Fringe elements

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  • #10988

    Andrew
    Participant

    Why are some people drawn to fringe religions and cults? Even a dear friend admitted to belonging to a cultish Christian group for reasons he could not explain. As an atheist, I try to understand it, but these people seem to need to suspend reality in the comfort of religion. I was brought up in Catholic schools but never could embrace religion. I felt like I saw it for what it was.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Andrew, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 30, City : Melbourne, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : IT professional, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #42179

    JerryS
    Member

    The need to believe in something is nearly universal; there are not, to my knowledge, any societies that are completely irreligious. To put it most uncharitably, the idea that god(s) control the universe keeps us from having to deal with the idea that the universe is completely random and life totally without meaning. As for cults and fringe religions, they tend to be extremely authoritarian and restrictive, and that appeals to some people. Like being tucked into bed, the constraints are comforting. Again, I’m being very uncharitable – in the spirit of your question.

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    Name : JerryS, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 52, City : New Britain, State : CT Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #16039

    ACC25082
    Participant

    Just about any American Indian can tell you from experience how much they are forced to deal with New Age and so-called ‘shamanism’ cults. The situation has gotten bad enough that some tribes bar outsiders during their ceremonies and have issued warnings or even filed lawsuits against the worst exploiters. I’d say, from looking at these New Agers, that five things drive their involvement: Abuse-it truly astonishes me how many New Agers are victims of abuse, terminally or chronically ill, or have other mental problems. These people are easy prey for slick con men using religion as a cover. Prejudice-many of these fringe groups are overtly or covertly racist. I don’t mean just the obvious ones. Many New Age groups that claim to admire Native people are quite racist towards us when you get down to it. Many of them admire racist books like The Education of Little Tree, written by a Grand Wizard of the KKK and speechwriter for George Wallace, Forrest Carter. Some New Age cults, like Harley ‘Swiftdeer’ Reagan’s ‘Deer Tribe’, are paramilitary doomsday cults who are preparing for race war. As bizarre as it sounds, they are whites who ‘play Indian’ and train to fight actual Natives and Latinos. These fringe cults provide an outlet for prejudice of the most extreme kinds to find shelter. Escapism- there a fantasy element to these groups, an insulated bubble where a cult leader can make up their own rules. Harley Reagan’s followers make porn movies which they then market as ‘Cherokee Sex Magic’. This fantasy even appealed to the executives at HBO, who aired a special on and were then forced to apologize to the Cherokee Nation. Alienation-how many of these cult members come from stable homes? Many of their poor followers are so desperate to belong somewhere. Exploitation-a cult settting is ideal for con artists. Many of these New Age frauds ‘franchise.’ This appeals to their more ambitious cult followers who hope that someday they might be the ones who are adored and showered with money and sex. Go online and you can see exploiters like Michael Harner offer ‘advanced shamanism courses’. The cycle of abuse is multiplied exponentially. The one thing we should never do is dismiss these groups as nuts. These groups DO have the ability to harm large numbers of people, and we should all work to halt this abuse.

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    Name : ACC25082, Race : Mexican and American Indian, Religion : Traditional American Indian/Catholic, City : Phoenix, State : AZ Country : United States, Occupation : Teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower class, 
    #23722

    A-Urbonas23967
    Participant

    What is the truth? If the universe is random and life totally without meaning, (an idea grasped by society as a whole), then 1) there is no right or wrong, 2) there is no reason to love and 3.)chaos reigns. Yet for those who do believe in God, life has meaning, life has structure (moral right and wrong, physical and in life in general). Believers in God most often make the most difference in this ‘meaningless’ world. Looking more closely at disorder, from the atomic structure of an atom, to a cell, to plants and animals etc., there is a remarkable order and intelligence in design. Now who has eyes to see? If you ask me, the evidence is in favour of God.

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    Name : A-Urbonas23967, City : Edmonton, State : NA Country : Canada, 
    #39394

    Chandra
    Member

    I think people join ‘fringe’ religions because they are unhappy with their present church/religion/’holy’ people, or they may just be curious. It may be that people wish to separate themselves from ANYTHING they consider mainstream. I knew a girl who was into Wicca (witches & magic). She just seemed really fasciniated with the occult and supernatural things. I would be very, very careful, though about associating myself with something that I could not explain. You never know what you are getting yourself into! On another note, was your issue with embracing religion the Bible itself, the conduct/behavior of the priests, the church traditions, or the teachings that were clearly not Bible-based but taught anyway? I have found that sometimes people assert their own opinion as if it were a fact. It is MY opinion (which incidentally, is backed up by the Bible) that Christians should adhere only to the Bible as the ultimate authority, not a man or saint or a tradition. Don’t give up on the thought of a higher power or supreme creator just yet; keep looking til you find a religion that will teach you the truth about who God is and what he stands for. Just because YOU don’t beleive in Him does NOT mean that he doesn’t actually exist. Just a thought…

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    Name : Chandra, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Jehovahs Witness, Age : 26, City : Detroit, State : MI Country : United States, Occupation : Secretary, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #27810

    Ben S.
    Participant

    These days the more ‘correct’ sociological term is ‘new religious movements’, rather than ‘cults’ and ‘fringe religions’, probably because those terms are value-laden and these religions are a pretty diverse bunch. I believe some people belong to these groups because they need to define themselves as against the broader society, so adopting the stance of belonging to an ‘exclusive’ group helps in defining themselves. Other members may join an NRM because they do feel lost or confused by secular society. Some NRMs do seek to control members’ lives and this may provide direction to a person’s life that is otherwise lacking. A more positive interpretation is that some NRMs provide a rigorous method of discipline and this can help in developing the self, or in moving closer to the god or gods of the religion. Other people, and I include myself, belong to groups like this because they have a ‘secret teaching’ and we are curious about it. Some groups reveal their teaching slowly to members as a method of spiritual development. And sometimes, it’s just the plain fun of being weird and the desire to stretch one’s concept of reality by exploring an interesting area. I’ve learnt a lot of fascinating stuff by researching occult groups over the years. I should add that many NRMs don’t require that you ‘suspend reality’. Some do, but those are the ones to avoid. You need to keep a level head and retain a questioning mind to explore this area.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Ben S., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : New Age/Metaphysical, Age : 35, City : Melbourne, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : corrections officer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #34249

    Matt
    Member

    While there are some people who do decide, ‘I think I’m going to go join an extremist religious sect because I need some fanaticism in my life,’ fringe groups usually go looking for members instead of the other way around. These groups heavily push their own members to recruit new members, and in some cases conceal just how extreme they are until the recruit has bought into their belief system. As for why they stay, it can either be the sense of belonging and meaning, not to mention support, they get from these groups, or fear of the consequences of leaving.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Matt, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 25, City : Oxford, State : GA Country : United States, Occupation : Engineer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #45422

    Kate25749
    Participant

    actualy discordia is more of a joke disguised as a religion, that or a religion disguised as a joke, the point is indefinateably debateable. but that is why I was drawn to this ‘religion’ in the first place I cant speak for those drawn to restrictive cults but discordia is anything but restrictive. however, growing up with no religous background, (my mother is sort of pagan/disenchanted cathloic and my dad ambigously christian)may have played a part in my likeing of discordia, afterall I found it in a book of comparitive religions under the ‘silly things’ catagory I like it because of that sillyness

    User Detail :  

    Name : Kate25749, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Discordia, Age : 17, City : Twisp, State : WA Country : United States, Occupation : student, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #28300

    Rosie B
    Member

    Freud said that the need for God is the pyscological need for a father figure.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Rosie B, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 16, City : Manchester, State : AL Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #32611

    Dwanny
    Participant

    Cult members who recruit are taught to go to bus, train and plane depots to look for runaways, and other lost souls. They prey on the vulnerable. A teen who has just run away from home and has been abused is looking for love and acceptance, and these ppl tell them they’ve found it. And then when they’ve got them hook, line, and sinker, it changes. The cult leaders are very charismatic and know what to say to these ppl.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Dwanny, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Pagan, Age : 53, City : Springtown, State : TX Country : United States, 
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