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cult, culture
The term Cult usually refers to a social group defined by their religious beliefs The term itself is controversial and has divergent definitions in popular culture and in academia and has been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study In the sociological classifications of religious movements, a cult is a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices, although this is often unclear The word "cult" has always been controversial because it is in a pejorative sense considered a subjective term, used as an ad hominem attack against groups with differing doctrines or practices Cults range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions

Beginning in the 1930s, cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior From the 1940s the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movement, and labelled them as cults for their "un-Christian" unorthodox beliefs The secular anti-cult movement began in the 1970s and opposed certain groups, often charging them with mind control and partly motivated in reaction to acts of violence committed by some of their members Some of the claims and actions of the anti-cult movements have been disputed by scholars and by the news media, leading to further public controversy

The term "new religious movement" refers to religions which have appeared since the mid-1800s Many, but not all, have been considered to be cults Sub-categories of cults include: Doomsday cults, political cults, destructive cults, racist cults, polygamist cults, and terrorist cults Governmental reactions to cult-related issues have also been a source of controversy


  • 1 Terminological history
  • 2 Scholarly studies
  • 3 Anti-cult movements
    • 31 Christian countercult movement
    • 32 Secular anti-cult movement
    • 33 Reactions to the anti-cult movements
  • 4 New religious movements
  • 5 Doomsday cults
  • 6 Political cults
  • 7 Destructive cults
  • 8 Racist cults
  • 9 Polygamist cults
  • 10 Terrorist cults
  • 11 Regional developments
    • 111 USA
    • 112 Europe
    • 113 China
  • 12 See also
  • 13 Footnotes
  • 14 References
  • 15 Bibliography

Terminological history

Further information: Cult religious practice, Sociological classifications of religious movements, Holiness movement, Faith healing, Anti-cult movement, and ritual abuse panic Howard P Becker's church-sect typology, based on Ernst Troeltsch original theory and upon which the modern concept of cults, sects, and new religious movements is based

The word "cult" was originally used not to describe a group of religionists, but for the act of worship or religious ceremony It was first used in the early 17th century, borrowed via the French culte, from Latin cultus worship This, in turn, was derived from the adjective cultus inhabited, cultivated, worshiped, based on the verb colere care, cultivate The word "culture" is also derived from the Latin words cultura and cultus, which in general terms refers to the customary beliefs, social forms and material traits of a religious or social group

While the literal sense of the word in English is still in use, a derived sense of "excessive devotion" arose in the 19th century The terms cult and cultist came to be used in medical literature in the United States in the 1930s for what would now be termed faith healing, especially for the US Holiness movement This experienced a surge of popularity at the time, but extended to other forms of alternative medicine as well In the English speaking world, the word often carries derogatory connotations, but in other European languages, it is used as English-speakers use the word "religion", sometimes causing confusion for English-speakers reading material translated from other languages

By the late 1930s, the Christian countercult movement began applying the term cult to what would formerly have been termed heresy This usage became mainstream by the 1960s, via the best-selling The Kingdom of the Cults 1965 This terminological development, which had so far been characteristic of the religious sociology of the United States, entered international use with the "ritual abuse" moral panic of the 1980s, which originated in the United States The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the international spread throughout most of the Anglosphere and some parts of Europe

Also from the 1990s, as part of the discrimination discourse at the height of the US "culture war", US neopagan religions, especially Wicca, began to protest through literature their classification as cults as discriminatory Because of this usage of "cult" began to be discouraged in favour of the neutral new religious movement in sociological literature Proponents of such an approach have sometimes been denounced as "procult apologists" by members of the anti-cult movement

Most sociologists and scholars of religion also began to reject the word "cult" altogether because of its negative connotations in mass culture Some began to advocate the use of new terms like "new religious movement", "alternative religion" or "novel religion" to describe most of the groups that had come to be referred to as "cults", yet none of these terms have had much success in popular culture or in the media Other scholars have pushed to redeem the word "cult" as one fit for neutral academic discourse

In a survey study containing 258 participants, negative perceptions of the terms "new religious movement", "cult" and "satanic cult" were found However, these terms differed significantly ie, not due to chance in how negatively the participants perceived them "New religious movement" was found to be the most favourable term, followed by "cult" and then "Satanic cult"

Scholarly studies

Max Weber 1864–1920, one of the first scholars to study cults

Sociologist Max Weber 1864–1920 found that cults based on charismatic leadership often follow the routinization of charisma

The concept of a "cult" as a sociological classification was introduced in 1932 by American sociologist Howard P Becker as an expansion of German theologian Ernst Troeltsch's church-sect typology Troeltsch's aim was to distinguish between three main types of religious behavior: churchly, sectarian and mystical Becker created four categories out of Troeltsch's first two by splitting church into "ecclesia" and "denomination", and sect into "sect" and "cult" Like Troeltsch's "mystical religion", Becker's cults were small religious groups lacking in organization and emphasizing the private nature of personal beliefs Later sociological formulations built on these characteristics, placing an additional emphasis on cults as deviant religious groups "deriving their inspiration from outside of the predominant religious culture" This is often thought to lead to a high degree of tension between the group and the more mainstream culture surrounding it, a characteristic shared with religious sects In this sociological terminology, sects are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, while cults arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices

In the early 1960s, sociologist John Lofland lived with South Korean missionary Young Oon Kim and some of the first American Unification Church members in California, during which he studied their activities in trying to promote their beliefs and win new members Lofland noted that most of their efforts were ineffective and that most of the people who joined did so because of personal relationships with other members, often family relationships Lofland published his findings in 1964 as a doctoral thesis entitled: "The World Savers: A Field Study of Cult Processes", and in 1966 in book form by Prentice-Hall as Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization and Maintenance of Faith It is considered to be one of the most important and widely cited studies of the process of religious conversion

Sociologist Roy Wallis 1945–1990 argued that a cult is characterized by "epistemological individualism", meaning that "the cult has no clear locus of final authority beyond the individual member" Cults, according to Wallis, are generally described as "oriented towards the problems of individuals, loosely structured, tolerant non-exclusive", making "few demands on members", without possessing a "clear distinction between members and non-members", having "a rapid turnover of membership" and as being transient collectives with vague boundaries and fluctuating belief systems Wallis asserts that cults emerge from the "cultic milieu"

In 1978 Bruce Campbell noted that cults are associated with beliefs in a divine element in the individual It is either Soul, Self, or True Self Cults are inherently ephemeral and loosely organized There is a major theme in many of the recent works that show the relationship between cults and mysticism

Campbell brings two major types of cults to attention One is mystical and the other is instrumental This can divide the cults into being either occult or metaphysical assemblies On the basis that Campbell proposes about cults, they are non-traditional religious groups based on belief in a divine element in the individual Other than the two main types, there is also a third type This is service-oriented Campbell states that "the kinds of stable forms which evolve in the development of religious organization will bear a significant relationship to the content of the religious experience of the founder of founders"

Dick Anthony, a forensic psychologist known for his criticism of brainwashing theory of conversion, has defended some so-called cults, and in 1988 argued that involvement in such movements may often have beneficial, rather than harmful effects, saying "There's a large research literature published in mainstream journals on the mental health effects of new religions For the most part the effects seem to be positive in any way that's measurable"

In their 1996 book Theory of Religion, American sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge propose that the formation of cults can be explained through the rational choice theory In The Future of Religion they comment "in the beginning, all religions are obscure, tiny, deviant cult movements" According to Marc Galanter, Professor of Psychiatry at NYU, typical reasons why people join cults include a search for community and a spiritual quest Stark and Bainbridge, in discussing the process by which individuals join new religious groups, have even questioned the utility of the concept of conversion, suggesting that affiliation is a more useful concept

Anti-cult movements

Christian countercult movement

Main article: Christian countercult movement Walter Martin 1928–1989, American author and leading figure in the Christian countercult movement

In the 1940s, the long held opposition by some established Christian denominations to non-Christian religions and/or supposedly heretical, or counterfeit, Christian sects crystallized into a more organized Christian countercult movement in the United States For those belonging to the movement, all religious groups claiming to be Christian, but deemed outside of Christian orthodoxy, were considered cults Christian cults are new religious movements which have a Christian background but are considered to be theologically deviant by members of other Christian churches In his influential book The Kingdom of the Cults first published in the United States in 1965, Christian scholar Walter Martin defines Christian cults as groups that follow the personal interpretation of an individual, rather than the understanding of the Bible accepted by mainstream Christianity He mentions The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarian Universalism, and Unity as examples

The Christian countercult movement asserts that Christian sects whose beliefs are partially or wholly not in accordance with the Bible are erroneous It also states that a religious sect can be considered a cult if its beliefs involve a denial of what they view as any of the essential Christian teachings such as salvation, the Trinity, Jesus himself as a person, the ministry of Jesus, the Miracles of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Death of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Rapture

Countercult literature usually expresses doctrinal or theological concerns and a missionary or apologetic purpose It presents a rebuttal by emphasizing the teachings of the Bible against the beliefs of non-fundamental Christian sects Christian countercult activist writers also emphasize the need for Christians to evangelize to followers of cults

Secular anti-cult movement

Main article: Anti-cult movement

In the early 1970s, a secular opposition movement to groups considered cults had taken shape The organizations that formed the secular "anti-cult movement" ACM often acted on behalf of relatives of "cult" converts who did not believe their loved ones could have altered their lives so drastically by their own free will A few psychologists and sociologists working in this field suggested that brainwashing techniques were used to maintain the loyalty of cult members, while others rejected the idea The belief that cults brainwashed their members became a unifying theme among cult critics and in the more extreme corners of the anti-cult movement techniques like the sometimes forceful "deprogramming" of cult members was practiced

Secular cult opponents belonging to the anti-cult movement usually define a "cult" as a group that tends to manipulate, exploit, and control its members Specific factors in cult behavior are said to include manipulative and authoritarian mind control over members, communal and totalistic organization, aggressive proselytizing, systematic programs of indoctrination, and perpetuation in middle-class communities In the mass media, and among average citizens, "cult" gained an increasingly negative connotation, becoming associated with things like kidnapping, brainwashing, psychological abuse, sexual abuse and other criminal activity, and mass suicide While most of these negative qualities usually have real documented precedents in the activities of a very small minority of new religious groups, mass culture often extends them to any religious group viewed as culturally deviant, however peaceful or law abiding it may be

While some psychologists were receptive to these theories, sociologists were for the most part sceptical of their ability to explain conversion to NRMs In the late 1980s, psychologists and sociologists started to abandon theories like brainwashing and mind-control While scholars may believe that various less dramatic coercive psychological mechanisms could influence group members, they came to see conversion to new religious movements principally as an act of a rational choice

Reactions to the anti-cult movements

Because of the increasingly pejorative use of the words "cult" and "cult leader" since the cult debate of the 1970s, some academics, in addition to groups referred to as cults, argue that these are words to be avoided Catherine Wessinger Loyola University New Orleans has stated that the word "cult" represents just as much prejudice and antagonism as racial slurs or derogatory words for women and homosexuals She has argued that it is important for people to become aware of the bigotry conveyed by the word, drawing attention to the way it dehumanises the group's members and their children Labeling a group as subhuman, she says, becomes a justification for violence against it She also says that labeling a group a "cult" makes people feel safe, because the "violence associated with religion is split off from conventional religions, projected onto others, and imagined to involve only aberrant groups" This fails to take into account that child abuse, sexual abuse, financial extortion and warfare have also been committed by believers of mainstream religions, but the pejorative "cult" stereotype makes it easier to avoid confronting this uncomfortable fact

Sociologist Amy Ryan has argued for the need to differentiate those groups that may be dangerous from groups that are more benign Ryan notes the sharp differences between definition from cult opponents, who tend to focus on negative characteristics, and those of sociologists, who aim to create definitions that are value-free The movements themselves may have different definitions of religion as well George Chryssides also cites a need to develop better definitions to allow for common ground in the debate In Defining Religion in American Law, Bruce J Casino presents the issue as crucial to international human rights laws Limiting the definition of religion may interfere with freedom of religion, while too broad a definition may give some dangerous or abusive groups "a limitless excuse for avoiding all unwanted legal obligations"

New religious movements

Main article: New religious movement

A new religious movement NRM is a religious community or spiritual group of modern origins since the mid-1800s, which has a peripheral place within its society's dominant religious culture NRMs can be novel in origin or part of a wider religion, in which case they are distinct from pre-existing denominations Scholars have estimated that NRMs, of which some but not all have been labelled as cults, number in the tens of thousands worldwide, most of which originated in Asia or Africa The great majority have only a few members, some have thousands and only very few have more than a million In 2007, religious scholar Elijah Siegler commented that, although no NRM had become the dominant faith in any country, many of the concepts which they had first introduced often referred to as "New Age" ideas have become part of worldwide mainstream culture

Doomsday cults

Main article: Doomsday cult

"Doomsday cult" is an expression used to describe groups who believe in Apocalypticism and Millenarianism, and can refer both to groups that prophesy catastrophe and destruction, and to those that attempt to bring it about A 1997 psychological study by Festinger, Riecken, and Schachter found that people turned to a cataclysmic world view after they had repeatedly failed to find meaning in mainstream movements Leon Festinger and his colleagues had observed members of a small UFO religion called the Seekers for several months, and recorded their conversations both prior to and after a failed prophecy from their charismatic leader Their work was later published in the book When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World In the late 1980s doomsday cults were a major topic of news reports, with some reporters and commentators considering them a serious threat to society

