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Mar 27, 2008

25 Attributes of a cult:

by Anonymous



This list is taken from a college course called "The Psychology of Fundamentalism" offered by the University of Texas

1. the leader is charismatic and often militaristically demanding
2. the leader is always right
3. elitism, the leaders treated as royalty or a sense of awe, hierarchical, authoritarian power structure
4. lower members get no respect, or get abused
5. leader is not held accountable for his actions or the actions of his authority structure
6. leader will not tolerate or receive criticism, but leader criticizes all others
7. there is no exit
8. if members exit they are considered rebellious, out of the will of a higher power or the leader
9. members do not have any association with members that have left the group
10. there are no graduates from the “program” or group, just deserters or evil people
11. there is cult speak (a language many others can not understand)
12. personal attacks on critics or those who are not in the group
13. solidarity within themselves, no outside allegiance or association
14. use of guilt to manipulate members
15. the leaders of group are self absorbed
16. instant community
17. members unable to tell the truth
18. money grubbing
19. newcomers don’t “think right” and need to be trained
20. system of punishment and reward
21. intrusiveness
22. sense of powerless, dependency, covert fear, guilt
23. members and leaders are imbalanced or mentally ill
24. thought stopping language, clichés, or slogans
25. demands of ultra loyalty or ultra trust in the groups process and others

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  1. Gravatar
    Elgin Young

    Sound eerily like a church i used to go to.

  2. Gravatar
    Learning Freedom

    What do you do when the very people who need to read this list won't even look at it because they fear that doing so would be disloyal & reveal a lack of trust in what they consider to be the God-appointed leadership over them. Family I/we left behind in a cultic church are under the power of a "Don't talk, don't ask, don't discredit the church/leadership" mentality. VERY FRUSTRATING!!!

  3. Gravatar
    Cathy Jarrett

    I was raised in a church, who has a female prophet,who says that I can never say I am saved. I grew up resenting that church, and I guess I can still feel that way. But my Father in heaven showed me that He is love, and that He will never leave me, or forsake me. The funny thing is that no one from that church ever asked me why I am no going to this church. Now I feel free from that bondage. I pray that others can see where they are, and beset free as well.

  4. Gravatar

    Where can I get the T shirt from so others can read this!! This is the best "short sermon" i have ever seen on "what is a cult". Now I'm getting real concerned the "Church" as we know it has become the very 'organisation' we dreaded because of the "lack of knowledge" we are perishing! May God help us all.

  5. Gravatar
    toxic sheep no more

    10. there are no graduates from the “program” or group, just deserters or evil people SOOOO True! NO ONE 'graduated' from the abusive group I was in- just "defected" or died. I agree with the previous poster- we need T-shirts w/these signs on them.

  6. Gravatar

    Sounds like the Obama administration.

  7. Gravatar

    Scary! Sums up my 'ex-church' perfectly!

  8. Gravatar

    Funny,my mom says the major sign that I am in a cult is that I listen to Darin Hufford. But thats not on the list? Oh no! What do I do now? I can't even do the "cult" thing right!

  9. Gravatar
    Grace Abounds

    Carol, the funny thing is that the above description sounds like this network. Not so nice to people who simply want to discuss things like the Bible. What the? All kinds of rules here. Just repackaged, with a leader who is extremely dogmatic, and writes of love, but is ruthlessly unforgiving. Doesn't add up. Just sayin

  10. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Grace, what in the world are you talking about? What a terrible and judgmental thing to say about someone you don't even know.

  11. Gravatar

    I am not sure who the "troll" is but if you are trying to get a nasty message to Darin Hufford you are failing. I delete messages like yours and he never even sees them. You must be really lonely with nothing to do.

  12. Gravatar

    I grew up in church and I am surprised that so many people online have a cult experience in church. I give credit to my parents who avoided cult church settings by simply avoiding the KJV onlyist groups and encouraging critical thinking on my part. However, there is on the part of many individuals to be cult followers within churches. At Mosaic in LA, my brother-in-law reffered to some as "Erwinites." I have personally met "MacArthurites" from Grace Community Church, and among the SB churches, there are many "Adrianites" (fans of Adrian Rogers). So far, I have not seen a group where this does not exist. In the groups I have personally seen it, the pastor, youth pastor, etc. never recognized it or confronted it when it was pointed out. Darin...I have been following your posts. You are not a cult leader nor are you encouraging a cult following. But you do have one.

  13. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    If you stretch the definition of a "cult following" to it's furthest extent you could easily say that anyone who writes books and has a podcast show where a lot of people read and listen, is a cult leader. By that same definition Moses had a cult following as did the Apostle Paul and John. I personally don't see the "following" part as having anything to do with the "CULT" part. What makes something a "cult" is not that people follow it or someone associated with it. It's the teaching itself and whether or not the people involved are being manipulated and controlled. We have drastically diluted the meaning of "Cult Following" in our generation, so much so that we even say that movies like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" or "The Blob" has a "CULT following." Unfortunately most words like that have been tainted and distorted to the point where they could apply to anyone at anytime. The same is true for the word "heretic."

