What gives cults a bad name?
For starters, a cult is usually described as a social group with an unusual or excessive devotion towards a certain religious or philosophical belief.
Remember "Heaven's Gate?" A group of 39 people participated in a ritualistic suicide in 1997 because they believed that by ending their life, they would board an extraterrestrial spacecraft to take them to "Heaven's Gate." Yeah, that constituted a cult.
So it stands to reason cults, in general, remain highly controversial.
Sometimes, however, the bizarre rituals and demands of an organization can feel like a cult, even though they are not.
Curious to explore this concept further, Redditor FlintTheDad asked
Certain corporate cultures can be oddly suspicious.
What Is SalesForce?
"It's a customer relationship management platform, in the parlance. It's a database for logging, accessing, and connecting work information, e.g. a sales lead, the quote, the correspondence, the sales docs, the budget, the implementation team, etc., etc. Companies attempt to use it as a be-all end-all management tool and stretch it beyond its capabilities."
Cutting the BS
"Salesforce. No, I don't want to build a community, go hiking or join a hundred online classes to learn the basics. Make a couple of well-explained, to-the-point training videos ffs."
"Under Armour's corporate culture creeps me out. Companies should not have an official chant. I would consider them cult-adjacent at the very least."
Too Much Enthusiasm
"I agree, another one is Sunglass Hut. I was a sales manager for a year and a part time associate for a couple years prior while I was in school. At the first region meeting they 1. 'Strongly encouraged' aka forced you to donate to their charity... that they run... and make profit off of. 2. Made everyone wait in the lobby before letting us into the conference room, and the only way in was where the higher ups lined the doors cheering and screaming while music blasted and you had to high-five them all. (Of course this is pre-[the virus]). In general, they don't treat you like a human being, it's either act like a camp counsellor (enthusiasm levels) for minimum wage or you'd never climb the ladder. Spoiler alert, there is no ladder to climb. The whole company mentality is very cult-y."
These Redditors thought tech culture in general bordered on the cult-y.
"If you are a tech worker - your job. Upper management puts in foosball tables, orders lunch and has off site things on weekends (which is a daycare nightmare for parents), and expects you to spend every waking minute thinking about your job and having a device ready to answer email at any time of the day or night. Then, they have quarterly layoffs where they sweep out the unpopular. Yet, they want your loyalty and insist you are family and blah blah 'cultural fit.'"
"I've been at companies like this, and they suck. But also it's super easy to leave one company for another in tech, the skills are very transferrable and in demand. Those 'tech' companies, are really just some other business trying to attract tech talent by providing those amenities and taking advantage of recent grads."
"Most people I know out of school get a job like that, and leave for greener pastures shortly after. If they really cared about their employees they'd just fix what's wrong and listen to their employees."
"I'm 27 and have worked some random jobs, a lot of places gave tried setting me up with women at work. And a lot of couples who've been there for a long time met there."
"It's creepy AF when your boss is forcing women to flirt with you, just so you stay at the job."
Does it pay to be involved in these? These Redditors didn't think so.
Multi-Level Marketing Schemes
"Herbalife. In fact, most (if not all) MLM schemes."
"Some pyramid schemes are actually classified as financial cults by Cultwatch, so not far off!"
"General knowledge is such that MLMs and pyramid schemes are very easy to identify and debunk, so they have to transform it into an ideology pretty quickly after you join."
"if you can convince your new innitiates that everyone else criticizing the Cause is against progressivism, and that you're actually fighting for a better solution to capitalism or whatever stupid sh*t, and that YOU are the TRUE core of the Cause, when people tell you the stupid cult you've joined is ridiculous, you will take it personally and it will re-enforce the us-versus-them isolationism that fuels cults."
"watching crypto currency NFTs go from a dumb meme made for trading racist drawings to an art auction platform that gets immediately debunked as a pyramid scheme exploiting tech-illiterate artists to 'we're revolutionizing art as a whole. we are a brand new system, a way for artists to be powerful and influential, we are changing the world, if you disagree with this you are LITERALLY a luddite that hates art, the world, and us' happened literally over the course of two weeks lol."
