Characteristics of a Cult
This is a list I ran across somewhere and found it useful.
- INTERNAL CONTROL, amount of internal political power exercised by leader(s) over members.
- WISDOM CLAIMED by leader(s), amount of infallibility declared about decisions.
- WISDOM CREDITED to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions made by leader(s).
- DOGMA, rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility.
- RECRUITING, emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing.
- FRONT GROUPS, number of subsidiary groups using names different from that of the main group.
- WEALTH, amount of money and/or property desired or obtained; emphasis on members' donations.
- POLITICAL POWER, amount of external political influence desired or obtained.
- SEXUAL MANIPULATION of members by leader(s); amount of control of sex lives of members.
- CENSORSHIP, amount of control over members' access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines, or its leader(s).
- DROPOUT CONTROL, intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.
- ENDORSEMENT OF VIOLENCE when used by or for the group or its leader(s).
- PARANOIA, amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies, perceived power of opponents.
- GRIMNESS, amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines, or its leader(s).
- ISOLATION, attempts to separate members from family and friends who are not part of the group.
What gives me pause about this list is that a fair number of the items characterize the Catholic Church, which I would not call a cult.
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