Are You In A Cult?
Have you ever attended a church or other organisation, and someone then told you were told that it was a cult? Maybe you know of some cults. Maybe you have avoided ever being in a cult. What is a cult? What are the characteristics of cults? Are all churches cults or just some?
There have been many studies on what makes a cult. It is good to look at some of the things that indicate that a church, or any other organisation, could be a cult. As a Christian believer, you should avoid cults, and instead focus on the true worship of Jesus Christ and God the Father. If you find a church that teaches the truth, that’s great, so long as they are not exhibiting cult-like qualities.
Let us look first at social aspects and behavior. For a group to be a cult, many of the following characteristics would have to be present. Some of the characteristics are listed below.
Complete, almost unquestioned trust in the leadership.
Leaders are often seen as prophets, apostles, or special individuals with unusual connections to God, often with a special title. This helps a person give themselves over psychologically to trusting someone else for their spiritual welfare.
Increased submission to the leadership is rewarded with additional responsibilities and/or roles, and/or praises, increasing the importance of the person within the group.
Their group is the only true religious system, or one of the few true remnants of God’s people.
3. Persecution complex
Us against them mentality. Therefore, when someone (inside or outside of the group) corrects the group in doctrine and/or behavior, it is interpreted as persecution, which then is interpreted as validation.
Those who leave are then marked as mischeivous, deceitful, or being from Satan.
Control of members’ actions and thinking through repeated indoctrination and/or threats of loss of salvation, or a place to live, or receiving curses from God, etc.
Restrictions on what subjects can be discussed, banning certain topics.
If a taboo subject is brought up, the leaders will quickly shoot down the person who spoke, by speaking over them on another topic.
Minimizing contact of church members with those outside the group. This facilitates a further control over the thinking and practices of the members by the leadership.
Members who are single are not allowed to date or marry outside of their church, otherwise they will be accused of sin and expelled.
Some churches even forbid members to have anything to do with members of other churches, even if a family member goes to a different church.
6. Love Bombing
Showing great attention and love to a person in the group by others in the group, to help transfer emotional dependence to the group.
A member who follows the leader’s teachings is praised as a true believer.
7. Special Knowledge
Instructions and/or knowledge are sometimes said to be received by a leader from God. This leader then informs the members.
The Special Knowledge can be received through visions, dreams, or new interpretations of sacred scriptures such as the Bible.
Anything that contradicts the Special Knowledge is regarded as heresy and as a false doctrine.
The teachings of the group are repeatedly drilled into the members, but the indoctrination usually occurs around Special Knowledge.
If there was a prominent leader in the past, who gave certain teachings, those teachings must never be questioned.
This can also include the use of special names for God, called Sacred Names, and those who use the names Jesus Christ and God are reprimanded.
Salvation from the judgment of God is maintained through association and/or submission with the group, its authority, and/or its Special Knowledge.
Anyone who leaves the group/church is told that they will lose their salvation.
10. Group Think
The group’s coherence is maintained by the observance to policies handed down from those in authority.
There is an internal enforcement of policies by members who reward “proper” behavior, and those who perform properly are rewarded with further inclusion and acceptance by the group.
11. Cognitive Dissonance
Avoidance of critical thinking and/or maintaining logically impossible beliefs and/or beliefs that are inconsistent with other beliefs held by the group.
Avoidance of and/or denial of any facts that might contradict the group’s belief system.
Those who do not keep in step with group policies are shunned, disfellowshipped, or expelled.
13. Gender Roles
Control of gender roles and definitions.
Severe control of gender roles sometimes leads to sexual exploitation.
Women should be seen and not heard in services, only men to give sermons, women to be in the kitchen making tea.
14. Appearance Standards
Often a common appearance is required and maintained. For instance, women might wear plain dresses, and/or their hair in buns, and/or no makeup, and/or the men might all wear white shirts, and/or without beards, or all wear beards.
15. Financial Requirements
Often the leaders require some income, so members are required to pay tithes to the group. This can involve up to three tithes (i.e. 30% of a member’s income). Offerings must also be made on top of tithes, even to the point of causing financial hardship to the member.
This list is not exhaustive, and just one of the above does not necessarily make a church a cult. There are some good churches out there but sometimes the leaders feel they need to impose certain rules and restrictions just to get the members to avoid the appearance of evil. Sometimes they go too far and end up becoming like a cult.
With the recent covid pandemic, which was really just a scam, we see that governments were mandating people to wear face masks. Sometimes they did not even allow church services, but when they did, they said no singing and people must wear masks. If a church enforces such rules, which clearly go against Scripture, they are acting like a cult.
If a person wears a face mask, consider the origins of such a practice. It is rooted in demonic cults. So for a church to enforce that is for a church to do the work of Satan, and become a cult.
If a church bans singing because the government says so, they are acting like a cult, and even the church is becoming a part of the government’s cult.
The list of cult characteristics does not just apply to churches. Many governments now act like cults and get their citizens to behave in certain ways. In 2020, for example, the UK government encouraged many citizens to clap for the NHS every Thursday evening. This is cult behaviour, along with wearing face masks and hand sanitisers. No normal sensible person should consider such bizarre rituals.
Too many churches have given in to following the official narrative without questioning it. Too many citizens have done the same. This is typical of cult members, who have been brainwashed or indoctrinated into following the leader regardless of whether the leader is right or wrong.
To avoid cult behaviour, people must think for themselves. If you cannot think for yourself, someone else will do your thinking for you.
Look at 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV): “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
As a believer, are you doing this? Do you follow all the opinions of men, which goes against God, or do you bring every thought captive to obey Christ? It means that your thinking must be focused on God and Christ, not on the things of this world.
Are you hypnotised by a church leader? Or by a government leader? Or do you think for yourself? In some churches there are some members who believe that they only have to follow the leader, even if the leader is wrong, rather than follow Christ.
What About the Financial Requirements?
Many churches teach tithing, and they demand 10% of a member’s income. Some demand it gross, some net. They claim to base this on the Bible, yet after studying the Bible for many years, I have yet to find any command for New Testament Christians to give or pay tithes of any kind.
Tithing in the Old Testament is mentioned in relation to Abraham giving a tithe of the spoils of war to Melchizedek (the priest of God, actually the One who became Jesus Christ), and as a practice for the nation of Israel which provided agricultural produce for the Levites and the priests. The way that worked was that people were mostly growing crops and raising livestock, and when they had a harvest, they gave 10% to the Levites. If they had ten lambs, one would be given to the Levites. If a person had nine lambs, they could not give 0.9 of a lamb, so it was only the tenth lamb that was given.
Look at Numbers 18:21 (NKJV): “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.”
And at Leviticus 27:32 (NKJV): “And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.”
The Israelites were also told to take the tithe of the Autumn harvest to the Feast of Tabernacles. This is referenced in Deuteronomy 14:22–27 (NKJV):
“22 You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses.
26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.”
It does not specifically mention the Feast of Tabernacles here, but many churches have used these verses in relation to that, and said it was a second tithe, that people must take with them to the Feast. But the term “second tithe” appears nowhere in the Bible. And you can read in verse 25 that the tithe can be exchanged for money. Thus the tithe in ancient Israel was not money.
It is incongruent with the Word of God to say that people should tithe on money. Tithes are mentioned in the New Testament when Christ said that the Pharisees tithed on herbs (which is agricultural, not money), and in Hebrews in regards to Abraham tithing to Melchizedek (which was the spoils of war, not money).
Any cult needs members, especially rich members, who can give 10% or more of their income to the leaders. A cult will pay the leaders with great salaries, free houses, cars, etc., so that the leaders can claim that God is blessing the church, and blessing the ministers because they tithe. But who do the ministers tithe to when they are the ones receiving it?
Consider that in ancient Israel, the Levites and priests received the tithes. Where are the Levites today? Who are they? Who is the priesthood? Today the members of God’s Church are the priests.
