Why Are JW & LDS Referred To As "Cults"?
Posted by: Kaizen ()
Date: May 12, 2020 12:18AM

Both the JW and LDS are now major denominations of Christianity. I feel that referring to them as "Cults" is somewhat degrogatory given the overly negative conotations of the word.

Below are some reasons why I feel that this term should not apply to these groups:

1. Both the JW and LDS founders have passed away, therefore there is no living charismatic founder for these two denominations.

2. The fact that the JW and LDS movement has survived post the passing of both Charles Russell and Joseph Smith indicates that these movements have matured. Most "Cults" do not surive post the founder or spliter into oblivion.

3. Both The JW and LDS are branches of an established world religion, infact the largest on the planet Christianity, regardless of whether Christian Orthodoxy accepts them as such I feel is irrelevant.

4. Adherents of both the JW and LDS have made major postitive contributions to the world in terms of economics, science, poverty alleviation, literacy, and even health. (Though ofcourse some will argue about the lack of blood transfusions and so forth by one of these groups), Overall the contribution of these movements I feel is overly positive.

5. The age old arguement of "cult + time = religion" should apply in this instance, I do feel that after a century plus a such a movement can not be referred to as a "cult" as the original founders and coverts will most likely have passed away and such denominations will have adherents into the third or fourth generation.

I wish to add that I do not belong to either of these movements, but I do feel that the use of the term "Cults" in this instance is offensive and inaccurate.

The definition of the word "cult" has been definded in Rick Alan Ross's book and the criteria for such a group, I feel these groups now if not previously fail the test and should not be henceforth referred to as "cults".

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Re: Why Are JW & LDS Referred To As "Cults"?
Posted by: ex- ()
Date: May 22, 2020 03:02AM

How about a new category for "religions with cultic elements".

I agree that the word cult has been overused, badly or inaccurately used by the media and proponents of oppositional cultic views, and has consequently been devalued.

I'd tend to use it in a quasi-academic manner to differentiate new religions that are not sects (splinter groups) of previous religions, ie not part of previous lineages or traditions.

It's been used too much to simply mean "bad" from points of view that are every bit as bad themselves!

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Re: Why Are JW & LDS Referred To As "Cults"?
Posted by: facet ()
Date: May 22, 2020 11:28PM

Jehovah’s Witness are a through and through cult. If it ostracises the outside world in order to create a rigid group you have a them and us situation created.

They create the problem, and offer a solution.. along with a glimmer of hope that adherents may one day account for one of the special 144,000 that are granted ‘special’ enough to get through to the new heavenly kingdom that will survive their apocalyptic world prediction.


The Jehovah’s Witness adhere to an abusive familial value that those not sharing the same belief, dancing to the same tune, or following the order of its regime must be outcast and ostracised. If you are not JW then you are seen as evil and bad influencer.

Sexual abuse within Jehovah Witness is covered up rather than dealt with because the outer appearance of the group is all that matters than what really goes on underneath.

People are continuously told that the world will end, and that only a special few will enter the heavenly kingdom.

Anyone outside is seen as bad or must be saved, which not only serves to keep people locked into a destructive belief system, it keeps them locked out of an ever changing social world which keeps them from growing and maturing healthily.

JW do not feel then need to respect others boundaries, and still to this day feel it valid to enter peoples properties to knock doors and target people with their materials, and hold a database of who is and who is not receptive to the door knocking, this list apparently for their own use so as not to disturb those who have told them not to knock, however this has been proven to me as rubbish, the list is not used for that purpose.

Ps on your note about the size of the group, size means nothing and is often used as a guide to say “well if it’s popular it must be good”, unfortunately the quality is trash. It might look good on the outside, go inside with your rational mind and see for yourself it is rotting.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2020 11:48PM by facet.

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Re: Why Are JW & LDS Referred To As "Cults"?
Posted by: ex- ()
Date: May 23, 2020 04:43AM

I suppose there are two discussion here;

one about JW,
the other about what the current working definition of cult in English is, and ho gets to set it.

By that first line, you'd have to include large swathes of Judaism, Islam, caste Hinduism, even Americana within the "cult" category ... which you'd probably be equally correct to do so, as they all demonstrate cultic tendencies or use cultic techniques of control, but it all quickly becomes a little too vague, doesn't it?

