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Alternative RELIGION or CULT

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by singhbj, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. singhbj

    singhbj
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    Religion is a matter of faith or belief. We know that there are multitudes of beliefs in the world and certainly no way to substantiate any one belief as truth. Hence, we live in a world filled with different religious teachings. But can there be good religion and bad religion?

    In the last article I discussed the idea that there were general accepted ideas about what constituted religion and religious belief and that alternative ideas that contradicted these norms were often viewed as deviant. However, deviant does not mean bad, only different. The world is full of alternative religions, that is, religious belief that does not follow traditionally accepted norms and behaviors. While one’s personal beliefs may be at odd with alternative religions, those who practice or support these alternatives pose no threat to others. There is no bad religion.

    However, some groups do cause harm to their members and society and often under the guise of religious belief. Such groups, in fact are not alternative religions, but cults. A cult is any group that under the guise of religion causes harm to its membership. What becomes confusing is that although a cult may claim a religious foundation, often the group is not about religious or spiritual belief at all, but is an economic ploy for the group’s leader.

    Often establishing a group officially as doing harm and thereby a cult can be difficult, but there is a list of criteria that can help evaluate a situation.

    1. Are group members isolated from their family or the larger society?
    2. Does the group’s doctrine and belief focus on the supernatural experiences of the group’s leader?
    3. Is the group’s leader living?
    4. Is the group less than 25 years old?

    Answering yes to these questions if often a flag to investigate a group further. Legitimate alternative religions do not dictate relationships of their members, whom they can visit, associate with etc. Likewise, alternative religions, like mainstream religion is often based on ancient history that has its roots hundreds or thousands of years ago. This is not the case for cults. However, answering yes to these questions alone, does not make a group a cult. The key questions are:

    1. Are any group members being physically or emotionally harmed in any way?
    2. Are group members allowed to leave the organization? Can they be with non group members or by themselves for an extended time?
    3. Are group members living in poverty while the group’s leader gains wealth?

    Often what clearly identifies a group as a cult in the fact that the members of the community are poor, hungry and often in need of basic material goods, while the leader of the group has many households, possessions and is living in luxury. Sadly, group members may not consider themselves as being harmed by this situation, but for those examining the group externally, we can see physical harm occurring. Likewise, in most cults, the leaders of the group are aware that the situation they have created is not legitimate. To protect themselves, they do not allow their membership extended access to any one out side the group. Cult leaders are fearful that group members may realize that the situation is unjust and therefore try to limit the member’s contact with the outside world.

    Cults are not considered alternative religions, though they may be structured like a religious organization and claim to be a religion. Most of the time, cults are founded on economic purposes, not even ideological factors. The bottom line, cults are harmful to their members.

    Source: Alternative Religion or Cult?
     
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  3. SSMDCX

    SSMDCX
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    The True Divine Meaning Of Relegion Is Union With God.
     
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Religion
    Religion - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

    religion get[1,verb]
    Main Entry:re·li·gion [​IMG]Pronunciation: \ri-ˈli-jən\ Function:noun Etymology:Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at rely Date:13th century

    1 a: the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

    (2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    3archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness

    4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
    — re·li·gion·less
    adjective This one is the trouble maker for the discussion I think.


    A problem arises when we try to contrast a religion with a cult. Think about it. Some religions started out as cults. Christianity was a cult within Judaism in its earliest years. Some religions look like cults to outsiders who are frightened by the fervor of its members -- e.g., Church of Latter day Saints in its earliest years was the target of enormous bigotry. Some cults are not evil-minded but made up of a group of people who wish to worship in a very orthodox way without interference from the mainstream -- these should probably be called "sects" to avoid the negative connotations of "cult".

    However, you are pointing out some very important things about the mind-control that occurs with many cults. I just want to point out that we have to be careful when we do not ask whether a cult is always a negative thing.

    The other side of course to this argument is this. There are many critics of religion who would say that there is no difference between a religion and a cult. Only that a religion has economic and political clout and acceptance and a cult is generally viewed as an upstart movement.

    Sikhism looked like an upstart cult of Hinduism to the Persian overlords when Sikhism began to draw numbers and credibility in the eyes of oppressed Hindus and Muslims.

    What plans do you have for adding to the thread? It could turn out to be interesting. And hope you are not put-off by my comments.
     
  5. SSMDCX

    SSMDCX
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    The Biggest And Most Dangerous Cult Is Human Mind That Is Governed By Panj Doots - Kaam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh, Ahankaar And Asa Trishna Mansha. To Free Yourself From This Cult You Have To Winover Your Own Mind.
     
  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    With God's kirpa.
     
  7. singhbj

    singhbj
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    aad0002 ji,

    I was in a situation yesterday on another forum (better not to name the portal) where my post containing Gurmat (Gurbani, transliteration & translation) was bounced without being publisized.

    This triggered my thoughts whether they were indeed Sikhs promoting Sikhism or a cult promoting manmat (their own beliefs or practices). This led me to search, during which i came across the article discussing the subject of Alternative Religion or Cult.

    The reason behind posting the article was simply, to inform members to be ware & only look up to Satguru Granth Sahib jeeo for help & guidance. Not to go off-track !
     
  8. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Singhbj

    I agree. And SGGS is the best place to start and the best place to return. Making that circle will tell a person whether what we are hearing reading seeing is Guruji speaking -- or some manipulative group out to make a buck.
     

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