The Pros And Cons Of Cults

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There are thousands of sects, cults and newreligious movements (NRM’s) existing in our society today. Many have made the assumption that we are living in a secularized world, that the meaning of religion in our society is decreasing. Peter L. Berger (1991) writes that: ”The world today, is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever.” Berger admits that certain religious institutions have lost their power and influence in some societies, but claims that both old and new religious beliefs have continued in the lives of individuals. Though society may no longer function around religious institutions, this does not make individuals less personally religious, or willing to believe.
Like previously stated, there
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Researchers often define cults and sects by their organization (In Dawson, 2003). Cults are more disorganized than sects, which usually have a more organized structure. In addition to this, Hood, Hill and Spilka (2005) claims that the difference between a sect and a cult is that while a sect has it’s origins in a religion, a cult is usually not closely connected to any established religion. In cults the members are also more closely connected with each other, and the leaders have more…show more content…
To engage our knowledge about this, we have to start by asking what kind of people who join NRM’s in the first place, in other words who?
Previously the so called ”brainwash” theroies have been a popular explanation. These theories claim that individuals who join NRM’s have been brainwashed, and propose that they have been susceptible to new ideas because their critical facilites and ego strenght have been weakened. This is considered a result of overstimulation of the nervous system, forced condessions and so on. These theories, however, have noot been accepted by social scientists. Snow and Machalek writes that it is inconsistens with the findigst that most of the conversions occur voluntaraly (Snow & Machalek, 1984).
Many researchers have been eager to find certain peronality traits that individuals that convert to NRM’s possess. Levine (1980) considers that the individuals joining suffer drom disorders in the form of attenueated ego and superego development. He means that the cults are an ”escape from freedom” for these individuals. Kihldals study (1965) showed that converting individuals scored lower on intelligence tests and higher on a hysteria scale. Galanters study (1989) showed that individuals who joined the Unification Church scored lower on a genereal ”well-beeing”-scale than the average (In Dawson,
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