Political cults

LaRouche Movement members in Stockholm protesting the Treaty of Lisbon

A political cult is a cult with a primary interest in political action and ideology Groups that some writers have termed as "political cults", mostly advocating far-left or far-right agendas, have received some attention from journalists and scholars In their 2000 book On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left, Dennis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth discuss about a dozen organizations in the United States and Great Britain that they characterize as cults In a separate article Tourish says that in his usage:

The word cult is not a term of abuse, as this paper tries to explain It is nothing more than a shorthand expression for a particular set of practices that have been observed in a variety of dysfunctional organisations

The LaRouche Movement and Gino Parente's National Labor Federation NATLFED are examples of political groups that have been described as "cults", based in the United States; another is Marlene Dixon's now-defunct Democratic Workers Party a critical history of the DWP is given in Bounded Choice by Janja A Lalich, a sociologist and former DWP member

The followers of Ayn Rand were characterized as a "cult" by economist Murray N Rothbard during her lifetime, and later by Michael Shermer The core group around Rand was called the "Collective" and is now defunct the chief group disseminating Rand's ideas today is the Ayn Rand Institute Although the Collective advocated an individualist philosophy, Rothbard claimed they were organized in the manner of a "Leninist" organization

In Britain, the Workers Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyist group led by the late Gerry Healy and strongly supported by actress Vanessa Redgrave, has been described by others, who have been involved in the Trotskyist movement, as having been a cult or as displaying cult-like characteristics in the 1970s and 1980s It is also described as such by Tourish and Wohlforth in their writings In his review of Tourish and Wohlforth's book, Bob Pitt, a former member of the WRP concedes that it had a "cult-like character" but argues that rather than being typical of the far left, this feature actually made the WRP atypical and "led to its being treated as a pariah within the revolutionary left itself" Workers' Struggle LO, Lutte ouvrière in France, publicly headed by Arlette Laguiller but revealed in the 1990s to be directed by Robert Barcia, has often been criticized as a cult, for example by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and his older brother Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, as well as L'Humanité and Libération

In his book Les Sectes Politiques: 1965–1995 translation: Political cults: 1965–1995, French writer Cyril Le Tallec considered some religious groups as cults involved in politics, including the League for Catholic Counter-Reformation, the Cultural Office of Cluny, New Acropolis, Sōka Gakkai, the Divine Light Mission, Tradition Family Property TFP, Longo-Mai, the Supermen Club and the Association for Promotion of the Industrial Arts Solazaref

In 1990 Lucy Patrick commented: "Although we live in a democracy, cult behavior manifests itself in our unwillingness to question the judgment of our leaders, our tendency to devalue outsiders and to avoid dissent We can overcome cult behavior, he says, by recognizing that we have dependency needs that are inappropriate for mature people, by increasing anti-authoritarian education, and by encouraging personal autonomy and the free exchange of ideas"

Destructive cults

Jim Jones the leader of the People's Temple

"Destructive cult" has generally referred to groups whose members have, through deliberate action, physically injured or killed other members of their own group or other people The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance limit use of the term to specifically refer to religious groups that "have caused or are liable to cause loss of life among their membership or the general public" Psychologist Michael Langone, executive director of the anti-cult group International Cultic Studies Association, defines a destructive cult as "a highly manipulative group which exploits and sometimes physically and/or psychologically damages members and recruits"

John Gordon Clark cited totalitarian systems of governance and an emphasis on money making as characteristics of a destructive cult In Cults and the Family the authors cite Shapiro, who defines a "destructive cultism" as a sociopathic syndrome, whose distinctive qualities include: "behavioral and personality changes, loss of personal identity, cessation of scholastic activities, estrangement from family, disinterest in society and pronounced mental control and enslavement by cult leaders"

In the opinion of Benjamin Zablocki, a Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, destructive cults are at high risk of becoming abusive to members He states that this is in part due to members' adulation of charismatic leaders contributing to the leaders becoming corrupted by power According to Barrett, the most common accusation made against destructive cults is sexual abuse According to Kranenborg, some groups are risky when they advise their members not to use regular medical care

Some researchers have criticized the usage of the term "destructive cult", writing that it is used to describe groups which are not necessarily harmful in nature to themselves or others In his book Understanding New Religious Movements, John A Saliba writes that the term is overgeneralized Saliba sees the Peoples Temple as the "paradigm of a destructive cult", where those that use the term are implying that other groups will also commit mass suicide

Writing in the book Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field, contributor Julius H Rubin complains that the term has been used to discredit certain groups in the court of public opinion In his work Cults in Context author Lorne L Dawson writes that although the Unification Church "has not been shown to be violent or volatile", it has been described as a destructive cult by "anticult crusaders" In 2002, the German government was held by Germany's Federal Constitutional Court to have defamed the Osho movement by referring to it, among other things, as a "destructive cult" with no factual basis

Racist cults

Cross burning by Ku Klux Klan members in 1915

Sociologist and historian Orlando Patterson has described the Ku Klux Klan, which arose in the American South after the Civil War as an heretical Christian cult, and their persecution of African Americans and others as a form of human sacrifice Secret Aryan cults in Germany and Austria in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries had a strong influence on the rise of Nazism Modern Skinhead groups in the United States tend to use the same recruitment techniques as destructive cults

Polygamist cults

Cults that teach and practice polygamy, marriage between more than two people, most often polygyny, one man having multiple wives, have long been noted, although they are a minority It has been estimated that there are around 50,000 members of polygamist cults in North America Often polygamist cults are viewed negatively by legal authorities and by society, sometimes including related mainstream denominations, because of perceived links to possible domestic abuse and child abuse

In Israel, authorities have prosecuted the leaders of two polygamist cults Goel Ratzon was living with 32 women and more than 89 children in one compound in Tel Aviv He was sentenced to 30 years in jail for sex offences against minors under the age of 16 He was acquitted of the offense of holding women in slavery The State argued that in polygamous cults, slavery can be extended to "mental slavery", by way of mind control The Tel Aviv District Court found that the theory of mind control is not universally accepted The Jerusalem Police arrested Daniel Ambash, a Frenchman living with 6 women and 17 children All of the women and children were begging for money in the streets of Jersalem He was sentenced to 26 years in prison for rape and child abuse It was argued that the women who remained loyal to him suffer from a shared psychosis of Folie à deux

The Church of Jesus Christ Restored is a small sect in the Latter Day Saint movement based at Chatsworth, Ontario, Canada It has been referred to in the news media as a polygamous cult and has been the subject of criminal investigation by local authorities

In 2009, the film Follow the Prophet depicted life in an American polygamist cult

Terrorist cults

In the book Jihad and Sacred Vengeance: Psychological Undercurrents of History, psychiatrist Peter A Olsson compares Osama bin Laden to certain cult leaders including Jim Jones, David Koresh, Shoko Asahara, Marshall Applewhite, Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro, and says that each of these individuals fit at least eight of the nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder In the book Seeking the Compassionate Life: The Moral Crisis for Psychotherapy and Society authors Goldberg and Crespo also refer to Osama bin Laden as a "destructive cult leader"

At a 2002 meeting of the American Psychological Association APA, anti-cultist Steven Hassan said that Al Qaida fulfills the characteristics of a destructive cult He added: "We need to apply what we know about destructive mind-control cults, and this should be a priority with the war on terrorism We need to understand the psychological aspects of how people are recruited and indoctrinated so we can slow down recruitment We need to help counsel former cult members and possibly use some of them in the war against terrorism"

In an article on Al-Qaida published in The Times, journalist Mary Ann Sieghart wrote that al-Qaida resembles a "classic cult", commenting: "Al-Qaida fits all the official definitions of a cult It indoctrinates its members; it forms a closed, totalitarian society; it has a self-appointed, messianic and charismatic leader; and it believes that the ends justify the means"

The Shining Path guerrilla movement active in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s has been described variously as a "cult" and an intense "cult of personality" The Tamil Tigers have also been qualified as such by French magazine L'Express' The People's Mujahedin of Iran, a leftist guerrilla movement based in Iraq, has been controversially described as a political cult and as a movement that is abusive towards its own members

Former Mujaheddin member and now author and academic Dr Masoud Banisadr stated in a May 2005 speech in Spain :

If you ask me: are all cults a terrorist organisation My answer is no, as there are many peaceful cults at present around the world and in the history of mankind But if you ask me are all terrorist organisations some sort of cult, my answer is yes Even if they start as ordinary modern political party or organisation, to prepare and force their members to act without asking any moral questions and act selflessly for the cause of the group and ignore all the ethical, cultural, moral or religious codes of the society and humanity, those organisations have to change into a cult Therefore to understand an extremist or a terrorist organisation one has to learn about a Cult

Regional developments

Falun Gong books symbolically destroyed by Chinese government

Sociologists critical to this negative politicized use of the word "cult" argue that it may adversely impact the religious freedoms of group members In the 1980s clergymen and officials of the French government expressed concern that some orders and other groups within the Roman Catholic Church would be adversely affected by anti-cult laws then being considered

The application of the labels "cult" or "sect" to religious movements in government documents signifies the popular and negative use of the term "cult" in English and a functionally similar use of words translated as "sect" in several European languages While these documents utilize similar terminology they do not necessarily include the same groups nor is their assessment of these groups based on agreed criteria Other governments and world bodies also report on new religious movements but do not use these terms to describe the groups

At the height of the counter-cult movement and ritual abuse scare of the 1990s, some governments published lists of cults Since the 2000s, some governments have again distanced themselves from such classifications of religious movements


In the 1970s, the scientific status of the "brainwashing theory" became a central topic in US court cases where the theory was used to try to justify the use of the forceful deprogramming of cult members Meanwhile, sociologists critical of these theories assisted advocates of religious freedom in defending the legitimacy of new religious movements in court While the official response to new religious groups has been mixed across the globe, some governments aligned more with the critics of these groups to the extent of distinguishing between "legitimate" religion and "dangerous", "unwanted" cults in public policy

In the United States religious activities of cults are protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits governmental establishment of religion and protects freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly However, no religious or cult members are granted any special immunity from criminal charges


An anti-cult movement comparable to the one in the United States originated in Russia in the 1990s In 2008, the Russian Interior Ministry prepared a list of "extremist groups", which included groups adhering to militant Islamism and "Pagan cults"

In the United Kingdom, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Edinburgh City Council have ruled that the word "cult" is not "threatening, abusive or insulting" as defined by the Public Order Act, and that there is no objection to its use in public protests

France and Belgium have taken policy positions which accept "brainwashing" theories uncritically, while other European nations, like Sweden and Italy, are cautious about brainwashing and have adopted more neutral responses to new religions Scholars have suggested that outrage following the mass murder/suicides perpetuated by the Solar Temple as well as the more latent xenophobic and anti-American attitudes have contributed significantly to the extremity of European anti-cult positions


For centuries, governments in China have categories certain religions as xiejiao Chinese: 邪教; pinyin: xiéjiào – sometimes translated as "evil cult" or as "heterodox teaching" In imperial China, the classification of a religion as xiejiao did not necessarily mean that a religion’s teachings were believed to be false or inauthentic, but rather, the label was applied to religious groups that were not authorized by the state, or that were seen as challenging the legitimacy of the state In modern China, the term xiejiao continues to be used to denote teachings that the government disapproves of, and these groups face suppression and punishment by authorities Fourteen different groups in China have been listed by the ministry of public security as xiejiao In addition, in 1999, Chinese authorities denounced the Falun Gong spiritual practice as a heretical teaching, and began a campaign to eliminate it According to Amnesty International, the persecution of Falun Gong includes a multifaceted propaganda campaign, a program of enforced ideological conversion and re-education, as well as a variety of extralegal coercive measures, such as arbitrary arrests, forced labour, and physical torture, sometimes resulting in death The Chinese government has sought to legitimize its treatment of Falun Gong by adopting the language of the Western anti-cult movement, but Western scholars familiar with the group say that Falun Gong does not meet the definition of a cult

See also

  • Anti-cult movement
  • Cult following
  • Cult of personality
  • Cults and new religious movements in literature and popular culture
  • Greco-Roman mysteries
  • List of new religious movements
  • New religious movement
  • Sect
  • Sociological classifications of religious movements


