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The Techniques that Cults use to Manipulate Converts

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  1. With the realization that religion plays such a critical role in the development of cults, there is a clear impetus to examine this issue overall.
  2. The history of the Branch Davidians clearly demonstrates that this religious cult did indeed break from a more mainstream religious group in order to form its basis.
  3. Bainbridge and Stark (1987) in their examination of the construction of the cult argue that the cult is developed and maintained based on the religious promises that it makes to followers.
  4. He changed his interpretations at will, while his unsteady flock struggled to keep up?
  5. Unfortunately, when placed in this context, it is evident that religion only serves as an underlying foundation for the development and establishment of the cult.

Over the course of the late twentieth century, the development of mass media has enabled average citizens to explore a wide range of lifestyles and issues through the comfort of their homes. While the mass media has provided notable insights into critical political, social and economic issues, it has in some cases manipulated public understanding of situations and events. Nowhere is this more evident than in the context of religious cults. As examined and portrayed in the media, religious cults do nothing more than persuade weak, feeble-minded individuals to give up all of their wealth and worldly possessions. Even though cults do prey on the vulnerable, what is often missed in the popular media's coverage of religious cults is that these organizations utilize a powerful tool to manipulate their followers: religion.With the realization that religion plays such a critical role in the development of cults, there is a clear impetus to examine this issue overall. Using this as a basis for research, this investigation seeks to examine two specific issues in the context of the manipulation used in religious cults. First, this investigation considers the techniques that cults use to manipulate converts. Second, this investigation considers the religious techniques that are used to accomplish manipulation of followers.

[...] Pavlos (1982) in his examination of religious cults notes that the term generally refers to a social movement that is focused on collective behavior. When placed in the context of religion this is translated to relatively small religious group whose beliefs, values, and practices are at variance with those of dominant or traditional forms of religion? (p. 3). This author goes on to note that while the specific religious beliefs of the cult fall outside of what is considered to be ?mainstream? religion, this does not mean that there is chaos or disarray in the organization. [...]


[...] According to these authors, cults are able to position themselves in such a way that they are able to provide the individual follower a promise of happiness or salvation for their participation. While this happiness or salvation may not occur until the individual dies, the promise is one that is guaranteed. Bainbridge and Stark argue that for many individuals the uncertainty that accompanies everyday can be so taxing in some cases, that the promise of happiness and/or salvation is one that provides them with the comfort that they need. [...]


[...] However, once individuals make the decision to join the organization, the day-to-day activities that take place in the organization are geared toward keeping the follower submissive in all cases. Through physical and psychological manipulation, the organization is able to ensure that its followers remain faithful to both the leader and the religious tradition that has been created. Summary When all of the data presented in this investigation is synthesized a more integral picture of the religious cult is elucidated. As noted by this investigation, the religious cult forms as a direct result of problems in mainstream religion. [...]

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