When does a church cross over to being a cult?

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  1. JKeiser profile image60
    JKeiserposted 13 years ago

    We have a church in our town that has me worried. It is non-denominational, its targeted audience is families -- particularly with teenagers. The sermon is a pre-taped sermon from somewhere else. There is a worship team that is basically musicians.

    There is a case I know of where a teenage girl has said the church is her family. Even on her profile on Facebook, she lists only church members as her family.

    If the church is promoting this, rather than making peace and reconciling with her own family, does this then cross the line?

    1. dutchman1951 profile image60
      dutchman1951posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      are all the teenagers acting like this who go there?

    2. profile image53
      ibneahmadposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I think Jesus and Mary did not believe it; basically the Church has to follow what Jesus and Mary believed in and what they did; else they are a cult.

    3. A Troubled Man profile image58
      A Troubled Manposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      The beginnings of Christianity didn't have Facebook or pre-taped sermons, but the rest of it fits.

  2. rebekahELLE profile image88
    rebekahELLEposted 13 years ago

    if the group encourages their functions/beliefs exclusive over a member's family, that's a red flag.

    do you know the name of it, does it have a leader or someone who is in charge?

  3. profile image0
    china manposted 13 years ago

    Don't all churches do this?  The members who are not indoctrinated from birth must be attracted in by something else - and targetting the vulnerable has always been top of the hit-list for new recruits.  Just because this so-called church targets clearly troubled and lost teenagers makes it no different.  But I would worry about it a lot, more even than I worry about the other vulnerable people being taken into any ideology based on hate and division.

  4. Beelzedad profile image59
    Beelzedadposted 13 years ago

    Look to the story of Job.

    When the question is asked, "What is the most important thing in your life?" and the answer is, "God" then you can see there is a very fine line between a cult and a religion, and why church members are more important than family.


    1. earnestshub profile image83
      earnestshubposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Good observation. smile

      1. profile image0
        brotheryochananposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        not really... God is always most important and through God the family gets strengthened. Problems are taken to God, etc. Its a poor observation and quite bias. I love my mom and dad but God has done more for me lately and i never get to see my folks, 3,000 miles away. You guys are more interested in spreading your strange propaganda than you are answering the question intelligently.

        does this girl have any real family? What if she moved away from home because her she doesn't like her family or vice versa, living conditions are impossible.
        Reconciliation is best but timing is important, you don't just take someone home and say... okay kiss and make up.
        I wouldn't worry about it too much but if you want you should attend and get more first hand information. There is far too much speculation to come to a formal conclusion about right and wrong.

  5. relache profile image73
    relacheposted 13 years ago

    There are methods used to evaluate this.  Here's a version that was first developed after the unfortunate Jonestown massacre,


  6. stilljustwonderin profile image60
    stilljustwonderinposted 13 years ago

    I have been to Baptist, Methodist, Church of God, and non denominational churches.  I have never seen teenagers being targeted.  I have never been in a church that doesn't have a preacher giving the sermon.  Churches are to preach love, honor and respect of your family.
    That church sounds very strange to me.

    1. rebekahELLE profile image88
      rebekahELLEposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      it sounds like an off-shoot group of a cult I heard of years ago. they now listen to old taped teachings of the dead founder. I think it has many different names.

      1. stilljustwonderin profile image60
        stilljustwonderinposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Once I lived 1, maybe 2 miles away from a cult.  Had no idea what was going on until the police raided the place and it made the news.
        This does sound like a cult.  Certainly no real church.

  7. Shadesbreath profile image80
    Shadesbreathposted 13 years ago

    Very basic definitions go something like this:

    A cult revolves around a central person whose charisma binds his/her followers to him/her.

    A sect is when the belief set of a cult spreads and is passed on to other leaders who carry on the teachings of the founder (this often happens after the cult leader dies, but I suppose that is not mandatory).

    Religion is what a sect is called when it gets large enough.

    That said, it doesn't matter what you call it if it's exploiting the hormonal vapidity of a teenage girl.  Typical of bad religion as much as it is typical of bad cults.  I think China Man summed it up well, so I'll leave it there.

  8. SpanStar profile image60
    SpanStarposted 12 years ago

    It is not an easy answer because faith means giving of one's self but if faith is more like control rather then free will I begin to suspect cult.

    God wants us to love in him body, mind and soul but in doing so we are are to serve him by serving others.  We look to help those who can't help themselves, we give what we can to help out someone in need, we move to love those others have rejected.

    If the message is more like that preached by Jim Jones who talked about what he accomplished-cult warning or perhaps looking for that which just doesn't seem right like spaceships coming to pick people up as with Heaven's Gate all members killed themselves-cult warning.

