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Warning Signs of Religious Cults: Know Before its Too Late!

Warning Signs of Religious Cults: Know Before its Too Late!

In the English language, the term “cult” is defined as a social group consisting of individuals with common interests in a particular personality, object, or goal. In that sense, a cult can be anything from a singer’s cult of fans to a cult of flat earth believers. Although the followers of many of these types of cults are a bit excessive in nature, one of the most dangerous types of cultists originates from religious cults.

Religious cults are by definition, a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous. The cultists belonging to these groups tend to be more violent and stubborn in their beliefs.

Religious cults have been active around the world for a long time. There have always been cults that put forth teachings diverging from the original religious texts. Some ancient religious cults like the Kaali Crater cult actually started because of believers who related some astronomical or geological phenomenon to a certain god or goddess. They did it so because people back then had no other way to explain these phenomena.

Even though many of these ancient religious cults gained traction back then, they were never so excessively assertive to the public who don’t believe in their belief as the religious cults of the last century were.

There have been numerous cases of murders and suicides happening around the world in the name of religious cults. Even mass suicide incidents are not far-fetched if it’s in relation to a religious cult. For example; Heaven’s Gate was an infamous religious cult in the US during the 70s which killed 35 members of its cult in mass suicide, all in the name of religion, and this is not an isolated case. There have been a lot of cases like this around the world.

But the funny thing is that, even though these incidents are a piece of public knowledge, there are still thousands of people around the world who join a religious cult every year. Regardless of many people who join these cults with perfect conscience, there are a lot many people who accidentally joined and got trapped inside a religious cult. By the time they figure out the cult’s true nature, it’s probably too late to get out.

Every religious cult in the world shares some common factors with one another. These factors are sometimes what make it a religious cult. Knowing these signs can help you identify if the social group you’ve joined is actually a cult.

Here are five tell-tale signs of a religious cult.

A Charismatic and Infallible Leader

Every religious cult starts with the divergent religious notions of a single person’s mind. He/she then attracts other people with his beliefs and they lead the way for many others into the cult. This is how a cult is created. Here the original cultist usually becomes the leader.

Being charismatic is a leadership trait that many people sought after. It is also one of the greatest weapons a cult leader can have. A cult leader can convince his/her followers of anything if they had the proper linguistic skills to do so. If the leader is charismatic enough, he can even convince his followers that he’s the living embodiment of their collective beliefs, and many cult leaders do so too. There are a lot of cases where the cult leader has become an object of worship for the followers, who often have complete authority over the cult and don’t have any real accountability.

The followers of religious cults tend to have an alarming amount of trust in their leaders to the point that they won’t even question any of the leader’s actions. There have been several incidents of cult leaders ordering their followers to suicide and the followers abiding them without question. The cult followers are often stubborn about their beliefs and if their belief or leader is criticized, they may consider it blasphemy.

Cult leaders often tend to develop a god complex, that they are special or even godlike. What makes these leaders dangerous is that they truly believe they are special and that what they are practicing is the only truth there is. This can result in a mentality of thinking only the leader is right and whoever is questioning is committing blasphemy.

Non-Tolerance to Questions and Critical Inquiry

A huge sign indicating a religious cult is that they don’t tolerate questions against their belief. Moreover, they try to oppress any critical thinking that has the potential of harming their beliefs. These cults have a history of oppressing critical thinking by nipping it in the bud itself.

They often do this by schooling their young children in homeschools or religious schools in the way they want to. These kids are discouraged from asking questions and even thinking about the problems of their beliefs. This can result in the emergence of a new generation who doesn’t have critical thinking skills and doesn’t know anything outside what they’re taught.

If you feel like asking questions about the working and beliefs of the group is frowned upon, that right there is a red flag suggesting you’re in a religious cult.

Dishonest and Deceptive Recruitment Tactics

Religious cults never outright reveal their true purpose of existence. They typically lure people in using dishonest and deceptive tactics tailored for each individual prey. Cultists usually target people who look weak and vulnerable by offering them something that would make their life a little better. These people are often loners who are marginalized from society with minimal support from friends or family. This makes them easy prey.

Cultists ensnare them by offering social, financial, and spiritual support, or even offering a place to belong. Once a person is lured into the cult, he/she will be further dragged in using lies and deceptions until it is too late for them to get out.

Some religious cults may even have a front cult that covers up the actual cult and people are lured to join the front cult only to discover it’s a façade.

Leaders Taking Advantage of Followers

Leaders exploiting their cult followers is one of the most common aspects of religious cults. These exploitations are of many forms like economical exploitation, sexual exploitation, or emotional exploitation.

The leaders typically take advantage of their followers by saying that it is for the benefit of their cult. The followers are sometimes made to work without any pay and are made to produce some commercial product whose profit usually goes solely into the leader’s pocket. This is a form of economical exploitation.

In some cases, the followers are sexually exploited by the leader in the name of a religious ritual and as he is the single authoritative figure, no one can question him/her. This kind of incident can essentially scar the exploited person’s mind and traumatize them for the rest of their life. Religious cults practicing this kind of sexual exploitation have been revealed as one of the worst of the worse organizations.

Leaders exploit their followers in a subtle manner so that it is difficult to identify but, in any case, the only person benefitting from the exploitation is the leader himself.

Social Isolation and Intimidation

In order to keep the belief, put forward by the cult alive and to suppress any questions against it, cult followers are taught early to trust only in the cult and fellow followers. This results in complete isolation from friends, family, and other co-workers on the outside.

The followers might be told that everyone but the cult is wrong and that the outside people are working against the cult. If a follower deeply trusts in the cult’s belief, chances are they will see the people outside the cult as enemies, regardless of whether they are friends or family. This will slowly but surely start to make them believe that only the cult and its followers are their true friends who are to be trusted. Isolating the followers like this can make them lose trust in those people who are trying to get them out of the cult.

Religious cults often practice fear and intimidation on the followers who are trying to get out of the cult. To keep their authority over the followers intact and to keep any of the cult secrets from getting out, the leaders may make threats to the ones who are trying to get out over various aspects of their life.

The threats may be spiritual, financial, or sometimes even physical threats. They may even make threats on the life of the follower’s loved ones who are outside the cult. This can make an escape from the cult impossible for the followers.

In addition to this, cult leaders also practice brainwashing and gaslighting their followers. They brainwash the followers by convincing them that everything they knew is false and giving them a version of “the truth” that is inclined to the cult’s benefit. This particular “truth” provided by the cult may have some small sliver of the actual truth so as to make it believable and this half-truth may seem more logically sound than the actual truth to the listener, as truth is sometimes bitter. For preventing followers from leaving the cult, the leaders often make the followers doubt themselves spiritually or mentally. This can lead them to question their own thoughts and lose trust in themselves.

If you feel like the group leader is trying to convince you to only trust in the cult, that the cult and its followers are your only friends, or they are trying to make you doubt all that you have ever known, it is a clear sign that you should run the other way.

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