Many believers in the religions using the Quran and the Bible as their basic holy texts say the texts in these books should not be interpreted literally. Instead, they say we should interpret the passages within these books as metaphors and allegories illustrating fundamental messages contained within these passages. So it was, that while reading some passages in the Quran and the Bible, I was struck by the similarities between the passages in these books. When you view many of these passages, you realize that the texts of the Quran and the Bible are guidelines, and illustrations of deviant religious behavior typical of cults and sects!
This sounds dramatic, and it is dramatic. So let's start at the beginning. What is a cult? What is a sect? Is a cult something different from a sect? How are these defined? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Sociological studies reveal several factors possessed by destructive cults. Click here, here, here, and here for several very good articles on the common manifestations of cults. When you study these properties in relation to the fundamental meanings of the messages contained within Quran and the Bible texts, you realize that the first followers of these religions were actually no more than members of evil cults lead by incredibly opportunistic and ruthless leaders!
An analysis of the meanings of basic passages in the Quran and the Bible reveals the truth of this. I used a modified version of the 14 criteria from the book Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias, (Bay Tree Publishing), together with other cult characteristics from various studies (see the links above) to illustrate the truth of this statement with passages from the Quran and the Bible. So what are the properties of cults, and what are the texts in the Quran and the Bible proving that the first followers of the religions using these books as holy texts were members of deviant and evil cults? I have listed some of these properties below.
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"Aha!" is the reaction of many people to these statements and to the passages of holy text below. "But these texts were never meant to be interpreted literally. Instead, they are allegories, parables and metaphors from which you can distil a true message from God." However, there are also many people who believe such statements are tantamount to heresy. They say the Quran and the Bible are meant to be read as is - literally. There is a big problem here. For example, just consider this passages in the Quran and the Bible.
When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. This is because they acted adversely to Allah and His Messenger; and whoever acts adversely to Allah and His Messenger-- then surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil). Quran 8:12-13
The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open. Bible, Hosea 13:16
Are these metaphors for the wishes of the one true merciful and forgiving God? Or are these literal statements of what the believers think God wants them to do to these vile and depraved unbelievers? Many other equally bloodthirsty, and incredibly vile passages are found throughout the Quran and the Bible. But, regardless of whether these passages are bloodthirsty or not, which parts are meant as metaphors, and which parts are simply statements of fact? Who knows which of these two schools of thought is correct. I certainly do not know. However, regardless of which of these two methods of interpretation is correct, these allegories, metaphors, or parables supposedly demonstrating and illustrating the wishes of God, actually reveal a system of thought typical of destructive cults. Many of these stories illustrate antisocial, cruel, or callous behavior sanctioned by God as "good" or "holy". Moreover many passages reveal how natural events are ruthlessly exploited to bind followers with superstitious terror. At the same time ignorance and faith are praised above reasoned argument. The list goes on and on.
But then many believers come with the reaction, "You have ripped these citations totally out of the context in which they were meant to be interpreted! So what you are saying is total nonsense. You can always find a part sentence, or a short piece of text to support any opinion." People saying these things can click on the links provided, or read the appropriate parts of their holy books to see for themselves whether these citations have been torn out of context, and can only come to the conclusion that they are used appropriately within the context they were placed.
However, if these passages are placed within context, while other passages reveal an opposite message mercy and love, then this raises the question of consistency. Which of the two types of message is correct? The Quran and the Bible contain the revelations of the messengers of God. Yet God is supposedly perfect, so God cannot be fickle and inconsistent. This can only mean that the interpretation of the revelations of God by these messengers was deficient, resulting in texts which are inconsistent, sometimes cruel and horrid, at other times full of love and charity. So which of these messages is true? Do these inconsistencies mean that the Quran and the Bible are flawed books whose message should be ignored? Or does this mean that because God revealed these messages, that these texts are all true, and that God is fickle, inconsistent, full of hatred for humankind, and cruel?
