The term ‘cult’ has a precise definition — or rather, several precise definitions. Which definition is the right one largely depends on the context in which the term ‘cult’ is applied.
Cults are insidious organizations that prey upon vulnerable individuals, exploiting their desire for love and connection. Religious lies, conmen, and coercive control contribute to cults' ability to manipulate and corrupt their followers.
Religious lies are a powerful tool used by cults to control their members. Religious beliefs can be deeply ingrained in an individual, creating powerful emotional connections that those with malicious intent can exploit. Religious lies can range from manipulating scripture to false promises of salvation or deliverance. Cults use these lies to establish authority, foster loyalty, and keep members within the group’s influence.
Cults and Family
In the past 60 years, women have gained more opportunities for reproductive freedom, with contraception and abortion becoming more accessible. Yet this rise in options has brought about a new level of uncertainty as to what family life looks like - leading to an unprecedented rate of fatherlessness and single motherhood.
Such trends are reflected even at juvenile state institutions, where 70% lack male guardianship. While these societal changes seem daunting, some conservative religious sects attempt to reverse them by emphasizing how significant sex is due to its considerable costs to both men and women while attempting reconciliation within familial units.
Conmen often play a crucial role in cult operations as high-level leaders or recruiters. They use their charisma and persuasiveness to recruit new members into the cult and convince them to stay. Conmen often take advantage of people's naivete or desperation by promising them support or protection in exchange for allegiance to the cult’s cause.
Coercive control is another tactic employed by cults, which involves a pattern of abuse meant to make followers feel trapped within the group's influence. Cults use a combination of physical, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse alongside religious indoctrination to maintain power over members. Coercive control tactics allow cults to strip away autonomy from followers and replace it with fear-based obedience toward the organization’s goals.
The combination of religious lies, conmen, and coercive control makes cults hazardous organizations due to their ability to exploit our innate desire for love and connection through manipulative techniques, such as these three strategies.
Religious lies give credibility and authority, while conmen create loyalty through charm and charisma; finally, coercive control removes any semblance of autonomy from individuals, so they become entirely reliant on the organization for survival. This combination corrupts our desire for love and connection by exploiting our natural vulnerability towards these positive emotions to serve nefarious ends instead of providing true emotional fulfillment or genuine relationships with others.
It is essential to be aware of these tactics and how cults use them to protect us from falling victim to their manipulation. Religious lies, conmen, and coercive control are critical methods used by cults that target our desire for love and connection to manipulate us into believing false truths or submitting to their authority. Being aware of these mechanisms can help us better recognize the signs of a manipulative organization or person before we become ensnared in their web of deceit.