept the fact that when I die, I die. Lights out. Nothing else happens.
    LZA and Plenty O’Toole liked this post
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    #3
    I think generally the difference between a cult and a religion is decided by numbers. I don’t know how many adherents Scientology has, but I’m guessing it’s nothing like the head-counts boasted by Islam, Christianity, et al.

    (By the way, can we talk about what a stupid name for a religion “Scientology” is? It’s like L Ron Hubbard had zero respect for his followers’ intelligence, and wanted to test the upper limits of their credulity. It was either Scientology or Sciencism.)

    Scientology aside, tho, the difference is pretty much: does your belief system have a restrictive set of rules and hundreds of millions of followers from around the world? Then it’s a religion. Does your belief system have a restrictive set of rules and a hundred followers living together in a compound? Then it’s a cult.

    Atheists like to say that religions and cults are equally nonsensical, but I disagree. As crazy and fantastical as the stories in, say, the King James Bible are, they still make sense to me as stories with moral messages. And what doesn’t make sense is largely because we’re too far advanced from the culture that produced it to understand what it means. Point being, it made sense to a lot of people at some point.

    With cults tho, I’ve watched videos of modern leaders talk and I can’t make heads nor tails of what they’re trying to say. I remember watching videos by the Heaven’s Gate cult, which existed in the 90s. They were led by an old music teacher called Marshall Applewhite, believed that Jesus Christ was an alien (as in from space, not Mexican), I think, and ended up killing themselves so that their souls could ascend to their alien bodies that were passing by Earth via Halley’s Comet.

    In the videos of Applewhite and his followers they talk on and on and on without ever saying anything, and it makes me wonder how people fell for it. I’ve read that cult loyalty is established through eye contact tricks and the like, and it must be, because the dogma’s just word salad. Have a little look at this video (only a little look, the fucker’s 2 hours long) the cult made to “explain” their impending suicides and tell me if they actually explain anything:

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    #4
    As far as I'm concerned, with my opinion that is not worth the paper it's written on, Scientology is a cult; in fact, it's the most successful cult ever. It's as big as it is because the leaders (especially David Miscavige) seem to be oriented in surviving as a business than a self-serving ego boost like some of these ham and egger cults do...

    Scientology was started by I believe the biggest science fiction writer LRH, who decided to make a religion. If you watch Leah Remini, you see it's nothing but a BS money-making machine that uses fear to keep patrons in line. David Miscavige is also accused of rewriting the text to recharge people to take the course... They feed you bull shit that once you question, they say the fault of not understanding lies with YOU. Like me saying 2+2=orange and when you disagree, I'll just say you are not advanced enough to understand. They don't let you leave and they have a team of people to disparage your rep if you question them publicly. Probably the highest powered cult in the world, under the guise of training to save the world.

    I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but like OJ, you can be proven guilty but not convicted in public... I think a parallel applies for Scientology here too. It's easy to make fun of blatantly scams like Scientology of less populated cults like the Heaven's Gate as @Plenty O’Toole mentioned (PS I agree with you, that's what I meant by the Hale-bop I was trying to type off memory while I should have looked up the name, but we are talking about the same group)

    @Wildcard People can say the same about Christianity too! I've had different experiences but similar results in as I had a gut feeling that what I was being told was wrong and self-serving. I couldn't just blindly accept" what I was being told, and I felt really lost and inadequate... Also very judged. I remember listening to a priest saying that we need to dig down and give as much as we can. That the church was suffering and if we loved God we'd do more... He gave examples to volunteer if we had no $$ or if we had a construction company to donate services... The alternate agenda of greed certainly clouded the supposed message of God.

