Groups Targeted by the CCM
As described in our essay on cults, sects and
denominations the word cult has been used to refer to many different
styles of worship or religious groups. We will deal with four meanings of "cult"
- the ones attacked by the Counter-Cult Movement:
||Christian faith groups whose beliefs deviate significantly from
historical, mainline Christianity. For example:
||The Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian
group that has unique beliefs concerning the Trinity and the battle of
||The Mormon Church is a Christian group with
unique beliefs concerning the ancient history of America and of the
nature of heaven
||Established non-Christian faith groups. For example:
||Wicca is a non-Christian religion,
derived from ancient pagan beliefs and practices of Northern Europe
||Santeria is a syncretistic religion
centered in the Caribbean which combines elements of Roman Catholicism
and of ancient African aboriginal religions.
||New or emerging religion or faith groups. For example:
||The Church of Scientology was founded in
1954 and is based on the writings of L.R. Hubbard.
||Eckankar is a religion with ancient roots
which was established in its current form by Paul Twitchell in 1970.
||Covenantal or Spiritual Communities. These are intentional
communes formed by people following a single religious or philosophical
Christian Faith Groups
There in excess of 1,000 Christian denominations, sects and other faith
groups in North America. The exact number can never be determined because new
groups are continually being created even as older groups disbanding or merging.
Some groups hold novel beliefs which put them outside of the main thrust of
Christianity in North America. Some non-traditional beliefs are:
||People can become Gods.
||The organization's leader is considered a modern day prophet with a
direct channel to God
||They deny the Trinity
||They deny the Godhood of Jesus; they consider Jesus to have been just a
||They deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit; they consider the Holy
Spirit to be an impersonal force
||Personal salvation is achieved through good works, or by a combination
of faith and works
||Hell does not exist as a place of eternal
||They add new scriptures to the Bible
||They maintain an isolation from other Christian groups
In common with other Christians, they frequently teach that:
||Their faith group is the only true church.
||They are a Christian group.
Groups which are often accused of being cults are:
Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses,
Seventh Day Adventists, Unification
Unity Church, the Worldwide
Church of God
(before its recent changes), and hundreds of others.
Unfortunately, in the minds of many Christians, the various unrelated
meanings of the word "cult" get blurred. These faith groups are assumed by many
to be evil mind control or destructive cults. Once a neutral term, "Cult" has
lately become a snarl word. It's often used to direct hatred and intolerance
towards other religious organizations. The word is used with great effectiveness
by the CCM; they direct the public's fear of truly
destructive cults (like the People's Temple at Jonestown and the Branch
Davidians at Waco) against faith groups that the CCM feels are not doctrinally
Of course, religious movements may not be involved in mind control or
life-threatening doomsday beliefs and still be somewhat dangerous to their
membership. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses actively
discourage blood transfusions among their membership; the
Christian Science church encourages non-medical healing techniques; the
Roman Catholic Church actively discourages some methods of birth control or
health-related abortions. These policies have
resulted in early deaths to a small minority of their members.
Most organizations in the CCM appear to work from within a conservative
Christian belief system. Their prime goal is to expose and fight what they
believe is heresy. Misinformation by organizations within the CCM has generated
a climate of fear and intolerance towards many Christian groups whose only "crime"
is to hold different interpretations of fundamental beliefs.
Established Non-Christian and Emerging Faith Groups
There are many hundreds of religious organizations in North America which are
non-Christian. These include all of the other great
religions of the world, and hundreds of small established groups from
to Zoroastrianism. There are also hundreds of
alternative and emerging religions in North America which have been recently
These groups are often targeted by mainline Christian churches, by the ACM
and CCM. Again, the term "cult" is sometimes used to imply that they engage in
evil practices. Some of these attacks are based upon misinformation; for example
Wicca etc. are parts of the occult which engage in black magic and are
related to Satanism. Meanwhile, Satanists have been
falsely accused of kidnapping, sexually abusing and ritually
Other attacks on non-Christian and emerging groups are based upon an
inability to understand a faith that is so different from their own; for example
calling Hinduism a Satanic religion, or condemning
animal sacrifices in Santeria while acknowledging the
same activities amongst ancient Israelites as perfectly normal.
Very few churches teach about other religions in their child or adult classes
in a way that creates respect for these faith groups. Some liberal churches and
religious organizations do have courses in comparative religion, but these are
in a small minority. Many books about other religions which are sold in
Christian bookstores are filled with misinformation and spread lies, hatred and
Covenantal or Spiritual Communities:
These have often been targeted by the CCM and others as mind control cults.
Many Child Protection Service workers have raided intentional communities,
assuming that child abuse is rampant. These are "live-in" communes, primarily
located in rural areas. Their purpose is to promote a specific religious or
philosophical belief system. They often isolate themselves from mainstream
society. Many of their members enter as young adults. Like religious communities
throughout history, (convents and monasteries) many require their members to
adhere to a onerous schedule of work and/or prayer, to keep to a strict diet,
and to conform to other strict rules of the group. Some are organized along
democratic lines; others are autocratic. Member's parents, relatives and friends
may become alarmed at their participation in the group. These concerns can be
||lack of information about the group's beliefs,
||breakdown of communication between the member and family,
||misinterpretation of the member's devotion to the group
||alarming information in the media about other unrelated groups which use
dangerous mind control techniques.
Members often stay for a few months or years and then leave the movement when
it ceases to be a positive experience. Some exit gracefully and move on with
their lives. Others leave on bad terms, having concluded that their time in the
commune has been wasted. A few of the latter go public with their criticisms.
Related essay on this web site:
Copyright © 1997 to 2007 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-JUN-30
Author: B.A. Robinson