What is a Cult?
Who in our over-stimulated, media-saturated, hyper-connected world would ever go and knowingly join a cult? The answer is no one.
- The leader and group are always correct and anything the leader does can be justified.
- Questions, suggestions, or critical inquiry are forbidden.
- Members incessantly scramble with cramped schedules and activities full of largely meaningless work based on the leader’s agenda
- Followers are meant to believe that they are never good enough.
- Required dependency upon the leader and group for even the most basic problem-solving.
- Reporting on members for disobedient actions or thoughts is mandated and rewarded.
- Monetary, sexual, or servile labor is expected to gain promotion.
- The ‘outside’ world — often including family and friends — is presented as rife with impending catastrophe, evil, and temptations.
- Recruitment of new members is designed to be purposefully upbeat and vague about the actual operations of the leader and group.
- Former members are shunned and perceived as hostile.
Jayanti Tamm is the author of Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult (Three Rivers Press). She is a visiting professor in the MFA program at Queens College, Cuny.