Are We wrong about Cults?

J. Baxter
J. Baxter
Apr 25 · 5 min read

The Dangerous Weaponizing of Words to Further the Bias of the Bigoted

It’s easy to recognize the word “cult” as a seedy scheming term that’s used by the sordid to deliver their age-old bigoted purpose. Cult, and interchangeably guru, are the favored go-to terms used by the spiritually prejudiced in place of the older previous standbys, heretic, blasphemer, infidel, or pagan. What we see emerging online today is a loathsome use of cult and guru.

These misused terms are used primarily to encourage intolerance for any spiritual leaders or independent thinkers who might dare to advance the envelope of common thought and philosophy beyond the dim-witted boundaries of those power-hungry or narrow minded few who would claim authority over our freedom to choose. There are those groups and leaders who may abuse their leadership talents, but this isn’t new. This kind of misuse has been going on since religions where first invented.

The Cyber prejudiced, those devious few who extol the virtues of being your campaigning cult bashers, those that push their camouflage of intolerance today, use these meanly intended terms to create anxiety, anger, and distrust, most often to manipulate you into following them and their chosen beliefs over your right to think for yourselves.

For this new breed of inquisitionist, cult is a convenient branding label meant expressly for harassment purposes that debase newly emerging spiritual leaders. In the past, they did primarily this as a tactic to separate them out from the more glorified established religions or mainstay status quo associations. This still applies today, but abusively labeling a spiritual teacher as a cult leader is indubitably a spineless use of contemporary bigotry, exploited by those new Cyber extremists to sustain our cultural susceptibility to hatemongering, which they typically crowdfund and exploit solely to promote their own brand of beliefs.

In Indo-Eastern cultures the term guru has long been an honorable symbol of veneration extended to any teacher who might guide a student from the twilight of ignorance into the full light of wisdom. Presently, cult has no redeeming contexts whatsoever. This wasn’t always so. Not long-ago cult was defined as “a system of outward forms and ceremonies used in worship, religious rites and formalities.” It was moreover used as “a verbal homage to a venerable person.” Something apparently changed all that. Plain and simple, cult has been recycled by the ambitiously prejudiced into a slur, an affront, a sardonic accusation that’s unethically applied to condemn, to move people to feel indignant toward other’s beliefs. While at the same time, getting people to feel more righteous about their own dubious viewpoints. Sadly, at a calamitous cost of burning down our societies needed diversity of contrasting viewpoints. Using the term cult is now nothing less than a smear ploy used by the unscrupulous as a sham tactic to secretly capitalizes on the fearful or vulnerable through getting them to feel emboldened or legitimized.

Accusing a group of being a cult is correspondingly a telltale indicator, a compass needle that more often points to the user of that slur than it does to the intended target. It’s predictably a kind of gauge that detects the spiritually prejudiced by their clearly identifiable bark, “cult, cult, cult.” The judicious, the more adept analytical thinker, doesn’t require that. The conscious can think for themselves. With their sovereignty to elect and choose, serving as their best means to self-empowerment.

Only a few decades ago, before our Cyber revolution exploded into becoming our go-to-for-everything medium, those bigots were mostly restricted to preaching their poison in the streets. Currently, we find them everywhere online, bolstered by their abuse of the first amendment, our freedom of speech. Resultantly we can now easily and instantaneously connect with more of those cult bashing fanatics than our Cyber travelers should have to stomach. The uncontested worst of those fanatics being a shabby tabloid hate-instigator named Be Scofield. There’s no mistaking her bark.

In a more distant past, we suffered the horrors and evils of the “Tribunals of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.” Millions were tortured and died under their condemning gaze. Unfortunately, as we moved forward into our more educated age, we’ve let our wits grow lazy and unaware. The seeming educated among us, those who we commonly rely on as our guiding intellectuals, have erroneously imagined, — as an awakening society, we learned the hard lessons of those dark times. But alas, here we are again. In place of those inquisitor tribunals, we now have websites like Gurumag.com sprouting up like toxic tansies eager to carry on “the holy work.” Websites like Guruphilliac and Mathew Remsky come in at a distant second. Though these latter two are far less toxic and deceptive than Scofield and her small group of crassly obedient followers, who she shamelessly claims are not a cult.

In an effort to be accurate and legitimately reasonable, we should all chuck the abused cult word. There’s no saving it or bringing it back to reason now. Cult is merely a convenient prejudiced use that’s been custom-formed by the new inquisitionists to further and spread an unhealthy societal ethos of fear. It’s far more sensible to call a potentially abusive spiritual person or context of questionable spiritual teachings as hypothetically dubious or possibly unsafe for the unaware spiritual seeker. Those self-aggrandized guru-bashing sentinels we now find sullying our Cyber networks with a fear of the boggy man are not only reckless, they are a clear sign of a new societal reprogramming and regression that’s designed to take us back into the dark ages.

From the 60s through the 80s we experienced a lively and uplifting spiritual revolution, a kind of self-discovery, a cultural renaissance that arose through the fresh unspoiled minds of the youthful and adventuresome. Wistfully, this upswing of genius and independent thought was traumatized by the sudden arrival of two or three radical fringe groups that led people to catastrophic consequences. But this unforeseen rise and fall of fear didn’t die there. While most of the spiritually minded pushed on to reignite the surge for self-discovery, the current inquisitionists have over the last decade managed to bring that fear back to life through their ambition-driven efforts. Though it’s more likely that you’ll be struck by lightning three times than find yourself in a group like those, spiritual hope and curiosity is now saddled with this unnecessary fear pathology that’s not likely to vanish anytime soon.

Hopefully, the freer thinkers and more adventurous youth of our times will break the shackles of that kind of fear mongering again and bring this vitally needed revolution back into play.

Check out my website with more articles on that subject.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade