Talk:Cult

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Nomination for deletion[edit]

Please see: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Unification Church and antisemitism Borock (talk) 14:09, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Prevalence of Sociological Cults[edit]

I removed a paragraph about the prevalence of sociological cults. While it maybe correct that Bourdieu study-groups share many aspects with "cults" I don't really think that there is reliable sources for that viewpoint. Kidding aside, there is obviously no such thing as a sociological cult. There are cults that can be defined as such by neutral sociological criteria. Furthermore the paragraph was sourced to Margaret Singer's "Cults in out midst" and she is certainly not known for her dispassionate sociological definitions, but rather for her partisan attempts to label any and all New Religous Movements as abusive brainwashing cults. ·Maunus·ƛ· 03:08, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

"there is obviously no such thing as a sociological cult" Saliba, 1990 says otherwise:

Social science and the cults: an annotated bibliography
by John A. Saliba - Religion - 1990 - 694 pages
Page xxvi
"Sociological Cult Typologies Strictly sociological classifications of cults have tended to focus on the divergent conflicting relationships that cults might ..."

"prevalence of sociological cults .... reliable sources for that viewpoint." Like her or not, Professor Singer is a reliable source, so I'll be restoring that verifiable text.
But here's what you may consider good news.
There were three editions of Singer's book. Cults in Our Midst: 1995, 1996, 2003. 1995 is on line at Google Books;[1] 2003 at Amazon.[2] Both 1995 and 2003 editions read on p.5: "Currently, depending on how one defines a cult, there are anywhere from three thousand to five thousand cults in the United States alone." In reference to membership counts, in the 2003 edition (probably 1995 also) Singer writes p.12: "Various researchers' indicate that it's fair to estimate that between two and five million Americans are involved in cults at any one time. Naturally membership counts are rough. .... In general, cults do not stand up to be counted."
J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, 1992, had previously denied that statistic on p.6: "Anti-cultists suggest that, as of the early 1980s, 3,000 to 5,000 destructive cults operated in the United States. However, no evidence of the existence of such a large number of religious groups, either cultic or otherwise, has been produced." That quote is on line at Amazon.[3]
The point is there's an interesting story to tell about counting cults over time. If you are willing to research and write that story by the straight facts, by inference from the facts it will reveal Singer as failing to acknowledge Melton's 1992 position on the cult prevalence numbers, even 11 years later in 2003. Milo 05:03, 10 August 2009 (UTC) Re-edited to correct info about Melton's content, Singer's book editions and content 08:45, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
You are parsing that wrong. He is not talking about "typology of sociological cults" but about "sociological cult-typologies". And while the number that Singer mentions may be relevant somewhere in the article it does not show that "cults" under the sociological definition are more prevalent than (what other kind of cults exactly). Firstly she doesn't use the sociological definition. The section consists of two disjointed statements that might each make sense if they were put into different contexts, but not together. The heading is just a chuckleworthy misunderstanding of English syntax. ·Maunus·ƛ· 12:22, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Put Singer and exactly how the section was written aside for the moment.
Maunus (12:22): "sociological cult-typologies" "Sociological Cult" was shown bolded in the Google search. The italics was my presumption of typography for the adjacent isolated word "Typologies". Since it unexpectedly matters, I've removed that italic emphasis. But unlike how you cast it with a hyphen and lower case, "Typologies" was initial-capitalized with a preceding and following space.
Saliba, 1990 is a well-structured book:

"The bibliography is divided into four sections. The first lists the sources for the social scientific study of cults. The second covers the historical background. The third consists of general, theoretical, and methodological studies, and the last consists of contemporary studies of specific cults, sects, and new religious movements." (EHE.org book review)[4]

In the search sample, it's likely there is a bold main head followed underneath by a side head, but the opening text sentence could follow either horizontally or vertically:
Sociological Cult
Typologies
Strictly sociological classifications...
(or)
Sociological Cult
Typologies Strictly sociological classifications...
To avoid reading confusion, the use of italics font for "Typologies" is more likely if the opening sentence follows horizontally.
Maunus (12:22): "He is not talking about "typology of sociological cults" but about "sociological cult-typologies"." The main subject, in bold, is the category of "Sociological Cult". The first subsection under the main subject is "Typologies". The subsequent text describes those typologies. That hierarchy is called 'typologies of sociological cult'.
In Maunus (03:08) you wrote "there is obviously no such thing as a sociological cult", which is a statement not supported by the facts. In the actual search quote of his book, Salbia uses a bold heading of Sociological Cult. According to the EHE review, Salbia's book section 1 "lists the sources for the social scientific study of cults", which is consistent with Salbia's bold heading. That's nomenclature verification that Salbia uses the term "Sociological Cult" categorically, in the same context that the article states. Milo 08:17, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

There seems to be some confusion here. This is not a disagreement on content but on semantics. It does not matter if Saliba uses a confusing linguistic construction in one of his subject headings, we shouldn't follow suit. Maunus is correct. There are "sociological cult typologies" but not "sociological cults". There are also sociological cult theories and sociological cult definitions, but again no "sociological cults". "Sociological" is an adjective here, and it can accurately modify the nouns "typology", "theory", or "definition". These things can themselves be sociological. A "cult" cannot be sociological, unless we take Maunus' joke seriously about "Bourdieu study-groups" or something of that nature. The use of "cult" to categorize certain groups can also be sociological, but this again does not make the group itself sociological. In that case you would have something like "sociological cult labels". Milo, this is simply a matter of how the English language functions. Maunus is not arguing against sociological cult typologies being included here, just against the very confusing and incorrect phrase used by Singer.PelleSmith (talk) 12:42, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

cultfaq.org?[edit]

This article seems to rely fairly heavily on the site "cultfaq.org". However, looking at that site and its ownership by "apologeticsindex.org", it seems to be a fairly biased source, devoted to presenting a Protestant Christian perspective. It seems to introduce a certain level of POV, such as this article's unusually prescriptive rejection of the "New Religious Movement" (or "NRM") term as a neutral replacement for "cult" as used to denigrate minority religions. I'd suggest that work to remove this bias, and develop an NPOV version, should be undertaken. Whateley23 (talk) 22:45, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Since there are no citations to cultFAQ.org, your conjecture is in error. In two references cultFAQ is properly credited with providing a convenience copy of reliable source quotations elsewhere. Milo 07:52, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree very strongly - this article cannot be based on the viewpoint of anticult movements. They have a viewpoint that is POV and very far from the academical viewpoint which should predominate in an encyclopedic article. We can describe the ACM's viewpoint, but per WP:FRINGE and WP:TIGER we cannot adopt it. NRM is the preferred usage in the sociological establishment and the article should reflect this.·Maunus·ƛ· 23:31, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
NRM has its own article. This is the "cult" article. It has a history and usage independent of "NRM", a subset term that does not describe all cults, as explained in the Cult article. This has been previously discussed in recent archives. Please review them to avoid repeating the same discussion. Milo 07:52, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree. This entry should focus heavily on history of the concept within sociology and religious studies as well as the current controversy surrounding the term. It should be noted that some sociologists still use the term, but their usage is not equivalent to ACM usage.PelleSmith (talk) 05:11, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
yes. Encyclopedic articles are not dictionary entries. The lead here is a dictionary definition and completely out of style. it doesn't matter that NRM has its own article: they should probably be merged since that is basically a POV fork. The relevant sociological views of Cults should be given here. ·Maunus·ƛ· 12:53, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
"Encyclopedic articles are not dictionary entries." This one isn't; the article is long and encyclopedically detailed.
NPOV utility trumps style. The Cult article lead has evolved that style, because c-u-l-t is at least a nine word homonym – a fact almost known to the public. It is impossible to understand these words without first explaining that they exist and defining them, since a reader can't otherwise understand the rest of the article.
It being little-known that there are differently-meaning "cult" words spelled the same way leads to widespread misunderstanding; for examples, that the Peoples Temple (a destructive cult) is like the LDS (a theological cult), or RCC cult of Mary (a veneration cult), or FLDS (a legally-entangled thought reform cult), or AA (a beneficial thought reform cult), or Amway (a business cult), or Newman clinics (a theraputic cult), or LaRouche movement (a political cult), or Al-Qaeda (a terrorist cult) – though many people are aware that Star Trek (a fan cult following) is not at all like the other cults even if they don't exactly know why.
"The lead here is a dictionary definition" No, those are in the definitions section. The lead is a mini-article about the c-u-l-t homonyms. A standard lead has been tried. Because of the many homonyms, each with its own article-sized history, the entire long article simply can't be lead-summarized in a way that isn't either so short that someone's POV isn't mentioned, or is so long that it gets moves to another section.
NRM is a spinout from Cult and not a fork They are related but significantly separate subjects, and as a practical matter, there's no merge room for NRM in Cult.
Specifically "NRM" is a subset of "cult", and a term of art used in a limited sociological context, unknown to the the public and unused by the media. The article describes how the sociologists attempted to substitute "NRM" for "cult". They had some success, yet divided their own community, mostly because as the article says, not all cults are new or religious. As the article also describes, they completely failed to convince the public; I see that this referenced event isn't mentioned in New religious movement; if you are really so interested in NRMs from the view of the sociological establishment, I suggest that you improve that article.
While the article needs improvements, one thing it does not need is yet another attempt to unbalance it with a cult-apology whitewash of the public's entrenched point-of-view toward "cults": their understandable deathly fear of destructive cults (subway nerve gas attack), reasonable loathing of legally-entangled cults (underage forced marriages), and religious leader-pushed competition with theological cults (which includes the world's largest Christian group among their targets).
It is not Wikipedia's mission to right great wrongs. Many other approaches to this article have been tried, which resulted in endless contentious conflicts. This intro approach is neutral, necessary, and practical. Milo 00:49, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Please provide a reliable source that supports your notion of homonymic conflict. As I see it this is a red herring. In the academy most people stay clear of the term "cult" and a few have tried rescuing it from popular misconceptions. I want to see the reliable source that states that this term is a "nine word homonym". Why should we organize an entry around this notion? In regards to the same referent, there is an old sociological usage based on church-sect typologies (which a handful of scholars are trying to salvage), a slightly different usage by some in the field of psychology, and a mass culture usage. Other uses of cult have nothing to do with this subject matter and including them under the idea of "homonymic conflict" is completely OR. The fact is that people with an ACM POV have driven away people with an academic POV on this entry over the years does not excuse the horrid state of this entry.PelleSmith (talk) 01:03, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, encyclopedias are written for the purpose of bringing the knowledge of scolars researching topics to the public. An encyclopedia is not a place to perpetuate popular opinion but to bring the latest and most current insight from the established scholarship. Fact is that currently the ACM approach to cults is not supported by the academic establishment. Of course it should be mentioned for the sake of balance and to give a historical perspective on the topic, but for the article to follow NPOV it must represent the most prevalent viewpoint in Reliable Sources (partisan blogs and ACM websites are not reliable sources) - this viewpoint happens to be the sociological viewpoint. This is not whitewashing it is simply following WP policy. Your insinuation of me trying to right great wrongs fails - I am not the one clinging to a partisan viewpoint trying to expose cults as having committed heinous crimes - I am merely stating that according to WP policy the article must neutrally represent the actual academic consensus on the area. And ajudging from the above comments from other editors, the agree with this approach.·Maunus·ƛ· 00:59, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Let's do a quick WP:COI check. This article has been plagued in past by members of groups referred to as cults who tendentiously pushed a POV. Two were permanently banned. Another is on a short lease. On the anti-cult side, another COI retired after being topic-banned elsewhere.
Are you a member of a group that has been referred to as a cult in the media? Bear in mind that I can look through your contribs. Milo 01:30, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, frankly that is none of your business, but I'll indulge you. I am not. I am an anthropologist and linguist who has done fieldwork about Jehovah's Witnesses, that is why I have a basic familiarity with and interest in the field of Sociology of Religion. Now, for the sake of fairness, have you ever been a member of a group referred to as a Cult by the media or affiliated with a Cult-watch organization?·Maunus·ƛ· 01:41, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
←As a WP editor WP:COI is my business concerning likely affected articles. Nothing personal, that's policy at WP.
I had never heard of cult watching until I began editing the cult topics. I did find out after the fact that Jim Jones was an ordained minister in my denomination. Jones had an uplifting social gospel preaching message to the poor and discriminated, that I and a lot of other people think to be a good one. It's a shame that he gradually went insane from drugs. I suppose one might call that position a cult apology.
I keep Milo's Cult topic centrism statement at my talk for occasions like this. I have journalism training, and I'm skilled at reading scientific literature. I'm 'pro-reporting', meaning that every fact and viewpoint should be published. This certainly includes the views of the public as reported in reliable source mass-media. On the other hand group members tend to be anti-reporters, always trying to hide published facts and sources. This includes hiding behind scientific literature. I'm sympathetic to theological cults, who after all, simply have a religious dispute with fundamentalist Protestants. But that doesn't justify whitewashing of the public's view. I tend to take a dim view of legally-entangled cults that exploit their members. On the other hand, 12 was the age of marriage in old testament times, so I at least can understand the positions taken by Koresh and FLDS.
I've been seen as both pro- or anti- cult by both sides. This article was narrowly focused on popular-negative religious cults before I began working on it, and it was a battleground. I don't want to see the article return to those bad old days. Milo 02:38, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I have also been accused of being both a rabid atheist and a Jehovah's Witness. I also have no interest in seeing the article turned into a battleground, I am sure we can work together to clean the article up and make it reflect all notable viewpoints in a neutral, matter of factish style. My interest in this article surged after writing a new draft for a section about the usage of the word cult to label the religious movement Falun Gong (you can read it here Talk:Falun_Gong#New_section). I believe that a similarly emotionally detached style, describing the different viewpoints but not adopting them, could be used at this article with good results. I don't think the popular usage of the word should hold much weight here, besides describing it of course. I believe very strongly that encyclopedic articles should reflect the current academic consensus. ·Maunus·ƛ· 02:54, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Milo, every time I interact with you on these topics you make COI accusations about "group members". That has to stop. I am also someone with academic training in the social sciences and I have no religious affiliation whatsoever. In fact I am affiliated with no "groups" of any kind unless you count various academic organizations. You claim to be a centrist on this topic but who come from the scholarly POV you seem aligned with "cult critics". Please give us an even moderately recent example of someone who claims you are are "pro-cult". Lets not beat around the bush here. This entry is a disaster because it has been hijacked by the POV associated with ACM groups and individuals which has also infiltrated mass culture. The straw man excuse that gets thrown out by you and others is always that you are defending the entry against "group members". What "group members" are you defending the entry against at the present time?PelleSmith (talk) 05:34, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Counter-Cult, Anti-Cult, and Cult Apology[edit]