    Like I said, it's not easy but I'd keep an eye out because you never know where it may come from.

    1. Evolution Guy profile image59
      Evolution Guyposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Yeah - all religions are kults. Like wot span star sed. LOLOLOL

      How brave and honest u r Spanstar

      Amazing that you removed the mask from your face and showed who you really are. lol

      1. SpanStar profile image60
        SpanStarposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Evolution Guy,

           I get the impression you're trying to say something but I can't for the life of me figure out what the heck that is.

        1. Evolution Guy profile image59
          Evolution Guyposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Of course. Maybe if you removed the mask? sad

          1. SpanStar profile image60
            SpanStarposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            It seem to me you haven't evoluted enough to convey an idea or an statment.

            1. Evolution Guy profile image59
              Evolution Guyposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              lol lol

              Liars for Jesus(TM) LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO

              1. SpanStar profile image60
                SpanStarposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Oh poor baby,

                   You're afraid that mean old Jesus just might prove you wrong-huh?

                1. Evolution Guy profile image59
                  Evolution Guyposted 12 years agoin reply to this


                  Gosh no. I think it is funny that you claim to have removed your mask yet still hide behind "SpanStar" LOLOLOLOLO

                  Iz that wot jeebus  dub tole yer ter do?

                  How brave. lol

                  1. SpanStar profile image60
                    SpanStarposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                    First of all this idea that I claim to have removed anything is Strictly in your mind and I didn't know Evolutions spoke in tongue: Iz that wot jeebus  dub tole yer ter do?

                    I would think anything that you don't agree would be funny to you because following your line of thought there isn't much which can't amuse you,

  9. profile image0
    wongomowaleposted 12 years ago

    The only real difference between any established religion and a cult is just the general perception of that organization. Christianity was viewed as a cult when it originated, but as its popularity grew people’s perception of Christianity became more positive. All religious groups indoctrinate and brainwash their followers in one way or another.

    1. kittythedreamer profile image77
      kittythedreamerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Very good point, wongomowale. I fully agree with you there.

  10. earnestshub profile image83
    earnestshubposted 12 years ago

    If it is a religion, it is a cult.

  11. I am DB Cooper profile image63
    I am DB Cooperposted 12 years ago

    "A cult is a religion without political power."
    - Paraphrasing a quote from Tom Wolfe (I think)

  12. profile image0
    Sherlock221bposted 12 years ago

    One of the biggest differences between a relgion and a cult is the numbers of followers it has.  If there are only a few, it is considered a cult.  If there are millions of followers, it is an established religion.  However, the cult and established religion may share the same beliefs.  Cults often use brainwashing methods to keep followers under control.  Established religions use politics, as well as their size to have influence.

    1. profile image53
      ibneahmadposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Do you mean when Jesus had few followers; he was following a cult and it later became a religion?

      1. profile image0
        Sherlock221bposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, the early Christians were a Jewish sect, and were considered a cult by most Jews.   It was only when these Jewish Christians travelled around the Roman Empire, that their beliefs spread and were eventually adopted by the empire under Constantine the Great.  It was then that Christianity became an established religion, with political power, and the large size of the empire enabled this new religion to spread to much of Europe.

  13. profile image53
    ibneahmadposted 12 years ago

    Whenever a messenger prophet comes with a message from the Creator God; it always starts with a single person and by and by people join him.

    The messenger prophet is never a  cult.

  14. royalblkrose profile image60
    royalblkroseposted 11 years ago

    cults do have a few specific characteristics
    -they promote another gospel- adding to the bible
    -they have changing doctrine- a public face- for people out of the "circle"
    and a private one for those in the "circle" or what ever they choose to call their group
    -they have charismatic, authoritarian leadership
    -they mock or belittle the triune nature of the godhead
    -they make light of the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

  15. Jonathan Janco profile image59
    Jonathan Jancoposted 11 years ago

    A cult only exists in the minds of the individuals who are part of it. If your motivation is to have spiritual experiences and exchanges with other people in your community then that is one thing. If your motivation instead is to take a narrow interpretation of your faith and apply it rigidly to everything in life even where it is illfitting, scheme and carry on for it and convert others under scorn or judgment and wear blinders so that said faith can never be challenged, well then that is another thing.

    1. royalblkrose profile image60
      royalblkroseposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      if that works for you... fine

  16. profile image0
    ksinllposted 11 years ago

    Separating a child from their family is a common tactic of cults.  It sounds like when a child starts to look to the church as replacing the family then it has crossed the line.  Most cults seek to alienate new members from their friends and family.


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