can religion withstand my document??

whatisacult
Posts: 2
Joined: 2009-12-21
User is offlineOffline
can religion withstand my document??

Hiya all,

Im writing a document on what a new religious movement that is not a cult would be like. But some people who believe religion is poison have the opinion that such a thing doesnt exist ie that if a religion gave up its authoritarian approach & followed the advice of my document it would no longer be a relgion. So I came here to get some more detailed ideas from you since you all have probably seen relgion at its worst & can explain to me this idea in more detail. I hope you can help with your knowledge. What Im mainly looking for is a forum where people vent why they concluded religion was poison but I havent found specifically that because thats more about the way group dynamics develop into abuse than scriptures not making sense. Particulary I would like to know do you think these faults are exclusive to cults or are throughout all religious institutions

 

Thankyou!



Document below

Im writing a document that can be used to criticise cults and am seeking advice & ideas for editing it from former cult members. If you feel anything is missing or something could be said clearer please give me your opinion & ideas thankyou.

It s 10 ethics based on rickross 10 characteristics of a cult



1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

The religious ethic:

The solution to this is to have a feedback system where the feedback is valued & considered properly & addressed both by the leader & its administrators.

Would this solve it? Let’s try an example out. In any religious organization where celibates are running the show if they have a sex scandal this is damaging so let’s apply my solution.

Feedback ignored- always someone speaks up in the early stages. By discounting their evidence the person with the hidden scandal will rise in the organization & later when in a high position it will almost always come to light. At that time a lot of people will be affected. Most people will remember this scandal & think of how the person was hiding it, putting on a clean face. There will then develop 2 groups. The people trying to move on from the scandal & the people exposing it.

Feedback listened to- before the person gets power the scandal is told. The person exposing it is LISTENED to & an investigation is done that establishes the truth. The accused clearly understands the catalogue of disasters that will come if they are dishonest & in caring for the reputation of the organization cooperates with investigation.


2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
---------------------------------------------

The religious ethic:
Again a feedback system that is not just a token gesture but genuine. Listening to feedback is a great protector of religious groups. If 1 out of 10 people are finding a problem then when you convert 1000 people, 100 of them will have a problem. So it is crucial to solve these problems & address these issues in the early stages.

3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The religious ethic (please comment & revise)
Do not take large amounts of money from individuals. Find an ethical way to fundraise that is not this method. Do not lavish the leaders & admins with luxury whilst the new boy grinds away in a servile manner. Do not spend fundraised money on other than you declared it was for.

So the outcome:

Advice ignored: Amongst the entourage of the leader, accountants & admins with time people naturally leave any organization & a few are unhappy. Those people produce financial information they were privy to that is an embarrassment. All the raised money ends up being spent on defending the group in legal circles. People come away in debt & with a feeling of having being used for their money. Due to their debts they cannot move on as it is a constant reminder so they stay bitter & naturally begin to warn others.

Advice listened to: Although some people may become unhappy in certain circumstances and leave the organization they will not feel like they were used for their money. They can move on & not have any debts to remind them of the organization.


4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Religious ethic (please comment & revise this one really needs input)
Do not speak ill of the non believer. They are sponsoring your spiritual life, building your halls of worship, making the clothes you wear & providing a society in which all the things you need are given with ease. They are also supporting your religious freedom. Do not say they are degenerates, lower beings, foolish etc.
Always keep respect gratitude & valuing of the community. Keep good relations with neighbours and the community without any conversion agenda. Do not chastise people who want to read news & go outside & socialize.
(Does this go against any traditional way of life?)

Advice ignored: The larger community will always find out from former members that they are being spoken of as lesser or lower. The group will get a bad reputation in wider society for doing this. Without interaction with the community....(please suggest more readers thanks)

Advice taken: The group is respected in society as a whole and is accessible & unmysterious. The help they give to the community with no agenda is admired and neighbours as well as friends and relatives of members feel comfortable.

5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Religious ethic (please comment & revise)
Do not coerce or pressure people in any way to convert so they then have to 'leave'. Do not let people take commitments/vows/contracts when they are not ready. People who have converted must be treated well if they choose to leave and not be put under any pressure to stay. They must be as free as a bird. Once they are outside they must continue to be treated well & respected with gratitude for their contribution before they left. If the philosophy is very different from world view then the person should be supported as they go back to their previous world view as it can be disorientating. Even traditional religions hold a strong view of the world & it is hard to move to a non religious view.

Advice ignored: Members who inevitably leave develop mental health problems as they struggle to rebuild their belief system alone without any support. The lack of support brings them to believe they were being used because the friendships dissolved when they changed their beliefs. Feeling used & dumped they become resentful & bitter. Former members fill the internet with bitter propaganda against the group. People are hesitant to recommend the group as they feel that those they recommend might be pushed into a situation or used & dumped. The group gets a bad reputation. Members go through the motions because they are being forced to stay and have conflicting emotions/dual personality. They later speak of feeling unable to leave online which scares off newcomers.