  1. ^ a b Zablocki, Benjamin David; Thomas Robbins 2001 Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field University of Toronto Press p 474 ISBN 0-8020-8188-6 
  2. ^ a b Richardson, James T 1993 "Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to Popular-Negative" Review of Religious Research Religious Research Association, Inc 34 4: 348–356 doi:102307/3511972 JSTOR 3511972 
  3. ^ Stark, Rodney; Bainbridge, William Sims 1996 A Theory of Religion Rutgers University Press p 124 ISBN 0-8135-2330-3 
  4. ^ OED, citing American Journal of Sociology 85 1980, p 1377: "Cults, like other deviant social movements, tend to recruit people with a grievance, people who suffer from a some variety of deprivation"
  5. ^ Dr Chuck Shaw – Sects and Cults – Greenville Technical College – Retrieved 21 March 2013
  6. ^ Olson, Paul J 2006 "The Public Perception of 'Cults' and 'New Religious Movements'" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 45 1: 97–106
  7. ^ Dr Chuck Shaw - Sects and Cults - Greenville Technical College - Retrieved 21 March 2013
  8. ^ Bromley, David Melton, J Gordon 2002 Cults, Religion, and Violence West Nyack, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press
  9. ^ a b Eileen Barker, 1999, "New Religious Movements: their incidence and significance", New Religious Movements: challenge and response, Bryan Wilson and Jamie Cresswell editors, Routledge ISBN 0-415-20050-4
  10. ^ Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley – The Encyclopedia of Christianity: P-Sh, Volume 4 page 897 Retrieved 21 March 2013
  11. ^ "Definition of CULT" 
  12. ^ culture - Merriam-Webster Retrieved 25 May 2014
  13. ^ In W S Taylor, 'Science and cult', Psychological Review, Vol 372, March 1930, cultist is still used in the sense that would now be expressed by "religionist", ie anyone adopting a religious worldview as opposed to a scientific one In the New York State Journal of Medicine of 1932, p 84 and other medical publications of the 1930s; eg Morris Fishbein, Fads and Quackery in Healing: An Analysis of the Foibles of the Healing Cults, 1932, "cultist" is used of those adhering to what was then called "healing cults", and would now be referred to as faith healing, but also of other forms of alternative medicine "cultist" in quotes of a chiropractor in United States naval medical bulletin, Volume 28, 1930, p 366
  14. ^ TL Brink 2008 Psychology: A Student Friendly Approach "Unit 13: Social Psychology" pp 320
  15. ^ The Chaos of Cults, by JKvan Baalen, 1938, 2nd revised and enlarged ed 1956 "cult" in the sense of "heresy" is also found in JOswald Sanders, Heresies Ancient and Modern 1948
  16. ^ A European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Sectarianism was set up in 1994
  17. ^ "This book tells you why the propaganda about and misrepresentation of Witches as evil, Satan-worshipping cultists is absolutely false" Scott Cunningham, The Truth about Witchcraft 1992
  18. ^ Paul J Olson, The Public Perception of “Cults” and “New Religious Movements” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; Mar2006, Vol 45 Issue 1, 97-106
  19. ^ so Margaret Singer, Janja Lalich, Cults in Our Midst 1995, in reference to Eileen Barker See also Tim Stafford, "The Kingdom of the Cult Watchers", Christianity Today October 7, 1991
  20. ^ Dawson, Lorne L 2006 Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-542009-8 
  21. ^ Goldman, Marion 2006 "Review Essay: Cults, New Religions, and the Spiritual Landscape: A Review of Four Collections" Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion 45 1: 87–96 doi:101111/j1468-5906200600007x 
  22. ^ Bainbridge, William Sims 1997 The Sociology of Religious Movements New York: Routledge p 24 ISBN 0-415-91202-4 
  23. ^ a b Ogloff, J R; Pfeifer, J E 1992 "Cults and the law: A discussion of the legality of alleged cult activities" Behavioral Sciences & the Law 10 1: 117–140 doi:101002/bsl2370100111 
  24. ^ Weber, Maximillan Theory of Social and Economic Organization Chapter: "The Nature of Charismatic Authority and its Routinization" translated by A R Anderson and Talcott Parsons, 1947 Originally published in 1922 in German under the title Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft chapter III, § 10 available online
  25. ^ Swatos, William H Jr 1998 "Church-Sect Theory" In William H Swatos Jr Encyclopedia of Religion and Society Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira pp 90–93 ISBN 978-0-7619-8956-1 
  26. ^ Campbell, Colin 1998 "Cult" In William H Swatos Jr Encyclopedia of Religion and Society Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira pp 122–123 ISBN 978-0-7619-8956-1 
  27. ^ Richardson, 1993 p 349
  28. ^ Stark and Bainbridge, 1987 p 25
  29. ^ Stark and Bainbridge, 1987 p 124
  30. ^ The Early Unification Church History, Galen Pumphrey
  31. ^ Conversion, Unification Church, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary
  32. ^ Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America: African diaspora traditions and other American innovations, Volume 5 of Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, W Michael Ashcraft, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 ISBN 978-0-275-98717-6, page 180
  33. ^ Exploring New Religions, Issues in contemporary religion, George D Chryssides, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001 ISBN 978-0-8264-5959-6 page 1
  34. ^ Wallis, Roy Scientology: Therapeutic Cult to Religious Sect abstract only 1975
  35. ^ a b Bruce Campbell 1978 "A Typology of Cults" Sociology Analysis, Santa Barbara
  36. ^ Oldenburg, Don 2003-11-21 "Stressed to Kill: The Defense of Brainwashing; Sniper Suspect's Claim Triggers More Debate", Washington Post, reproduced in Defence Brief, issue 269, published by Steven Skurka & Associates
  37. ^ Dawson, Lorne L Cults in context: readings in the study of new religious movements, Transaction Publishers 1998, p 340, ISBN 978-0-7658-0478-5
  38. ^ Robbins, Thomas In Gods we trust: new patterns of religious pluralism in America, Transaction Publishers 1996, p 537, ISBN 978-0-88738-800-2
  39. ^ Sipchen, Bob 17 November 1988 "Ten Years After Jonestown, the Battle Intensifies Over the Influence of 'Alternative' Religions", Los Angeles Times
  40. ^ Stark, Rodney; Bainbridge, William 1996 A Theory of Religion Peter Lang Publishing pp 155 ISBN 0-8135-2330-3 
  41. ^ Eugene V Gallagher, 2004, The New Religious Movement Experience in America, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-32807-2, page xv
  42. ^ Galanter, Marc Editor, 1989, Cults and new religious movements: a report of the committee on psychiatry and religion of the American Psychiatric Association, ISBN 0-89042-212-5
  43. ^ Bader, Chris & A Demaris, A test of the Stark-Bainbridge theory of affiliation with religious cults and sects Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 35, 285–303 1996
  44. ^ Cowan, 2003
  45. ^ J Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America New York/London: Garland, 1986; revised edition, Garland, 1992 page 5
  46. ^ Walter Ralston Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany House, 2003, ISBN 0-7642-2821-8 page 18
  47. ^ Walter R Martin, The Rise of the Cults, reved Santa Ana: Vision House, 1978, pp 11-12
  48. ^ Richard Abanes, Defending the Faith: A Beginner's Guide to Cults and New Religions,Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, p 33
  49. ^ H Wayne House & Gordon Carle, Doctrine Twisting: How Core Biblical Truths are Distorted, Downers Grove: IVP, 2003
  50. ^ Garry W Trompf, "Missiology, Methodology and the Study of New Religious Movements", Religious Traditions Volume 10, 1987, pp 95-106
  51. ^ Walter R Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, reved Ravi Zacharias ed Bloomington: Bethany House, 2003, pp479-493
  52. ^ Ronald Enroth ed Evangelising the Cults, Milton Keynes: Word, 1990
  53. ^ Norman L Geisler & Ron Rhodes, When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic Misinterpretations, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997
  54. ^ a b c Richardson and Introvigne, 2001
  55. ^ Shupe, Anson 1998 "Anti-Cult Movement" In William H Swatos Jr Encyclopedia of Religion and Society Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira p 27 ISBN 978-0-7619-8956-1 
