What is a cult?
The following is the MERRIAM-WEBSTER English Language Learners definition of a cult.: a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous
: a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much
: a small group of very devoted supporters or fans
What is the difference between a religion and a cult?
In Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan singles out what he refers to as “destructive cults,” which he defines as “a pyramid-shaped authoritarian regime with a person or group of people that have dictatorial control. It uses deception in recruiting new members (e.g. people are NOT told up front what the group is, what the group actually believes and what will be expected of them if they become members).” Hassan also correctly points out that cults are not only religious; they may also be commercial or secular in nature.
Hassan developed the BITE acronym, which describes the components employed by destructive cults using mind control. BITE covers the following areas of control:
- Behavior Control: An individual’s associations, living arrangements, food, clothing, sleeping habits, finances, etc., are strictly controlled.
- Information Control: Cult leaders deliberately withhold or distort information, lie, propagandize, and limit access to other sources of information.
- Thought Control: Cult leaders use loaded words and language, discourage critical thinking, bar any speech critical of cult leaders or policies, and teach an “us vs. them” doctrine.
- Emotional Control: Leaders manipulate their followers via fear (including the fear of losing salvation, fear of shunning, etc.), guilt, and indoctrination.
Are Jews for Jesus and other Messianic Christian groups considered a cult.
Most Hebrew/Christian groups, like Jews for Jesus, do not fit the specific definitions of cults. However, there may be instances and individuals cases where some peoples actions fall into the Behavior, information, thought or emotional control.