I found this subtopic replacing the lead. While it has a history of these events that I don't recall as well-organized elsewhere, as a lead it reduces the broad complex of c-u-l-t homonyms to a narrow view that was suitable only for the early 2005 versions of this article, if then.

Accordingly, I've moved it to a new section. I corrected a few facts, added a missing event or two, and did copyedits, but it's essentially the same view as it was written.

If this section is promptly reverted, I will WP:BRD revert the article back to the stable version lead and move the new section here for discussion. If the WP:BRD stable version is edit-warred, I will call for an admin. Milo 00:49, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Edit canceled due to likely edit warring – see WP:BRD constructional refusal below Milo 05:41, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Is this a threat of some kind Milo? If consensus changes consensus changes. Please don't issue threats about what you are going to do if people oppose your POV.PelleSmith (talk) 00:56, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
If you weren't such a newb you would know that this is standard procedure. Contested major changes may not be made to a stable article without a consensus discussion, which may take up to 30 days to resolve, if necessary. WP:Edit warring is not permitted by policy, and if flouted is enforced by admin. Milo 01:07, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
The version wasnt stable it was stagnant. It had been tagged for cleanup since august 2008. Also, go easy on the personal attacks there milomedes they really won't help your case. Major changes may be made to any article without discussion especially if they are made to articles tagged for POV problems or cleanup. Furthermore I acted on consensus - three editors had expressed POV concerns. ·Maunus·ƛ· 01:16, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
This article is always tagged because group members won't accept the facts, so they frequently tag-spam dispute it. Clean up is not a mandate for undiscussed major changes; that just means organization and copyedit.
The first editor was simply wrong, and I proved it. The second editor appears to be a group member with a WP:COI POV that always objects to this article. That leaves you with no mandate, and certainly not to make contested major changes without a discussion.
"personal attacks" I assume you're talking about "newb", for which I have evidence. If I have evidence it's not a PA. ("Newb" isn't a PA in any case.) On the other hand accusation of PA is prohibited without evidence per WP:NPA.
So will you honor a WP:BRD revert and discussion or not? Milo 02:51, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I am afraid your attempt to discredit editors points by making adhominem arguments don't work. it doesn't matter what religion they have or whether they are brainwashed moonies - they have every right to participate in improving the wikipedia and their concerns are every bit as valid as anyone elses. You also cannot back up personal attacks with evidence since that is irrelevant - the date someone joined the project also does not serve to discredit their opinions. And if I could prove that you had had your brain surgically removed, using that as an argument against you, instead of arguing against your arguments, would still be a personal attack - it seems you should read that policy again. Also nice try to make my civilty reminder look like a personal attack - it won't stand up in cout though.
The article is tagged because it is badly written and gives a onesided view of the topic, and it will remain tagged untill those issues are resolved. I invite you to participate in resolving those issues - but it will require that you show respect for all editors who are interested in participating, and that you present arguments instead of merely brushing of those viewpoints you dislike, by using logical fallacies such as adhomimen arguments, straw men and the fallacy of association. I am honoring the BRD cycle by discussing this with you. But I am not going to revert myself since there are several editors who have expressed concerns about the previous version, and none but you have expressed any concerns about the present version. ·Maunus·ƛ· 03:03, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I see carrot talk above and stick talk below. On balance, sticks.
"...doesn't matter what religion they have or whether they are brainwashed..." The Wikipedia community has decided otherwise. I suggest you read WP:COI carefully, especially the Engles and Marx analogy.
WP:COI editors are a long-standing problem in the cult topics, and editing here has to be monitored for COI POV. As I said previously, two group members who posted to this page were permanently banned. One of them was said to have tried to remove the word "cult" from the entire project, so this is not a hypothetical issue.
COI editors can only make edits with consensus, or at least not make controversial edits. They are allowed to participate here at talk if they are not disruptive – but too many of them have been, and that's what the other one was banned for – tendentious debating. It was instructive as to how much and what kind of damage can be done to a Newman cult victim.
The worst-discrediting COI embarrassment that Wikipedia has ever suffered was the expose by Cade Metz in the San Francisco Chronicle article on ex-admin Jossi, an employee of guru Prem Rawat. I invite you read what he did. In addition, I suggest reading the Prem Rawat 2 case which caused jossi to "retire" from WP. Add to that, the massive Scientology case which was at least world-wide unwanted publicity, and overall the WP community has had it up to here with COI editing by members of groups referred to as cults.
Your dispute is with policy, not me, so go lay your rant on the WT:COI talk page. The reaction should be interesting.
"You also cannot back up personal attacks with evidence" WP:NPA says that evidenced statements are not considered PAs. Go read it and stop embarrassing yourself.
"Also nice try to make my civilty reminder look like a personal attack" You screwed up per WP:NPA. You can't casually throw around the words "personal attacks". That's a serious accusation, and if you make one you have to be right every time.
"the date someone joined the project also does not serve to discredit their opinions" Not just any opinions of course, but when a newb emits a hollow pontification obviously based on lack of experience, that is evidence that they are a newb, and I can say so.
"I am honoring the BRD cycle by discussing this with you." I see a "B" (bold), and a preamble to a "D" (discuss), but no "R" (revert). In short, you are constructionally refusing BRD editing cooperation. I invite others to examine your moral compass for use of the word "honoring" in this context. Milo 05:41, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Milo what are you talking about? What on earth does Jossi have to do with this conversation? COI cuts both ways, btw. I don't think there is a single "group member" in this discussion. I'm not so sure that the discussion is free from "anti-cultists" on the other hand. Is it? Why don't you start answering some of the substantive points brought up here. I, for one, have asked you to produce some reliable sources that back your weird "homonymic conflict" approach to the entry. Where are they?PelleSmith (talk) 05:50, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Milomedes: You are severely misrepresenting several core policies here. COI says: "Closeness to a subject does not mean you're incapable of being neutral, but it may incline you towards some bias. Be guided by the advice of other editors. If editors on a talk page suggest in good faith that you may have a conflict of interest, try to identify and minimize your biases, and consider withdrawing from editing the article." this does not mean that members of a religion are not allowed to edit articles about that religion. it also doe snot mean that other editors are allowed to decide who should withdraw from editing an article or when. NPA says: "Racial, sexual, homophobic, ageist, religious, political, ethnic, or other epithets (such as against people with disabilities) directed against another contributor. Disagreement over what constitutes a religion, race, sexual preference, or ethnicity is not a legitimate excuse. Using someone's affiliations as an ad hominem means of dismissing or discrediting their views—regardless of whether said affiliations are mainstream." NPA only requires evidence in the form of DIFs for description of other editors behaviour - Describing them as someone as a newbie is not about behaviour, that is simply and only a disparaging remark, clearly in conflict with both the spirit and letter of WP:NPA and WP:CIVIL. WP:BRD does not require that the one who was bold revert himself - if someone disagrees with my edits they can revert them if they think my edits are not in line with consensus. I am telling you this so you know that you have a wong understanding of policies - however if you continue sticking with your flawed interpretations and keep acting uncivilly towards other editors we will have no choice but to let the community show you what is the correct interpretation. ·Maunus·ƛ· 12:26, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
First, please use paragraphs. It takes me extra time to sort out your claims when you write them stream-of-consciousness.
"does not mean that members of a religion are not allowed to edit articles about that religion" I agree with that. There's no exact line to cross, but questioning of COI always begins with controversy. As I wrote Milo (05:41): "COI editors can ... at least not make controversial edits", per WP:COI#Non-controversial edits: "Editors who may have a conflict of interest are allowed to make certain kinds of non-controversial edits..."
"not mean that other editors are allowed to decide who should withdraw" Not instantly, but a COI investigation does begin with them, and if a COI is determined, then COI editors should get consensus for controversial edits, per WP:COI#How to avoid COI edits.
"Describing ... someone as a newbie... is simply and only a disparaging remark" Ok, you've downgraded your charge to a WP:CIV. We're making a little progress since you're indirectly admitting that you made a mistake by including "newb" in "personal attacks" (Manus 01:16).
WP:Please do not bite the newcomers uses "WP:NEWBIES" as a shortcut, so there's nothing additionally disparaging about "newbie" (or "newb") as opposed to "newcomer". But it's slang, so I'll recast my Milo (01:07) statement for analysis using the formal synonym: 'If you weren't such a newcomer you would know that this is standard procedure.' This is a statement of fact. Statements of fact are frequently disparaging, but in the context of evidence countering a falsely-implied claim ("threats"), and the language being civil, there is no WP:CIV violation.
Significantly, the context was my reply to "Please don't issue threats about what you are going to do if people oppose your POV". The latter is a typically uneducated misusage of "threats", since it implies a component of menace where there is none. (To which colloquial misusage, a common colloquial reply is, 'that's not a threat, that's a promise.')
"WP:BRD does not require that the one who was bold revert himself" WP:BRD calls for returning to the pre-bold version while the bold change is discussed. If all possible reversions were made (including foreseeable edit warring), my understanding is that you do not agree to a BRD condition; rather, you intend to keep your bold change while discussion ensues. If so, that's not WP:BRD, period. Milo 18:38, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Suggesting a Rewrite[edit]