  56. ^ T Robbins and D Anthony 1982:283, quoted in Richardson 1993:351 "certain manipulative and authoritarian groups which allegedly employ mind control and pose a threat to mental health are universally labeled cults These groups are usually 1 authoritarian in their leadership; 2communal and totalistic in their organization; 3 aggressive in their proselytizing; 4 systematic in their programs of indoctrination; 5relatively new and unfamiliar in the United States; 6middle class in their clientele"
  57. ^ Melton, J Gordon 10 December 1999 "Brainwashing and the Cults: The Rise and Fall of a Theory" CESNUR: Center for Studies on New Religions Retrieved 15 June 2009 In the United States at the end of the 1970s, brainwashing emerged as a popular theoretical construct around which to understand what appeared to be a sudden rise of new and unfamiliar religious movements during the previous decade, especially those associated with the hippie street-people phenomenon 
  58. ^ Bromley, David G 1998 "Brainwashing" In William H Swatos Jr Ed Encyclopedia of Religion and Society Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira pp 61–62 ISBN 978-0-7619-8956-1  CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter link
  59. ^ Barker, Eileen: New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction London: Her Majesty's Stationery office, 1989
  60. ^ Janja, Lalich; Langone, Michael "Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised" International_Cultic_Studies_Association International Cultic Studies Association Retrieved 23 May 2014 
  61. ^ O'Reilly, Charles; Chatman, Jennifer 1996, Culture as Social Control: Corporations, Cults and Commitment PDF, University of Berkely, ISBN 1-55938-938-9 
  62. ^ Hill, Harvey, John Hickman and Joel McLendon 2001 "Cults and Sects and Doomsday Groups, Oh My: Media Treatment of Religion on the Eve of the Millennium" Review of Religious Research 43 1: 24–38 doi:102307/3512241 JSTOR 3512241  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  63. ^ van Driel, Barend; J Richardson 1988 "Cult versus sect: Categorization of new religions in American print media" Sociological Analysis 49 2: 171–183 doi:102307/3711011 JSTOR 3711011 
  64. ^ Wright, Stewart A 1997 "Media Coverage of Unconventional Religion: Any 'Good News' for Minority Faiths" Review of Religious Research Review of Religious Research, Vol 39, No 2 39 2: 101–115 doi:102307/3512176 JSTOR 3512176 
  65. ^ Barker, Eileen 1986 "Religious Movements: Cult and Anti-Cult Since Jonestown" Annual Review of Sociology 12: 329–346 doi:101146/annurevso12080186001553 
  66. ^ Ayella, Marybeth 1990 "They Must Be Crazy: Some of the Difficulties in Researching 'Cults'" American Behavioral Scientist 33 5: 562–577 doi:101177/0002764290033005005 
  67. ^ Cowan, 2003 ix
  68. ^ Pilgrims of Love: The Anthropology of a Global Sufi Cult By Pnina Werbner Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003 xvi, 348 pp "the excessive use of "cult" is also potentially misleading With its pejorative connotations"
  69. ^ Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to Popular-Negative, James T Richardson, Review of Religious Research, Vol 34, No 4 Jun 1993, pp 348–356 "the word cult is useless, and should be avoided because of the confusion between the historic meaning of the word and current pejorative use"
  70. ^ a b c d e Wessinger, Catherine Lowman 2000 How the Millennium Comes Violently New York, NY/London, UK: Seven Bridges Press p 4 ISBN 1-889119-24-5 
  71. ^ Amy Ryan: New Religions and the Anti-Cult Movement: Online Resource Guide in Social Sciences 2000
  72. ^ Casino Bruce J, Defining Religion in American Law, 1999
  73. ^ Clarke, Peter B 2006 New Religions in Global Perspective: A Study of Religious Change in the Modern World New York: Routledge
  74. ^ Elijah Siegler, 2007, New Religious Movements, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-183478-9
  75. ^ Elijah Siegler, 2007, New Religious Movements, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-183478-9, page 51
  76. ^ Jenkins, Phillip 2000 Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History Oxford University Press USA pp 216, 222 ISBN 0-19-514596-8 
  77. ^ Pargament, Kenneth I 1997 The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice Guilford Press pp 150–153, 340, section: "Compelling Coping in a Doomsday Cult" ISBN 1-57230-664-5 
  78. ^ Stangor, Charles 2004 Social Groups in Action and Interaction Psychology Press pp 42–43: "When Prophecy Fails" ISBN 1-84169-407-X 
  79. ^ Newman, Dr David M 2006 Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life Pine Forge Press p 86 ISBN 1-4129-2814-1 
  80. ^ Petty, Richard E; John T Cacioppo 1996 Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches Westview Press p 139: "Effect of Disconfirming an Important Belief" ISBN 0-8133-3005-X 
  81. ^ Festinger, Leon; Riecken, Henry W; Schachter, Stanley 1956 When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World University of Minnesota Press ISBN 1-59147-727-1 
  82. ^ Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History, Philip Jenkins, Oxford University Press, Apr 6, 2000, pages 215 and 216
  83. ^ Dennis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth, On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left, Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2000
  84. ^ Janja Lalich "On the Edge" review, Cultic Studies Review online journal, 2:2, 2003
  85. ^ Tourish and Wohlforth, 2000
  86. ^ Introduction to ‘Ideological Intransigence, Democratic Centralism and Cultism’
  87. ^ John Mintz, "Ideological Odyssey: From Old Left to Far Right", The Washington Post, 14 January 1985
  88. ^ Alisa Solomon, "Commie Fiends of Brooklyn", The Village Voice, 26 November 1996
  89. ^ Janja A Lalich, Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004
  90. ^ a b Rothbard, Murray "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult" Retrieved 30 July 2009  Rothbard's essay was later revised and printed as a pamphlet by Liberty magazine in 1987, and by the Center for Libertarian Studies in 1990
  91. ^ Shermer, Michael 1997 "The Unlikeliest Cult" Why People Believe Weird Things New York: WH Freeman and Company ISBN 0-7167-3090-1  This chapter is a revised version of Shermer, Michael 1993 "The Unlikeliest Cult in History" Skeptic 2 2: 74–81 
  92. ^ David North, Gerry Healy and His Place in the History of the Fourth International, Mehring Books, 1991 ISBN 0-929087-58-5
  93. ^ Tourish and Wohlforth, "Gerry Healy: Guru to a Star" Chapter 10, pp 156–172, in On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left, Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2000
  94. ^ "Cults, Sects and the Far Left" reviewed by Bob Pitt, What Next ISSN 1479-4322 No 17, 2000 online
  95. ^ "Arlette Laguiller n'aime pas le débat" in French L'Humanité 11 April 2002 
  96. ^ Cyril Le Tallec 2006 Les sectes politiques: 1965–1995 in French Retrieved 28 August 2009 
  97. ^ Library Journal Dec 1990 v115 n21 p1441 MagColl: 58A2543
  98. ^ Robinson, BA 25 July 2007 "Doomsday, destructive religious cults" Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance Retrieved 18 November 2007 
  99. ^ Turner, Francis J; Arnold Shanon Bloch, Ron Shor 1 September 1995 Differential Diagnosis & Treatment in Social Work 4th ed Free Press pp 1146: Chapter 105: "From Consultation to Therapy in Group Work With Parents of Cultists" ISBN 0-02-874007-6 
  100. ^ Clark, MD, John Gordon 4 November 1977 "The Effects of Religious Cults on the Health and Welfare of Their Converts" Congressional Record United States Congress 123 181: Extensions of Remarks P 37401–37403 Retrieved 18 November 2007 
  101. ^ Kaslow, Florence Whiteman; Marvin B Sussman 1982 Cults and the Family Haworth Press p 34 ISBN 0-917724-55-0 
  102. ^ Dr Zablocki, Benjamin Paper presented to a conference, Cults: Theory and Treatment Issues, 31 May 1997 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  103. ^ Kranenborg, Reender Dr Dutch language Sekten gevaarlijk of niet/Cults dangerous or not published in the magazine Religieuze bewegingen in Nederland/Religious movements in the Netherlands nr 31 Sekten II by the Free university Amsterdam 1996 ISSN 0169-7374 ISBN 90-5383-426-5
