Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: Truthtold ()
Date: November 19, 2012 12:56PM

VTV, I heard and embrace a very simple and visual definition of a a cult vs a religion. A religion is like a regular triangle, rightside up, the members are supporting the foundation of the church , so the support flows down to the solid longest base of the triagle. A cult, like MSIA , for example, is an upside down triangle where the founder lies on teh very point,as the supreme benefactor from the memebership. All the memebrship supports him ultimately.

check out Steve Hassan's website, he's a real guru on cults and a fne gentleman and a real human hero.

Id love to give you more on my cult experience.

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: November 19, 2012 09:31PM


Please don't promote Steve Hassan here.

The Steve Hassan Web site is a for profit commercial Web site and I have received very serious complaints about Steve Hassan.

Hassan routinely charges families $500 per hour and exploits people in distress. Often Hassan charges tens of thousands of dollars for what he calls "preparation" and nothing is effectively done, i.e. there is no meaningful intervention effort to get a cult member out and/or the intervention is a failure. He seems to be little more than a con man.

Steve Hassan's writings have also been criticized.

See []

Hassan attempts to take credit for ideas that are not his own and uses the ideas of others in his books without proper citations or footnotes, which can be seen as plagiarism.

BTW -- A good working understanding of what a destructive cult is has been provided by psychologist Margaret Singer (1992) who said, "In most cases, there is one person, typically the founder at the top...decision making centers in him or her." Illustrating the structure Singer says, "imagine an inverted T. The leader is alone at the top and the followers are all at the bottom". There is little if any accountability and as Singer says, "the overriding that the ends justify the means, a view that allows [such groups] to establish their own brand of morality, outside normal society bounds".

The triangle definition you posted seems to be based upon Singer and is not an original idea.

I would not recommend Steve Hassan to anyone for anything at any time. This also includes Mr. Hassan's books and Web site.

Hassan is unethical and in my opinion a disgrace to those working ethically to help families and individuals affected by destructive cults.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/2012 09:40PM by rrmoderator.

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: MonicaPignotti ()
Date: November 19, 2012 11:30PM

I agree, Rick. The following is my opinion. Based on what I know about Steve Hassan and this includes my first-hand experience and observations, his aggressive self promotion and unsubstantiated claims, as well as the excessive fees he charges (which he does not disclose on his website) for work that has sometimes failed to get the person out of the cult or even gotten to the stage of an intervention, after families have in some cases spent tens and thousands of dollars, (the amount of a college education in some instances), I do not see much difference between his tactics and those of a destructive cult, for some people, tapping into every financial resource a person has and draining them, leaving them with nothing to show for it except his unsubstantiated psychobabble and claims of exclusivity.

In my experience, Steve has claimed to me on a number of occasions back when he and I worked together, that no one else in the world does what he does and hence he feels justified charging the high fees and who knows what else. This seems to me, to put him in a category where he is not accountable to others for anything he does, at least for those who buy into this. The bottom line is that there is not one shred of evidence that Hassan's methods are any better of more effective than anyone else's. This is no exaggeration, in my opinion, based on the kinds of complaints some people have about him, as Rick points out. I suggest you take a step back, Truthtold and learn more about what you are attempting to promote here, if you are not already in too deep to hear what critics are saying. I don't know if you are shilling for him or just a person who liked his books, but if it's the latter please take Steve's own advice that he applies to cults and listen to what critics have to say. A guru indeed.

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Date: November 20, 2012 12:38AM

Most of the effort behind describing the difference between a religion and a cult is misguided. Many religions have cult like characteristics. This inverted T idea is a simplistic illustration and does not delve into substantive issues. The best way to determine a difference is to look at practices, not beliefs. In the US, anyone can believe what they want; but, if this extends to harming children in the guise of "religion," or involves deception, fraud, misrepresentation, unethical undue influence, indoctrination, and the destruction of families, then a determination of a cult in existence can be made.

I'm not sure where people get this idea that Hassan is the foremost authority on cults or that he is acually helping people. It must be coming from him. Anyone who has worked with Hassan is struck with his arrogance, greed, self aggrandizement, and controlling others in the name of helping ex cult members. He fosters subjects and followers and believes he answers to no one; not even the professionals in his own field. Perhaps you should move beyond your desire for a "hero" and an "guru" and read more widely in this area before dispensing bad advice to others.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/20/2012 12:40AM by Cathleen Mann, PhD.

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: May 10, 2013 08:29PM

To whom it may concern:

See []

Disclaimer regarding Steve Hassan

The Ross Institute of New Jersey/May 2013

The inclusion of news articles within the Ross Institute of New Jersey (RI) archives, which mention and/or quote Steven Hassan, in no way suggests that RI recommends Mr. Hassan or recognizes him in any way.

