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Research paper topic: 3 Non Traditional Religions Voodoo, Spiritualism, Cults - 1932 words
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.. Evil Deeds done on Earth, VII. Eternal Progress Open to every Human Soul. (Spiritualism) Spiritualists are often accused of being atheists or Anti-Christian, yet our first Principle recognizes God as our Father; but who is God?. Spiritualism is universal religion recognizing such leaders as Buddha, Mohammed, Moses as well as Jesus. It does not however, claim a monopoly of Religion.
Ones religion is a personal matter and any person adopting Spiritualism is free to interpret the principles according to their own awareness. Furthermore, they do not believe in a Vindictive God. They are their own judges and they shall receive compensation or retribution for what ever they have done whether it is good or bad. Heaven and hell are not places to which we are destined to go, but states of mind of our own creation. Among the greatest forces of Spiritualism is healing the sick either by personal contact or through the absent healing in which the patients are treated often at great distances away by the sending out healing thoughts and prayers. The so-called miracles of healing performed by Jesus and his disciples are regular performs by spiritual healers today.
Many incurable diseases have been successfully treated. No healer can guarantee a cure, but at least he can alleviate suffering and ease a passing, and possibly affect a complete cure. Spiritual Healing is not Faith Healing. Patients have been treated without their knowledge as by absent healing, or through being too ill or, too young to understand. The practices of Voodoo and Spiritualism are very common in many ways. The both believe in the spiritual realm, both have formal ceremonies to come in contact with the spiritual realm, and both use particular items as a medium, or a gateway as a way to transcend into the spiritual realm. Although Voodoo is practiced here in America, many of its practices are not publicly exposed; so it lives underground so to speak. Spiritualism on the other hand, is rising at an increasing rate.
We can find the practices of Spiritualism openly used throughout our society. In every city, psychic readings, and spiritual healings are readily available to anyone who is interested. There is one other form (chosen out of very many), of a non-traditional religion, that exists within the very threads of America: It is the Cult. The formation of cults is an issue in society that many are un-familiar with. There are thousands of cults operating in America today; exact numbers cannot be established due to the nature of cults. Many cults go unreported because they work in secrecy, giving their members a feeling of self worth only when in, and a part of a secret group in society.
A cult by definition is: 1 : formal religious veneration 2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents 3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents 4 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion. - Websters Un-Abridged Dictionary 10Th Ed. Basically, a cult is a group of people who have formulated their lives around the devotion of one or a few charismatic leaders, and an ideology pushed forth by those leaders. There are three main aspects a group has to have in order for it to be positively identified as a cult. The first is the ruling charismatic leader or leadership: These leaders will maintain total control over their followers lives as well as their person, trying desperately to advance the groups goals or ideas.
The group focuses on the leadership, rather than on God, or a higher power. Total commitment is given to these leaders from their followers, as they are fed with false pretense or a sense of a mission in their lives. This leads up to the second qualification: The use of mind control or brain washing on their subjects. The cult leaders will explicitly use psychological manipulation, or brain washing on their followers to influence their will upon them. This abuse changes a normal person into another; one who will do whatever it takes to carry out any and all the commands of the leadership.
Lastly is the exploitation of the subjects, mainly in sexual and economic ways. The followers of the cult are usually drained of all personal wealth as well as their own individuality. Giving all they can to better benefit the leadership, followers dont think twice about following the orders of the leadership no matter how crude or ridiculous, leaving themselves wide open to ant form of exploitation. Other than these main three characteristics, many cults are known to have compounds or exquisite meeting places in which many live. They are usually self-supported as if they were their own community, where everyone participates in the upkeep and maintenance.
Elaborate rituals, practices, and scheduled daily activities occupy most of their day. The group usually has two or more sets of codes or ethics. One set for the leadership; which typically has total freedom over the group. Another set for the existing members; of which are very rigid, another for new recruits that are very relaxed, and so on. Lastly, another popular activity of the cult is the dedication to recruiting of new members.
People are the greatest resource of the cult or any group in that matter. The more people the greater the power of the leadership. Cults concentrate a mass amount of their energies to the coercing practices of getting people to join their group. When concerning the issue of cults, many people ask the question of why people join cults. Little to ones knowledge, very few people join cults of their own free will. This option is usually reserved only for the members of the leadership.
