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  • Every time I see an article about the Jehovah's Witnesses,

  • or Scientologists, or any other relatively small but powerful religion,

  • there are inevitably commenters who chime in and say,

  • "It's a cult!"

  • Which makes you wonder: How come those groups are cults, but

  • the Catholic Church

  • or the evangelical mega church next door to you are not?

  • I mean, what's the difference between a religion and a cult?

  • Is it brainwashing? Because

  • I would argue that teaching kids evolution is a lie,

  • or being gay is a choice, qualifies.

  • Is it about abuse? Because

  • we've seen abuse on Catholic Church.

  • You know, there's a saying that religion is an old cult

  • and a cult is a new religion.

  • But that's not exactly accurate.

  • So, really, what's the difference?

  • Is it just about popularity?

  • I mean, unpopular newer religions are cults?

  • There's not necessarily a set difference,

  • but here's what you should look out for:

  • A cult doesn't let you leave.

  • A good religion, if we can call it that, lets you come and go without a problem.

  • Sure, they want you to stay, but they're not going to come after you if you stop believing.

  • A cult only lets you associate with other cult members.

  • Do you have friends who aren't atheists, or Christians, or whatever you are?

  • Good!

  • A cult doesn't let that happen!

  • And if you leave the faith, they are done with you.

  • A cult may require you to live with other cult members,

  • like in a single home or a commune.

  • I mean, with religions you live on your own, and you come together every so often to worship.

  • Cults have singular leaders with all the power.

  • I mean, he has special access to the truth and no one else does.

  • That's different from mega church pastors, who might love the spotlight,

  • but even they won't say the road to salvation goes through them.

  • Cults don't let you disagree.

  • If you challenge the teachings or disagree with the theology,

  • you should be able to have a discussion and debate about it.

  • Most churches are okay with that.

  • I mean, there are Christian apologists who run around trying to defend the faith from its critics,

  • which is good, because it means they're comfortable having that conversation.

  • Questioning your beliefs is a good thing.

  • I mean, if your religion can't handle your questions,

  • then you should leave it.

  • Cults are exclusive, even from within.

  • I mean, you might be part of a cult,

  • but that doesn't mean you're saved.

  • You might have to be more dedicated,

  • or give them more of your money.

  • I mean, religions don't work that way.

  • Accept the divinity of Jesus and you're golden.

  • Follow the tenets of Islam and that's that.

  • Cults are secretive.

  • Only some people have access to all the cult's information:

  • Their finances; their leadership hierarchy;

  • their beliefs, in some cases.

  • I mean, you have to pay money and level up

  • to learn Scientology's biggest secrets.

  • Most religions aren't like that.

  • When it comes down to it, not all religions are cults,

  • but they sure as hell dabble in it every now and then.

  • There are religions, like Jehovah's Witnesses, that will disfellowship you

  • -- shun you -- if you leave them.

  • I mean, your family won't even talk to you anymore at that point.

  • There are evangelical churches that don't share any information

  • about where the tithing money goes, or

  • how much the pastor gets paid.

  • I mean, there are churches that act like questioning your beliefs is a sin,

  • that you just have to have faith.

  • So, there's some overlap every now and then,

  • but it's usually not complete overlap.

  • Also, what's an acceptable religion in the U.S.

  • might be considered a cult in another country, and vice versa.

  • I'm sure Christianity was considered a cult around the time of Jesus.

  • Scientology operates like a cult, but the IRS considers it a religion.

  • What I'm getting at is that it's not clear cut,

  • and the list I gave you is not comprehensive.

  • I'm sorry if I missed something obvious.

  • But that also means it's unfair to use the word "cult" as a pejorative

  • every time a religion does something you don't like.

  • Don't make that mistake.

  • My name is Hemant Mehta and I write at FriendlyAtheist.com

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Every time I see an article about the Jehovah's Witnesses,

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カルトと宗教の違い (The Differences Between Cults And Religions)

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    Caurora に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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