Charles Manson Cults Vs Religion

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In 1969, a leader, Charles Manson ordered members of what was known as the “Family,” to break into a Hollywood home and murder five people, including a pregnant actress. Less than 48 hours later, they were asked to murder two more people (Bugliosi). A couple years later, in 1978, a man named Jim Jones convinced over 900 of his followers to drink a cyanide-laced beverage that killed them all (Gritz). These horrifying stories made headlines and shocked the world. When one thinks of cults, the Manson and Jones cases are the kind of examples that come to mind. These infamous cases have become widely known because of the horrifying outcomes. However, the Manson and Jones cases are not the only examples of cults. There are other known cults that…show more content…
To experts, there is a distinct difference between the two. One of the main differences that separates the two is where they place their devotion and adoration. According to Margaret Thaler Singer, an expert on cults, an organized and recognized religion places its adoration on a God and abstract principles, while a cult places their adoration on a living leader. Although Charles Manson never called himself Jesus Christ, he gave his followers the impression that he was Jesus Christ, this in turn made his followers devoted to him (Bugliosi). Cults tend to also differ in that they use thought reform, or brainwashing, to shape members, or have them put their old beliefs aside (ICSA). For example, Jim Jones would make his followers confess their sins in public and Jones would brutally beat them. Another characteristic that sets cults apart from religious groups, is that they are totalitarian in the way that their leader is the one who holds all the power and makes all the decisions for the group (ICSA). Everything that the group does is to bring more power to their leader. There is “heavy exploitation” from the leaders. and it tends to be “economic or sexual” (Cults Dangerous Devotion). Cults also tend to be elitist in the way that they believe themselves to be above all others by seeing the outside world as unenlightened and sinners (ICSA). They believe they are special and have the right answers, and because everyone else is not a part of their group, they are sinners. One important fact to point out is that not all cults are religious, but “use religion to commit heinous and horrifying crimes” (Cults Dangerous Devotion). While some people like to believe cults and religious groups to be the same, there are differences that separate the
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