1 Peter 2:9 (ISV) tells us: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people to be his very own and to proclaim the wonderful deeds of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
This is not talking about Levitical priests, nor just the ministers in the Church. This is referring to all Christians. All are part of God’s royal priesthood. If there is any tithing to be done, the tithes must go to the priests — the members of the Church. It is like a cult to demand that tithes are given from members to the leaders.
Our Way or Else
The leaders of the church might tell people to do things their way or else they have to leave. But mostly they prefer people to stay, and keep giving tithes and offerings to keep the leaders in their expensive houses, cars, and designer suits.
Some things to watch out for in churches that are cults or behave like cults include demanding the use of only one Bible translation. Remember that the Bible was mostly written originally in Hebrew and Greek, so we need translations in our own languages so we can understand.
But some churches are so proud to declare that they are KJV only. KJV means the King James Version of the Bible, last published in 1769, although they often will say they use the 1611 version. The 1611 version is long out of print, replaced by an updated version from the 18th century.
Its language is still archaic, and it still has many mistakes, so not a perfect translation, and pretty useless to anyone who does not speak English, or who cannot understand the archaic English.
In the 16th century in England, William Tyndale saw the need for people to have a Bible in their own language. At the time, it was illegal to have the Bible in any language other than Latin. He started an English translation, and was put to death for it.
It makes sense that everyone should have the Bible in their own language. And today we have many modern English translations, and in other languages too. No one translation is perfect, so no church should insist on using just one translation. Some churches even have made their own translation and insist on using that, and no one is allowed to use anything else. That is a cult-like behaviour by the leaders, and they will justify it by saying that other translations are corrupted, usually because their one-and-only “true” translation supports a particlular doctrine through its wording that other transalations do not.
Other rules pushed onto members include the rule that everyone must do as the leaders say, even if they are wrong. You are not entitled to your own opinion, even if it’s the truth. The leader’s teachings are everything, and truth is put aside so that their doctrines come through.
Read Matthew 15:9 (NKJV): “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
When the leaders want to be overlords to the members, they are acting like cult leaders. Read Mark 9:35 (ISV): “So he sat down, called the Twelve, and told them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ ”
Cult leaders will also insist on church attendance, saying that it is vital for salvation. Church attendance is equated with righteousness, and those who do not attend regularly are disparaged and called unfaithful, or in danger of losing their salvation. This is how cults operate.
Many churches are small, and do not influence many. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is large and has potentially billions of members. Many are so just because they were born Catholic.
But what about the large-scale cults? The Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Jesuits? They are cults, but I am thinking more of the governments of this world. They are controlled by the secret organisations, ultimately controlled by Satan.
After Christ was baptised, He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. Then He met Satan, who tried to tempt Him to sin. Read Matthew 4:8–10 (NKJV):
“8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’
10 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” ’ ”
Satan offered all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus. Satan has the power to do so, he controls them all. So why do Christians, churches, and other citizens, quickly choose to obey the country’s leaders without thinking? Why do they submit to the cult of this world?
In the past we have seen whole nations run by cults. Nazi Germany is one example, and within that, the SS were also a cult. The USSR and other communist countries are run like cults, and the people must obey the dear leader or face imprisonment, which still happens today in places like North Korea and China.
The whole coronavirus/covid plandemic, the official narrative, the wearing of face masks, using hand sanitisers, self-isolating when not sick, getting tested repeatedly, having the covid experimental gene therapy vaccine multiple times, is part of the cult of Satan.
The covid collective has put everyone into a death cult. Their mantra is obey us or die. If you obey, and take that poisonous injection, you will likely get very ill or die anyway. There are no scientific reasons for the restrictions the governments have introduced, they are just getting people to be a part of their cult system, to follow orders without thinking, and to sacrifice their lives for the good of the leaders.
The solution for us all is to think for yourself, question everything, accept nothing at face value, and seek the truth.
Sources: List of characteristics of a cult from https://carm.org/about-religions/what-are-some-signs-and-practices-of-a-cult/