The article needs a complete rewrite. It is incoherently written with many short sections that have no obvious mutual relation. Many sections have titles that doesn't include what is in the section. many sections don't explain why they are relevant to the topic. Some sections are lists, such as the list of cult leaders accused of demanding sexual gratification - this could possibly be spun off into its own list/article (if it could be supported by sources). The prose is not good, it often does not put its claims into the bigger context of the article which makes it seem choppy and out of style for an encyclopedia. I would suggest reqriting the article from scratch based on reliable sources like the following:

  • Barker, Eileen,2002 "Watching for violence: A comparative analysis of the roles of five types of cult-watching groups" in Cults, religion, and violence editors David G. Bromley, J. Gordon Melton Cambridge University Press, ISBN 052166898
  • Barker, Eileen The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing?, Blackwell Publishers, November 1984, ISBN 0-631-13246-5
  • Barker, Eileen (editor) Of Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the West Mercer University Press Macon, Georgia, U.S.A. 1984 ISBN 0865540950
  • Barker, Eileen New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction (Paperback) Bernan Press (October, 1990) ISBN 0-11-340927-3
  • Lewis, James R. 2004 The Oxford handbook of new religious movements, Oxford University Press US, 2004, ISBN 0195149866
  • Bainbridge, William Sims 1997 The sociology of religious movements, Routledge, 1997, ISBN 0415912024,
  • Richardson, James T. 1993 Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to Popular-Negative, , Review of Religious Research, Vol. 34, No. 4 pp. 348-356
  • Richardson, James R.; Bromley, David G. (1983). The Brainwashing/deprogramming controversy: sociological, psychological, legal, and historical perspectives. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press. ISBN 0-88946-869-9.
  • Saliba, John A., Understanding New Religious Movements, pp.24-5, (2003), Rowman Altamira, ISBN 0-759-10356-9
  • Bromley, David. "New Religious Movements". Encyclopedia of Religion and Society edited by William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor. Altamira press. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  • Beckford, James A., Eileen Barker & James T. RichardsonChallenging religion: essays in honour of Eileen Barker, Routledge, 2003, ISBN-0415309484
  • Dawson, Lorne L. Cults and new religious movements: a reader, Volume 2 of Blackwell readings in religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 2003, ISBN:1405101814
  • Bromley,David G. & J. Gordon Melton, Cults, religion, and violence, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN-0521668980
  • Wilson, Bryan R. Jamie Cresswell, New religious movements: challenge and response, Routledge, 1999, ISBN:0415200490
  • Wilson, Bryan R. The social dimensions of sectarianism: sects and new religious movements in contemporary society, Clarendon Paperbacks Series, Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN:0198278837
  • Enroth, Ronald M. A guide to new religious movements, InterVarsity Press, 2005, ISBN:0830823816,
  • Lucas, Phillip Charles & Thomas Robbins, New religious movements in the twenty-first century: legal, political, and social challenges in global perspective, Routledge, 2004,ISBN:0415965772
  • David, Benjamin & Thomas RobbinsMisunderstanding cults: searching for objectivity in a controversial field, University of Toronto Press, 2001, ISBN:0802081886
  • Kaplan, Jeffrey, Millennial violence: past, present, and future, Volume 13 of Cass series on political violence, Political Violence Series, Routledge, 2002, ISBN:0714652946
  • Lalich, Janja, Bounded choice: true believers and charismatic cults, University of California Press, 2004, ISBN:0520240189
  • Gallagher, Eugene V. & W. Michael Ashcraft, Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America: History and controversies

Volume 1 of Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 ISBN:0275987132 ·Maunus·ƛ· 14:03, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree with...(aside, my latin is rough...what does it mean?)...well Maunus. The article does need some focus and a set of reliable sources. I think that grounding it in Sociology as opposed to popular culture (which is what this article appears to have become), will create a good article all around. a complete rewrite is difficult (read impossible) without some guided action so what do you propose as an outline? somehow without that I feel that we will just be cramming reliable sources into crappy subsections contributing to the mess rather than fixing it.Coffeepusher (talk) 16:00, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree - we need to begin by working out a new structural skeleton.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:10, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Previous discussion of interest[edit]

People interested in improving the entry may find the following previous discussion helpful - Talk:Cult/Archive_6#POV_tag. There are some sources listed there which may be useful as well.PelleSmith (talk) 22:46, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I see you have indeed done much of this work before, and better than I have. I think we will have to invite WillbeBack and Cirt to discuss the topic anew.·Maunus·ƛ· 23:12, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Note that I have also proposed a merge of NRM into this article - I think the opposition to such a merge can be convinced if we show them that the right way to go about it is to have an article at "Cult" that neutrally describes all the usages of the word and its related terms (sect, NRM) and the most important issues in the scholarly study of cults/NRMs. ·Maunus·ƛ· 23:12, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I will notify them. I think we should create a subpage and work on rewriting the entry there. I fear that the current entry is too much of a mess to work with productively.PelleSmith (talk) 11:42, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I created a page on top of this page titled "Cult Sandbox" so that we can work on it there. I am copying the outline and placing inside the sandbox.Coffeepusher (talk) 14:16, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
A rewrite, yes. With the following assumption ....
If you are here to defend something that you know to be false, you should probably recuse yourself from editing.
swampfoot (talk) 18:20, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

New Structure - suggestions[edit]

Here I present a suggestion for a new structure of the article. Feel free to suggest extra sections if I've missed any important topics.

  1. Lead
  2. What is a cult? Describe how the concept is defined in different contexts: Sociology, Anti-Cult movements, General public, politics.
  3. History of sociological definitions of cult: from characteristics to rejection of the term, introduction of "New Religious Movements" as a neutral term.
    1. Ernst Troeltsch & Becker - the first attempts at defining "cult"
    2. The 60'es and 70'es: Campbell, Wallis Richardson, Nelson, Martin, Bainbridge and others, Robbins & Anthony
    3. Rejecting the term: New Religious Movements: Richardson, Barker
  4. Why join a cult? The Brainwashing controversy. Brainwashing vs. rational choice.
    1. The mainstream Sociological POV as espoused by Richardson, Melton, Barker, Beckford, Bainbridge, etc.
    2. Margaret Singer's and Ofshe's POV (including the ACM/Brainwashing controversy)
    3. Benjamin Zablocki's POV (including Lalich and Enroth)
  5. Cults and Millenarianism: the end is near, cult suicides,
  6. Cults and the society: violence and opposition.
    1. Incidents: Waco, Aum Shinrikyo, peoples temple, others.
    2. Governments vs. Cults - the legal perspectives: Scientology, Falun Gong, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. Religious freedom, human rights.
    3. The Anti Cult Movements and their supporters

·Maunus·ƛ· 16:30, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I think that #4 should be moved down toward the bottom...say after the sociologists but before society, while millenarianism is defiantly high profile and representitve of a group of cults it is less definitive of cults in general.Coffeepusher (talk) 18:51, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

One thing that is I think missing. It is possible (remotely) to describe any number of religious movements which to some degree encourage their members to not interact with the broader society to any great degree as "cults". Jehovah's Witnesses among others might, technically, fit under that description. I have to believe that somewhere, probably one of the journals regarding the sociology of religion, there has been a discussion regarding how such an isolated society would have remarkably different social dynamics. In particular, I have heard of a few individuals who found that, having come to no longer believe in the tenets of the JW's, those individuals were disfellowshipped by the JWs, and that as a result their businesses, many of which were frequented by other JW's, collapsed, and even that the members of their immediate families, possibly living in the house the now-shunned person bought or was buying, refused to have any degree of contact with him. I have to think that members of such groups are aware of such situations, and that knowing of it would provide a very significant disincentive to speak against the group. I also believe that it almost certainly has been covered by some sociological or other academic work, and believe that there are probably a lot of groups, not all of whom are often called "cults", where such things take place. John Carter (talk) 17:22, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
The meaning of "isolationism" of the word cult is only a part of the popular negative definition of the word and it should be described in that section. The sociological definition usually uses the word "sect" for that kind of isolationist movements - whereas cult in the sociological literature is often defined as having relatively open boundaries and being tolerant to the outside world.

·Maunus·ƛ· 17:29, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

I think that this is a prime example of why we need to have solid definitions linked to reliable sources and an adherence to those definitions. I am not sure that linking Jehovahs Whitnesses to cults because of isolationist tenancies alone would uphold a sociological definition of a cult. Otherwise we may just be rewriting the religion page just replacing the word religion with cult...because which ones don't have isolationist tenancies at some level.Coffeepusher (talk) 21:47, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
I would say there's too much emphasis on nailing down a modern definition, and not enough on the historical roots going back 1000s of years. "Cult" in one of its senses is just a rude term applied to fringe beliefs. I'm unconvinced that dignifying an extremely loose term with scholarly references is directly to the point. I was for a time warming to Maunus' list of references in a previous section, then I began wondering whether they would obscure, rather than clarify. People have systematic biases in their thinking, whether or not those biases are named, and whether or not they identify themselves with the group. I would argue, for example, that people who believe in astrology are not just a cult, but a dangerous one that eschews reason for arbitrary and random statements, and allows themselves to be guided by it. Relatedly, I'm puzzled there is no mention of material in Wiki article Cult following. This is an interesting situation where people *wish* themselves to be seen as a cult, to validate their amorphous likes and opinions on certain topics to which they have given a name and a framework. I frequently strike from Wikipedia articles that a film or band has a "cult" following for the reason that every film that has reached DVD, every band that can earn its keep must have some fans. There's a range of meaning between the negative use of the term, and the embraced one. But I'm not sure they have any coherent meaning. Hence, the confusion of the article. It's not dealing with a clearly delineated topic. Piano non troppo (talk) 09:34, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Currently I like what I am seeing in the sandbox. a few thoughts that I would like to run by everyone (which I will number, so people can respond accordingly).

