When Does a Religion Become a Cult?

Occult America author Mitch Horowitz writes:

Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult. The first is behavior control, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do. The second is information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group. The third is thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning. The fourth is emotional control—using humiliation or guilt. Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths. So I would add two more categories: financial control and extreme leadership.

Full Story: Wall Street Journal: When Does a Religion Become a Cult?

Horowitz also recently delivered the State of the Occult Address with Richard Smoley. I haven’t read it, but thought some of you might be interested.

2 Comments

  1. The criteria could describe present day America.

  2. When does a cult become a religion, is a better question perhaps… Cults tend to have living charismatic, messianic leaders. After they die, if people still follow, it becomes a religion.

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