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" Reference
"Woah there brother. Your amino acid levels are looking dangerous lol."
"Ah yes! The power of financial freedom. Boom Boom!"
"Used to work in a gated community pool. Some were cool, but most were the most awful bunch of wealthy jerks. Never wanted to follow the rules or cooperate and their kids always acted like little punks. It also felt kind of incestuous as well because those people were occasionally sleeping with each other. Not in the pool. I would just hear the pool gossip."
Play At Your Own Risk
"The ticky-tac cul de sac built behind me has been trying to strong arm me into paying HOA dues ever since I put no trespassing signs facing them in my woods. The whole reason I did was due to their stupid kids playing in my woods, getting hurt, and then being blamed by them for having an unsafe yard. Dude, it's an acre of unimproved woods with sticks, stone walls, and 200+ years of random shit thrown in it. It's not a goddamn public park, so your lawsuit means nothing. I was here before your house was built - why would I want to join your HOA when one of the conditions is that you all have free access to my land? You can feel free to stop trying to complain about me to the city, because they know I don't care. How do you like the HAM antenna I just put up on the edge of my land? Oh, is that an eyesore, too? Good."
"Also, I have no idea where those noisy guinea hens came from. I think they wandered in from the other guys land that you've been trying to co opt so he gets rid of his pigs and turkeys. Yeah, that's it."
"Retired Fun Police"
"I moved from an over zealous HOA in Virginia four years ago because they were a nasty group of retired fun police. We recieved a notice that our yard had too high a % of crabgrass! They attempted to fine us $100 per month until it was rectified. We received said notice in November. My partner elegantly told them to stuff it. This was after five years of various infractions such as storing a garden hose under our lattice covered back porch, paint chipping off a railing, anti bird cages attached to outside vents, yard lantern either out or wrong color all with pictures showing how entitled they were to trespass when ever they needed more $ for their coffers. They notified my next door neighbor her mailbox post needed painting, it looked like everyone else's prior.. They're passive/aggressive way of pointing out a wayward residents was NOT putting an American flag on their mailboxes on patriotic holidays. LOL I recall seeing many in noncompliance!"
I once belonged to a performing group in which our director participated in an organization that claimed to improve people's lives as long as members participated in frequent group sessions and paid a high monthly tuition.
I was a kid, and while this well-being organization may have had positive intentions, the changing behavior of our director creeped us out. He was suddenly cold and not as enthusiastic as he once was with us in rehearsals, and we all blamed his cult for changing him.
When we raised a stink about it one time, the director decided to quit the organization.
I'm not sure if what he participated in was actually a cult, but my friends and I remain skeptical.
With the way things are going with our government these last few years it feels like we're living in a cult. Doesn't it? Now we have this Qanon craziness, and it's followers have infiltrated the House and not just in an insurrection. There are actual Qanon members of Congress. That does not bold well for the sanity of the nation. Cults have been around longer than the dawn of time. I think because everybody is looking for a tribe, no matter how detrimental they can be.Redditor u/HeyItsMeLeslie wanted to hear how we can shine more light on groups that are dangerous to the world by asking... What are some modern day cults that kinda fly under the radar?
Nobody wants to be lonely or left behind and charismatic whackos know that. Some people are just gifted at manipulation and they fashion their talents to control others for their diabolical doings. David Koresh. Charles Manson. Jim Jones. Donald Trump. They all created groups with followers who drank all the Kool-Aid. And there are more out there.
Stay Awaketea GIFGiphy
Apparently the Sleepytime tea company is a cult? Or at least founded by one.
The 12 tribes. If you've been to a "yellow deli" restaurant you are supporting them unknowingly. They have it in their heads they need to raise 140,000 male virgins to be sacrificed on 2070 for the second coming of Jesus. You have to own enough property/money to join or they won't let you in as everything you own gets signed over to them right down to what clothes you get to own and where you live even if you own a home yourself.
They don't allow children to go to school and force them to work the farms that supply their restaurant, they also obviously have been charged dozens of times for gross child neglect/abuse and violating child labour laws. They are one of the more disgusting groups that doesn't get acknowledged. Also they exist all across Canada and the USA.