  1. Would it fit with the sources you are using to add the third definition of "Destructive Cults" to the heading? in the current article there is a subsection in History that identifies this third usage and I think this would be good to show that these groups are given a specific classification separate from NRM and even the popular definition of cults.
  2. if this is satisfactory to everyone, I would additionally propose a small subsection/lead that identify's the larger "destructive cults" wikipedia article in the sandbox.
  3. also I was reading through the "history" section...and I think it reads quite well. could we transport some/all of that section into the new article bearing in mind flow and the current priority on new sources.
  4. the current sandbox article read's a little academic as opposed to encyclopedic. I think this is due to the fact that we are dealing with an ambiguous topic and are..."over qualifying" (not really over qualifying but you get the idea) every statement that has ambiguity attached to it. while I am not sure if this is a problem (I read it just fine) I was wondering what you thought, and if there are area's where this could be corrected?Coffeepusher (talk) 15:51, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
1. I don't know that sociologists operate with a separate classification of destructive cult - it seems very much an ACM viewpoint to classify movements according to their level of "dangerousness". If it is sourceable then i think we can include it, ill look through the sources. 2. I think destructive cults could possibly be the main article for the section about cults and violence. 3. Which history section and transport it into which new article? If its what I've written in the sandbox - we can't place it in the main article yet since its not sourced right now. 4. I am afraid that is my writing style, you are welcome to tone it down a little - I think however that the academic style is preferable for being objective and qualifying claims in a way that leads to less controversial statements. If you can tone down the academic tone I won't object to that. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:01, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

The topic of this article[edit]

I think we need to take this discussion again. What is to be the topic of this article? The word Cult? A single definition of the word cult? The usage of the word Cult? All definitions of the word cult? Or should the topic be those kinds of movements that are described by the word cult? The obvious answer seems to be the latter - when people open an encyclopedia they don't expect to find etymologies but facts about the topic they want to research. However in this case such an approach poses a problem. The problem is that in this case there is a discrepancy between the popular usage of the term and the academic one. Basically Academics have decided to use another term to describe the same pheomenon. Should we then disregard the academic view since academic sources typically treats "New Religious Movements" and not "Cults"? No, when the academic and the popular terminology for the same phenomenon is distinct we obviously describe both in the same article - giving precedence to the academic view, but locating the article at the most common name for the phenomenon. Per WP:FORK: "Wikipedia articles should not be split into multiple articles solely so each can advocate a different stance on the subject." In short the topic of this article is about a specific kind of groups that are popularly referred to as cults but referred to as NRM by academics. Lets not loose the topic of sight: the topic are the groups not the word. That being said we will of course have to describe that there are these two usages and that some groups popularly refered to as "cults" do not meet the scholarly criteria for being a NRM.·Maunus·ƛ· 19:40, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately, part of the problem here is that the subject matter is not entirely the same. Within different social contexts the term has different referents -- 1) the field of sociology, 2) the field of psychology, 3) the ACM and 4) mass culture. There is in fact more agreement between the last three than between the first (or religious studies) and any of the them. In sociology it developed out of a typology used to classify religious groups only. To some psychologists, to the ACM and in mass culture it can describe non-religous groups as well, because the main criteria for cult categorization in fact has virtually nothing to do with religion. This is also evident in the fact that within sociology or religious studies a cult is by definition distinct from a sect. Yet try to tell the mass media or the ACM that David Koresh was a "sect leader" and that the Branch Davidians were not actually a cult. So I have to respectfully disagree with the idea that "the topic of this article is about specific kinds of groups that are popularly referred to as cults but referred to as NRM by academics." The two do not overlap so neatly. Within a majority of the academy "cult" does = "NRM" when discussing types of religious groups. I don't think NRM should be merged into this entry. On the contrary I think the academic discussion of these groups should happen under "NRM" for the most part. Here I think we need historical material mostly with some reference to people like Stark and Bainbridge who still use the term.PelleSmith (talk) 20:46, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
The problem is that this inevitably causes POV problems because most of those scholars who disagree with the ACM definition (pace Bainbridge, Stark and Zablocki) use the term NRM and their entire viewpoint would be relegated to NRM. Also NRM research does also have implications for understanding non religious "cults" - for example the brainwashing controversy has ramifications on all groups classified as "cults" in ACM perspective. I don't see how this article can ever become neutral without including what has been written about NRMs. The reader will simply go away with the ACM viewpoint of what a cult is uncontradicted. ·Maunus·ƛ· 20:53, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Right, I actually agree with your essential point completely. I don't think this entry should be written simply from an ACM perspective. But I also see a danger in legitimizing the popular usage of term "cult" by lumping in academic content which may in fact be coming from academics who conscientiously reject the term "cult" in the first place. Regarding the brainwashing controversy I'm not sure I follow entirely. I know of no researcher who thinks "brainwashing" is a legitimate phenomenon who also uses the term NRM. As I understand it "brainwashing" is believed to exist only by a small minority of researchers all of which are quite happy with "cult", in no small part because they are mostly psychologists who categorize social groups mainly through what they perceive as the most salient psychological phenomena associated with he groups. In other words the brainwashing controversy is not in my view something that existed within NRM research, but behological coercion.PelleSmith (talk) 21:17, 18 August 2009 (UTC)tween NRM researchers and other "cult" researchers. This may sound like mincing words, but New Religious Movement simply does not refer to no-religious groups whether or not they are thought to use brainwashing, mind-control or other forms of psyc
I guess the practical issue I'm trying to get around is confusing the sociological "cult" (or NRM as its synonym) with the ACM "cult". The focus is entirely different and it leads to a different criteria for inclusion. Whatever we agree on doing these differences have to be clear. As long as that is true I think we'll have done a good job.PelleSmith (talk) 21:25, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
What i meant by bringing in the brainwashing controversy is that in this case it is the scholars who advocate the use of NRM who reject the notion of brainwashing - since ACMs also believe that brainwashing can take place in non-religious movements and the use of "brainwashing techniques" is a definitory criterion for the ACM cult the NRM-viewpoint on brainwashing is relevant to describe the ACM definition because one huge argument against the ACm definition is that it relies on non-scientific and subjective criteria. The problem is that if we exclude the NRm viewpoint here the use of brainwashing as a criteria for defining cults could stand uncontradicted.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:40, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I think we have the same concerns but somehow see different solutions. We should be able to figure this out no problem.PelleSmith (talk) 21:54, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
How about we start working on the subpage that coffeepusher created - the link is at the top of the talkpage.·Maunus·ƛ· 22:00, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I did. I see you have too. I'll try to do more.PelleSmith (talk) 22:28, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Untrue claims disputed[edit]

A Cult is a group that share a common religious practice.
Sorry, no. In the medical fields of psychology/psychiatry/physiology (to name a few) there are several traits by which a 'cult' can be identified, and also several harmful long term impacts upon it's members. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.72.157.124 (talk) 17:31, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

Comment : If this is the case then everybody that practice any religion of any kind in common with anybody else is in a cult. As everybody has some religious practice, even if just to defend Atheism, then everybody is in a cult.

The word originally referred to any such religious community, but though the twentieth century it came to be applied particularly about newly created small religious groups.

This is not true. It is not more particularly applied to small groups. Mormonism is considered a cult by all of Evangelical christian churches or Pauline Christians, and their number is more than 10 million world wide.


Eventually the word acquired negative connotations and became equated to novel religious groupings often felt to have outlandish beliefs by the larger society and often thought to "brainwash" their members to unquestioning loyalty to the cult leadership.

This is not true. This is somebodies opinion. Opinions should not be raised as facts on Wikipedia. There is no difference to what Evangelical Christians considered as cults in the 19th century and what they consider a cult in the 20th century, for the bible is still the norm to bible believing Christians. The size of the group or the extend of harm done by them is not what makes them a cult, but their unbiblical message of salvation. The fact that some cults classify themselves as christian, doesn't make them more or less acceptable. It is about what they teach.

The negative connotations were particularly embraced by Anti Cult Movements, movements seeking to inform the public about the perceived dangerous of the new religions they defined as cults, to counsel relatives to members of the movements, and at times to force cult members to give up their new religion by use of force.

This is not true either. Some cults start out mild, and over years they develop in very dangerous groups, that wrecks peoples lives and causes immense harm. I personally know people who were involved in a small group extreme cult and were rescued from it in time. Ten years later the scars are still there. Cults are also not a rarity, in some places of the world they are springing up like mushrooms day by day wrecking peoples lives. This is a real and serious problem and should not be made out as something some fanatic Anti-Cult movement wants to blow up out of proportion. The truth is, that the whistle is not blown loud enough, not the other way around.


Within the academic field of sociology of religion the twentieth century saw various attempts to give a neutral definition of the word and make it fit within the larger typology of religious groups.

When truth becomes defined as that which the majority of people or religious groups believed, then truth will keep on changing. Yet truth is truth and doesn't change just because people change. It was inappropriate for priests to ask people money so they could forgive their sins. It was just as wrong in the middle ages as what it is now. Only then the majority of religious people accepted it as true, and today not. To measure truth thus based on what is most accepted by the largest number of people, is the wrong starting point.


The sociological perspective seeks to understand and objectively define the social structure of religious groups rather than making value judgments about which religions are better than others.

If the sociological perspective is not interrested in truth how does that help? Cults has to do with major deception. Deception has to do with lies. Lies are only identified and addressed where truth is defined. And truth will offend those who believe a lie. There is no "accomodate everybody" middle way here.

Often the word has been defined as a opposed to words like "sect", "church" and "denomination". From the mid twentieth century, however, the negative connotations of the word were seen as so strong that many sociologists advocated abandoning the word altogether, preferring instead the neologism New Religious Movement.

Why New Religious Movement? There is nothing new about cults. They have always been around. Their shapes and flavours and sizes have just changed, but they all do the same thing basically. There is a pattern. And this pattern are always repeated. It is always a person that believes himself to have heard from God directly what nobody else have heard. He is special more than others. He then gets a following and write some religious book or books, that needs to be read alongside the bible in order to understand the bible correctly. Because he heard from God and the authority of his visions or prophecies are placed on a level of higher importance than the bible, nobody can challenge what he says. So a cult starts. This is the pattern. What has changed from the 19th to the 20th century? Nothing. The number of groups just increased, but the same thing repeats itself over and over. The extend of horror which the cult leader is capable of also varies.

The information distributed in this article is considered untruthful. Every time I want to make changes, my changes gets reverted. How are we going to resolve it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Torchrunner (talkcontribs) 18:30, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

I reverted to the last revision prior to your edits (i hope) because a mute edit war is counter to how things should be done at Wikipedia. This is a matter the involved writers should discuss, especially since the two of you seem to have very different ideas about how to define a cult.Simonm223 (talk) 18:42, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
The problems with your edits torchrunner is that they use one very specific meaning of "cult" as if it were the only meaning. The lead as it is now tries to give an understanding for the fact that different people use the word cult to mean different things and the only thing that the different usages have in common is that it is used about groups who have shared beliefs and shared practices. Why New religious Movenments? Because this is what scholarly literature has decided to use as a more precise term than cults. When you say that cults have always existed that is right - but that is because new religions have always emerged and the dominant established religions have always felt threatened by them and used negative words to describe them. In mexico for example catholics call any protestanctic religion (including Evangelicals) for cults- because they are not catholic. When Christianity first emerged it was decried as a cult. Your ideas about what is a cult and what isn't seems to be mostly based in your own opinions and experiences - they are not backed up by sources. If you want to contribute without having your edits reverted you must first learn wikipedias policies about writing from a neutral point of view and citing reliable sources. Wikipedia is not a place to insert one's personal opinions as if they were facts.·Maunus·ƛ· 18:49, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

I also suggest a total rewrite of the article. My problem with the intro of this article was mostly that I saw it as somebody else's opinion. I do agree that different people have different meanings attached to the word cult.

A Cult is a group that share a common religious practice. The term cult are not used in the same way and in the same context around the globle and is hugely influenced by what is perceived to be truth by the person doing the cultlabelling.

