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Cults and New Religions. New Age Scientology Wicca Heaven’s Gate Other. Cultic Definitions.

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Cults and new religions

Cults and New Religions

New Age Scientology

Wicca Heaven’s Gate


Cultic definitions
Cultic Definitions

  • Cult – “religious practice” or “a new religious movement that often takes social stances based on modern world history” or “a dangerous social group taking extreme measures based on religious reasoning”

  • Religion – an organized practice and attempt to control and make sense of reality

    • After Jesus, Christianity was considered a “cult” to the Jews in Jerusalem

    • The United Methodist Church is a huge religious body in the United States, but it is considered a divisive cult in Germany

    • Most people get their information from media rather than informational discovery

      • Only cults that do something to make history get spoken

  • Cult Common Attributes and Stereotypes:

    • Founded by a Charismatic Leader

      • Charismatic – an attribute of charm that is easily and often followed

    • Leadership is Formally Spoken and Understood

    • Focused on Social or Political Reform

    • Practice Mystic Religious Practices

    • Shrouded in Layers of Secrecy

    • Attempt to “Brainwash” Members

    • Highly Evangelistic

    • Philosophical Dualistic towards Body and Soul

The church of scientology
The Church of Scientology

  • L. Ron Hubbard – (1911- 1986) former science-fiction author who is considered the founder of Scientology

    • Lived during World War II and felt he was “destined for greatness”

    • According to legend, he was made a “blood brother” of the Blackfoot tribe in Montana

    • Wrote Dianetics – main text of Scientology

      • True spiritual essence is trapped or restricted by past experiences, loss, pain, and unconsciousness that can be freed through “dianetic therapy”

    • All his writings are being engraved and safely stored so that future societies will learn from his teachings

    • He teachings were submitted to the APA (American Psychological Association), but they were dismissed

    • He founded the Dianetics Research Foundation (offered classes and taught “auditing”)

    • He is considered as one to be remembered constantly

  • Origins:

    • The world consists of pure energy (Theta) that manifests itself in individual expressions Thetans

    • By experiencing Scientology and its practice, one can fully live to the highest potential of the individual thetan

  • Famous: John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley

Scientology theory
Scientology Theory

  • “Applied Religious Philosophy” – attempt to combine universally true elements of all religious movement

    • Goal: full rehabilitation of a person’s innate spiritual self

  • A person is made of three parts: Body, Mind, and Spirit

    • Thetan – the life force that “is” a person

    • “The typical residence for the thetan is the skull”

    • Humans are spiritual beings that have a body; Not physical beings that have a soul

    • The thetan places in all human beings the search for meaning

    • The thetan is originally good, and “evil” is merely losing touch with this internal goodness

  • Reincarnation – thetans have travelled through time

  • Analytical and Reactive Minds:

    • Analytical Mind – sees and stores data

    • Reactive Mind – sees and records emotions and spirituality

    • Hubbard Electropsychometer (E-meter) – “Pinch Test”

      • Engram – the mental print an emotional experience makes on your Reactive Mind

  • Therefore, in order to realize one’s full potential, one must become free of the limitations of the reactive mind and activate the full spiritual potential of the thetan

Scientology practices
Scientology Practices

  • Orgs – the general term for Scientology’s missions, centers, or churches

    • Bust of Hubbard is on stage right between the lectern and the Scientology cross

      • Lectern – area in which a speaker stands to deliver a speech

    • Every org has an office that is symbolically empty (referencing Hubbard’s figurative presence)

    • Weekly worship service that look similar to Christian assemblies

  • 96 “official” sermons – most reference either Hubbard’s teaching or life story

  • Auditing – primary practice in Scientology

    • Process: Training, Rundowns, and Processing

    • Spiritual counseling between a Scientology minister and follower

    • Using the E-meter and specific questions, a minister traces life history in order to find engrams

    • With full understanding, engrams will be destroyed so that a person could live “fully human”

    • Auditing occurs on a “fee-per-service” basis that are on a graduated scale

  • The Bridge of Total Freedom – moving from preclears to Clears

    • Process can take up to two years

    • Once Clear, one can move through the 15 levels of OT (Operating Thetan)

    • The higher you are on the path; the more expensive the sessions can be

    • Costs can be lessened by training to train others

Scientology organization
Scientology Organization

  • Hubbard wrote a 24-volume manifesto on the structure of the church

    • It is hierarchical from the highest to the least

    • Highest officers live on the MV Freewindsout of Clearwater, FL

    • Each leader and org is evaluated on effectiveness and can lose their status with poor data reports

  • Church of Scientology International (CSI) – based in Los Angeles, CA

    • Responsible for the promotion and leadership of the church

    • Considered the Mother Church (which also serves to license other churches)