    So I guess I wonder if the difference between a religion and a cult can partly be the believers??? Stories in the Bible as explained to me just recently make no sense literally, but metaphorically they are great stories that evoke a certain thought process to help you get through life... But this idea of only 1 interpretation that causes fights is also an issue. In cults, the one interpretation of the leader is what goes, no question. Religion, it doesn’t matter as much as long as you do basic things, like pay and spread the word. Nxivm is another cult... A sex trafficking ring disguised as a self-help group; so god doesn’t necessarily need to be involved…

    I’m not an atheist, since that’s an all or nothing stance, and I simply don’t have all the facts to say it’s either or… I know Agnostic is the pussy way out, but I simply don’t know what is out there… I believe it’s a combination of everything and everything else, and we need to individually pick the info that works for us and gives us a better life… God is not an old man in the cloud, but the original energy that we all come from… We are all spiritually connected to. Our differences are only used to learn from each other so we understand ourselves more. So I do thing a god exists, in the physical realm, he is the universe, in the spiritual he is everything else but becomes everything in a spiritual realm. We are not just humans, but human beings… 2 parts of existence. So as long as you believe something in your heart, then it’s true… As long as its not believed out of fear.

    There is a law that says energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted or transferred. I CHOOSE to believe that this is the case here too… When we die, our energy converts back to the original spiritual. I choose to believe this because if the lights are just out, I’ll never know I’m wrong and this helps me get over how shitty life can be and makes excuses for the mistakes I made… The fact that that there is a reincarnation or do over….

    I’ve formed my opinion of this by reading, and yes, hallucinogenic drugs 😝  I’ve came to conclusions that later learned others also came to… so this is what I choose to believe. I believe religion is the idea of well meaning ideas to help people through, while cults are negative… So All cults are religions and all religions can be cults depending on the part… But my official answer: I choose to believe this since no one on this physical realm knows…

    I’m in danger of derailing my own thread into philosophy in personal beliefs…not a cult/religion discussion… I try to tie it back into a story:

    I remember fighting with @politux over this… he believes the end is just the end… I’d like to think he’s admitting I was right now, but if he was still here, I can HEAR him telling me that MY opinions can be the start of another cult if people blindly followed me… He’d be right… So It’s gotta be a personal journey… Just because I’m right doesn’t mean you are wrong if your opinion is different… or vice versa. I told him if he believed deep down that there is nothing, then he’s right… God is everything and everything else… how can you know who you are if you don’t know who you are not??? Kinda like never having Chocolate ice cream ever, only to realize it’s your favorite thing (bad analogy, but you get it I think). That’s my religion since it brings me peace, but others who think I’m full of shit or wrong will say this is cult type thinking. If they believed in their heard I was wrong, then they would be right. BUT if you were my former neighbors who disagreed out of PURE FEAR that my thoughts deviate from the exact text of the Bible without giving it a chance, they’d be wrong…

    To recap all my log windedness: my thoughts are Love can be religion and is good way to help live life. Anything out of fear is cult like… And we need to look at individual thoughts, not a specific religion as a whole…
    (This post was last modified: 07-16-2019, 02:56 PM by LZA.)
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    #5
    I watched a little bit of this last night. It seemed very interesting and I thought of you, @LZA

    Joe Rogan - What's the Difference Between a Cult and a Religion?

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    #6
    Ya, I saw that. I disagreed with his example of the difference between the leader having to be dead for it to be a religion since that would make L Ron Hubbard's Scientology a religion since he's dead now.

    I still think religion is more positive serving for the greater good regardless if you believe it all, and cults are self-serving for the leaders and can be negative and twisted. Like Jim Jones was certainly a cult, as well as the Waco Guy (David Karesh), while Christianity, Judaism, I supposed is more of a life code and gives people hope... I guess they can be self-serving, so I guess it's up to the individual to take the positivity out if it and ignore the rest. There really is no positive things you can take from cults. Even if you believe in a cult, it's a brainwash and not good for the individual.

    The variables are so dynamic, it's a grey line. I agree with his guest... Religions provide a positive value for the most part...But I agree with what Joe is saying of that there is no clear line.
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    #7
    Joe over-simplifies everything. He is a good interviewer (meaning he knows how to get people talking) but he isn't really all that knowledgeable, at all. He is a bright guy, but he has his ditsy tendencies, too.
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