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Cults Fascinate Me

Today I came across a book called ‘Born into the Children of God: My life in a religious sex cult and my struggle for survival on the outside. I am looking forward to reading and reviewing this book, because I have interacted with members of this cult several years ago! The Children of God were all over India – and would often come to our homes to sell music cassettes using the name of ‘Music With Meaning’ for their group. They would use music to lure young people into their cult. I remember meeting a Hindu Brahmin young man, who was crazy about music and got into this cult. I tried to talk to him about what they were really about, but he wouldn’t listen.

Cults fascinate me. I’ve read about the Manson Family, The People’s Temple, the Branch Davidians, the Moonies. And I’ve watched closely a few well-known Indian ‘gurus’ who have managed to con people in a huge way.

I ask myself : How can one man or one woman wield so much power over so many? What  makes people so open to being preyed upon? How can people stand by and watch others being abused in the name of religion, rituals, etc. Perhaps the best answer comes from a cult-survivor.

People do not knowingly join “cults” that will ultimately destroy and kill them. People join self-help groups, churches, political movements, college campus dinner socials, and the like, in an effort to be a part of something larger than themselves. It is mostly the innocent and naive who find themselves entrapped. In their openhearted endeavor to find meaning in their lives, they walk blindly into the promise of ultimate answers and a higher purpose. It is usually only gradually that a group turns into or reveals itself as a cult, becomes malignant, but by then it is often too late.”
― Deborah Layton, Seductive Poison: A Jones town Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the People’s Temple

Cults are such a fascinating study in human nature – power, mob mentality, exploitation, blind faith – are all on display. And always cults are a reminder to me of how easy it is to give up one’s power to someone else, if you are not watchful.

Are you similarly fascinated?

21 Comments

  1. Carol Graham Carol Graham July 26, 2014

    This is an area that has always fascinated me as well. I saw a movie last week — true story of a young girl that was brainwashed by her cult leaders. The mother had her kidnapped and the MOTHER went to jail for it. The interesting part of the story was when the girl was in the deprogramming center, the leaders said that is was the STRONG young girls, not the weak ones, that were easier bait and easier to brainwash. That is difficult to understand but they explained it well. So sad.

  2. Rajlakshmi Rajlakshmi July 25, 2014

    I too keep away from them, they kinda scare me.

  3. Adam Adam July 25, 2014

    As an avid reader of Castaneda, I was always interested in learning more about how such a strong cult was formed and he exerted such influence.

  4. usha menon usha menon July 24, 2014

    I have kept away from these cults. I don’t why, but I am wary of these cults.

  5. Pheno Menon Pheno Menon July 23, 2014

    I have always been puzzled how people really get conned into joining these cults. I have considered joining some just to see how they attract people

    PhenoMenon

  6. Sulekha Sulekha July 23, 2014

    I have only seen the cults and their members in movies and they scared me. The blind faith and devotion the members display is unbelievable. I am sure some of them regret their decision to join the cults, after a while.

  7. Kalpanaa Kalpanaa July 23, 2014

    Hi Corinne!
    Interesting topic. I’m not fascinated by cults. In fact I try and keep a safe distance from them. In any case, any kind of organised religion or groupie type gathering gives me the creeps. It’s so unfortunate that people believe there’s safety in numbers.

  8. Suzy Suzy July 23, 2014

    Cults have never really fascinated me and I prefer to steer clear of them. I guess some people just have a deep need to belong.

  9. Roshan R Roshan R July 23, 2014

    A lifetime ago, I and my family too found ourselves trapped in one of the Indian variations of this which is still extremely popular in Kerala even today. That Deborah Layton paragraph which you highlighted… that pretty much sums it up honestly. The family went in doe-eyed seeking meaning in life/peace of mind/whatever you wish to call it… paid a heavy pound of flesh and broken spirits to finally leave.
    Today, you couldn’t pay me to enter one of these places… not even forcibly at gunpoint.

  10. My Inner Chick My Inner Chick July 23, 2014

    I agree.
    Fascinating how the sheep follow, listen, & obey.
    — as far as Jim Jones & many like him…
    they started out w/ good intentions & ideas to help others.
    I read that Rev.Jim Jones threw his bible across the pulpit one day
    & that was the moment it all changed.
    It was no longer GOD….He was God..
    Great post. xx

  11. Dorothy Johnson Dorothy Johnson July 23, 2014

    I agree that the need to belong is often the reason people get caught up in cults. I have an older Christian friend who has studied and taught about some of the major cults and their doctrines. She and her husband welcome people going door to door in search of converts and engage them in discussion to keep them from knocking on other doors!

  12. Pixie Pixie July 22, 2014

    I’m scared of cults and usually run in the opposite direction!
    I don’t understand “cult behavior” and I don’t plan on understanding either!!
    Its just too much power in one person’s hands – the power to manipulate another human being according to their fancy *shudder*

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 23, 2014

      You’re right to run, Pixie! Sadly, not everyone has the strength or foresight to do that.

  13. Ananya Tales Ananya Tales July 22, 2014

    Hi Corinne,
    I think the need to fit in or to be accepted and appreciated drives some people to go out of their way and become something thAT they are not.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 23, 2014

      You absolutely right, Ananya. Don’t you think it’s a sad reflection on our society?

  14. Vidya Sury Vidya Sury July 22, 2014

    More than a conviction about what they want, people have a deep need to belong – and I think that’s why cults are people magnets.

    Certainly fascinating. I remember those Jehovah’s Witnesses coming home and parking themselves in our living room and going on and on about why it was “our duty” to convert. Interesting to see the devotion in cult-members.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 23, 2014

      Absolutely, Vidya. Our need to feel included is what makes people vulnerable.
      Oh yes, I remember the Jehovah’s Witlessness. I heard that a good trick was to tell them to come in and join you for the Rosary! They ran like the wind. 😉

  15. Dangerous Linda Dangerous Linda July 22, 2014

    Hi, Corinne! ~

    Like you, I have always been fascinated (and somewhat frightened) by cults. I remember reading once that everyone is vulnerable to falling into a cult at some point in their lives, but most of us are lucky enough that the proper cult does not present itself at that particular moment of weakness — I believe this is true.

    Interestingly, when I look up the definition of the word cult it says: “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.” This describes many, if not most religions, right?

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 23, 2014

      Great to see you here, Linda. And yes, I do believe that we’re all vulnerable to cults at some point or the other – thank God, we’ve managed to steer clear.

      And I agree with what you say about the definition. I would certainly label any religion that encourages people to be exclusive and not open to any new ideas or behavior, a cult.

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