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Odds and Ends
Nice Guys Finish Last
1 7, 12:53am
Re-posting this here rather than as a reply, in the hopes that more people will see it:
Cult is a subset of religion. The three earmarks of a cult are: layers of secrecy (the higher rank you are, the more secrets you know); encouraging isolation from mainstream society; and authoritarianism (questioning higher-ranking members is strongly discouraged).
A cult isn't always bad -- in the ancient world, there were often cults for particular social groups, and those cults were constructed to fit into their society.
The problem with cults now is that because of their secrecy, isolation, and authoritarianism, they may consider their own leaders' authority greater than that of secular authorities, and encourage their members to perform actions that break secular laws (such as abusing fellow cultists deemed insufficiently obedient).