Cults destroy independent thinking and normal human relations.
A couple of weeks ago I was visited by a couple who appeared to be in their early forties. I saw that the man was carrying a magazine produced by a well-known religious cult. They seemed to be nice people, but I sent them away immediately. I have no time for cult propaganda.
About fifteen years ago a friend of mine joined that cult. He’d been an active member of a small Protestant Christian church, but he’d become unhappy. I think he wanted to reduce the great mysteries of life and death to a simple formula for personal salvation.
After my friend joined the cult, he quit a very good job and devoted all of his time to cult affairs. Before long his wife and children began to suffer. They had to live in poverty, and they were cut off from their former friends.
Over a period of several years we had a few long talks. Gradually he became more single-minded. At first he came as a friend, but later his only purpose was to persuade me to join his cult. I finally realized that he had been so thoroughly brainwashed that we couldn’t even have a normal conversation. Thanks to that cult, my old friend no longer existed.
Having watched my friend change from a normal person into a cult fanatic, I think I can understand the attraction of cults. They offer warm companionship, and in a way they make life very easy. In a cult you don’t have to think for yourself. You only need to follow the cult leaders, and you’ll be rewarded if you do so with great enthusiasm.
Some people sacrifice everything for their cults. They will happily hurt or even kill people as long as they believe that they have found the true path to paradise. For some reason ordinary society, including religious communities, cannot satisfy their needs.
When young people ask me about cults or superstitions, I give them one piece of advice: Think for yourself.
But that’s easy to say. I don’t have a good answer, but I think we can work harder to make human relationships more deeply satisfying than cults.