News articles that mention Steve Hassan have been archived for historical purposes only due to the information they contain about controversial groups, movements and/or leaders.

RI does not recommend Steven Hassan.

RI has received serious complaints about Steve Hassan concerning his fees. Mr. Hassan does not publicly disclose his fee schedule, but according to complaints Steve Hassan has charged fees varying from $250.00 per hour or $2,500.00 per day to $500.00 per hour or $5,000.00 per day. This does not include Mr. Hassan's expenses, which according to complaints can be quite substantial.

Steven Hassan has charged families tens of thousands of dollars and provided questionable results. One recent complaint cited total fees of almost $50,000.00. But this very expensive intervention effort ended in failure.

Dr. Cathleen Mann, who holds a doctorate in psychology and has been a licensed counselor in the state of Colorado since 1994 points out, "Nowhere does Hassan provide a base rate and/or any type or accepted statistical method defining his results..."

Steve Hassan has at times suggested to potential clients that they purchase a preliminary report based upon what he calls his "BITE" model. These "BITE reports" can potentially cost thousands of dollars.

See []

Steve Hassan runs a for-profit corporation called "Freedom of Mind." Mr. Hassan is listed as the corporate agent for that business as well as its president and treasurer.

RI does not recommend "Freedom of Mind" as a resource.

RI also does not list or recommend Steve Hassan's books.

To better understand why Mr. Hassan's books are not recommended by RI read this detailed review of his most recently self-published book titled "Freedom of Mind."

See []

Steve Hassan's cult intervention methodology has historically raised concerns since its inception. The book "Recovery from Cults" (W.W. Norton & Co. pp. 174-175) edited by Dr. Michael Langone states the following:

"Calling his approach 'strategic intervention [sic] therapy,' Hassan (1988) stresses that, although he too tries to communicate a body of information to cultists and to help them think independently, he also does formal counseling. As with many humanistic counseling approaches, Hassan’s runs the risk of imposing clarity, however subtly, on the framework’s foundational ambiguity and thereby manipulating the client."

RI has also learned that Mr. Hassan has had dual-relationships with his counseling clients. That is, clients seeing Mr. Hassan for counseling may also do professional cult intervention work with him.

Professionals in the field of cultic studies have also expressed concerns regarding Steven Hassan's use of hypnosis and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Based upon complaints and the concerns expressed about Mr. Hassan RI does not recommend Steve Hassan for counseling, intervention work or any other form of professional consultation.

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: whatevahs ()
Date: March 09, 2015 05:51AM

Cathleen Mann, PhD wrote:

"The best way to determine a difference is to look at practices, not beliefs."

or as another famous person wrote:

"You can know them by their fruits."

No matter what "faith" you believe, what "spiritual process," "religion," etc., the most important thing is the results. Observe: What kind of people are in this group? What kind of people are attracted to following the group? Because birds of a feather flock together.

Do they have qualities that you want? Are they kind, thoughtful, tolerant, able to see good in others, peaceful, etc.

Or are they snide, cruel, mean, thoughtless, intolerant, petty, etc.?

This is crucial, I think, to weeding out what some might call "cults," or "personality cults," and real spiritual processes followed by perhaps a small number of people.

Yes, small groups aren't synonymous of "cults," and many large groups can even be to varying degrees called "personality cults."

There are even (shockingly) a-theisticic "cults."

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was just that just because someone may call themselves atheists, agnostics, or practice religion of one kind or another doesn't mean necessarily that they are good or bad, per se. The main thing that is important is their heart, having care and goodness in their heart. I think that is paramount.

Fanaticism, bigotry, hatred, etc., it comes in all shapes and sizes, hidden in the corners of every thought process; we shouldn't ourselves be haters and call everyone who has a small group of believers in something "cults."

"You can know them by their fruits."

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 09, 2015 07:26AM


See []

There is a difference between a destructive cult and other groups or movements.

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: b.f.m. ()
Date: March 10, 2015 05:52AM

I think this is a really interesting conversation. Just because some group or a person appears on this site - it does not mean that they are a cult.

Cult - is also the root word of 'culture' - so that is good way to look at it too. Not all cults / cultures are bad -

This site has a leader, and moderators, and they control what can be said - censorship - so what is to say - this cult site is not a cult - productive or destructive??

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 11, 2015 05:16AM


Note the disclaimer, which is linked on every page within the database.

See []

The archive includes information about controversial groups and movements some that have been called "cults.'

See []

The message board, which is public message board, also makes this point.

A core definition of a destructive cult.

See []

These primary three characteristics are evident in most groups called "cults."

Re: What is the difference between a "cult" and a "religion"?
Posted by: b.f.m. ()
Date: March 11, 2015 01:53PM


So are you saying that most groups that are called cults have the three characteristics that define destructive cults?

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