What is the difference between a religion and a cult

Religions respect the autonomy of the individual.

Cults force submission.

Religions try to help individuals meet their spiritual needs.

Cults exploit spiritual needs.

Religions tolerate and even encourage questions and independent critical thinking.

Cults disapprove of questions and independent critical thinking.

Religions encourage psycho-spiritual integration.

Cults divide the member into "the good cult self" and the "bad old self".

Conversion to religions consists of an unfolding of internal processes that take place at the center of personal identity.

Cultic conversion consists of unsuspecting surrender to outside forces that care little about the person's identity.

Religions regard money as a vehicle which, subject to ethical restrictions, serves to achieve noble ends.

Cults view money as an end, a means, power, or the selfish ends of leaders.

Religions consider sex between clergymen and believers to be unethical.

Cults often submit members to the leaders' sexual appetites.

Religions respond respectfully to criticism.

Cults often intimidate critics with physical or legal threats.

Religions value families.

Cults regard the family as an enemy.

Religions encourage aspirants to think carefully before deciding to join.

Cults encourage quick decisions based on little information.


(Out Guidelines for Clergy by Richard L Dowhower, D.D., in:
Recovery from Cults, Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse,
edited by Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., W.W. Norton & Co, New York, London,
Copyright 1993 by American Family Foundation, ISBN 0-393-70164-6).

Translation: Friedrich Griess.