Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Every time I see an article about the Jehovah's Witnesses,

  • or Scientologists, or any other relatively small but powerful religion,

  • there are inevitably commenters who chime in and say,

  • "It's a cult!"

  • Which makes you wonder: How come those groups are cults, but

  • the Catholic Church

  • or the evangelical mega church next door to you are not?

  • I mean, what's the difference between a religion and a cult?

  • Is it brainwashing? Because

  • I would argue that teaching kids evolution is a lie,

  • or being gay is a choice, qualifies.

  • Is it about abuse? Because

  • we've seen abuse on Catholic Church.

  • You know, there's a saying that religion is an old cult

  • and a cult is a new religion.

  • But that's not exactly accurate.

  • So, really, what's the difference?

  • Is it just about popularity?

  • I mean, unpopular newer religions are cults?

  • There's not necessarily a set difference,

  • but here's what you should look out for:

  • A cult doesn't let you leave.

  • A good religion, if we can call it that, lets you come and go without a problem.

  • Sure, they want you to stay, but they're not going to come after you if you stop believing.

  • A cult only lets you associate with other cult members.

  • Do you have friends who aren't atheists, or Christians, or whatever you are?

  • Good!

  • A cult doesn't let that happen!

  • And if you leave the faith, they are done with you.

  • A cult may require you to live with other cult members,

  • like in a single home or a commune.

  • I mean, with religions you live on your own, and you come together every so often to worship.

  • Cults have singular leaders with all the power.

  • I mean, he has special access to the truth and no one else does.

  • That's different from mega church pastors, who might love the spotlight,

  • but even they won't say the road to salvation goes through them.

  • Cults don't let you disagree.

  • If you challenge the teachings or disagree with the theology,

  • you should be able to have a discussion and debate about it.

  • Most churches are okay with that.

  • I mean, there are Christian apologists who run around trying to defend the faith from its critics,

  • which is good, because it means they're comfortable having that conversation.

  • Questioning your beliefs is a good thing.

  • I mean, if your religion can't handle your questions,

  • then you should leave it.

  • Cults are exclusive, even from within.

  • I mean, you might be part of a cult,

  • but that doesn't mean you're saved.

  • You might have to be more dedicated,

  • or give them more of your money.

  • I mean, religions don't work that way.

  • Accept the divinity of Jesus and you're golden.

  • Follow the tenets of Islam and that's that.

  • Cults are secretive.

  • Only some people have access to all the cult's information:

  • Their finances; their leadership hierarchy;

  • their beliefs, in some cases.

  • I mean, you have to pay money and level up

  • to learn Scientology's biggest secrets.

  • Most religions aren't like that.

  • When it comes down to it, not all religions are cults,

  • but they sure as hell dabble in it every now and then.

  • There are religions, like Jehovah's Witnesses, that will disfellowship you

  • -- shun you -- if you leave them.

  • I mean, your family won't even talk to you anymore at that point.

  • There are evangelical churches that don't share any information

  • about where the tithing money goes, or

  • how much the pastor gets paid.

  • I mean, there are churches that act like questioning your beliefs is a sin,

  • that you just have to have faith.

  • So, there's some overlap every now and then,

  • but it's usually not complete overlap.

  • Also, what's an acceptable religion in the U.S.

  • might be considered a cult in another country, and vice versa.

  • I'm sure Christianity was considered a cult around the time of Jesus.

  • Scientology operates like a cult, but the IRS considers it a religion.

  • What I'm getting at is that it's not clear cut,

  • and the list I gave you is not comprehensive.

  • I'm sorry if I missed something obvious.

  • But that also means it's unfair to use the word "cult" as a pejorative

  • every time a religion does something you don't like.

  • Don't make that mistake.

  • My name is Hemant Mehta and I write at FriendlyAtheist.com

  • What do you want to see a video about?

  • Let us know in the comments below and we'll be sure to check it out.

  • And don't forget to subscribe.

Every time I see an article about the Jehovah's Witnesses,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 US cult religion church scientology catholic church evangelical

The Differences Between Cults And Religions

  • 57 2
    Caurora posted on 2018/01/19
Video vocabulary