Cults With there being so many religions in existence, and an increasing number of "New Age" and "alternative" groups one can join, there is concern by some people that they and/or their friends might get involved in some sort of a cult. The following should help people to address this concern :
The obvious way to avoid getting involved in cults is to make sure one does not join any religious, "New Age", or "alternative", group. This however is similar to a lady who, after a bad romance, decides never to date guys. To avoid the possibility of having a bad experience again. This does, in a manner of speaking solve her problem. She probably will not have any bad experiences. However she will also not have any good experiences with men either.
It should also be remembered that it isn't just the "New Age", and "Alternative", groups that one has to be careful of. If you read about some of the things written about television evangelists you will see that even some "so called" Christians can ensnare people.
How then does one reduce the chances of joining the wrong type of group ? Fortunately, there are a number of things one can do, and things one can be on the watch out for. Our approach can be taken on physical and/or on non physical levels.
Let's deal with the latter first. If you have spent some time at this site then you will have come across our Prayer page. This can be a great help in the situation that we are discussing here. When potentially getting involved with a new person/group of people we can pray for assistance. With part (1) for example we can request "protection" against those who would wish to disempower us and/or get us involved with any cult, or negative group/activity. Such a request will ensure that such people will have difficulty in getting us interested in them.
With part (3) of the prayer we can ask to be guided to people who are working with/for God/the forces of God AND away from those who are not. Saying part (4) ensures that negative people who wish us ill are being countered, even before we may meet them in the physical world. Saying a prayer does not however ensure that we will never make an error in judgement. Sometimes such experiences happen as a "learning" experience for us.
Fortunately however, where we make make a poor choice, the prayer should help reduce the duration/ intensity of the experience. Keep in mind that we can also take physical actions/approaches to avoid getting involved with the wrong people. Fortunately, cults have certain characteristics that make make it easier for people to spot them. Once one recognizes this fact one can not only do that, but one can find a person/group who is the exact opposite.
Questions : A "cult" does NOT like people asking questions. This is generally because they are concerned that people may find out that they are being deceived in some way. They also prefer people to just sit back and "follow orders". Their other concern is that by being asked questions people may find out how little they really know.
Mind Control :A "cult" does NOT want people knowing about such things as "psychic protection" and/or the possibility of mind control. They will often suggest that psychic attack, and mind control, either don't exist or if they do that they are "nothing to worry about". People knowing about such things make life much more difficult for cults.
Empowerment :A "cult" does NOT want it's members gaining power. They want people to be more likely to believe that their group can "do it for them". This, of course, is untrue. Spiritual growth comes from our own doing. People may suggest approaches we might consider and/or help us on our journey but at the end of the day the following is a reasonable motto : "If it's going to be then it's up to me."
Ceremonies :A "cult" will often place a lot of importance on ceremonies/rituals. This has the effect of making people feel that they are "achieving something". Often however they are just going "through the motions" and at the end of the day little of substance has been achieved.
Secrecy :A "cult" will often pretend that it has some sort of "secret" knowledge or are part of a "Mystery school" etc. This appeals to the need in some people to be "chosen", "important" etc. Often this "secret" knowledge can be obtained in a book costing as little as $10.00. Naturally then they don't want their followers reading books !
Cost :A "cult" will often exist to get money from people. I have seen one day seminars advertised by genuine people for between Aus $50.00 to Aus $500.00 a day. The difference being due to difference in worth of the subject matter, the presenter, the venue etc. Be careful if activities etc. are at the high end of this scale or are even more expensive.
Classes/activities : A "cult" will want it's followers/potential followers to be as "open" to their instructions as possible. Long fasting, taking drugs, and drinking (before activities) are all designed to reduce one's defences on physical, mental, and psychic levels etc.
Isolation :A "cult" does not like outside influences (people) undoing their programming. So will try and physically separate followers/potential followers from others, for a short/or prolonged period. Be particularly concerned if someone suggests you go somewhere without saying where you are going !
Reading : A "cult" does NOT want it's followers reading other people's opinions. They prefer people to only believe what they are teaching. This greatly assists brainwashing.
Appeal to authority : A "cult" will usually pretend it and/or it's leader is "special". Beware of leaders who say they have messages from Jesus Christ, Moses etc. Be even more careful if they say that they are Jesus Christ, Moses etc !
A variation on this is where someone says that they are communicating with an "advanced", "ascended", etc. spirit guide. IF someone is communicating with an advanced being then you will NOT need to be told this. You will be able to tell from the information given. The "message" is the important thing. Not the messenger.
A genuine spiritual leader should be more knowledgeable , less proud , less egotistical , less selfish and less in need of being the centre of attention, than most people.
Recruitment : A "cult" will often want "members". Beware of groups where recruitment seems to be a main activity, or focus. In a positive group people should be attracted by the work/achievements/ideals of the group. There should be no need for overt encouragement, or persuasion.
Doomsday cults : These particular groups are perhaps the best example of why people should be careful that they don't get involved in a cult. Some of these groups have the idea of mass suicide, to supposedly help some sort of an "ascension". We will all physically die sooner or later. There is no merit in individually, or collectively, helping this along.
Walls/fences : Apart from any mental/emotional walls/fences that cults put around their followers be sure to watch out for any "physical" walls/fences ! The excuse for such behaviour is often that the leaders want to "protect" themselves and/or their followers from outside people. Be very very careful. Such things can quickly be used to stop members from getting away. Assuming that that wasn't the original idea.
Finally, perhaps the following comments I got from someone regarding this page are worth considering : "I think the single most important thing one can do to avoid falling into a cult is to be aware that you should never, ever, surrender your critical thinking. Most people who join cults need quick simple answers to the world, because it's easier. For instance, None of the churches have any answers regarding cloning, the Internet, etc. Not even the lawyers can give us too much guidance on these things! How much easier to have someone tell you that it's all evil, and the reason the world is a mess is because of the devil. Join with us, and we will make sure you are part of the chosen few, and be saved."
Many people join cults when their real intention is to gain spiritual perspectives with a group of like minded people. As suggested in the last paragraph. The search for "quick answers" can sometimes be unwise. True spiritual growth in my opinion involves a lot of thinking, questioning, praying and time.
Further reading : I have been looking for worthwhile links for this page but unfortunately many supposedly "informative" pages on cults have turned out to be little more than a particular author's diatribe against anything "New Age", "Alternative" etc. One site however that isn't as bad as the rest is the FACTNet International site. Articles there such as the anniversary of the Jonestown massacre are well worth reading.
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