  14. Gravatar

    Well said and you're right. We have diluted the meaning of cult following in many cases. But the "cult following" (for lack of a better term) that I am talking about are those who go way beyond being a fan. They belittle, talk down to, and ridicule anyone who raises a question or expresses a difference of opinion... and often question the maturity of the questener. In my own experience, I found it better to keep my opinion and disagreement with Adrian Rogers to myself, especially when having lunch with a few SB pastors at a state convention. The problem I see in SB life is that these "cult followers" become pastors and teachers... where on one hand they say examine everything they teach against scripture... but on the other, Adrian Rodgers was immune. Is this a major problem that should be confronted or just an irritation? I'm not sure... maybe there are bigger issues Thankfully, my own pastor shares the same opinions I have regarding Rogers and provides some guidance in this.

  15. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Should I know who Adrian Rogers is? I may know him but at least for now I can't remember who he is. Is he someone who follows my teachings? There are always going to be people who try to force this message down the throats of others. That's unfortunate. We actually address that on the podcast show all the time. Even after addressing it and writing about it numerous times; people will still be that way. Not much I can do about that. As long as I know they're not being that way because they see ME being that way. I can only control my own actions. Remember when Martin Luther was around there was a time that all the people thought he was dead. They immediately started burning down churches and murdering the nuns and priests. They actually thought THAT was Martin Luther's message. When came back from hiding, he set them all straight (after almost a hundred thousand deaths). I have found that with this message, people tend to think it's "anti-church" just like in Luther's day. IT's NOT.

  16. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I've found that no matter how many times I proclaim the truth of my message, people still see it as anti-church. I've finally come to the conclusion that people will hear what they want to hear. This is why Jesus said, "he who has ears to hear........" It was that way with him as well. I can either concentrate on preaching MY message or I can concentrate on trying to control the people who don't get it. For me; preaching the message he's given me is a better way to go.

  17. Gravatar
    Janet Ross

    I was involved with a cult as listed above. I also, years after I left, was able to pin point the traits within myself that lead to my own demise to find, engage & be swept away w/such groups. The problem is 2-fold. After all, these cults could never exist w/out the drones that seek them out. Those, like myself, who were raised in a loveless, deprived & abusive environment do associate scriptures best w/a loveless God. We are attracted to the 'black & white' depiction of knowing things for sure. We are in fear of being wrong & therefore can be easily controlled by fear. I could, after a childhood of being beaten bc I was dirty & wrong, swallow much more easily the idea that I NEEDED more of the same then even wrap my mind around the idea that I was beautiful and there was a God that was crazy about me. Rules are easier to see. I am thankful that God let me burn myself out. Honestly, if you can't burn yourself out on rule keeping, then I am terribly concerned about you.

  18. Gravatar
    Janet Ross

    There are other character traits I also found to be true. If all the men are dressed like the preacher & all the women are dressed like the preacher's may want to run. Individuality is discouraged & there is a 'cookie-cutter' mind-set in place; churches w/cultish tendencies are found here. I live in the south (ouch!)...if you're dif'rent...well, God help you! (she says smiling).

  19. Gravatar

    Sounds like every major religion that i am familiar with. Except Buddhism.

  20. Gravatar
    Atheist Loki

    Sounds exactly like atheism+ to me.

  21. Gravatar
    Rohan Zener

    I myself find that most of the believers in modern cults, ironically enough, while trying to keep up this "gray" image, have the mose black-and-white world views in the history of humanity. It's even in their holy books. Christianity included most importantly. In fact if i knew no better i'd say we NEED the gray aspects in order to coexist as well as we do today!

  22. Gravatar

    What entangled me was looking for the church to be my family. Once I realized church was to enrich my personal walk with God rather than become it I could clearly see I was in A cult.

  23. Gravatar

    Just being picky but I read in the list of cult characteristiics that members are unstable or mentally ill. What exactly do you mean by unstable or mentally ill? Are people with such struggles viewed as bad or evil. I have two mentally ill sons who have hearts of gold. I myself have struggled with severe depression. Once quite a long time ago I became very fragile heading for a major breakdown and overreacted to something said on the forum. I was quickly rebuked and maybe deserved it but sadly nobody simply said "are you ok"? I can assure you cults are no more accepting of the mentally ill than churches in general or even free believers. Sorry for whinging. I do enjoy reading so much good and helpful stuff here but I am not game to interact much. Just decided to stick my neck out and write this. Not meaning any offence.

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