Is it possible the only difference between a religion and a cult is popularity? Let’s explore the differences.
Every Major Religion is a Popular Cult
Many people conclude that the only difference between a religion and a cult is the membership’s size. So, what’s then is the difference between cults, religion? Religion and cults typically have the same four concerns.
1. your beliefs about the origins of the universe
2. what may happen after you die and your afterlife beliefs
3. rules to justify bias and prejudices
4. maintain good standing as a paying member
Religions and most cults focus on after-beliefs. They capitalize on our natural fear of death. They add to the fear of eternal punishment for those that disagree. And then provide the solutions, an eternal paradise for those who do “believe.”
Both cults and religions have doctrines and dogma. The most popular beliefs all have some divinely inspired texts. But texts also contain multiple inconsistencies. These contradictions require explanations. So, hire salespeople, which they call preachers and priests, to help sort out the confusion.
The dilemma of textual inconsistency also provides an excellent financial opportunity. Since there are inconsistencies, you can cherry-pick certain parts of the texts to create a new religion. These inconsistencies lead to the growth of different denominations.
There are 6,000 major gods and 200,000 sub-classifications of religions (1), from one to several hundred imaginary friends. Christianity alone now sports 33,000 sects. If you belong to one sect of the Abrahamic tree, all the other belief systems are a cult or unpopular religion. Of the 8 billion people on Earth, 4 billion belong to three religions. These are the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (2).
If you ask the Abrahamic religions’ devotees if they think their faith is a popular cult, they would say no. If you ask them if other religions are cults, they answer yes, including all other faiths. Any different interpretation is a threat to their version.
“You can’t use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn’t use reason to get into.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
However, you can do it with a process we call the unconventional approach to save a believer. It takes considerable time and effort, but it is possible. Some hardline believers can become your best allies for truth once you get them to overcome their negative programming.
Of course, not all religions are the same. Not all religions have the same concerns noted above. For example, Taoism and Paganism do not have these concerns. They also have the fewest constraints on free-thinking. With these systems, you are free to explore and develop your path.
A Cult is an Unpopular Religion
What is a cult? It’s a group of people that embrace a belief system based on mythology and superstition. A cult is a group with beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister. Of course, most religions fit this criterion by outsiders.
Their excessive admiration for a particular person or extremist views distinguishes them from the norm. As more and more religions become extreme in their opinions, they morph into cult-like attributes and behaviors.
The characteristics of a religion and a cult are virtually the same. The only distinction is the size of their fanbase. You can see why some say that religion is a popular cult with a large fanbase.
If you are a believer, then an unpopular religion is any other religion than your own.
With the proper charismatic leadership, any cult can become a full-fledged popular faith. As a cult becomes more widespread, it grows into a religion. As it gains broader acceptance, it also gains more power to shape and influence the culture.
Unfortunately, most people do not choose their religious beliefs. They are born into them and are victims of forced indoctrination. People in crisis are also susceptible targets for indoctrination. When you are in crisis, you will accept easy answers. All it takes is believing what they tell you. They do not choose a religion because they have researched the accuracy. It is an emotional decision based on social pressure and popularity. It doesn’t matter if it is a fashionable cult or unpopular religion. Proximity makes converts of the young and the vulnerable.
Religion is a fragile thing because most have gods of one kind or another. Imaginary friends and enemies are increasingly vulnerable in the world of science and reason.
“Gods are fragile things, they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense. They thrive on servility and shrink before independence. They feed upon worship as kings do upon flattery. That is why the cry of gods at all times is “Worship us or we perish.” A dethroned monarch may retain some of his human dignity while driving a taxi for a living. But a god without his thunderbolt is a poor object.” ― Chapman Cohen
What is Spiritual Exploration?
These processes are a collection of proven methods for exploring consciousness. We call them spiritual technologies. They help us expand awareness and unlock the gifts to reach higher states of consciousness.
These tools differ significantly from religion. They do not require faith or belief in any religious doctrine. Anyone can use these processes to develop their full potential. All you need to do is follow the process, and it’s just like following the recipe for baking a cake. If you combine the right ingredients in the right way and you get something delicious.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning method. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. They are repeatable processes, and several produce measurable effects on our physiology. These changes include increased brainwave coherence, lower heart rate, and increased skin resistance. Changes like this prove these partitions of consciousness differ significantly from waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
Everyone can use these methods to create their unique spiritual path, and you can start with any of these methods. The more of them you use, the faster your progress.
Spiritual exploration does not require belief in any set or form of mythology or dogma. For that reason, practicing these tools is often referred to as a “path.” The goal of this path is to explore consciousness. What you believe does matter. Your beliefs have consequences.
A Religion is a cult with social mass and popularity. So, conversely, a popular cult is, therefore, a religion. The problem is when you immerse yourself in the groupthink manipulation, you can’t see the differences. It’s a slippery slope that leads to extremist bias and religious prejudice. So, you can’t see cult-like thinking, values, and behaviors; then, you are probably in one.
Thanks for reading this article. We welcome your opinion, so don’t hesitate to comment or email us. We hope it provides some food for thought. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog.
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(1) World Religions By Population, Wikipedia
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia