Re: Not a cult... not a bit like it...

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Posted by Vincent ( on May 26, 2002 at 18:38:34:

In Reply to: Not a cult... not a bit like it... posted by Nick Stone on May 26, 2002 at 16:41:44:

I've seen many such descriptions, but don't think that is an appropriate use of the word "cult." In fact there are several common uses.

(1) A traditional, classicist usage in which a "cult" is any organized group devotion to a particular god or other sacred figure.

(2) A pejorative usage in which a "cult" boils down to "a religion I don't like." Some people prefer to avoid such language...but then when the comet people kill themselves, for consistency's sake, even then they can't use the word "cult". After all, we wouldn't want to be judgmental or anything.

(3) Attempts such as your link to avoid the drawbacks of (2). As I said, cultlike tendencies are a continuum, and don't lend themselves to a strict dividing line, even if we could agree on a checklist. And there's a lot of sliding even among the most liberal churches.

Like I said, Baha'is aren't an extreme cult like the comet people. You're a lot like the Mormons, a very controlling denomination of Christianity with its own doctrines and lines of authority. Like Mormons, Baha'is can live full, happy lives. (But if an LDS Mormon converts to the RLDS, the other LDS Mormons will not shun him.) They just have to live with certain sacrifices.

Now I personally disagree with these restrictions. You think they're good, that God commands them, and the Mormons think the same about their system. In the end, what name we use to describe them doesn't really matter.

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