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Want to be in a Cult?

by Ron Holdraker
January 15, 2022

In modern English, a cult is a social group that is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object, or goal.

Probably the most notable ‘cult’ was the tragic Peoples Temple, founded by Jim Jones.

According to a paper by the Department for the Study of Religion at San Diego State University:

“This cult, which will eventually lead to over 900 of its members committing suicide, was first introduced simply as a religious movement linked to Christianity; not as the Communistic society that Jones had in mind. Known also for killing Leo Ryan, the only United States congressman to die in the line of duty, on a Guyana airstrip. Peoples Temple collapsed later that day with the mass suicide of the group. The entirety of this mass suicide represents how, in some cases, people can either be driven to do the bidding of whom they see to be their leader, even if it would defy all that they would have previously thought right, or true. It also represents how, even if the members of a cult are brainwashed, violent force may be necessary for your followers to follow you.

As they were one of the most notable cults of all time, this group helped to pave the way for newer, more extremist religious movements of the future.”

 Other well-known American cults include The Westboro Baptist Church

The Westboro Baptist Church was founded by Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kansas. A far-right, extreme hate group that especially targets the homosexual and Jewish communities, the W.B.C. is known for their highly provocative protests and picket signs. Alive and well to this day, the Westboro Baptist Church protests around the country.

Heaven’s Gate

Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles found their first cult, “Human Individual Metamorphasis.” Their group traveled into the Colorado desert, to await a UFO, but it never came. This group would eventually change twice more: once into “Total Overcomers Anonymous” in 1993, and finally into “Heaven’s Gate” (the most recognizable name for the group) after the cult moved into the San Diego, CA area. In mid-March of 1997, 39 of the group members in matching attire committed suicide in a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Two members who had left the group would go on to commit suicide over the next year. As a modern UFO/Doomsday cult, Heaven’s Gate went on to not only become one of the most notable cults in history, but showed the world that almost anything, for certain people, is able to be accepted as truth.

Cults, of course, are not limited to religion. 

NXIVM founder Keith Raniere was accused of running an abusive sex cult through his Albany-based seminar company. He was tried and found guilty and is currently in prison.

No one can forget the brutality of Charles Manson  who led the Manson Family, a cult based in California, in the late 1960s. Some of the members committed a series of nine murders at four locations in July and August 1969. In 1971, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people, including the film actress Sharon Tate. The prosecution contended that, while Manson never directly ordered the murders, his ideology constituted an overt act of conspiracy.

There are dozens of cults still active today, despite the very public demise of many well-known ones. Current cults range from New Age mystic groups to fundamentalist Christians preparing for the end of days.

A cult usually starts with a ‘Cult Leader’, who can be very manipulating, often demanding time and money leading to a type of mind control. Using lies and deception, followers are often unaware they are falling into the spider web of the cult. Time proven techniques of repetition and diving into a person’s weaknesses, racists leanings and a suite of psychological techniques, cult leaders attempt and too often succeed at controlling their members.

Open and honest discussions are obliterated as higher ups in a cult, along with slick, well-rehearsed public relations, attempt to hide truths and common sense. Promises of a better life, a better tomorrow often are on the cult horizon. 

The cult leaders need to make you believe that there is no where else you can go to be saved. However cult leaders will tell you can only be “saved” (or can only be successful) in their organization alone. No other organization has the truth, all others miss the mark. So it is not your belief system that decides your future, but it the belief system  and your membership with that particular group.

Rogue former members, or disbelievers are either shunned, or discredited. This ‘power’ to deceive the members leads to a ‘mob mentality’.  Exclusivity is used as a threat, it controls behavior and builds upon fear.

Eventually, members too often fear reprisals and reject their own beliefs, convinced the ‘cult’ is the means to their survival. Questioning leadership is the same as disagreeing with God, country and seen as a sign of rebellion and stupidity. Things that normally would have made you complain will pass by silently because you don’t want to be ostracized.

Members are often led to support organizations, social media sites, media influencers that build upon the cult. Remember, if you repeat the lie enough, it becomes truth.

Most people would consider this devotion to a cult improbable. Miriam Webster dictionary as: “A great devotion to a person, idea, object, or movement.”

Are you tempted by a cult? Lies, manipulation, a barrage of slogans, tearing down societal norms, all built upon the cult.

Sounds a lot like Trump and some in the current Republican Party.

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