What Are Some Examples Of Religious Cults?

What Are Some Examples Of Religious Cults? March 24, 2016

Here are a few examples of religious cults.

What is a Cult?

One cult expert defined a cult as “a highly manipulative group which exploits and sometimes physically and/or psychologically damages members and recruits.” [1] The world defines a cult as any particular group’s beliefs and practices that are sufficiently deviant or novel from that of the mainstream and often have ambiguous laws or requirements, so making a precise definition of a cult is rather difficult. Former members describe the cult that they trapped in as a tight-knit group that followed and never deviated from the leader who is often very charismatic yet authoritarian. Two former members of a cult said that the leader caused the members to lose almost all of their privacy, personal property, and civil rights. Some describe Mormonism as a cult. Others see the Jehovah Witnesses as being one, but any so-called church or “Christian” organization that claims to have the truth that no one else has, but ignores biblical truth, could well be a cult. One thing that most cults and the world’s false religions have in common are that they both require works which is absolutely contrary to the biblical doctrine of the free gift of grace by God that no works could ever merit (Eph 2:8-9). Eternal life is always a free gift; if it involves works and if it does, you don’t have the gospel that the Bible teaches.

The Moonies

Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, is one of the world’s largest cults. At least it used to be. The adherents or followers are extremely focused on political activism and seek to change and are unabashedly anti-Communist and pro-American but this is only part of what has recently been called the NRM or the New Religious Movements. This false teacher teaches that Christ was crucified before he was able to fulfill his mission of marrying and having perfect children so Moon saw himself as the Messiah but perhaps the most obvious and glaring of all of Moon’s false teachings are that he is the second coming of Christ, which is completely unorthodox theology.



Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh came to the U.S. in 1981 to gain a following after largely being rejected by his own nation, India. This unorthodox Indian guru promoted a “religion” of pleasure and that whatever felt good must be good. This included indulging in sex. His following became so large that Rajneesh’s followers built their own town in Oregon and wanted to so influence the Wasco County court system that the Rajneesh’s sent in 2,500 of their residents to the town of Dalles to have them all be registered as voters so that they could take over the county by electing their own people. They went so far as to sicken 750 residents by poisoning the restaurant’s food to keep them from voting.

Children of God

The Children of God (COG) began in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California and the earliest converts came from the hippies and Jesus Movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Their method of evangelism was anything but normal. They called it “Flirty Fishing” because they used sexual enticement to draw people in to hear the gospel, using sex to show God’s love and mercy. David Berg, the founder, came to be referred to as Moses after moving to Arizona in, convinced most of the “Children of God” to sell their houses, their properties, and their possessions to donate them to the communal center that was called Berg’s House, but there were dozens of accusations of child sexual abuse since this group, or this cult, was so focused on free sex, including having open, sexual relations with others but when the children became involved, it would mark the end, for the most part, of the Children of God. After Berg’s death in 1994, it became known as The Family and later went international and was changed to The Family International.


Any religion that teaches that there is salvation by works or by any other method or person but Jesus Christ, is a religion that is straight out of hell because Jesus Christ is the one and only way that we can be saved (Acts 4:12). If they don’t believe in the free, unearned gift of grace from God then it’s time to leave that church because no one can be saved by works, chants, or even offering your body (Eph 2:8-9). Remember that Satan has his own ministers behind the pulpits and “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2nd Cor 11:14) so just because someone looks good on the outside, is a powerful, charismatic speaker, and potent persuader, if they don’t have the right gospel, then they’ve got the wrong Savior, and that’s going to be the worst of all news on Judgment Day (Rev 20:12-15).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

1. Turner, Francis J.; Arnold Shanon Bloch, Ron Shor (1 September 1995). Differential Diagnosis & Treatment in Social Work, 4th Edition. Free Press. pp. 1146: Chapter 105: “From Consultation to Therapy in Group Work With Parents of Cultists”. ISBN 0-02-874007-6.

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  • pud

    “Any religion that teaches that there is salvation by works or by any other method or person but Jesus Christ, is a religion that is straight out of hell because Jesus Christ is the one and only way that we can be saved (Acts 4:12)”

    LOL! Digging your hole a little deeper today eh Simple Jack?

