The word cult, as defined by Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary denotes “a usually small circle of persons united by devotion or allegiance to an artistic or intellectual movement or figure.” According to this interpretation, all religious groups can be classified as having this characteristic. However, due largely in part to stereotypes portrayed in the media, much of society perceives the word cult as definable by “a close-knit, unorthodox religious movement in which members, or potential members are enticed by means of deception and indoctrination.” It is in accordance with this explanation that one can separately distinguish the hundreds of religious groups fitting this description, from the much larger number of orthodox religions, or religions deemed conventional.
The act of stereotyping religions as cults has been in existence since the beginning of organized religion. Jesus and his followers, while on earth, were even viewed by many as a cult members. In the 1960’s and early 70’s however, cults suddenly began to get larger and became spectacles through the media. In 1978, the first widespread fascination with modern cults occurred as a result of the mass suicide in Jonestown.
One such religion that fits society’s definition particularly well is the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, more commonly known as the Unification Church. This group was founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1954, and is based upon the doctrines taught by Rev. Moon.
According to the beliefs of the religion, Sun Myung Moon was told by God that he was the second messiah, sent to Earth to complete Jesus’ “unfinished work”. The membe...
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...and have the purpose of indoctrinating the teachings of the church into the new members’ mind. They are encouraged to show complete devotion to the UC by contributing to the group as much as they can. As full-time moonies, the members are expected to: offer all possessions to the church, become a full time cash raiser for the group, remain celibate, remove all doubts and criticisms or Moon, follow your local leader without question, be told when and who to marry, be told when to have sex with the spouse, be told when you can have children, Only step into rooms using the right foot first, only clean yourself with the left hand after using the bathroom, follow the rule that states a wife may only walk or stand on a husband’s left side, donate up to 50 percent of your salary to the church (if you are a leader), and relocate to whichever location you are assigned to.
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