The question still remains; why do people join cults? The question is not why people join cults, rather, is it how do they join cults. And the answer to this question is a long and lengthy process of psychological manipulation, brain washing or mind control, to the point of the lowering of ones self esteem, and then the loss of ones personal identity. Author Steven Hassan details this mind control process through behavior control, information control, thought control, and emotional control or the BITE Model for short. (Hassan). Controlling ones behavior limits the individual to personal choices, limiting his/her own identity. The leaders will use tactics that include the regulation of: 1.
Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with 2. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears 3. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects 4. How much sleep the person is able to have (Hassan) The member is literally stripped of his/her identity by this regulatory system designed by the leadership. Also invoked in this process is the dependency or the need of the cult. The individual perceives a reliance on the cult to provide for their basic everyday life decisions. Along with behavior control comes the control of the information or any kind of knowledge that is provided to the individual. This regulation of knowledge can be in any fashion; for example a member may not be allowed to watch TV or read a newspaper, or information about the cults leadership or former members may be disclosed and considered classified.
Also by using cult-generated propaganda, the individual is fed with information pertaining to the goals of the leadership thus focusing only on that. Accumulated with the use of deception, lying, and the twisting of stories, the individual has no inclination to question the motives of the cult leaders. The use of thought control is the most important step in implementing the cult doctrine among its members. The need to see the cult doctrine as the absolute truth will hold the member in their proper place. Any kind of questioning about the leaders, decisions, and cult policies are highly discouraged and even disciplined with punishment in some cases. Finally with the use of emotional control, the leaders gain control of the individuals by with methods implementing guilt and fear. Using public confession of sins and demeaning acts, self-esteem is lowered in the individual and their behavior is modified according to the wills of the leaders.
Fear is also used to keep the members in line. Threatening members of loosing their salvation, being outcast by the group they so much depend on, and hostile circumstances (i.e. hell, demon possession), are all used to coerce the individuals behavior. By successfully eliminating free thought, limiting information, controlling circumstantial decisions, and how their members should feel at all times; it becomes no wonder how cult members commit acts of highly irregular behavior. As shown, under the highly influential pressures of mind control, cult members have almost no control over their lives. Their decisions are not of their own, but only of the leaders of cult.
Out of the millions of people who fall victim to the persuasion of the cult way of life, very few escape this lifestyle. Those who do are exposed with long tern psychological effects, creating many problems for the individual, as they try to readjust to normal every day life. Frequently, cult survivors initially suffer from depression. The fact of no longer belonging to an elite group, or not having a sense of purpose within themselves, causes the individuals to fall into massive depressive states. Those who have been involved in the cult for quite sometime will also suffer from loneliness, as they have left their former source of family and friendship.
Indecisiveness is also a major symptom; normal decisions become very complicated for this individual because everything had been previously decided for them (what to wear, what to eat, etc.). And fear of their former cult reigns inside them. At the very thought of betrayal and the coerced effects if it, leaves the individual with an underlying sense of fear and insecurity. Surviving members are highly recommended to get some sort of psychological counseling immediately after exiting the cult. Those who do receive counseling have a quicker and a greater success in merging back into society as productive individuals. Non-traditional religions thrive on the limiting involvement of the government concerning religion.
Many of these religions have highly unorthodox practices in which followers faithfully participate it. In any other circumstances excluding religion, many of these practices would be deemed abnormal or deviant behavior. Legally very little can be done about the un-ethical practices found in these non-traditional religions. As a society we have to be very careful and aware at all times, recognizing the pressures that religion can force upon an individual. We also have to be conscious, and the face the fact that we are very vulnerable; each one of us can easily fall into the sway of lifestyles of these non-traditional religions, against our own will.
Bibliography A.F.F. (The American Family Foundation), http://www.csj.org. (1999) Billingsly, Lloyd., Religions Rebel Son, Multomah Press. Portland, OR. (1986) Belgum, E., Voodoo, Greenhaven Press. San Diego, CA.
(1994) Hassan, Steven. Freedom Of The Mind, http://www.freedomofmind.com/ Mather, G.A. & L.A. Nichols, Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. (1993) McDowell, Josh and Bill Wilson, A Ready Defense. Heres Life Publishers.
San Berdino, CA. (1990) Origins Of Voodoo, http://swagga.com/voodoo.htm (June 8, 2000) Origins Of Voodoo (Voodoo Secrets), http://www.nando.net/prof/ carice/origins.html Spiritualism. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000 http:// Encarta. msn.com (2000) Vodun. http://religioustolerance.org/voodoo.htm Sociology.
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