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Analyzing the Cult Mentality

In The Outlook this week, we covered a story about an alleged luring of students on campus by a religious group to an off-campus location. Previous members have even referred to this group as a “cult.” 

According to Merriam Webster, a cult is defined as a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.

In res ponse to this, some of the editors responded to questions about religious cults and cult mentalities.

When asked what constitutes cult behavior, one editor said, “I think people who join cults are most likely vulnerable and therefore susceptible to something that they believe will give them acceptance or validation.

Group-think probably plays a big part in keeping people in line with the cult’s ideology, and fear is probably used to instill loyalty to the cult leader.”

Another editor said, “When I think of cults I think of brainwashing. There is one person in charge who persuades people to follow them and think the way they think.”

One editor noted, “I think that usually the people who get involved in these cults are broken in some aspect and they’ll cling to any belief, even a bad one, to find comfort and belonging.”

Some of the editors are familiar with the idea of cults but cannot list too many. However, a few cults were mentioned. “The only religious cult I can think of is Jonestown and the ‘Kool-Aid’ tragedy,” said one editor. 

The Jonestown Massacre involved a mass suicide of members of Jim Jones’ the People’s Temple, in which group members were encouraged to drink Kool-Aid that was laced with cyanide and sedatives. 

Another editor said, “Well, I think that the Manson family is definitely one of them.” 

Focusing on how cults can indoctrinate people with false information, one editor mentioned hearing a survivor’s story. “I recently watched a TED Talk about a girl who grew up in a religious cult and then fled with her entire family,” the staffer said. “She realized that the cult did not support strong, female leaders and pressed its own ideals on its members. What she was taught to believe was heaven was actually hell and she had to get out.”

A different editor said, “I have personally seen a lot of information circulating regarding the Church of Scientology, especially with allegations of abuse, rape, and sexual misconduct among the high-ranking church members. Those that are able to escape from Scientology claim that the institution is using personal information that they provided for the church in exchange for ‘spiritual enlightenment’ to then be used against them on the outside.”

Many of the editors agree that cults prey on insecurity to lure members.  “For those who have completely lost faith, cults might take them in at their weakest,” said an editor. “Also, I assume many cults promise some sort of after life or end goal, but those in charge know well that there’s a more sinister agenda.”

The editors also agree that deception and extortion are used.  “Using women is a way to lure individuals because typically women are perceived as trustworthy,” said an editor.

This luring was not mentioned with a warning by the University and the editors agree there should’ve been a notification. “Monmouth should absolutely respond to these claims,” said an editor. “It is a major safety issue that people are attempting to lure students. There needs to be increased security.”

An editor commented, “I am concerned for my safety. Since hearing these claims, I’ve found myself feeling a little nervous when I’m walking around on my own. It’s just creepy and while Monmouth can’t do much about off campus incidents, they need to do a better job of securing our campus.”

Our campus is filled with blue lights that someone can press if they are afraid or nervous, and Monmouth University Police Department (MUPD) will be dispatched to that specific location. If you experience any strange activity on campus, The Outlook strongly encourages our readers to  call MUPD at 732-571-4444.