The last refuge of those contending this interpretation of the Quran and the Bible is to say that the translations of the texts of these books in modern Western languages are incorrect. In the case of the Bible, simply enormous amounts of energy and money have been invested in ensuring the most accurate translations of the original texts possible. So the original texts of the Bible have been translated accurately by these scholars. Then we come to the Quran. We read in verse 14:4 of the Quran that God wants the message of the Quran made available in the mother tongues of the people to whom it is preached. And indeed, the highest religious authorities of Islam support this idea. The interested reader can learn about the qualities of the different English translations of the Quran by clicking on the link for the very good article by Khaleel Mohammed published in 2005. The translation used here differs in no way from the better translations, so the passages cited here are also accurate renditions of the 7th century Meccan Arabic dialect spoken by Mohammed.
So when you study the texts of the Quran and the Bible, you cannot help but come to the conclusion that these books prove that the first followers of Christianity and Islam were no more than members of evil and destructive cults whose members considered themselves better than all unbelievers. The passages below are clear demonstrations of the proof of this statement.
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A Cult offers something desirable: People join cults or become members of a group, because membership offers something desirable, something that fills a void in their lives, or something that is both emotionally satisfying as well as individually profitable. And indeed, Islam and Christianity offered things to their first followers that were highly desirable.
In the case of the followers of Islam, membership of the cult, combined with ability to wield a sword and use a spear to good effect, conferred enormous personal wealth, and ensured the first few desert warrior members personal riches, high status, many women, and a certain place in heaven with even more women, together with unheard of comforts and pleasures (see section in Cults want money and commitment:). Allah had formulated an ideal "business plan" for the male inhabitants of seventh century Arabia that ensured the rapid success of this cult.
The first members of the Christian sects were generally very poor people. They had no opportunity for plunder, and certainly had absolutely no opportunity to change their social positions in the societies in which they lived. Christianity offered them the attraction of a belief in the "one true God", and the prophet Jesus, who truly was the Son of God. This was all "proven" by the fact that Jesus was able to raise the dead, and even arise from the dead himself. This prophet told them to accept their lot on this earth, and not to resist, because this was all part of the inscrutable plan of God. And if they believed in him and his teachings, they would go to a life after death in a paradise, while their unbelieving masters, oppressors, and tormentors, would all undergo ghastly tortures for an eternity in hell. So as they suffered the cruelties inflicted upon them by their masters, they found hope and strength in the thought of a future eternal life after death in paradise, and a gloating satisfaction in the thought of the unspeakable, everlasting torments awaiting the souls of their masters in hell. Christianity was an ideal religion for the oppressed, the poor, slaves, captives, and women. No other religions offered this surety, or these comforts, and so Christianity became hugely popular.
Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Bible, Romans 12:17-21
(Put simply, help your enemies and oppressors while alive. God will avenge you by punishing their souls horribly for all eternity once they are dead.)
Allah has promised you many gains that ye shall acquire, and He has given you these beforehand; and He has restrained the hands of men from you; that it may be a Sign for the Believers, and that He may guide you to a Straight Path; Quran 48:20
(Allah promises his followers much booty, and that he will protect them from their enemies whom they were going to kill and capture, as well as take this booty.)
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Commitment to Leader: The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader, and regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, or even as Law.
He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. Bible, Matthew 12:30
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. Bible, John 14:6
(All very clear... If you do not follow the teachings of Jesus, you will certainly never go to heaven!)
This is embodied in the first of the five pillars of Islam: "There is no true god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah." This alone is enough to ensure the primacy of Mohammed, placing him next to God in importance.
He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse. Quran 9:33
(The Quran tells us much the same as the Bible. The message of Mohammed is the truth, which means all other religions are incorrect.)