Dr. Lee Belford, Professor of Comparative Religions at New York University, state : "The problem is essentially theological where the cults are concerned. The answer of the church must be theological and doctrinal. No sociological or cultural evavualtion will do. Such works may be helpful, but they will not answer the Jehovah's Witness or Mormon who is seeking biblical authority for either the acceptance or rejection of his beliefs" The Kingdom of te cults : Walter Martin, 2003

From a sociological perspective the following cn be said: (I suggest we include the opening comments of the article rather after this short clarification. At least until a complete rewrite is done of this article, for currently it creates the impression at first glance that cults are not serious and it is merely a bunch of fanatic Anti-Cults that wants to label innocent people as dangerous, which is not true. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Torchrunner (talkcontribs)

You are confusing the primary meaning of the term "cult", discussed at Cult (religious practice), with the narrow, derogative sense of the word discussed in this article. It is unfortunate that a secondary, narrow, derogatory sense of the word should be given the cult article title, because this leads to no end of confusion. It would be best to move this article to cult (derogatory) to avoid these discussions. Please check the OED: It didn't even have a record of the meaning discussed here prior to 2004. It is now given as a "draft addition" with the definition of "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister." The earliest record of unambigous usage of the word in this sense provided by the OED dates to 1980. --dab (𒁳) 13:50, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Dab, if you can get support for this move I think it is preferable. It could be Cult (popular) or something along those lines as well. I'm also for moving the credible academic information about "cults" and NRMs into the NRM entry. It has been hard in the past, however to get any traction on such suggestions. Though it does result in the ever amusing spectacle in which I get called a "group member" and an "apologist" ... that's always a bonus.PelleSmith (talk) 15:11, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Integrated the new material[edit]

I integrated the material we worked on in the sandbox. I am tempted to go through and delete more of the existing non-informative material but I figured I'd wait and see first. Maunus I'm not sure if you intended that first paragraph to be the start of the new lead ... but that is how I used it. If anyone objects to this as the lead I would suggest that building on this paragraph will be much more productive than reverting to the nonsense that it replaced. Please help us here by giving feedback on these changes and discussing possible improvements. In a couple of days I will start weeding out more nonsense and salvaging what is savable.PelleSmith (talk) 02:59, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Thank you for the integration. It is a slight improvement. Still I do not agree with your generalisation of what Academics consider to be cults. Academics of different fields have different views on this. Theologians are also academics and would at large dispute what you wrote here. Would you please consider the quote I added above from Dr. Lee Belfast, Professor of Comparative Religions. It is good to include a sociological academic understanding of the word cult, but to present that as more "Academic" is a subjective opinion and not a fact.
If one includes the sociological evaluation of a cult in the intro, it is just fair to also include a more theological understanding of the word cult. Under theological understanding of the word cult there are also various interpretations. One of them is : "Those who accept God’s offer of eternal life, by wholeheartedly trusting in what Christ has already​ done for them, are the ones who will stand accepted by God." [[5]] and that those preaching another method of salvation is considered a cult.

(~~ Torchrunner ~~)

Theological understandings of the word cult will most likely be covered under "Christian countercult", and if not they are probably not related to the subject matter of this entry. We are not dealing here with all uses of the term. "Cult" definitions by Christian "theologians" which define "cults" by heresy, false revelation, or simply false religion are part of the "Christian countercult movement" broadly construed. There is a long tradition of this and it has been covered by historians and sociologists. Claiming that this theological perspective is in fact on par with "secular" scholarship is not correct. The Academy (to generalize) is a secular institution. There is nothing wrong with theology but it is quite obviously not secular scholarship, so the manner in which the theological POV is included in the entry will not be simply under the rubric of "academics". I hope you understand this.PelleSmith (talk) 12:06, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
this isn't so much a "theological interpretation" as a "Christian fundamentalist interpretation" of the term. It appears that it has indeed been in the US fundamentalist milieu that the term cult changed its meaning in the way German and French have changed the meaning of sect (Sekte, secte), which you can see are linked by interwiki from this article. This article doesn't discuss theology, it discusses sociological dynamics of marginal ("elite") religious groups which secede from a religious mainstream. --dab (𒁳) 14:07, 28 August 2009 (UTC)



Speaking of the famous French anti-cult. To introduce the example of Japan. French anti-sect in Japan was discussed. The Internet in Japan, advocates and anti-religion religion split into two camps. France condemned the religious advocates. France praised the anti-religious. Had a common point of ignoring the behavior of both the French government. Both praised the two forged a pro. Some people were talking about a sect-neutral measures in France. They were mad treatment. Pointed out that from the fake. You can find out how serious this was more of the following remarks. In 2001 the French anti-sect law was enacted years. LoiNo2001-504. To introduce Japan's most famous remarks on it. This remark was made in 2002. A group of lectures sponsored by the Japanese textbooks. Japan's most influential voice. Excerpts from a lecture sponsored by the group that developed the textbooks of Japan. As can be seen from the lecture in Japan, Loi No 2001-504 is thought to be non-existent law. http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/shingi/chukyo/chukyo8/gijiroku/021204.htm Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (基本問題部会(第20回) 議事録より抜粋) 「例えば、フランスではカルトのことをセクトと申しますが、これのリストアップをする。そして、国会で10年を隔てて2度にわたりましてカルト問題の調査をなさり、それに対応する案をつくられ、(法律にはなっておりませんけれども)対応案をつくられ、カルト問題を教育するための慈善団体といいますか、公益団体に公費の援助を支出しておられるのです。こういうところまでフランスなどは進んでおります。」 In Japan because of Furutta influential groups as the least anti-sect propaganda in France. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 125.193.93.29 (talk) 04:20, 30 September 2009 (UTC)



Lead[edit]

I think Dab has made some constructive changes. If there is missing information then lets put it back into the lead, or if there are pieces of information that shouldn't be in lets discuss it. I don't think we need to edit war over this (which hasn't happened yet and hopefully wont).PelleSmith (talk) 14:42, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

It was some of the reformatting that made it look like material had been removed. I now realize it hadn't. Anyway I regretfully have to say that I can't stick around to conclude what I started here - I am taking a wikibreak the next month or so. I think the article is much better than two weeks ago, but there is still much room for improvement. Thanks for helpng me out Pelle - i think our colaboration has been pleasant and I'll be happy to work with you again when I come back.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:50, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
I'll try to get the rest of it into better shape than it is but I really need to take a break as well. In the end most of what is left needs to be rewritten, and I'm sure what we worked on can be improved as well.PelleSmith (talk) 14:54, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Major Changes[edit]

Recently a huge whack of information was moved to New Religious Movement I don't necessarily oppose this in theory but think before it's done there should be discussion. Simonm223 (talk) 20:37, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Sorry there has been little response to calls for discussion about this and related pages of late so I guess I got lazy and just made this edit without first posting about it specifically. This summer Maunus and I started in on trying to fix this entry which is still a mess. The rationale for the edit I just made was to move material that is explicitly about NRMs or about "cult" as used by sociologists discussing the same thing as NRMs but who were doing so under the traditional church-sect typology categories to the NRM page. I also tried re-organizing the currently aweful hodgepodge structure. There are people who study "cults" in the sense of the minority psychology POV and the anti-cult POV, and that material does belong in this entry. The mainstream NRM/cult material belongs in the NRM entry.PelleSmith (talk) 21:36, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. I went and undid my own revert. Simonm223 (talk) 21:46, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. You are absolutely right to point out that its best to bring something like this to the talk page first. I will probably be making some more changes that follow the above rationale and please review them and revert anything that seems unreasonable and we'll discuss.PelleSmith (talk) 21:48, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

opinion and suggestion for new definition[edit]

I don't really think that the text here agrees with what I'm about to say but this seems like the best place to put this. I think that the intro to this article is really "wrong" in the way that it does not really initially describe the meaning of the word as it is used today. Today it's used to describe, as said later in the article, a group which exploits and controls its members. I would expand to say a group that specifically states all "spiritual truths" come only from one source, the source that they themselves insist must be the ONLY SOURCE that members of the cult/religion read and gain truth from. That is one example of control and identifying a group as a cult. The other most common use of the word is a very loose application of what I just said to any religious organization that a person may dislike, and it is often used by athiests to describe organized religions of any kind. I think the modern use of the word cult should be in the beginning of the article, and then later talk about it's history or original meaning, like in the article for Geek. - 68.49.227.123 (talk) 13:46, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

I believe a relevant issue here with our user base on wikipedia is the feeling that we, free-source contributors, are limited by other dictionaries and other encyclopedias when defining terms. Let us create a new definition for the word "cult." Such a new definition does need not be so far different from the common definition but could be more specific, logical, and so true to its etymology.

cult: 1617, "worship," also "a particular form of worship," from Fr. culte, from L. cultus "care, cultivation, worship," originally "tended, cultivated," pp. of colere "to till" (see colony). Rare after 17c.; revived mid-19c. with reference to ancient or primitive rituals. Meaning "devotion to a person or thing" is from 1829.

Perhaps the word 'cult' should be defined as 'the care or cultivation of.' As a past particable of Latin "colere," which means "to cultivate," "cultus" meant "did cultivate." Being that cult is from cultus, such a definition should be that cult means 'the care or cultivation of' in a past tense; how ever, as there is no present such tense other than the word 'care,' whose past particable is currently "cared," cult can be a unique word--both of past and present tense.

The agricultural meaning, between cult and cultus, may have been long ago lost, forgotten through ignorance and inhibition, but may be still used (though considered archaic). As many ancient forms of worship involved animal worship and other nature worships, exempli gratia sun worship and moon worship, (and may be studied with wikipedia's "animal worship" article), I do presume that such is the reason for the current connection between cult and religion.

Distinguishing between the words 'cult' and 'religion,' I would propose religion to be the same as cult, where one cult would be less established than a religion. Where a religious sect(ion) is a theo-/philosophically unique sub-religion, a religious cult is a less established theologically unique sub-religion or less established theologically unique religion. By my definition, Christianity was a cult of Judaism until it became so established and unique that it was able to be considered a religion; Mormonism was a cult of Christianity (of which section, or denomination, I am not so much aware or concerned), and is considered to still be by a majority, until it became so established and unique that it was able to be considered a religion; Anglicanism, also known as English Catholicism, is not so theologically removed, unique, from Christianity to be considered a cult, as much as it is theo-/philosophically unique and so may be considered a sect of Roman Catholicism--a sect of Christianity, the most simplified and old cult of Jesus Christ. Anglicanism, how ever, is so established that it is now considered equal to Roman Catholicism as a sect of Christianity and so much be considered, while catholic, the Church of England, not English Catholic.

Ancient cults such as Indian and Greek cults idolized an animal or God separate and perhaps above or removed from other animals or Gods that were also the subjects of such religions. Current cults of religions may also revere an other above others or even an out side influence, being a development of that master religion. Cults of cults do not usually exist due to the relative unestablished nature of that potential master cult; two separate cults of one master religion, though, are much more usual. As a religion is merely an established religious cult, a religious cult an unestablished religion, an unestablished and unique religion with no master religion, (not a sub-religion), would be considered merely a cult. The barrier between establishment and obscurity, whether kept by the need or desire for secrecy, by the hate or misunderstanding of extraneous persons, may keep a cult one. An example of such aforementioned religious cult, in modern context, is the Church of Scientology. —Preceding unsigned comment added by WiZeNgAmOtX (talkcontribs) 09:33, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

That's a great idea, but it can't be used here because it flies in the face of the ban on "original research" at Wikipedia. For every claim you make, you have to reference something else that backs up what you've written. If this were a place where original research was allowed (e.g. to define a new term) it could (and probably would) devolve into a nightmare edit war where people would start claiming who had a more legitimate viewpoint. It's already bad enough with the abiter being a referenceable source. It just doesn't work because everyone thinks their view is the correct one.
To do what you're suggesting, write it up and get another source to publish it. Get it recognized as legitimate by a legitimate body - and THEN you can put it on Wikipedia. Wikipedia reflects what exists, it does not create. Important point to keep in mind. Lexlex (talk) 18:19, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Historical and still active definition[edit]

This article omits what I would regard as the primary historical definition, namely the worship of a particular deity in a polytheistic system, as in Zeus#Cult of Zeus. A lot of contemporary informal usage draws on this idea. For example, talk of the Cult of Mac refers in part to a sect-like characteristics of Mac fan(atic)s as a group, but also to the adoration of a particular computer system among many things that might be considered equally adorable.JQ (talk) 20:36, 7 November 2009 (UTC)...........