  104. ^ Saliba, John A; J Gordon Melton, foreword 2003 Understanding New Religious Movements Rowman Altamira p 144 ISBN 0-7591-0356-9 
  105. ^ Dawson, Lorne L 1998 Cults in Context: Readings in the Study of New Religious Movements Transaction Publishers p 349: "Sects and Violence" ISBN 0-7658-0478-6 
  106. ^ Hubert Seiwert: Freedom and Control in the Unified Germany: Governmental Approaches to Alternative Religions Since 1989 In: Sociology of Religion 2003 64 3: 367–375, S 370 Online edition
  107. ^ BVerfG, 1 BvR 670/91 dd 26 June 2002, Rn 57, 60, 62, 91–94, related press release German
  108. ^ ’’Rituals of Blood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries’’, Orlando Patterson, Basic Civitas Books, 1998
  109. ^ ’’The Occult Roots of Nazism’’, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, NYU Press, Sep 1, 1993
  110. ^ ’’Hate and Bias Crime: A Reader’’, Barbara Perry, Routledge, Nov 12, 2012, pages 330-331
  111. ^ The Youngest Bishop in England: Beneath the Surface of Mormonism, Robert Bridgstock, See Sharp Press, Jan 1, 2014, page 102
  112. ^ Laws Relating to Sex, Pregnancy, and Infancy: Issues in Criminal Justice, C Cusack, Springer, May 5, 2015
  113. ^ Ratzon Interview before being arrested
  114. ^ See:
    • Goel Ratzon accused of raping minors - Israel News, Ynetnews
    • Goel Ratzon accused of raping minors
    • Israeli police arrest harem 'messiah' Goel Ratzon
    • Israeli cult leader Goel Ratzon jailed for 30 years
  115. ^ "Home דף הבית" 
  116. ^ Daniel Ambash's Little Beggars
  117. ^ Sadistic cult leader sentenced to 26 years
  118. ^ Head of Jerusalem 'sadistic cult' convicted - Israel News, Ynetnews
  119. ^ Dunn, Scott 3 December 2012 "Polygamy, abuse alleged to be hallmarks of cult" Owen Sound Sun Times Owen Sound, Ontario Retrieved 1 February 2014 
  120. ^ Campbell, Jennifer 17 November 2012 "Allegations of polygamy, abuse and psychological torture within secretive sect" CTVnewsca CTV Television Network Retrieved 1 February 2014 
  121. ^ Gowan, Rob 7 April 2014 "Two brothers, alleged Ontario polygamist cult ring leaders, face 31 sex and assault charges" The Toronto Sun Owen Sound, Ont: Canoe Sun Media Retrieved 20 May 2014 
  122. ^ Leydon, Joe May 17, 2010 "Variety Reviews – Follow the Prophet" Variety ISSN 0042-2738 Retrieved October 20, 2011 
  123. ^ Flores Alvarez, Olivia April 30, 2010 "Follow the Prophet: Uncovering the Child Sex Abuse in Polygamous Sects" Houston Press: Hair Balls Retrieved October 21, 2011 
  124. ^ Sweeny, Joan April 16, 2010 "New Film Exposes Sex Offenses in Polygamy Cult" The Huffington Post Archived from the original on April 19, 2010 Retrieved October 20, 2011 We made this movie because we were outraged During the making of the film Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the fundamentalist church, went on the FBI's most wanted list, was caught, extradited to Utah and convicted as an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old 
  125. ^ Piven, Jerry S 2002 Jihad and Sacred Vengeance: Psychological Undercurrents of History iUniverse pp 104–114 ISBN 0-595-25104-8 
  126. ^ Goldberg, Carl; Virginia Crespo 2004 Seeking the Compassionate Life: The Moral Crisis for Psychotherapy and Society Praeger/Greenwood p 161 ISBN 0-275-98196-7 
  127. ^ Dittmann, Melissa 10 November 2002 "Cults of hatred: Panelists at a convention session on hatred asked APA to form a task force to investigate mind control among destructive cults" Monitor on Psychology 33 10 American Psychological Association p 30 Retrieved 18 November 2007 
  128. ^ Sieghart, Mary Ann 26 October 2001 "The cult figure we could do without" The Times 
  129. ^ Steven J Stern ed, Shining and Other Paths: War and Society in Peru, 1980–1995, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998
  130. ^ David Scott Palmer, Shining Path of Peru, New York: St Martin's Press, second ed, 1994
  131. ^ Gérard Chaliand, Interview in L'Express French
  132. ^ Elizabeth Rubin, "The Cult of Rajavi", The New York Times Magazine, 13 July 2003
  133. ^ Karl Vick, "Iran Dissident Group Labeled a Terrorist Cult", The Washington Post, 21 June 2003
  134. ^ Max Boot, "How to Handle Iran", Los Angeles Times, 25 October 2006
  135. ^ "No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the Mojahedin Khalq Camps", Human Rights Watch
  136. ^ Banisadr, Masoud 19–20 May 2005 "Cult and extremism / Terrorism" Combating Terrorism and Protecting Democracy: The Role of Civil Society Centro de Investigación para la Paz Retrieved 21 November 2007 
  137. ^ a b Davis, Dena S 1996 "Joining a Cult: Religious Choice or Psychological Aberration" Journal of Law and Health
  138. ^ Richardson, James T 2004 Regulating religion: case studies from around the globe New York : Kluwer Acad / Plenum Publ ISBN 0306478862 
  139. ^ a b c Richardson, James T; Introvigne, Massimo 2001 "'Brainwashing' Theories in European Parliamentary and Administrative Reports on 'Cults' and 'Sects'" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40 2: 143–168 doi:101111/0021-829400046 
  140. ^ or "sects" in German-speaking countries, the German term Sekten lit "sects" having assumed the same derogatory meaning as English "cult"
  141. ^ Austria: Beginning in 2011, the United States Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report, as released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor no longer distinguishes sects in Austria as a separate group "International Religious Freedom Report for 2012" Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Retrieved 3 September 2013 
    • Belgium: The Justice Commission of the Belgian House of Representatives published a report on cults in 1997 A Brussels Appeals Court in 2005 condemned the Belgian House of Representatives on the grounds that it had damaged the image of an organization listed
    • France: a parliamentary commission of the National Assembly compiled a list of purported cults in 1995 In 2005, the Prime Minister stated that the concerns addressed in the list "had become less pertinent" and that the government needed to balance its concern with cults with respect for public freedoms and laïcité
    • Germany: The legitimacy of a 1997 Berlin Senate report listing cults Sekten was defended in a court decision of 2003 Oberverwaltungsgericht Berlin OVG 5 B 2600 25 September 2003, and the list is still maintained by Berlin city authorities Sekten und Psychogruppen - Leitstelle Berlin
  142. ^ Lewis, 2004
  143. ^ Edelman, Bryan; Richardson, James T 2003 "Falun Gong and the Law: Development of Legal Social Control in China" Nova Religio 6 2: 312–331 doi:101525/nr200362312 
  144. ^ Сергей Иваненко 17 August 2009 О религиоведческих аспектах "антикультового движения" in Russian Retrieved 4 December 2009 
  145. ^ The new nobility : the restoration of Russia's security state and the enduring legacy of the KGB, Author: Andreĭ Soldatov; I Borogan, Publisher: New York, NY : PublicAffairs, 2010 pages 65-66
  146. ^ Schoolboy avoids prosecution for branding Scientology a 'cult' Daily Mail, 23 May 2008
  147. ^ Richardson and Introvigne, 2001 pp 144–146
  148. ^ Robbins, Thomas 2002 "Combating 'Cults' and 'Brainwashing' in the United States and Europe: A Comment on Richardson and Introvigne's Report" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40 2: 169–76 doi:101111/0021-829400047 
  149. ^ Beckford, James A 1998 "'Cult' Controversies in Three European Countries" Journal of Oriental Studies 8: 174–84 
  150. ^ a b Benjamin Penny, "The Religion of Falun Gong", University of Chicago Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-226-65501-7, p 6
  151. ^ Freedom House, "Report Analyzing Seven Secret Chinese Government Documents", 11 February 2002
  152. ^ Thomas Lum 25 May 2006 "CRS Report for Congress: China and Falun Gong" PDF Congressional Research Service 
  153. ^ "China: The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations"" Amnesty International 23 March 2000 Retrieved 17 March 2010 
  154. ^ Edelman, Bryan and Richardson, James "Falun Gong and the Law Development of Legal Social Control in China" Nova Religio 62 2003
  155. ^ Restall, Hugo "What if Falun Dafa is a 'cult'" The Asian Wall Street Journal, 14 February 2001
  156. ^ John Turley-Ewart, "Falun Gong persecution spreads to Canada", The National Post, 20 March 2004