Therefore, a related question, can a so called cult develop or mature into a culture or religion at any point?

And, if so, what does it need to do to do so?

For example, the Hare Krishnas fell squarely into the first generation of "dangerous cults" or New Religious Movements within the modern world but, in reality, they were just an expression of a relatively historic tradition within India that was considered within the norm of activity. They've had their controversies, without a doubt, and are still considered outside of the norm in the West but tolerated and have developed various responses to past cultic abuses that makes them appear to be responsible and matured; eg their external ombudsman system.

Are they a cult, part of a culture, or a religion?

Are there benchmarks to define each stage?

It would appear to me that numbers are part of the equation, as is longevity, as is their context within the majority society where they exist.

In religion you don't "win" by being right, but just sticking around for the longest and amassing property, wealth and numbers.

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Re: Why Are JW & LDS Referred To As "Cults"?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: May 25, 2020 01:03AM


Your comments reflect a position held by many cult apologists concerning "new relgious movements" (NRMs). However, many groups or movements called "cults" are not based upon religous beliefs and therefore cannot be considered NRMs.

All of this is discussed in depth at the Cult Education Institute database.

See [www.culteducation.com]

Robert Jay Lifton wrote a paper in the 1980s and essentially established what can be seen as an objective structural and behavioral based nucleus for the definition of a destructive cult.

See [www.culteducation.com]

The JWs fit well within the definition in the early stages of their development under the absolute authoritarian control of Russell (once known as the "Russellites") and Rutherford. After Rutherford power devolved from one charismatic leader to a governing body. Today JWs can be seen as a destructive authoritarian group, but not a destructive personality-driven cult with an absolute leader per Lifton's definition.

Likewise Mormons went through a similar history. After Joseph Smith and Brigham Young power devolved into a church government. The Mormons have devolved power much further than the JWs and though still somewhat controversial and not part of mainstream Christianity, they don't today fit the definition of a "cult."

Anticipating your questions, Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity do not have as historically well documented of an early history as JWs and Mormons. Not as much is known historically about Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Buddha, other than through their respective religious texts.

But there is a well accepted core definition for a destructive cult that has been around for a long time. And most, if not all subsequent definitions, simply extrapolate upon Lifton's three core criteria or characteristics.

ISKCON has not really evolved and is still seen as a destructive cult by many observers and researchers. It was never really part of mainstream Hinduism and always a personality-drive cult devoted to Prabhupada and his disciples. ISKCON has a horrible history of abuse. It's recent reforms are a response to lawsuits and legal claims that drove it into bankruptcy in the US and almost collapsed the organization. ISKCON continues to generate complaints and the behavior of its devotees is still a source of concern to Hindu and non-Hindu parents.

See [www.culteducation.com]

I hope this is helpful.

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/2020 09:45PM by rrmoderator.

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Re: Why Are JW & LDS Referred To As "Cults"?
Posted by: Kaizen ()
Date: May 30, 2020 06:27PM


So it would seem that you do agree that the current LDS church does not meet the criteria of a cult as defined by Robert Jay Lifton, however I do agree that many of the spliter groups from the main LDS church clearly have some cultic tendencies such as Warren Jeffs and his FLDS :

1. Central living leader - The prophet Warren Jeffs
2. Compound living - Yearning for Zion ranch
3. Information control- Can only/see read material proscribed by Warren Jeffs.
4. Intermarriage is encouraged, marrying outside the group is frowned upon

So, if we compare the main LDS group, to its more controversial factions such as the FLDS, there is a complete difference of night and day. The main group of LDS has gained recoginition as being a respected denomination whilst the FLDS has been dubbed a "cult".

Comparing the JW and LDS, I would say that the LDS movement has had the advantage of concentrated living which has allowed them to essentially claim the state of Utah in which they have a great level of influence and control. This sucess of the LDS can be contrasted to the failure of the Bhagwan Rajneesh and his Rajneeshis to take control of a small sleepy near uninhabited town, and the county, let alone the state of Oregon.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/30/2020 06:28PM by Kaizen.

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