Where is the info on the ( in popular terms ) cults Jim Jones, Manson etc?

.......

What is a cult[edit]

I'd like to see a sentance, in the article, read something like "The term Cult has no real meaning. It is a popular word with no scientific Value. Also, "brainwashing" is not real. The popular concept is a hollywood creation That bears little resemblance to the real life " Training and Conditioning" that goes on in some groups. This training and conditioning goes on in mainstream groups (Army Bootcamps and "drug-alcohol Re-habs") as well as "evil cults". The popular concept of brainwashing is complete fiction. These things are hinted at in the article, but not stated out right. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tinyoflotus (talkcontribs) 20:00, 8 January 2010 (UTC) I dont know how to 'sign'. Maybe a section called "Academic view" would be in order. This would include (I think) the statements: "The word Cult has no definition" and "brainwashing is not real".

Since an encyclopedia is a historical documentation of the development of cults the article needs a correct definition of cult. This is because this is a primary website where many people will come to try to understand if they are being exploited or in a cult.

quote: "Cult pejoratively refers to a religious group whose beliefs or practices could be considered strange or sinister.[1]"

There are many people who did strange religions in the past who were very happy. Tribes in africa for example. These were not cults. The lengthy intellectual ramblings are fine for this article but a large portion of people need a clear definition at the beginning. I would like to put forward the following for approval:

The modern definition of cult is a religious movement that uses mind control techniques intentionally harming the adherents so that the leader(s) can get fame, companionship, wealth, praise, resources and worldly pleasure.

Until we define cult clearly any happy healthy religion that anyone deems strange will be labelled a cult. Seekingpurity (talk) 23:55, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Great. Find a source for your definition and put it up. Otherwise you're wasting your time here. Wikipedia does not create new definitions. Lexlex (talk) 01:07, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Seekingpurity seems to be stating in a shorter and less authoritative manner the same as I did just above. Let me quote for you etymology; read what I typed. If you would like sources for my etymology, then: http://www.etymonline.com/ WiZeNgAmOtX (talk) 11:44, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Again, it's a subjective term. What you call a "happy healthy" religion, might be considered a cult by others. It is a subjective view based on the author and is a pejorative term. One might say that a religion which practices pseudo cannibalism, eating flesh and drinking blood of its founder, is a cult. Another might say that is normal, Catholicism. One might say that ritual infant mutilation is horrific and cult like, other might call it a Brit milah and a "normal" Jewish custom. Whatever your view, if you use the word "cult" it means you don't approve of the behavior and this is merely about the word cult. Attempting to re-define it here simply won't work. Lexlex (talk) 15:01, 25 December 2009 (UTC)


Mormonism[edit]

There are at least 400 groups which signify Mormons as a cult and whilst I may not agree with their definitions the fact is that they designate Mormons as a cult.

Recently the suggestion has been made that Mormonism is no longer a Cult, based on the size of it's membership and the fact that there is little tension with the surrounding society. However I would actually make the point that there are no independently verified membership details. The fact is that the reported membership numbers are likely to be exaggerated due to programs like the Church's baseball baptisms. The other issue of tension in surrounding society is also debatable considering the backlash Mitt Romney received while he was running for president and the fact the Church itself recognized that California was less likely to join a campaign against marriage if the LDS Church was associated and so they wanted a "coalition". The backlash against their support for Proposition 8 could also be used to show the underlying tension with society as a whole.

In fact it was Mormonism which I included which is wider than just the LDS branch but includes many other branches, including Mormon Fundamentalism, which the LDS group itself recognizes as a cult. Also Steve Hassan who is mentioned in the article has himself recognized LDS Mormonism as a cult and it is included on his website as such.

Why is it that Mormonism needs a big explanation for why it should be included when Scientology does not? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gilgal (talkcontribs) 06:31, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

You say "a campaign against marriage." Did you mean GAY marriage? Rumiton (talk) 12:30,

11 February 2010 (UTC)

Huh? This article is about the term cult. That's it. Making a list of what YOU consider to be cults and attempting to add it here is pointless. That's considered original research and not allowed. It will be speedily deleted by most any admin. Lexlex (talk) 23:28, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Actually Lex I didn't start doing that, Scientology was already on the site without any objection before I changed a thing. However since Scientology was already listed I thought why not include other groups. For some reason whereas Scientology was left alone people decided that Mormonism needs to be proved to be included. That was the point of the above post. So what happens? Scientology is then removed. This isn't about "ME" this was about improving an article by including another group instead of just having the one named. If you read the above post you would see that I said there were many books and groups that consider Mormonism to be a cult.

Here are a few:

Books

The Mormon Cult: A Former Missionary Reveals the Secrets of Mormon Mind Control by Jack B. Worthy

Mormonism: The Prophet, the Book and the Cult by Peter Bartley

Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin

When Men Become Gods by Stephen Singular

World religions and cults 101 by Bruce Bickel, Stan Jantz

Out of the cults and into the church: understanding & encouraging ex-cultists by Janis Hutchinson

The challenge of the cults and new religions: the essential guide to their history, their doctrine and our response by Ron Rhodes

One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church, by Richard Abanes

The future of religion: secularization, revival, and cult formation‎ by Rodney Stark, William Sims Bainbridge

"The Rise of Mormonism" by Rodney Stark.

Failed God: Fractured Myth in a Fragile World by John A. Rush

Political violence and terrorism in modern America: a chronology ‎by Christopher Hewitt

Polygamy's Rape of Rachael Strong: Protected Environment for Predators by John R. Llewellyn

Charismatic cult leaders by Thomas Streissguth

Protestantism - The Dark Night of Christianity by G. P. Geoghegan

Articles

My torment living in a Mormon sect's cult http://www.metro.co.uk/news/newsfocus/94607-my-torment-living-in-a-mormon-sects-cult

Steve Hassan's Website http://www.freedomofmind.com/

If you need any more then feel free to ask, even the Supreme Court has stated Mormonism to be included. So there is nothing original about this assertion.

So if you didn't want groups included then why was Scientology left alone for so long while Mormonism needs to be removed from the site? Or if links needed to be referenced then why aren't all the others. I started this as a way of just adding a link to a group that is widely considered a cult. I also included the Lord of Our Righteousness Church which too has been reported as a cult. Of the two cults added and the one that was already on the site (Scientology), only the Mormonism link was asked to provide justification and then all were removed since it was obvious that Mormonism couldn't be removed while links to other groups remained. Information control anyone?

As a disclaimer I'm not a Mormon and I'm not involved with any Cult, or Religious Ministry. My only bias would be that I think of all religions being relatively the same. If someone wants to join a cult that is for them. What are your biases?

(Gilgal (talk) 03:22, 19 February 2010 (UTC))

Scientology was added by several IP's and then defended by an editor who would drive people off this page for disagreeing with him (you can find the discussion in the archives). but since he has left I think that both scientology and Mormonism should be removed for the reasons stated above.

Coffeepusher (talk) 06:12, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

oh good, they are both already gone.Coffeepusher (talk) 06:14, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Bibiliography & Articles[edit]

What's the background on this section? inline citations are used throughout, and a large number of the references listed here clearly do not pass WP:RS. Why is this list here at all?--Insider201283 (talk) 00:01, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

POV[edit]

Holy shiznit, the first sentence of this article is biased. "The word cult pejoratively refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are reasonably considered strange." I haven't read the rest of the article yet, but that first sentence definitely needs rethinking... --- cymru lass (hit me up)(background check) 23:03, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Not a very good definition but I would say, not POV so much as just poorly worded. I believe the author may be striving for definition number 3 in Merriam-Webster - "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also  : its body of adherents". Why not just use something like that? Ronald Joe Record (talk) 02:37, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

Why not just quote Merriam-Webster - "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious"? This definition has come to be the main definition in contemporary times. (Following Doctorfree, I am assuming this is essentially the same definition as the one currently in the article. And I agree that the wording of Merriam-Webster is much better than that currently in the article.) 70.169.147.218 (talk) 04:34, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

How is the first sentence biased? Against whom? Cult is a pejorative term, yes? It is used to refer to group one considers strange, right? What's the issue? Lexlex (talk) 00:44, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
1. against those using the concept cult, foremost the Anti-cult movement,
2. against those using the concept cult, foremost the Anti-cult movement,
3. yes!
4. not per se, rather for some groups who get a reputation for abusing people and/or behaving criminally,
5. 1. and 2.
Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 10:00, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

This whole article feels like it was written, or heavily edited, by members of cults. It cleverly doesn't go overboard, but really pushes the "Anti-cult" movement which in all likelihood hasn't had much impact on society's views toward cults. Rather, the cults' own behaviors have overshadowed any "anti" movement. Witness Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, etc. 68.111.253.199 (talk) 03:57, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Catholic church as a cult[edit]

Catholic church belongs here as well and has all of the characteristics mentioned on this page, from thought control, and highly questionable methods of joining and leaving: a person does not usually join in one's own will, he is joined against his will; and one can not leave catholic church at all, except through excommunication (rare) or by death. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.212.111.58 (talk) 10:19, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

For that matter any religion could be a cult. It depends on who is doing the talking as "cult" is a subjective term. For this reason there is no listing of cults as this article is about the term cult not whatever group some consider to be a cult. Lexlex (talk) 00:41, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Good point there, "cult" is a very loaded term, and it makes sense to not list groups that have been called cults, except, perhaps, by, say, the governments of the areas in which they reside, and even then the word is used to just discredit the group based on reasons other than the religious beliefs themselves. Falun Gong is probably an example of that sort of perjorative use of the word "cult". John Carter (talk) 00:45, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Lexlex is exactly right.·Maunus·ƛ· 01:06, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
In modern usage, "cult" usually refers to new religious movements, which would exclude the Catholic Church. However many writers have used the older meaning of the term to refer to a "cult of Mary" within the the church.   Will Beback  talk  02:36, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm a cult too! One member! Worlds smallest cult! Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:53, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Tautology[edit]

The following sentence in Criticism by former members, constitutes rhetorical POV and needs some reformulation:

Scholars who tend to side more with critical former members are usually critical of cults themselves and include Margaret Singer, Benjamin Zablocki and Philip Lucas.

In itself the sentence is just a very loony tautology, it essentially claims:

X is negative towards cults implies X is negative towards cults, and Singer, Zablocki, Lucas are X

Tautologies doesn't belong to ordinary languages, except as rhetorical tools, in this case applying a negative label on S, Z and L, while making a flawed explanation adding an imaginary explanation value: they're negative because they've taken a negative stance against. Rhetorical language is not encyclopedic, encyclopedias are blatantly neutral, blatantly pedagogical and blatantly non-rhetorical (that was rhetorics of the pattern repetition type, which is quite OK on a discussion about an article! :). Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:49, 3 January 2011 (UTC)


Clarification[edit]

As the first sentence stated: "The word cult pejoratively refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered strange." Isn't 'group whose beliefs or practices' kinda broad? To a specific group of people who have never seen a science lab before - science involving lab work can be a 'cult' if those people have never seen how a science lab operate before. Or even Hollywood can be a cult for people that never experiences how they work in making movies. So wouldn't the better wording be: "The word cult pejoratively refers to a group whose spiritual beliefs or practices are considered strange by other people."? 74.216.17.102 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 22:04, 26 February 2011 (UTC).

