Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

voyager12

Cults

27 posts in this topic

I was channel surfing this weekend and happened upon The History Channel's "Paradise Lost, Jonestown". I of course had heard about Jonestown but did not know the details. It was a chilling film and totally freaked me out for the rest of the night but I am glad I saw it. I highly reccomend the film and I am sure HC will be running it for awhile. Important scenes were reenacted and Stephan Jones, Jim Jone's son and a few other survivors provided commentary. There was brief original footage shown of the killing of Congressman Leo Ryan and others at the airstrip after leaving Jonestown. The documentary also showed that at the end it was not all "mass suicide" as the media said. Many people were forcibly injected and not all willingly drank the poisioned juice. Even Jim Jones had someone shoot him in the head instead of going out the way he exhorted his followers to. Overall, the story left me shocked about how just one charismatic person can gain mind control over so many and lead them to their deaths, whether it be Jim Jones,David Koresh's Branch Davidians, or Heaven's Gate. The victims common denominator being that most of them were living impoverished lives and struggling, therefore they were the perfect specimens to be taken advantage of and brainwashed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


voyager12 I too saw that program. You're right, the story of Jim Jones/Jonesville is a highly unsettling emotional and psychological roller coaster. My highest recommendation for those who haven't seen it. Highest quality documentary that enlightened me about this monster, and his power over those unfortunate people that went to their deaths because of his sociopathic "vision".

I hope the HN replays the documentary on the Heaven's Gate cult. That is one wild cult--combines Christianity, science fiction and modern UFO mythologies! Really an all-purpose cult, incorporating pop culture with the cult of personality of Do and Ti, the bizarre leaders. Do was reportedly castrated by his own choice, and he urged fellow male Heaven's Gate devotees to do the same....yikes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most difficult parts of the Jonestown documentary for me was when they reenacted Sharon killing the little kids in the People's Temple House in Georgetown,Guyana per Jim Jones command over the radio. All Sharon had to say to Liane was "We have to die" and Liane said "Ok" like she was being told to go clean her room. Unreal. And then Sharon and Lianne stabbed each other to death simultaneously. Stephan Jones's composure during the commentaries was amazing, illustrated by his belief that Sharon's mind had become so twisted and sick that she thought she was saving her children by killing them. The fact that he was able to rise above such horror and is today happily married with kids is incredible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LOL, i was watching that, too. It was a great documentary. It seems history chanel had a cult night going on. I watched like 3 shows about cults.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LOL, i was watching that, too. It was a great documentary. It seems history chanel had a cult night going on. I watched like 3 shows about cults.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha! I think the one after that was Modern Marvels:Cults, right?

I love modern marvels, its a cool show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This documentary gave me the heebie jeebies for about two days. After seeing it, I felt dark.......it's just so hard to fathom people doing such a thing.

Madelyn Murray O'Hare, the atheist attorney who won the Supreme Court case which threw organized prayer out of public schools believed Christianity is the world's biggest cult. Her assertion that Christianity has been the cause of untold misery and death, as have other cults, does have a certain truth to it.

Has there ever been a single cult that was a positive, life affirming force?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Has there ever been a single cult that was a positive, life affirming force?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


While not excusing or justifying the violence and abuse that is associated with most cults, I can understand how someone who feels isolated or oppressed by society for economic or racist reasons could be attracted to them. People like to be around others that fully accept and agree with their mindset and for a desperate or lonely individual the pull is almost magnetic and getting out close to impossible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scientology is a cult in my opinion and not a "church." However, there seems to be different levels of adherence ranging from benign spiritual belief to brainwashing. In that way I think it is different from the centralized and prison like demands of Jonestown, Waco, or the Heaven's Gate house in Cali. Tom Cruise is definitely on the fanatical side of Scientology and seems to be leading his family and other diehards like himself in a dangerous direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are brainwashed fanatics in every religion, and I firmly believe the only real difference between a "religion" and a "cult" is the level of mainstream acceptance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree in the sense that cults such as People's Temple at Jonestown and The Branch Davidians in Waco were groups unto themselves with distinct rules and red lines that could not be crossed on fear of imminent death or abuse. Mainstream religions are not captive. That is not to say there are not fanatical Christians or Jews etc etc but they are not the same as cult followers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the difference between fanatical Christians, Jews, or Muslims, and cult followers? There are plenty of followers of the mainstream religions who would gladly impose death or abuse on those who differ from their beliefs, or on members of their own families who stray from those beliefs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


There is an ongoing rumour that Scientology "cured" John Travolta from being gay. He's been an advocate for Scientology for quite some time. I guess that means Travolta will end up becoming a deity along with Tom Cruise (who constantly fights tabloids who say he is gay).

