Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
List of controversial new religious movements
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

List of controversial new religious movements

This list of controversial new religious movements includes every group that has a lot of controversy around it, relative to its size. The list does not include groups that clearly fit the profile of a cult. These are included in the list of purported cults.

Table of contents
1 Church of Scientology
2 Elan Vital
3 Jews for Jesus
4 "Osho" Rajneesh's "Sannyasins"
5 Sahaja Yoga
6 Sathya Sai Baba
7 The Temple of Set
8 Others
9 External links

Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard, uses a form of psychotherapy called Dianetics that some people claim is designed to hypnotize members into a more weak-minded and paranoid state. A sub-organization of the church -- known as the Sea Organization -- has paramilitary trappings, but is not armed. Critics also say the church seems to function as a for-profit organization, as it requires fixed-price donations for many of its services, which are required to advance in orders. An extensive discussion of the cult allegations against Scientology are included in the Wikipedia article on the church.

On its Web site, Scientology says it is not a cult but "a religion in the fullest sense of the word." It also says:

Scientology is unique in that it does not require or tell anyone to "believe" anything. Rather, Scientology believes every individual should think for himself. In Scientology, what is true for the individual is only what he has observed personally and knows is true for him. Scientology is not authoritarian, but offers a technology one can use and then decide whether it works for him.


Elan Vital

Elan Vital, see also Maharaji

Jews for Jesus

Some Jewish critics have called Jews for Jesus a cult or claim it uses cultlike tactics to seek converts. They claim that it often deceives people in saying who they are and exploits people's religious insecurities. Many of the critics sharply disagree with the organization's claim that it is possible to become a Christian yet remain Jewish.

The organization says in a letter to a member on its Web site that those concerned about Jews for Jesus being a cult have "been influenced by propaganda promulgated by those who would detract from the credibility of your witness and ours. Some Jewish community leaders spread this kind of misinformation in order to counteract Jewish evangelism, which they erroneously consider a threat to Jewish survival. ... If your friend finds Jesus as her Savior, she will measure our doctrine and our conduct in the light of the Scriptures. Then she will know that Jews for Jesus is not a cult."


"Osho" Rajneesh's "Sannyasins"

This controversial and iconoclastic guru (1931-1990) has considerable influence in the "New Age" circles of some countries (Brazil for instance), where his books are sold in mainstream bookstores with nearly as much acceptance as those of the Dalai Lama. His teachings emphasize the search for personal freedom (definitely including sexual activity), often to the point of damaging ethical discernment and leading to enthusiastic yet destructive behavior. His books are often very caustic in their criticism of many institutions and traditional teachings. His followers caused the Wasco County, Oregon scandal (involving political fraud and salmonella poisoning). Much of the information about him is of dubious quality, such as his death supposedly being caused by poisoning with radioactive Thallium.

While it may have been a cult once, nowadays, few people are active in a hierarchically organized group based on the organizational lineage of Rajneesh. Some people may be involved in several unhealthy cult-like groups based on the teachings of Rajneesh.


Sahaja Yoga

Sahaja Yoga is a
cult of personality, led by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. Members advertise this new religious movement, also known as Vishwa Nirmala Dharma, as a "unique form of meditation." Critics and former members call Sahaja Yoga a form of brainwashing designed to recruite new members who are expected to devote their lives to recruiting more members and enriching the cult's founder, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.

Former members report that new recruits are led to believe that they have been "enlightened," or given their "self realization," at their first meeting. Former members now believe this is a means of gaining new recruits.

Once recruited, new and veteran cult members are expected to donate significant amounts of money to "projects in India," "puja dakshinat," and "gifts" for Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, a former devotee of the guru, Osho who claims to be the adishakti or God.


Sathya Sai Baba

Many ex-members like e.g Glen Meloy consider the
Sathya Sai Organisation that was founded by Sathya Sai Baba a cult. The reason is that these ex-members say that the allegations of sexual abuse carried out by Sathya Sai Baba are correct and the Sathya Sai organization refuses to properly investigate these. Ex-member Robert Priddy who maintains an extensive website about Sathya Sai Baba believes that it is a secretive, autocratic personality cult that has strong cultic characteristics.