Used as a pejorative term it can in fact be used to refer to almost any group. The criteria of what is and isn't a cult is so contested that to be neutral we have to be broad. I suggest you google "hollywood cult" and "science cult". The rest of lead makes it clear that the word is more closely associated with religion. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 18:49, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Suggestion for the Introductory paragraph[edit]

A cult is essentially a group of people; who share a common belief. Their belief would mostly be kept secret from the outside world (non-members). The membership of a cult is usually granted upon the trust of higher members and followed by a ritual initiation in to the cult. There are essentially fear tactics and brainwashing to keep the initiated cult member inside the cult; either by convincing the member that having the membership of the cult s/he is greater than non-members, or by a threat that an ex-member would lose life, property or a valuable on betrayal to the cult. Cults generally gather for a ritual purpose (a religious or a social practice) which would be held periodically.

Classifying between religions and cults based on the bizarreness or the harmfulness of the cult practices is purely pejorative and too subjective. Classifying a religious or social practice as a cult is practically based on the views of the majority of society.

Vishvax (talk) 09:17, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Interwikis for "Cult" and "Sect"[edit]

Some time ago user:Fabriced28 made a massive replacement of interwikis for these two terms Cult and Sect, claiming that these terms are "false friends for many langauges. I rather doubt that this person is such a versatile linguist to vouch for two dozen of languages. Therefore I reverted him for now and ask you all to create a table, verifiable from dictionaries, which language calls what by what. Lothar Klaic (talk) 00:38, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

P.S. IMO this fact of translation deserves to be mentioned in the intros of both articles, since English wikipedia is read by people of all languages. Lothar Klaic (talk) 00:40, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi there, I did not see this discussion before my recent changes. I can just read half a dozen, and that is enough to be better than google translate at most european languages (exceptions being mostly hungarish and finnish). Even then, the easiest thing that made me do these changes is a simple cross-check of two dozens of interwiki for a famous cult, almost universally recognized as such, as is Aum Shinrikyo (choose yours!). All first sentences are similar in naming what it is: 80% go for cult (en)/sekt/secte (other languages)... and the rest goes for NRM. I still think that this kind of man-made modification is better than a bot-made interwiki change, as is the case of 90% of modifications regarding interwikis: they don't understand any language, neither english nor another one, do not know what a false friend is; and finally, one native english-speaker doing a wrong mod on a foreign-language wikipedia can be (and is) spread erroneously in hours. So I just stick with my half-dozen interwikis for now, but please consider this suggestion. Fabriced28 (talk) 13:41, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Well, I changed the interwiki link in et:Kultus from Cult to Cult (religious practice) since that's what the article currently seems to be about -- however I'm not really so sure about what's happening here. Looking for sources I found that in Estonian both "et:Kultus" and "et:Sekt" can be used like the English "cult" (like this article here defines it). I would be cautious with changing interwiki links for languages you don't fluently speak, because the difference might not be as simple as you think it is. — Jeraphine Gryphon (talk) 15:05, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

I've removed the interwikis since most (if not all) are equivalent to sect or cult (religious practice), if any are the equivalent of this article please add them on Wikidata at d:Q11038979. Jinjibïar (talk) 15:52, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Spanish interwiki[edit]

The Spanish word secta corresponds, I believe, to two English words, to the English 'sect' as a break away group and pejorative term; and The English 'Cult' a weird group with weird philosophical foundations which often employ violent or bizarre practises. There should be 2 English links(weird cult and break away sect) to the 1 existing Spanish secta for the meantime, unless they make 2 separate articles at the Spanish wiki.--Jondel (talk) 12:45, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Better intro?[edit]

I think the introduction could be a lot better if it did more to summerize the rest of the article. I will work on this. Please feel free to make changes. Thanks. Kitfoxxe (talk) 16:45, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Combine related sections[edit]

The two sections "The political implications of definition" and "Relations with governments" seem to cover about the same material. Maybe the first one could be moved down and joined with the second. Kitfoxxe (talk) 20:56, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Shouldn't we have a section that states that some do not see a difference between cults and religions?[edit]

This is a pretty widely held view especially among atheists and non-religious people that there actually is no difference between cults and mainstream religions other than how old they are, and how many members they have. To not include a section that gives this view point seems a bit biased. ScienceApe (talk) 21:13, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Well of course there is no difference between a cult and religion from the point of view of an atheist - but a Catholic might certainly consider the Mormons a cult (or vice versa). For this reason the key word "subjective" is sprinkled liberally around this term because it depends on the speaker. It's nigh impossible to get any sort of reference on this term other than its broad meaning. If you'd like to dip into defining cult from a particular perspective I'm not really sure if it would be encyclopedic - but give it a shot. Could be interesting. Lexlex (talk) 22:25, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
If reliable sources can be found to establish that the belief that all religions are cults can be found, and if it can be indicated that they are of sufficient importance or significance to meet WP:WEIGHT requirements, then I think that there would be a sounder basis for such material being included somewhere. To my eyes, the question would be where - in the Religion article, the Cult article, Criticism of religion, or somewhere else. But, first, I think we would need sufficient reliable sources to indicate that it deserves inclusion somewhere. John Carter (talk) 22:29, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Cult as institution[edit]

Is there any study of cults as a form of institution in Erving Goffman's sense of the term? I'm also curious about exploitation of cultish practices elsewhere, in generic management techniques and political propaganda. It seems to me that the rubric 'cult' overlooks the possibility that they are an epiphenomenon.Keith-264 (talk) 10:15, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

You mean like a cult of car racing or cult of some management fad? You might ask at the reference desk if you are just looking for information. If your suggesting the article should have something like this, it would seem to be out of its scope per the hat note. Perhaps you should look at the Institution article. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 18:41, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
I was thnking that the phenomena collected under the label 'cult' aren't unique but can be found in vaguer, dispersed forms in other forms of hierarchcal human organisation.Keith-264 (talk) 21:22, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
I think I see what you mean and that would be inside the scope of this article If we could find some research to that effect. . . . . I got nothing. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 07:04, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Cults in China[edit]

The government of the People's Republic of China some years ago starting changing the translation of "xie giao", which had earlier meant "heterodox teaching", to "evil cult," and has since then rather regularly applied the term to groups with which it was unhappy, probably most notably Falun Gong, generally in the context of outlawing the group in some way. I think that this deserves some mention in this article, but would be interested in what others think as well. John Carter (talk) 19:35, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

China has a paragraph in the government section and Falun Gong is mentioned. This changing of the translation is not mentioned. Do you have citations? Richard-of-Earth (talk) 20:37, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
"Evil cult" is one of a few translations possible for this term, including heterodox teaching, evil religion, evil cult. All three might be provided for completeness. For sources, see Amnesty's note on the topic[6]:
(1) The word “cult” has been frequently used in English to translate the label recently put by the Chinese government on the Falun Gong and other similar groups. However, this translation is misleading. The expression used in China for this purpose, “xiejiao zuzhi”, refers to a large variety of groups and has a far broader meaning than “cult”. “Xiejiao zuzhi” is the expression used in Chinese legislation, official statements and by the state media to refer to a wide range of sectarian and millenarian groups, or unorthodox religious or spiritual organizations, and other groups which do not meet official approval. Xiejiao zuzhican be translated as “heretical organization”, or “evil”, “heterodox” or “weird religious organization”. The translation “weird religious organization”, for example, is used in one official translation of legislation published in the PRC. In this report we use the translation “heretical organization” to convey the meaning of the Chinese expression, though the word “cult” appears occasionally in the text when it is part of a quotation from a text or report available to us in English. It is worth noting that there is no precise legal definition for “heretical organization” in China. Furthermore, the government’s current crackdown on these groups raises the question of who is entitled to determine which group is “heretical”.
The Falun Gong issue is mentioned in this article but only superficially. If there was another case study it would probably be possible to have a sub-section there about political use of the cult label; as in the Falun Gong case, it could discuss how regimes have co-opted this language to persecute target groups. As David Ownby writes in his book "the entire issue of the supposed cultic nature of Falun Gong was a red herring from the beginning, cleverly exploited by the Chinese state to blunt the appeal of Falun Gong and the effectiveness of the group's activities outside of China." Expanding on that theme briefly - the political co-opting of this term - would be helpful for readers I think. TheSoundAndTheFury (talk) 00:27, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Missing the most important aspect[edit]

Where is the difference between a cult and a religion? At what point does a cult becomes a religion? Can a religion become a cult? Reading the article twice, I'm still missing commonly accepted criteria. 84.152.42.143 (talk) 14:15, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

That is because there are no commonly accepted criteria. In the original definition a cult and a religion is the same. In another definition only religions considered evil and manipulative are considered cults. Another considers religions that are deemed strange from the perspective of mainstream religion as cults. In other words the distinction between cult and religion doesn't really have anything to do with the characteristics of the religious groups but by how those groups are seen by other groups in society.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:34, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Shouldn't this be explained more comprehensive in the article?84.152.41.123 (talk) 23:09, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
We can put it in if we can find a comprehensive citation. People who write on what a cult is write their own viewpoint. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 17:59, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Thuggee picture[edit]

Please see the article on Thuggee. They were gangs of criminals in India, but there is no real evidence they were a cult. I don't think the picture of them, dramatic as it is, belongs in this article. BigJim707 (talk) 05:53, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Maybe a picture of Al Qaida members would fit better in that area. Borock (talk) 15:50, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I agree. They are not a typical cult. They shouldn't be on the page at all, much less at the top. Kitfoxxe (talk) 18:59, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
They are also not mentioned in the article. Kitfoxxe (talk) 19:06, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Combine critical sections[edit]

How about putting the "anti-cult movements" and "critical studies" sections together? They are mostly talking about the same people and the same ideas. Kitfoxxe (talk) 04:58, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Hat note[edit]

The hat note now says: "For its use in a scientific, sociological context see New religious movement." I had changed it to: "For most groups referred to as 'cults' see New religious movement." That seemed better to me since New religious movement hardly talks about the use of the word "cult." Maybe one paragraph. It is about the groups themselves, while this article is mainly about the controversy over the word, the anti-cult movement, and destructive groups. If a person wanted to read about "cults" themselves, rather than the controversies involving them, New religious movement and List of new religious movements would be better choices. BigJim707 (talk) 23:34, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

I see your logic, but "For most groups referred to as 'cults' see New religious movement" is like saying "even though this article is called cult it is not about cults". Do not assume people are stupid, from the previous wording people can figure out where to go to read about NRMs that are referred to as cults. Also it is a little POV; it comes across as "shame on you for coming here to read about cults, you should be calling them NRMs" or perhaps "political correct wikipedia won't let us talk about cults as cults". Frankly, when I first saw your edit, I thought you were joking. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 18:56, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
But the other wording is simply inaccurate because the article NRM is not about the use of the word cult in social science. We need to come up with a third wording altogether.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:02, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I won't edit the hat note again. I didn't think my wording was quite right either. If I think of something better I'll suggest it here. BigJim707 (talk) 19:28, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

OK, fine. How about this:

This article gives a general cultural account of "cult". For its usage in the original sense of "veneration" or "religious practice" see Cult (religious practice). For religious groups with modern origins see New religious movement. For religion in general see Religion. For other uses see Cult (disambiguation).

Richard-of-Earth (talk) 05:53, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Awesome!  :-) -BigJim707 (talk) 16:50, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I've put it up. Richard-of-Earth (talk) 21:13, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Non-free file problems with File:Anti-Falun Gong poster.png[edit]

File:Anti-Falun Gong poster.png is non-free and has been identified as possibly not being in compliance with the non-free content policy. For specific information on the problems with the file and how they can be fixed, please check the message at File:Anti-Falun Gong poster.png. For further questions and comments, please use the non-free content review page. -- Toshio Yamaguchi 12:48, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

It looks okay to me. The policy says: "This image is of a poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher or the creator of the work depicted. It is believed that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of posters to provide critical commentary on the film, event, etc. in question or of the poster itself, not solely for illustration." The article is discussing the "event" which the poster is promoting, that is the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese government. Kitfoxxe (talk) 17:04, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
The previous use of the image in this article was a violation of WP:NFCC#8. That image was not really necessary for a readers understanding of the article. -- Toshio Yamaguchi 21:14, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
The same could be said of almost any movie poster, book cover, etc. They seem to be okay here. Kitfoxxe (talk) 04:32, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
That is true. However there is a consensus that movie posters, book covers, etc. are usually acceptable to identify the work associated with that cover (see WP:NFCI#1). -- Toshio Yamaguchi 09:44, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree with leaving the poster out, although it is interesting it's probably better to be too strict about copyright issues than too loose. If we wanted to take out all the movie posters, book covers, etc. that would call for a major change of policy and a lot of work. Borock (talk) 15:45, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Pictures[edit]

I was looking for a picture to illustrate the anti-cult movement section. Commons has lots of pictures of anti-Scientology protests, but that's about it. Since Scientology is already over-represented with 2 pictures I didn't use another one. I considered a picture of the murder of Joseph Smith, but then we would be saying that the LDS is a cult. Maybe I will add a picture of a leading anti-cultist. Borock (talk) 15:40, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Disambigation between Cults as defined by Sociologists and researchers and "Cults" as defined by other religious groups such as the Christian Counctercult Movement[edit]

Although they are both using the same term, only one of the terms has any academic backing. This article should be split to reflect this difference, since these are different terms relating to different concepts.

Zambelo (talk) 01:37, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Okay, but they feed off each other and are merged in the popular image of "cults." Should we redirect this title to New religious movement and just have the articles on the two anti-cult movements as our "cult" articles? Borock (talk) 06:03, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Comments from Victims of cult organizations[edit]

I was a victim of a cult, during the last year, and for the first two-ish years after, high school. I am not sure where the appropriate place to post my case would be, but it seems that here is as good a place as any. This is a talk page for an article, so I will talk.

The cult members, in any rational discussion I have since attempted, always revert to the same defensive mechanism when confronted with facts: 'Well, that's your opinion'. I have learned that the membership has no problem lying to their own children, and generally speaking, such children, by the time they are adults, firmly convince themselves that dissenters are somehow inferior, or lack the proscribed faith required to see the truthfulness of what they themselves were taught by their parents and cult leadership during all of their formative years.

Afterward, for many years, I was aware that for people I knew first hand to have been raised within the cult would require enormous personal courage in attempting to step away from the cult. I realize now that I was fortunate not to have been raised within the cult, and I was fortunate to have had a strong personal identity, even by my late teens. Sadly, the children of the cult members, whom I knew as friends, at that young age, did not have such good fortune as did I.

My friends had been taught, all of their lives, that love, courage, family, wisdom, friendship, and every other noble aspect of life was only to be found by acceptance of the teachings of the 'church' and it's blessings. The pressure to comply was constant, unending, for my young friends.

I was encouraged to abandon my family if I could not lead them to the 'church'. I was encouraged to accept that my own father would not be worthy to attend my wedding. I was encouraged to second guess my personal commitments where they were not aligned with the 'church's' teachings. I was encouraged to betray my own family in the interest of the churches ceremonial requirements.

I could go on and on, but for me, the racism was what set me straight. One day, I said to my younger self, 'this is bullshit'. I was fortunate. To this day, there are millions of victims of this cult struggling with the same problem, knowing that if they choose reason and logic in opposition to official church teachings, they will probably loose contact with their family, and equal opportunities for success, in societies, and even court systems, where the cult prevails.

Earlier I stated the courage required to take steps away from a cult. I now feel it requires even much more, perhaps inhuman courage, to let the awareness occur which allows one to realize one has been disillusioned. What a horrid torment to wish upon a person, by the leadership of a cult.

In time I found scientific medical dissertations on the traits common to cult systems, leadership, and victimization techniques. Such dissertations have helped me immensely. What they have not done, is help me get my friends back, who I really did love. The loss is unending.

I had been raised as a moderate Christian, and not being associated with any formal religion, I came to see things in terms of the probabilities, and as I matured I realized that the pastor of my youth (a different organization) was a great teacher. The first thing he taught me was that his teachings would be symbolic, and that the 'Scriptures' had to be questioned and taken in the context of when they were written. He assured me the scriptures were written by fallible people who really were trying to express matters of great importance, thousands of years ago. There were a few more important caveats he offered, regarding the dogma he would teach, which he readily called dogma, an honesty for which I will always be grateful. In case you are worried, no, he did not cross any lines of conduct, and was (mostly) tolerant of the brashness young men will invariably display as they come into adulthood. He was married, and had two married sons of his own.

I could write a book on how truly fortunate for me was that brief year of catechism with that pastor. There was never a case where my personal development was secondary to the dogma. I can look back now and see a perfect reference on how to equip a young person for a world that is, more often than not, sickening. It really is quite simple:

Never lie to a child. Tell them the truth, or tell them you don't have an honest answer, or tell them you'll discuss it with them when they are older and able to bear the weight of the topic, or tell them maybe it's something they should discuss with their parent, but never, ever, lie to a child. What saved my life, and has helped me hold my faith in people, was having one person in my young life who never lied to me, who never had deceit or falsehood in his eyes.

Editors are welcome to blow this entire section out of here if they so choose. It's Wikipedia, and in all honesty this section does not adhere to editorial protocols. It is, as they say, 'stream of Consciousness'. In this case, regarding cults, being objective is extremely difficult. It's almost as if one must untie one's own spiritual belly-button in an effort to inspect one's objectivity. Very difficult, even improbable. With that in mind I felt such commentary, as a confirmed former victim, might assist authorship.

I would regret to see yet another debate stem from this post. There is no debate: I was the victim of a cult, as measured by any ethical, professional, medical reference.

I was the victim of a cult. swampfoot (talk) 05:22, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

I feel for you. On the other hand lots of people raised in established churches, or outside of religion altogether, have the same kind of experiences. BTW the pastor you liked would probably be called a cultist by some if as you said: "The first thing he taught me was that his teachings would be symbolic, and that the 'Scriptures' had to be questioned and taken in the context of when they were written. He assured me the scriptures were written by fallible people who really were trying to express matters of great importance, thousands of years ago." So cult or non-cult is kind of a matter of opinion. Steve Dufour (talk) 16:25, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
For instance the article says: "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." Steve Dufour (talk) 16:30, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Merge?[edit]

Would it be a good idea to merge Anti-cult movement to this article? Much of the material is duplicated in both articles; and cults are almost never talked about except in context of anti-cultists -- and, of course, the anti-cult movement is never talked about without also talking about cults. BayShrimp (talk) 18:14, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Hmmm...maybe. Except that the anti-cult movement is itself plenty notable. Steve Dufour (talk) 05:43, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
If it's decided to merge then you should merge in Christian countercult movement as well, for the same reasons. Steve Dufour (talk) 17:46, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I would support a merge, in the interest of balance as well as to avoid duplication. Now days a small religious group, of which there must be millions that are never noticed, is only notable as a "cult" when someone in the general "anti-cult movement" labels it as one. All the information should be together. WP wouldn't have an article on "Inferior race," just one on "Racism." Borock (talk) 22:32, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

The anti-cult movement and the Christian Countercult movement are both talking about different things when they talk about "cults". Within those two factions there are also a myriad of definitions of the word - as such, they belong in separate articles. Zambelo; talk 21:58, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

I agree. Also they are both notable and complex enough so that they should have their own articles.Steve Dufour (talk) 00:31, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

A greater disambiguation between cult watching types[edit]

What I would like to see is a greater disambiguation between the various anti-cult factions, perhaps following Eileen Barker's five types of cult-watching groups. These could have individual paragraphs in the Anti-cult movement article and individuals and organizations could be categorised using categories. This would work for individuals that span across multiple types, for instance, a christian religious scholar who used to be in a cult would belong to three or more types, and would be categorised in all three. Thoughts? Zambelo; talk 02:06, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

At least the two major anti-cult movements should have their own sub-sections in this article, to differentiate them. Borock (talk) 18:41, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I just did this. Hope it improves the article. Borock (talk) 18:56, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Merge content from Sociological_classifications_of_religious_movements#Cult_typology[edit]

This probably should be synched with this article. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 04:21, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

terminology / broad concept article?[edit]

I am uneasy about using the Cult page for the narrow sociology-of-religion meaning that became prevalent since the 1970s. I admit that this may be the "primary" sense of the term now in journalistic or popular usage, but it isn't helpful to base an encyclopedia on journalistic rather than academic usage in such cases. It's as if we would have myth redirect to urban legend rather than to mythology citing journalistic or popular use: it would only perpetuate the confusion of the casual reader.

I did some googling (on google books) and it turns out that the history of the term cult and cultist in the United States went trough a lengthy phase where it was mostly associated with faith healing, as in holiness movement, snake charmers, etc., movements that are characteristic of the depression-era US. This sense seems to have remained prevalent well in to the 1950s, if not 1960s.[7]

It is interesting, and (to me) amusing, that the very people who were termed cultists by the medical and scientific establishment in the 1930s (i.e. US charismatic Christianity) in the 1960s went on to appropriate the term for what they considered deviant, in the Christian countercult movement. A turning-point of this terminological change may have been The Kingdom of the Cults of 1965.

Now it may be true that the sociological definition of "cult" can be traced to the 1930s, but it clearly seems that this remained a technical term in a specialist field for another 30 years. And then it was necessarily conflated with popular usage by the counter-cult-movement, which included groups that would themselves have been termed adherents of "cult" by sociologist observers.

I do not object to the scope and content of this article, but I do sumbit it would be helpful to move it to Cult (sociology) or similar, while keeping Cult as a "broad concept" article giving a comparative presentation of all the term's uses and their respective histories. --dab (𒁳) 10:02, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

I have perpared such a presentation in the "terminology" section. This would become the core of the "broad concept" page if my suggestion should meet with approval. --dab (𒁳) 10:19, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

I think in retrospect it turns out the entire "cults" topic here treated as "primary" was a narrowly confined phenomenon which peaked in the 1990s and has substantially subsided since. It was not yet possible to view the thing in historical retrospect when the Wikipedia project started in the early 2000s, but ten years later I suppose it can be viewed in its entirety. It was certainly partly fuelled by the "year 2000 panic". It is interesting to trace how an increasing number of government agencies compiled official "lists of cults" in the later 1990s, and how the topic suddenly lost all urgency in the early 2000s. In the later 2000s to early 2010s, some governments began to feel embarassed about these lists and tried to inconspicuously distance themselves from them. Except for the Germans of course, who seem to insist on maintaining an official defintion of what is or is not a sect, but then the poor old Germans were always rather obsessive about maintaining a strict social consensus of what is in and what is out. --dab (𒁳) 11:22, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

What you see as the topic having subsided I see as the opposite the sociological definition having become mainstream: noone today use the term "cult" in trying to neutrally describe any religious groups. That is because the sociology view has won. "Cult" today either refers to the "cult of X deity" or it is used as a slur against a New Religious Movement. For some reason the entire cult phenomenon seems to have disappeared both from the literature and form the media as well, with much less media attention to new religious groups and their critics. In short I dont think your idea of a broad concept article is very good - it is going to treat several unrelated phenomena.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:28, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

Unbalanced article[edit]

The article is currently largely unbalanced - with content about the anti-cult movements, including the section 'Critical views' and 'Former members'. These sections could be shortened and integrated into the Anti-cult movement article, which is more appropriate for this content. Zambelo; talk 06:15, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

That sounds reasonable to me. BayShrimp (talk) 06:12, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Shouldn't the Christian anti-cult movement come before the secular movement, since it did in history? BayShrimp (talk) 14:52, 21 June 2014 (UTC)