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Exalted Status of Leader: The leader claims a special, exalted status: as the Messiah, a special being, an avatar, a messenger, or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
And straightway there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus thou Nazarene? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Bible, Mark 1:23-24
And when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him [Jesus]; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And demons also came out from many, crying out, and saying, Thou art the Son of God. And rebuking them, he suffered them not to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. Bible, Luke 4:40-41
And he [Jesus] spake to his disciples, that a little boat should wait on him because of the crowd, lest they should throng him: for he had healed many; insomuch that as many as had plagues pressed upon him that they might touch him. And the unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. Bible, Mark 3:9-11
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now, and I work. For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Bible, John 5:17-18
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth and am come from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me. Bible, John 8:42
Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son [Jesus] can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father [God] doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and greater works than these will he show him, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom he will. Bible, John 5:19-21
Behold! Allah took the Covenant of the Prophets, saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you a Messenger, confirming what is with you; do you believe him and render him help." Allah said: "Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses." Quran 3.81
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things. Quran 33:40
Say: I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your Allah is one Allah: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner. Quran 18:110
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Leader is Privileged: The cult leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders, or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations). Due to his status as leader, the leader also receives special dispensations and privileges not accorded other members of the cult.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, and she poured it upon his head, as he sat at meat. But when the disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. But Jesus perceiving it said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. Bible, Matthew 26:6-11
O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Mecca) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her; this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large): We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess; in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Quran 33:50
O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases): and Allah is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. Quran 66:1-2
And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger [Mohammed], and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer, if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to our Servant on the Day of Testing, the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things. Quran 8:41
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Ruthless Cult Leaders: Cult leaders make opportunistic and ruthless use of quite natural and other phenomena to "prove" they are especially chosen by God, and to demonstrate the divine powers supposedly invested in them by God.
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. Bible, Acts 5:1-11
(Why did Saint Peter not first inform Sapphira, and later their families about the deaths of these people. How did he dare bury them so quickly and without ceremony. These were dedicated followers, yet he treated them like dirt. These were no burials - this was garbage disposal! Saint Peter was clearly an evil power-hungry man. It is also very clear that Saint(?) Peter ruthlessly exploited this couple, who evidently had no family or friends to exact vengeance, or demand a normal decent burial! Read a detailed examination of this event, and why it proves the evil nature of Saint Peter in chapter 3 of The Unholy Legacy of Abraham)
Narrated Al-Bara: We were one-thousand-and-four-hundred persons on the day of Al-Hudaibiya (Treaty), and (at) Al-Hudaibiya (there) was a well. We drew out its water not leaving even a single drop. The Prophet sat at the edge of the well and asked for some water with which he rinsed his mouth and then he threw it out into the well. We stayed for a short while and then drew water from the well and quenched our thirst, and even our riding animals drank water to their satisfaction. Sunnah of Bukhari 56:777
(This is typical behavior of a shallow well, or one situated in relatively impervious ground. It takes time for such a well to fill. But just examine how Mohammed exploited this phenomenon. He took his time rinsing his mouth in the well - and hey presto - enough water!)
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Dictates of Leader: The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (e.g., members must get permission to date, change jobs, or marry, or leaders prescribe what to wear, where to live, whether to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
Read the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus in the Christian Bible, as well as the first half of the Islamic Quran. These texts contain exhaustive sets of rules covering most aspects of life.
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Elitist Nature of Cult: The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, as well as its members, claiming they are especially blessed or chosen by God, or that they are somehow more evolved and better than unbelievers.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory. Bible, Ephesians:1-14
Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith it were best for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors. Quran 3:110
Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings. Quran 98:6
Now what is the matter with the Unbelievers that they rush madly before thee, From the right and from the left, in crowds? Does every man of them long to enter the Garden of Bliss? By no means! For We have created them out of the (base matter) they know! Quran 70:36-39
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Discouraging Questioning: Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Faith in the truth of the beliefs propagated by the cult is paramount - logic and reason are discouraged.
The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all they that do his commandments: His praise endureth for ever. Bible, Psalm 111:10 (see also Bible, Job 28:28, Bible, Proverbs 9:10, Bible, 2 Chronicles 15:12-15)
(You do not need to understand - just fear God, and obey ... This is Biblical wisdom.)
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full. Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
(If you thoughts are not ones of slavish obedience to God, then God's "thought police" will find you, and punish you. What a wonderful way to live.)
This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and builded up in him, and established in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: Bible, Colossians 2:4-8
(Oh no! Be careful of reasoned argument, it might just cause you to suspend your slavish unthinking obedience...)
At that season Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: Bible, Matthew 11:25
Dissent, and questioning within Islam are viewed as heresy, or even apostasy. Islam tolerates neither.
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Mislead by Evil Forces: Those refusing to believe in the system of thought propagated by the cult are regarded as being misguided: under the influence of evil forces, mislead by their sinful bodies of flesh, specifically placed by God on this world to serve as bad examples, or blinded by God for some inscrutable reason so as to act as a bad example.
For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Bible, Romans 8:5-8
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:1-4
and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11
Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: but they will have a shameful punishment. Quran 3:178
Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts, so they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the Signs, they will not believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee; they (but) dispute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but tales of the ancients." Quran 6:25
We (too) shall turn to (confusion) their hearts and their eyes, even as they refused to believe in this in the first instance: We shall leave them in their trespasses, to wander in distraction. Quran 6:110
When thou dost recite the Qur-an, We put, between thee and those who believe not in the Hereafter, a veil invisible: And We put coverings over their hearts (and minds) lest they should understand the Qur-an, and deafness into their ears: when thou dost commemorate thy Lord - and Him alone - in the Qur-an, they turn on their backs, fleeing (from the Truth). We know best why it is they listen, when they listen to thee; and when they meet in private conference, behold, the wicked say, "Ye follow none other than a man bewitched!" Quran 17:45-47
Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur). Of the people there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day;" but they do not (really) believe. Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realise (it) not! In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: and grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves). Quran 2:7-10
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Cut Ties with Family & Friends: Subservience to the leader and group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Bible, Matthew 10:34-39
O ye who believe! take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong. Quran 9:23
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Restricted Social Contact: Members are encouraged, or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Look to yourselves, that ye lose not the things which we have wrought, but that ye receive a full reward. Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works. Bible, 2 John 1:7-11
Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them; Bible, Ephesians 5: 1-7
Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, Bible, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust. Quran 5:51
O ye who believe! take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: they will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: what their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom. Quran 3:118
O ye who believe! take not for friends Unbelievers rather than Believers: do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves? Quran 4:144
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Us-versus-Them: The group has a polarized, us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society. They may demonise all people who do not believe in the principles of the cult. Refusal to associate with non-believers and family result in conflicts with society, resulting in violence or conflict arising from the cult itself, or violence and conflict from the societies in which the cult finds itself. Martyrdom is one of the consequences of conflict between a cult and the surrounding society. (N.B. there is a bit of overlap with the demonization of unbelievers in the elitist aspect of cults in this aspect of cult sociology)
We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God's power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. Bible, 2 Corinthians 6:5-10
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:23 (my martyrdom is better than your martyrdom...)
They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): so take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks. Quran 4:89
But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Quran 9:5
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. Quran 9:29
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Mission to Convert: The group is preoccupied with converting and bringing in new members.
And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Bible, Matthew 28:18-20
If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). Quran-3:85
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Cults want money and commitment: Many cults measure the degree of commitment to the cult, as well as the level of spirituality members achieve, by the amount of money they bring into the cult. Some people burn all their bridges by donating all their possessions to the cult. This is true commitment. Others say they will donate certain amounts, and cult leaders will ensure they keep these promises. In general: the more people donate, the more blessings they receive from God.
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein they were gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need. And Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of exhortation), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race, having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' [Saint Peter] feet. Bible, Acts 4:29-37
(This is instant community. They misinterpreted an earth-tremor in a known earthquake region as divine proof of their belief. Cult members donate money and possessions. Some of them even donated everything they possessed, while others donated considerable sums of moneys. The sad story of Ananias and Sapphira below reveals that the "good" Saint Peter even checked whether the moneys donated were the exact sums promised by the donors.)
