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Reflection essay topics: Religious cults and sects - a basic human freedom or threat to social unity?
The difference between a cult and a sect is slight: cults are normally created as a consistent self-sufficient worship, normally adorative, whereas sect is an alternative worship, broken off from the main religion. Whereas well-established religious sects like scientology are commonly recognized and approved, cults nowadays constitute a considerable ratio of public concerns, especially so-called destructive cults, which include Satanism and Order of the Solar Temple, which might imply animal or even human sacrifice. Nevertheless, the credibility of sects is also questionable, since such groups are characterized with secret and limited membership.
Major thesis statements:
1) Both cults and sects should be banned, as they abuse public beliefs in morality, decentness and goodness.
2) Sect membership refers to the human right to select between worships, but cults are unquestionably destructive, so they should be prohibited.
3) Religious leaders of some sects and cults often use the banned tools of influence on individual or group consciousness: hypnosis or NLP.
4) The pseudoreligious practices, utilized by some cults and sects, often attract teenagers and further inevitably affect their consciousnesses.
5) Most atrocity stories, positioned and described in close relation to religious cults and sects, are in fact the results of the journalist's imagination and inventiveness.
6) Religious cult is an issue of primitive proto-society, so the countries believed to be civilized and well-developed, should eradicate and abolish such groups.
Primary issues to discuss:
1) Are cults and sects popular nowadays? How can this diversity turn into the threat of disintegration?
2) Does worship determine human social behavior? Provide examples.
3) New religious movement often includes the combination of several religious approaches or doctrines. Discuss the motivation for the establishment of such organizations (sects and cults). Can such movements be classified as hate groups?
4) Consider the impact of the deterioration of American unity on the common well-being and the country's prosperity.
1) Clarke, P. (ed.) Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
2) Jenkins, P. Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
3) Saliba, J. A. Understanding New Religious movements, 2nd edition. Walnut Creek, Lanham: Alta Mira Press, 2003.
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Selected topics for reflection essay were split into two categories:
Religion and society
Teaching religion at public schools
Religious cults and sects
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