Religion Versus Cult

Rev. Richard L. Dowhower


Religions respect the individual's autonomy.

Cults enforce compliance.

Religions try to help individuals meet their spiritual needs.

Cults exploit spiritual needs.

Religions tolerate and even encourage questions and independent, critical thinking.

Cults discourage questions and independent critical thinking.

Religions encourage psycho-spiritual integration.

Cults "split" members into the "good cult self" and the "bad old self.”

Conversion to religions involves an unfolding of internal processes central to a person's identity.

Cultic conversion involves an unaware surrender to external forces that care little for the person's identity.

Religions view money as a means, subject to ethical restraints, toward achieving noble ends.

Cults view money as an end or as a means toward achieving power or the selfish goals of the leader.

Religions view sex between clergy and the faithful as unethical.

Cults frequently subject members to the sexual appetites of the leaders.

Religions respond to critics respectfully.

Cults frequently intimidate critics with physical or legal threats.

Religions cherish the family.

Cults view the family as an enemy.

Religions encourage a person to think carefully before making a commitment to join.

Cults encourage quick decisions with little information.


From "Guidelines for Clergy" by Rev. Richard L. Dowhower, in Recovery From Cults, edited by Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. and published by W.W. Norton and Company. Reprinted with permission.