    You are a CULT! You make the claim that YOU and only YOU are privy to the absolute truth. Only you and your interpretation of a stupid bronze age book is THE correct perspective. Follow you and your doctrine OR ELSE!

    The same thing a BILLION catholics say…the same thing a BILLION muslims say.

    Tell us Simple Jack what information are you and you alone gifted with that makes 2 BILLION other delusional “believers” wrong and you right? PROVE your claims!

    While you’re at it tell us how you identify the satan possessed preachers. Do they give off an evil glow that only you can see? Tell everyone how you KNOW such a creature as the devil exists. Maybe YOU are the one possessed spreading incorrect doctrine? How would anyone know otherwise? Is there a devil test kit one can buy at the drug store?

    Your lame attempt to list a few fringe cults to take attention off of yours fails! You have every characteristic common to all cults. Absolutism! Penalties! Intimidation and indoctrination, statements of faith…every cult that ever existed shares all your practices and absolute mandates. And they ALL fail the EVIDENCE test relying completely on BELIEF in the words of some charismatic authority figure.

    You are a fanatic Simple Jack every bit as out of your mind as a suicide bomber. Like all cults you couldn’t care less for truth, evidence, reason, logic or common sense! It’s all about fanatical devotion to a death cult, a human sacrifice worshiping death cult all based on false promises and empty threats.

    • Doug Barron

      I am “privvy” to the truth also, goober. Luv ya PUDDY!

      • pud

        Go love your sheep creepy guy

        • Doug Barron

          I love it when you say I’m creepy!
          Then I know I’m keeping pace with you!
          That makes my heart happy.
          Love you, PUDDY!

  • Bill Underwood

    First off, I disagree with your definition of a cult. The most common definition of a cult is a religious group following a man and viewing him as inspired. Mormons follow Joseph Smith; Muslims follow Mohammad; Branch Davidians followed David Koresh, etc. Second, while it’s great that you quoted 2 Corinthians 11:14, you laid yourself wide open to accusation: Satan does have “his ministers”. Only a study of how well a minister adheres to what Jesus taught would tell a person whether any given minister is God’s or Satan’s, right? You hammer the point about “works” almost as if doing any good works makes a person suspicious (I can’t help wondering whether you emphasize this point to excuse your own lack of works?) then you cite – but, note, you didn’t quote, Revelation 20:12, which says that the dead will be judged “ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS.” Verse 13 says that Death and Hell gave up their dead (in other words, resurrection, like Jesus demonstrated with Lazarus) who would be judged “ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS.” Anyone can find a verse to match his personal beliefs. But when you find your personal belief matches one verse or even multiple verses, but conflicts with another verse, what’s wrong? Does the Bible contradict itself? No. Our personal beliefs must harmonize ALL verses. When you threaten your church with hellfire, ignoring Ezekiel 18:4 (the soul dies) and Ecclesiastes 9:5 (the dead are unconscious) and John 11:11 (Jesus said dead Lazarus was “sleeping”) you are being used as Satan’s minister, not God’s.

  • Sam Andrew

    The difference between a religion and a cult can be very thin sometimes. A lot has to do with numbers and social acceptability.

    Historically most religions start off as “cults” – i.e. small groups centred around a charismatic figure to whom they are fanatically loyally because they believe said figure has special powers/information or is a supernatural being in human guise. Interestingly such movements, while seen as aberrant in Western countries are still quite common in place like India – different cultures I guess.

    I think any religion that demands its member’s behave/dress/act in a particular way, and ostracizes those who do not is a repressive cult. Any religion that considers its own teachings/sacred scriptures (and interpretation thereof) infallible and unquestionable is a cult. Any religion that thinks its members are better, or non-members are lesser in any way shape or form, I think is a cult. Any religion that uses violent supernatural threats (e.g. Hell) to emotionally abuse people into staying is a cult. When you’re not allowed to think or act outside the box, and threatened in any way shape or form if you do or wish to leave, that is a cult.