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." Bible, Acts 5:1-4
(I always wonder how you can actually lie to an omniscient God who knows your innermost thoughts... However, regardless of whether this story is simply a metaphor, or a parable, it reveals the basic principle of personal donation of properties to a cult, the control exerted by the leadership whether promised sums of money are actually paid to the cult, and severe criticism when a person fails to pay their promised donation in full.)
And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer, if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to our Servant on the Day of Testing, the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things. Quran 8:41
(Killing of vile unbelievers was enjoined upon all good followers of Islam by Allah. Allah could then begin torturing them in hell sooner than if they were permitted to die of old age. The possessions of the conquered unbelievers were forfeit to the holy followers of Islam, who gladly shouldered the responsibilities coming with possession of these goods and properties. Those followers of Islam killed while performing this holy work knew they would immediately go to paradise. Mohammed took one fifth of the booty for various purposes, which left these brave warriors of Allah with four fifths. Unbelievers received their just rewards in hell, and the followers of Islam got richer. This was the unbeatable "business-plan" of Allah to establish Islam. It was definitely a win-win situation for the initial leaders and followers of this new cult - Islam - and explains the explosive growth and popularity of Islam among the impoverished tribesmen of seventh century Arabia.)
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Departure from Group Punished: Threats, punishments, and even death for those leaving the cult. Hatred and punishment of apostasy. (Note that normal religious sects and denominations never do this. As long as the person is worshipping or respecting God, then it does not matter which sect, or religion they follow.)
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. Bible, John 15:4-6
For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the land which hath drunk the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receiveth blessing from God: but if it beareth thorns and thistles, it is rejected and nigh unto a curse; whose end is to be burned. Bible, Hebrews 6:4-8
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire. Bible, 2 Peter 2:20-22
They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein. Quran 2:217
Those who turn back as apostates after Guidance was clearly shown to them, the Evil One has instigated them and buoyed them up with false hopes. This, because they said to those who hate what Allah has revealed, "We will obey you in part of (this) matter"; but Allah knows their (inner) secrets. But how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs? Quran 45:25-27
Why should ye be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? Allah hath upset them for their (evil) deeds. Would ye guide those whom Allah hath thrown out of the way? For those whom Allah hath thrown out of the way, never shalt thou find the Way. They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): so take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks. Quran 4:88-89
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Belief in an end-time: Many religious cults propagate the idea of an end-time, a time when God destroys the world to usher in a new era when the universe is under total control of God, and when God judges the living and the dead. No-one escapes judgment - all are judged. This loving, just, and merciful God condemns all unbelievers, as well as the criminal and sinful, to unspeakable torments in hell for all eternity, while rewarding faithful believers with eternal bliss in heaven.
Then shall he [God] say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: Bible, Matthew 25:41
But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Bible, Matthew 24:29-31
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted and thou art in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Bible, Luke 16:22-28
And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. Bible, Revelation 20:15
When the Sky is cleft asunder; When the Stars are scattered; When the Oceans are suffered to burst forth; And when the Graves are turned upside down; (Then) shall each soul know what it hath sent forward and (what it hath) kept back. Quran 82:1-5
When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up; When the stars fall, losing their lustre; When the mountains vanish (like a mirage); When the she-camels, ten months with young, are left unattended; When the wild beasts are herded together (in human habitations); When the oceans boil over with a swell; When the souls are sorted out, (being joined, like with like); When the female (infant), is questioned, for what crime she was killed; When the Scrolls are laid open; When the World on High is unveiled; Quran 81:1-11
Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire; as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the Penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. Quran 4:56
But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be Companions of Hell-Fire. Quran 5:86
These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord: but those who deny (their Lord), for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), "Taste ye the Penalty of Burning!" Quran 22:19-22
This page last modified 3 June 2009