Advice taken: People go but they often come back & feel happy. They write on the internet that although it wasn’t for them it was a good experience & they would recommend it to others. People invite their friends to the group feeling confident that they will be looked after and not pressured to adhere to anything. The group becomes a valuable resource that people can come & go with confidence using at their own pace. People who are there are enjoying & want to be there.

6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Feedback

7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Follow the feedback ethic & you don’t end up in this situation?

8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
-------------------------------------------------
Religious ethic (please comment & revise- I’m far off the mark with this one)
Do not treat new people & visitors different from converts. If you wouldn’t do it to a new person don’t do it to a convert & vice versa (corboys addition) do not treat rich young able people differently from sick elderly poor people.

Advice ignored:
converts are like slaves whilst new people are lavished & praised. Converts criticized & being judged on their personal life whilst new people are treated with tolerance & respect. Converts come away feeling used & like the love teaching is hypocrisy. This solves many, many problems.

Advice taken:
During the early stages of the organization using this guideline of measuring converts and new people some inequalities in respect for people & valuing people are noticed. They are corrected & the organization becomes healthy with people feeling treated well & happy. Then later, when it is bigger there are not big problems. It also prevents convertees getting special treatment because the equality extends to that a new person could be a potential elder in the future & the convertee was one a new person & also a beer drinking hedonistic normal person.


9. The group/leader is always right.
----------------------------------
Religious ethic (please comment & revise)
As a leader admit your mistakes. We are all on a spiritual journey together & seeing how you overcome problems will help us do the same. Purity is about your intention so if you are open to feedback on how to do things administratively this does not damage people’s faith in you as long as you have a good intention of cherishing & respecting other people both converts & non converts. Do not hide your faults & shortcomings. Do not discourage feedback by showing distress. If you are distressed by information, people who work for you will hide it from you. Do not teach arrogance by chastising people. Because then they will copy you. Do not be distant from your disciples as misunderstandings will develop if people cannot contact you. Do not dictate policy rather ask people for ideas. Of course the teaching cannot be edited but to administrate enforced control of people’s activities & speech leads to rebellion & harm to everybody, yourself, your admins, current members & former members.

Advice ignored: People endlessly seek to prove the leader doesn’t have the qualities he claims. The leader comes to be seen as someone engaging in deception to arouse faith. Members enforce rigorously more & more ridiculous rules because of things they saw the leader do or say and all sorts of administrative problems arise. Because some of these strange policies conflict with member’s wellbeing the leader is then deemed responsible for mistreatment of members and someone who teaches one thing whilst behind closed doors teaching to be heartless to members. The admins hide calamities from the leader and mistreatment. Forcing members to follow strange policies becomes the norm. In the end the group is more famous for these strange rulings that the philosophy they originally taught. Admins become like controlling, uncaring dictators.

Advice followed: Overexcited members tell you to tie your shoes the way the leader does because he is never wrong & is divine etc but they are laughed off because the majority have a good open relationship with the leader. People feel able to express their views & feelings to the leader. Administrators are able to make practical & sensible decisions rather than following policies which are inflexible. Strange policy clashes don’t arise & the emphasis becomes less on administration tactics & more on the philosophy itself. Administrative problems are quickly resolved.


10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Religious ethic (this one is a mess lol- suggestions please!)
Do not pressure other sects to follow your methods; each sect has their own way. If another sect is pressuring you then show them this document. The only time to interfere in another sects business is if members of the other sect ask you for help. At that time help in accordance with their wishes if it is ethical. Do not belittle other sects as you do not know if they have secret more advanced instructions that surpass yours. If another sect is being unethical they will culminate many ex followers raising protest. Therefore the issue will automatically be resolved between the sect & its ex members. Therefore there is no need to criticize other sects as nature will take its course. The sect will have to adapt & stop upsetting people. If you think your sect is better than other sects you might be able to say this without it corrupting your heart but when everyone starts copying you & saying it and it becomes the norm what will happen? Offense, arrogance will arise in the disciples because they are human beings.

Advice ignored: The group gradually transforms into people who are haughty & arrogant, looking down their nose at others. Newcomers sense this & the group gets a bad reputation in society. The habit of being big headed will filter into every area of the group’s routine. The leader might say we are simply acknowledging that these teachings are better but the members being human will be prone to self importance and thus these problems will grow. They will start lecturing others with a know-it-all attitude & become bad listeners, believing that newcomers have nothing to offer knowledge wise. They will come across as controlling dictator type people, and being bad listeners be deemed uncompassionate & uncaring. Other sects will have no respect for the group & relations with them will deteriorate.

Advice taken: The group maintains good relations with other sects. All people are valued as sources of knowledge. Newcomers feel welcome & listened to. Members are good listeners & are seen as caring & considerate. Many people gain spiritual insight from their listening & socializing skills.

 

 

 

 


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
whatisacult wrote:2. No

whatisacult wrote:


2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
---------------------------------------------

The religious ethic:
Again a feedback system that is not just a token gesture but genuine. Listening to feedback is a great protector of religious groups. If 1 out of 10 people are finding a problem then when you convert 1000 people, 100 of them will have a problem. So it is crucial to solve these problems & address these issues in the early stages.

What would be left of any religion that honestly and genuinely allowed for critical inquiry?

Religions rely on dogma: unquestioned beliefs held by faith (belief without evidence). Without this, they would simply be philosophies.

Think about all the things aside from dogma that religion supposedly provides. Community, support, a conceptual framework for living life, a mythology to evoke feelings of awe, nicely decorated buildings, social meetings, charity, etc. Not a single one of those things requires any kind of dogma, and so not a single one of those things is exclusive to religion.

You can get all the benefits of 'religion' from purely secular, non-religious sources, without the burden of religious dogma. The only thing that distinguishes religion from these secular institutions is the dogma itself. The faith, the creed, the belief, whatever you want to call it. They cannot allow it to be questioned, or it would disintegrate.

Faith and dogma are antithetical to questioning and critical inquiry. It seems to me that you've eliminated the possibility of religion from your list of suggestions with the inclusion of suggestion #2.

Even the so-called moderate and liberal religious groups don't like you asking pointed questions and challenging people's beliefs. They call such free-thinkers 'arrogant', 'militant', 'aggressive', etc. This is their defense mechanism against critical inquiry. This is their dogma: No one has a right to challenge what you believe when it comes to 'religious' beliefs.

If you break that dogma, and honestly and genuinely apply questioning and critical thinking, what you end up with is called 'reason' and 'science'.

So, to answer your original question, no, religion cannot withstand your document. Something that could withstand it would no longer really be a religion.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
By the way, if my reply came

By the way, if my reply came off as dismissive, I wasn't intending to be. I'm also very interested in this kind of topic. See a recent post of mine: Can an anti-dogma philosophy prevent becoming a dogma itself?

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


whatisacult
Posts: 2
Joined: 2009-12-21
User is offlineOffline
Cool thanks. Im also

Cool thanks. Im also interested in what is the difference between a religion & a cult. Some groups followng traditional teachers & teachings are labeled cults. Whats happening in my group is that because its tibetan buddhism the hand clapping debate someone attacks the teaching whilst another defends it. But it is when you suggest that the top teacher can make any mistakes or his word isnt law that everyone takes offence. For example the Dalai Lama is the god king. That means he rules the gods & is more enlightened than a god. He is also said to be omnicient Buddha of compassion. So feedback on the teachings & scripture can be critical but not of the human beings running the show.


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
To me, the distinction

To me, the distinction between religion and cult is almost entirely artificial. A cult is a small religion. A religion is a big cult.

There are, however, particularly dangerous cults, and I think those are the ones identified by lists such as the one you got your 10 points from.

But then, there are also particularly dangerous religions, like radical Islam... so, again, 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

France recently took an interesting approach. Instead of defining 'cult', it defined 'dangerous cult-like behaviours', and thus deemed that Scientology was dangerous. It didn't have to say 'Scientology is a cult', it just had to show that it exhibited certain behaviours.

In the end, that's the most promising approach to studying cults/religions/institutions and whether they are harmful or benign.

I think one of the worst culprits for long-term danger is faith and dogma. Sure, you're religion might have a benign dogma .... now. But give it 100 years and see what that dogma mutates into. It is the very fact that it is dogmatic that is dangerous.

Right now, that's the best test I can come up with for whether something is a religion-like/cult-like or not. Under this fairly broad definition, I even consider things like racism, nationalism and corporatism to be dogmas. A few years ago, I went through a process of giving up my 'last religion', which was my 'faith' that pursuing a well-paying company career would lead to personal happiness and well-being. I had, in fact, attained that goal, had a great job, and still felt empty. I realized I had been holding on to that hope for years and years. It was a bit of a traumatic experience to find myself at the 'top of the mountain', and feeling like I was at the 'bottom of the abyss', and realizing that my beliefs had been based on a kind of faith akin to religious faith. Breaking out of that 'last religion' has been a long process, but totally worth it.

So, to me, it really is faith and dogma that are the culprits. That's why Sam Harris' book The End of Faith was so powerful. He really identified the correct target, and spoke out unapologetically against it.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10554
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
It is my opinion that there

It is my opinion that there is no difference between a cult and a religion. The only thing that comes close to a difference is public acceptance. But using that to contrast between a cult and a religion is appeal to popularity, and is logically unsound.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Atheistextremist
atheistSilver Member
Atheistextremist's picture
Posts: 5095
Joined: 2009-09-17
User is offlineOffline
I'm happy to be dissuaded

 

From this view but I've always felt cults were personality driven - there are a number of churches that fit into this mould despite the fact they are part of mainstream religions.

Some charismatic churches are definitely like this - no matter what the goose up the front says the nuts in the pews will be cheering like it's Nuremberg.

You could argue the christianity is a jesus cult, obviously.

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck