My last three blogs have had the topic of cults, specifically, how we perceive cults and what methods cult leaders may use to change how the public perceives them.
The first topic blog I wrote featured Jim Jones, the notorious cult leader of the Peoples Temple which ended in the tragic Jonestown Massacre. Jim Jones used manipulative and horrendous methods to gain followers, retain followers, and put up a facade to the public that seemed innocent and progressive. As his legacy spiralled out of control, his manipulative methods became less convincing, and more coercive, changing from encouraging his followers to leave their families and donate all their belongings to the church, to just flat out forcing them to submit, by making them strip during congregation, and humiliating them, purposefully psychologically beating his followers down until they were helpless against his tyranny.
My second topic blog features Anton LaVey, another infamous leader, and his cult; The Church of Satan. LaVey uses the public’s preconception of paganism and the occult by using its symbols and imagery (images such as the pentagram, the Leviathan Cross, Lucifer’s Sigil and Baphomet) to make his religion seem more unfavorable than it really was. The Church of Satan promotes individualism and questioning reality, and has several rules and regulation in place that are actually quite agreeable, such as policies on drug use, illegal activities and politics. Those who follow LaVeyan Satanism are perceived as being socially deviant because of the advocacy for non-herd conformity, sex, wisdom, responsibility and independence. Due to these distinct differences, majority religions have a strong opposition to the Church of Satan, although if one looks deeper into the beliefs the church follows, they’ll find that they truly can not base their understanding of the religion on its name.
My third topic blog was focused on Wiccan cults. The Wicca (sometimes referred to as Pagan Witchcraft) also follows a neo-pagan belief, which is disrespected by majority-religions and the public, causing the religion to favor the name ‘Wicca’ over ‘Witchcraft’, which it was originally termed by Gerald Gardner. The Wiccan tradition is most commonly one that promotes peace and pacifism, believing that any harm or good a Wicca causes will be returned to them ‘threefold’. As of recent, counselors have become particularly concerned with the mental state of minority religion members, as those in the Wiccan cult tradition are particularly susceptible to being marginalized and can develop stress, anxiety and depression just based on the dissonance they receive from the public, and the internal conflicts they may face.
In summary: Cults are very diverse and unique, in which not all of them end up in tragedy at the hands of a narcissistic and manipulative leader, like the People Temple. Some minority religions and cults need a second and more appreciative look to fully understand the belief system, such as LaVeyan Satanism. In the case of the Wiccans, these minority-religion members should be treated with more sympathy and care as the harsh judgement the public gives them are very detrimental to their psychological health.
Thank you for reading! 🙂
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