Maybe Scientology "cured" Cruise from cruising for guys? hee hee sorry I couldn't resist.

a sidenote: Germany strongly restricts Scientology, and does not give the religion the government stamp of approval. I believe in freedom of religion of course. But I think Germany learned along time ago that cults and kooky religions like Scientology must be watched closely. I agree with Germany on this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember learning about Jonestown in my psychology class when we were learning about cults. Interesting yet crazy stuff!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What is the difference between fanatical Christians, Jews, or Muslims, and cult followers? There are plenty of followers of the mainstream religions who would gladly impose death or abuse on those who differ from their beliefs, or on members of their own families who stray from those beliefs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's true but those actions are not part of the main tenets of Judaism,Christianity, or Islam today and are rejected by mainstream followers. Cults exist through fear and violence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ The obvious difference is that Christianity's main thrust is that of love, above everything else. I know little about Islam, but from what I understand, it is the central tenet of their faith as well. The Crusades and the Inquisitions were horrible, but let's remember why the first Crusade happened---to defend Christendom. Subsequent Crusades were controlled by a church which had been co-opted by the state---the Pope lived in utter fear of the earthly leaders. The Inquisition was bad, but was may centuries ago---it is not fair to judge past generations by our present standards.

Most mainstream Christians mean no harm against anyone. Yes there are some Christians who live in fear of Hell, and so devote their lives to keeping others out of Hell---usually those people are villified and made fun of by most people. At least they care about other people. As far as mainstream Christians, it's hard for me to imagine a bunch of fanatical Episcopalians and Presbyterians beheading non-beleivers---I doubt even Pat Robertson would endorse such barbarism (though I'm probably wrong on Robertson, given that he is insane and has been for some time).

Let me also add: Most Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I do not recall Jesus saying anything about death to non-Christians. In fact, I don't see that anywhere in the New Testament. (But I could be wrong!!!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Wikipedia:

"In religion and sociology, a cult is a cohesive group of people (sometimes a relatively small and recently founded religious movement, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be far outside the mainstream, sometimes reaching the point of a taboo. Its separate status may come about either due to its novel belief system, its idiosyncratic practices, its perceived harmful effects on members, or because it opposes the interests of the mainstream culture."

How does that not describe the early Christian church, for example? It was small, cohesive, and followed beliefs and practices that were far outside the mainstream of the time. That it eventually grew into one of the world's dominant religions doesn't change the fact that it began as what we would call a cult. Today's "cults" are rarely more than a few years old, so they can't really be compared to the mainstream religions, all of which were cultlike in their early years.

Let me also add: Most Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I do not recall Jesus saying anything about death to non-Christians. In fact, I don't see that anywhere in the New Testament. (But I could be wrong!!!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Overall, the story left me shocked about how just one charismatic person can gain mind control over so many ... whether it be Jim Jones,David Koresh's Branch Davidians, or Heaven's Gate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
From Wikipedia:

"In religion and sociology, a cult is a cohesive group of people (sometimes a relatively small and recently founded religious movement, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be far outside the mainstream, sometimes reaching the point of a taboo. Its separate status may come about either due to its novel belief system, its idiosyncratic practices, its perceived harmful effects on members, or because it opposes the interests of the mainstream culture."

How does that not describe the early Christian church, for example? It was small, cohesive, and followed beliefs and practices that were far outside the mainstream of the time. That it eventually grew into one of the world's dominant religions doesn't change the fact that it began as what we would call a cult. Today's "cults" are rarely more than a few years old, so they can't really be compared to the mainstream religions, all of which were cultlike in their early years.

The old Testament isn't considered null and void by any Christian denomination I know of, and history is full of examples of wars launched in the name of Christianity. Christ also said nothing about discounting the beliefs of others, yet most Christians, past and present, feel that theirs is the one true faith, and promise eternal damnation to those who believe otherwise.

In any case, it is debatable how close today's Christianity is to the teachings of Christ. He said much more about pacificm and about helping the underpriviledged than about abortion or homosexuality. Looking at Christ's teachings one might expect most Christians to be raging liberals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with most of the first part, although I can hardly think of anything early Christians professed that were far outside the mainstream of the culture---though it did challenge the culture, it was not so far outside of the mainstream that its belief system approached a taboo status, as it is defined above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.