Followers purport Sathya Sai Baba's group is not a cult because it displays atypical characteristics like charity and tolerance towards other beliefs. Also, it does not claim to be the only way to God and truth, and does not advocate proselytizing. They point out that often cults will expect their adherents to abandon worldly duties and to severe ties with their families, which is something Sathya Sai Baba has explicitly said not to do.


The Temple of Set

Lupo LeBoucher, a former member, had this to say about the
Temple of Set:

"More trivially, they are your typical mail-order cult in any number of ways. They require large amounts of participation on the parts of their members, to the extent that participation in the group becomes a central organizing principle in their lives. They sponsor getaway vacation/conventions which all members are required to attend. They have strict hierarchy, a charismatic leader and apocalyptic prophecy (the "Gifted of Set" are supposed to survive an upcoming apocalypse, according to their Seminal document "The Book of Coming Forth By Night" - though lately they have been making noises that this is only a metaphorical apocalypse [perhaps to avoid legal intervention in the wake of other post apocalytics, such as the Branch Davidians and the Solar Temple mass suicides, and the Aum nerve gas attacks; there was literal belief in this passage as prophecy in the not-too distant past]. They have a number of secret documents which one must have certain levels of "attainment" to read; much like the OT grade documents of Scientology. They have all manner of bizarre theories about atlantis, ancient astronauts, "Tesla Physics," a theory of creationism, holocaust revisionism, and so on..."


Note that a quick survey of Usenet posts and Internet web pages will likely show that those who disagree with Lupo LeBoucher are as numerous as those who agree with them. Further, while it is easy to find those who agree with him among past members of the Temple, it is equally easy to find those who disagree with him among past members of the Temple, as is the case with any purported cult.


Group in Sedona, Arizona. Subject of a critical segment on Dateline NBC; the son of a member maintains a website [1] critical of the group.

Critics--including a number who are former church members--have made charges of cultlike behavior against the LDS Church. [1] [1]. Most of the active faithful in this religion do not share such opinions. Certainly, in comparison to other groups heretofore listed, the "cult effect" is very slight-- and the major detractors to this religion are making a profitable business at being anti-Mormon.[1]

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a quasi-spiritual group that practices Qigong with some overtones of Taoism and especially Buddhism. The group became so popular in China (alleged to have at one point upwards of 100 million adherents) that it was repressed and eventually criminalized as a cult by the Chinese Communist Government of the People's Republic of China. It has remained relatively popular regardless, and has gained a sizable following internationally as well. Some see it as harmless exercise, yet the public statements and methods of Falun Gong's founder, Li Hongzhi (now living in the U.S), seem controversial to many more traditional Qigong schools (schools not necessarily sympathetic to the communists) as well as the Chinese Government.

Holiday Magic combined personal development with commercialism, subsuming both Mind Dynamics and Leadership Dynamics within its organisation. It allegedly treated participants with extreme physical rigor. Erhard Seminars Training may have partially evolved from Holiday Magic.

A high-profile group in the 1930s led by Father Divine who claimed to be God. Since his death in 1965, followers of the movement have dwindled nearly to the point of extinction.

Satisfied participants characterize Landmark, a derivative of est, as "just a business". Others, less charitably inclined towards the company, suggest that brainwashing might account for devotees' fanatical devotion to unpaid recruitment for Landmark seminars. The sometimes controversial reputation of founding guru (formerly known as "The Source") Werner Erhard often muddies debate on the alleged merits of Landmark's innovative (or psycho-babble) "technology".

The National Caucus of Labor Committees, World LaRouche Youth Movement, the Schiller Institute and various other front groups.

The teachings, methods and results of Lifespring and its offshoots appear comparable to those of Landmark.

The exclusive branch of the Plymouth Brethren are considered as a cult by most other Christians, and non-religious observers as well.

Some individuals who watch cults like Anton Hein, Rick Ross and Steven Hassan consider Al Qaida a cult.

External links

News / News Archives

This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by [ expanding it].