The House of Yahweh. It's literally a doomsday cult that has had 4-6 failed nuclear doomsday predictions. The founder believes he and his brother are prophesied messiahs but he went to jail for marrying off underage teens to older men in the group, oh and every female follower changes their last name to his last name I think, I think the founder also has multiple wives.
They have a compound and theres only one road that goes to it and on all the telephone poles along the road are cctv cameras
The members also have to pay tithes and the high ranking male members have like old testament names like Jebediah or Malachi, the founder changed his name to Yisrayl*.
For real Gwyneth Paltrow is in a league of her own in being a champion of champagne pseudoscience. She recently came up with her list of "long COVID remedies" that include kimchi, kombucha, herbal non-alcoholic cocktails, detoxifying "superpowders," an infrared sauna blanket, and a $125 goop-branded T-shirt.
The ridiculous part is that her podcast has 36 million listeners so to argue that her influence is not that big a deal would be foolish to say. Of course if you have a functioning brain, you'll be fine.
I had no idea about any of these people. Why has Dateline NBC and Oprah not done specials with them? And now I have to change by tea preference. The insidiousness is everywhere. Let's continue on with more bad news.
There's this christian cult a cousin of mine joined. JMMI (Joshua Media Ministries International). The leader is a self-acclaimed Apostle, David E. Taylor. I am legitimately afraid for my cousin. She packed up her life on the east coast and traveled to Missouri to be a part of their church. I think it flies under the radar because it pretends to be a christian church. The "apostle" is very creepy and has been accused by former members that he operates his "church" on slave labor.
To me, he appears to be another narcissist that preys on women. I'm afraid my cousin will be another victim of his. She actually told me she wants to marry him. She's so far in it that I don't know if she'll ever get out. He claims he predicted 9/11 and that he's curing COVID through prayer. He's one of those nut jobs where when I listen to him speak he sounds like he doesn't even realize he's lying through his teeth.
If you look up his depositions on YouTube (about misallocation of ministry funds) you'll see what I mean.
Sweat GroupCrossfit GIF by memecandyGiphy
Crossfit feels cultish. I've tried a few times at a few different places and I kept getting a lot of bad advice, but people are still fanatics about it. Crazy high injury statistics to boot.
I was a member of a cult (Gulenists in Turkey) and I fell for it. I was in top 100 in nation-wide exams where around 1 millions students participate so I think I got the brains. But brains is not enough. A brain dedicated to scientific thought and reason and taught in the ways of logical fallacies/dogmas etc and never accepts any claim without irrefutable proof is required. It was hard to find that in children in my country then. Today still many fall to religious cults, secular cults, nationalistic ideas etc.
The Raelien Society. They have some other name too, but basically they are trying to clone hot women to breed with the alien overlords, when they show up.
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The Word of Faith Fellowship. They're small, but definitely a cult.
The Long Con
Not a traditional cult, but very cult-like. Certain schools of chiropractic "medicine."
If you look into the history of chiropractic a little, it is pretty wild that some of the more traditional schools are allowed to operate in modern times.
The founder was a lifetime conman who claimed to have discovered the science of chiropractic by talking to ghosts. Traditional chiropractic philosophy believes that ALL sickness is due to "subluxations," aka misalignment in the spine.
There is also a huge crossover between traditional chiropractic theory and anti-vax messaging, because they believe ALL sickness can be remedied through spinal manipulation. In lieu of antibiotics they recommend adjusting (aka cracking) infants necks to treat ear infections.
I'm not saying that there aren't modern chiropractors who view their craft as a portion of more holistic treatment for muscular/skeletal issues, but an alarmingly large number of chiropractors believe and practice what I described above.
Essential oils, specifically Young Living. It's an MLM, and the story of the founder is absolutely frightening (he might've drowned his own baby). A lot of MLMs are cult-like in one way or another, but YL is absolutely the most cultish of them all and checks pretty much every box.
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Quiverfull, IBLP, basically the Duggars (of 19 kids & counting) & the like.
Follow the Leader
Any number of "economy of belief" cult-like groups like otherkin and soulbonders.
And Second Life has a subcommunity with strong economy-of-belief behaviour. It's where someone says "actually, I'm the reincarnation of Alexander the Great", and most people ignore them. But then someone comes along and says "hey, maybe you are, because I'm the reincarnation of Nikola Tesla" and they get along - they believe each other. And then someone else gets involved, and it slowly becomes more and more appealing to have this weird - but self-gratifying - belief affirmed by more and more people, just in exchange for doing the same for them.
And inevitably people then end up internalising and acting on the belief more and more since they can get it validated now, and it becomes more and more important to them until the mutual belief is locking them into the group; and then you end up with a social hierarchy inside it, gatekeeping and conflicts, and assorted mess.. there's usually not a single "leader" but it can become very like a cult, in particularly in terms of recruitment and aggressive response to outsiders not towing the line.
Nonviolent Communication. Supposedly a program to learn how to communicate nonviolently, it's a new-agey philosophy on which you have to be trained by a certified professional (which costs money) or become a certified professional yourself (which costs money). It's all based on the teachings of one Marshall B. Rosenberg who IMO ticks all the cult leader boxes. I've read accounts of people whose close ones practice it and it devolves into mindless repetition of what emotions the other expresses and passing it off as empathy.
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Some independent Evangelical churches. You'll know it's a cult when they turn a member away from their family.
Oh man, this one is just strange, but not in an "we're all going to kill ourselves" or "live on a compound" way. The audience of weirdly devoted followers just have a weekly staring contest with this guy. $10/person to go.
It's The College of Integrated Philosophy in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It's been around since at least the 90s.
Basically the leader of the cult just has this staring contest with his attendees once a week for 3 hours and answers the odd question from the attendees. He's on a big screen while hundreds of people watch from the audience.
He's the "living embodiment of truth" supposedly. Things snap into place with the truth he spoke or something when he answers.. I dunno, but it's mostly just a staring contest.
The cult runs this super fancy conference hall (Oasis Centre) outside of the weekly meetings. It's really nice, my friends had their wedding there.
Edit: Vice article on it.
CUT Church of Universal and Triumphant. A vacuum salesman spread his ideas to customers in the California. His wife Elizabeth Clair Prophet eventually took over and moved the followers to just outside Yellowstone Park in the 80's. They had some beliefs about colors and swords and nuclear war. Their followers built fallout shelters and gave up everything at the end of the world. Each time the end didn't come, some of these people had nowhere to go, no money, and no jobs. CUT mostly fell apart when Prophet was diagnosed with dementia, but there are some splinters.
People got scared in the 80's. They didn't want a mass murder, poisonings, or suicides like other cults like the Bagwan Shree Rajneesh or the Manson Family. Someone took a shot at a bus of their kids. One of the local University student newspaper bankrupted itself because the editor spent their annual budget on surveillance equipment.
The area still has purple houses, one of their things.
Some still live in the bomb shelters. I have friends that grew up in it. One has a book written about her. Just by how they dress, you can tell some old ladies were in the cult, modeled their wardrobe around Profit and never changed. Some people you can just tell hearing them talk. It's as if a Rush Limbaugh listener took a lot of acid, conservative hippy kinda mix of ideas.
The guy that wrote Eragon grew up in the church. One of the members of the 80's band "Men at Work" was also a member.
Joe Rogan's most devoted fans. They aren't just fans, but people who turn "I heard it on the Rogan podcast" into their personality.
Rogan has on physicists and comedians and philosophers and soldiers, and...etc.
It seems like these guys think that repeating a smart person's words makes you smart, mimicking a comic makes you funny, you get the idea.
Before COVID, I'd see them at comedy shows wearing the Rogan Experience shirt and trying to start conversations with people so they could impress them with "their" deep thoughts and knowledge.
Crazy Musicheadphones jamming GIF by SpongeBob SquarePantsGiphy
WFMU has a radio show, Music of Mind Control, which features music from past and currently operating cults along with brief descriptions of the leaders/followers. Tuesdays 6-7pm EST, but the entire archive is available for streaming on their website.
Now go forward with eyes wide open. And if you're lonely, get a therapist and be very weary of strangers who want your money and hangout in groups. And if you feel something... say something. If it seems strange, it is.
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