A cult is a ritualistic group of followers of specific subjects, be they a person, object, religion, etc.
In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings ("scriptures"), its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. Cult in this primary sense is literally the "care" (Latin cultus) owed to the god and the shrine. In the specific context of Greek hero cult, Carla Antonaccio has written, "The term cult identifies a pattern of ritual behavior in connection with specific objects, within a framework of spatial and temporal coordinates. Ritual behavior would include (but not necessarily be limited to) prayer, sacrifice, votive offerings, competitions, processions and construction of monuments. Some degree of recurrence in place and repetition over time of ritual action is necessary for cult to be enacted, to be practiced"
Cult is embodied in ritual and ceremony. Its present or former presence is made concrete in temples, shrines and churches, and cult images (denigrated by Christians as "idols") and votive deposits at votive sites.
By extension, "cult" has come to connote the total cultural aspects of a religion, as they are distinguished from others through change and individualization.
On Beyond BordersEdit
Criminal cults featured in Beyond Borders:
- The Brunswick Mission Church ("Lost Souls") - A 23-member group in Texas led by Elijah Ward, which staged its own mass abduction as part of its plan to establish a permanent paradise. The female members were all brainwashed into obedience towards Elijah, and taken against their will. The cult was eventually dismantled when the IRT rescued the women and arrested Elijah and the male members.
Real World Edit
Some noteworthy real life cult leaders include: