|Once a religion crosses the line into authoritarian behaviour, it is on its way to becoming a cult, or at the very least a high-control group.|
I never thought much about it until I got to college and began to study psychology, philosophy and other fields of study that are often looked down upon by some religious movements. Once you have been exposed to this information it becomes easy to see why some religious organizations are fearful of its membership becoming educated.
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Highly recommended reading material:
I would also seriously recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning more about the control methods used to essentially trap people in religious movements. This book also goes into detail regarding Lifton's 8 thought reform techniques.
In the press...
I read an interesting article in the WallStreet Journal recently that also gave a brief run down of certain warning signs to look out for. This list is more simplistic than Lifton's list of 8 used in Hassan's book, but this should suffice.
"Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult.
(1) The first is behavior control, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do.
(2)The second is information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group.
(3)The third is thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning.
(4)The fourth is emotional control—using humiliation or guilt [or fear]..."
"...Every coercive religious group harbors one telltale trait: untoward secrecy. As opposed to a cult, a religious culture ought to be as simple to enter or exit"