  • Cowan, Douglas E 2003 Bearing False Witness An Introduction to the Christian Countercult Westport, CT: Praeger ISBN 978-0-275-97459-6 
  • Lewis, James R 2004 The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements Oxford University Press US ISBN 0-19-514986-6 
  • Richardson, James T 1993 "Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to Popular-Negative" Review of Religious Research 34 4: 348–356 doi:102307/3511972 JSTOR 3511972 
  • Richardson, James T; Introvigne, Massimo 2001 "'Brainwashing' Theories in European Parliamentary and Administrative Reports on 'Cults' and 'Sects'" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40 2: 143–168 doi:101111/0021-829400046 
  • Stark, Rodney; Bainbridge, William Sims 1987 The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival and Cult Formation Berkeley, CA: University of California Press ISBN 978-0-520-05731-9 


  • Barker, E 1989 New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction, London, HMSO
  • Bromley, David et al: Cults, Religion, and Violence, 2002, ISBN 0-521-66898-0
  • Enroth, Ronald 1992 Churches that Abuse, Zondervan, ISBN 0-310-53290-6 Full text online
  • Esquerre, Arnaud: La manipulation mentale Sociologie des sectes en France, Fayard, Paris, 2009
  • House, Wayne: Charts of Cults, Sects, and Religious Movements, 2000, ISBN 0-310-38551-2
  • Kramer, Joel and Alstad, Diane: The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, 1993
  • Lalich, Janja: Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults, 2004, ISBN 0-520-24018-9
  • Landau Tobias, Madeleine et al : Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, 1994, ISBN 0-89793-144-0
  • Lewis, James R The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Lewis, James R Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy, Prometheus Books, 2001
  • Martin, Walter et al: The Kingdom of the Cults, 2003, ISBN 0-7642-2821-8
  • Melton, Gordon: Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, 1992 ISBN 0-8153-1140-0
  • Oakes, Len: Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities, 1997, ISBN 0-8156-0398-3
  • Singer, Margaret Thaler: Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace, 1992, ISBN 0-7879-6741-6
  • Tourish, Dennis: 'On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left, 2000, ISBN 0-7656-0639-9
  • Zablocki, Benjamin et al: Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field, 2001, ISBN 0-8020-8188-6
  • Langone, Michael: Cults: Questions and Answers
  • Lifton, Robert Jay: Cult Formation, The Harvard Mental Health Letter, February 1991
  • Robbins, T and D Anthony, 1982 "Deprogramming, brainwashing and the medicalization of deviant religious groups" Social Problems 29 pp 283–97
  • James T Richardson: "Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to Popular-Negative" Review of Religious Research 344 June 1993, pp 348–356
  • Rosedale, Herbert et al: On Using the Term "Cult"
  • Van Hoey, Sara: Cults in Court The Los Angeles Lawyer, February 1991
  • Zimbardo, Philip: What messages are behind today's cults, American Psychological Association Monitor, May 1997
  • Aronoff, Jodi; Lynn, Steven Jay; Malinosky, Peter Are cultic environments psychologically harmful, Clinical Psychology Review, 2000, Vol 20 #1 pp 91–111

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