  • Office of Special Affairs (OSA) – handles the legal responsibilities of the movement and its followers

  • Sea Organization – or “Sea Org”

    • The figure heads of the Scientology movement

    • Highest ranking officials are given special, secret knowledge that others cannot possess

    • The group lives in community and sign a “Billion Year Contact” to symbolize their commitment to furthering of Scientology in the world

  • Religious Technology Center – power behind the throne

    • Ensure that practices are exactly as Hubbard told

    • Counteracting those who infringe on trademarks of Scientology

    • Collection and interpretation of the “data”

The new age movement
The New AgeMovement

  • JZ Knight – (1946-pres.) founder, by means of trance, of the formal New Age Movement

    • Judith Hampton – born in Roswell, New Mexico

      • Grew up poor farmers with an abusive father, from whom her mother divorced early in life

      • Went to a Baptist church and learned about God

      • She distanced herself from church upon trying to understand the actions of the God of the Old Testament

      • She left church when her cousin was publically called out by the preacher for putting on lipstick

      • She married and divorced (and she had two children)

      • Got a job at a local TV station and developed the nickname: “JZ”

    • Ramtha – 35,000 year-old warrior-mystic who manifested himself through the trance state of JZ Knight

      • Lived only one life in Onai, the port city of Atlantis

      • His family were refugees of the continent of Lemuria (treated as slaves)

      • He raised an army of Lemurians and attacked the Atlanteans

      • He realized that “He was God” after looking at the injustice in the world

    • Ramtha told JZ to start something great, to invite people to trance sessions, and to charge them $100 a session

    • She founded the Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE)

  • Famous: Shirley MacLaine, Carrie Fisher, and Linda Evans

New age philosophy
New Age Philosophy

  • Four Fundamental Beliefs:

    • Statement: “You Are God”

      • Your soul is apart of the Great Soul, so you therefore are the Great Soul

      • School is about “gnosis” – knowing that you are God

    • Mandate: Make Known the Unknown

    • Concept: Consciousness and Energy creates the Nature of Reality

      • Physical world is only one level of reality (the densest), but there are many more

      • 7 chakras - places of unique consciousness and energy to be awakened

      • One often visualizes the world they wish to create for themselves

    • Challenge: Conquer Yourself

  • There is an unseen order, the infinity of Thought, which is the equivalent of God

  • Practice of alternative health practices, focus on supernatural events, contact with discarnate entities, and belief in reincarnation

  • Most followers are women, have college degrees, and were raised in some traditional religious setting

    • Followers choose to pay for every session on DVD or to attend the RSE full retreats in Yelm, Washington

Heaven s gate cult
Heaven’s Gate Cult

  • Bonnie Lu Nettles (1924 – 1985) and Marshall Applewhite Jr. (1931-1997) – the founders of the Heaven’s Gate group

    • The become known as “Ti and Do”

    • Applewhite grew up as a strict Presbyterian, got married and had children, and soon realized he was struggling with homosexuality (which caused his divorce)

      • He worked within the academic sphere and was fired from two jobs for sexual interactions and “emotional instability”

      • In each, there was rumor of the background reason being sex

    • Nettles was raised in a Baptist home, left to explore metaphysics and New Age philosophy, and she became interested in astronomy and supernatural forces

    • Both found each other and opened a center for the discovery of metaphysics

    • They both began to believe that they were two “incarnations” of other beings put on earth (aliens)

  • They formed a monastic community that was progressively developing theories

  • Then, Nettles died of Cancer

Heaven s gate belief and practice
Heaven’s Gate Belief and Practice

  • Nettles and Applewhite had a “vision” and believed they were the prophets described in the book of Revelation

    • In the Bible, these prophets are resurrected and “taken up in the cloud”

    • They believed the “cloud” would take them to the physical Kingdom of Heaven

  • The wrote and published the “First Statement of Ti and Do” (which was a manifesto of physical implications of the Heaven’s Gate)

    • They believed their goal was to “restate the truth Jesus taught in a way that spoke to the current world”

    • They proposed that the goal was not to escape with world, but the goal was to fully live in the Kingdom

  • Growing to the Next Level

    • Process – renouncing the earthly ties and gaining a new name

      • 17 Steps – series of questions leading one to understand themselves

    • Commuting – establishing a mental connection with someone at the next level

    • Friction – learning from the partner what is restrictive

    • Uniforms – all should be one without individuality

  • Death was seen as a transfer to the Next Level

    • Halle-Bop Comet – passed Earth in 1997, Applewhite convinced his followers that there was a UFO in the tail of the comet that would physically take the bodies to the Next Level if they all “transferred to the next level” together


  • Gerald Gardner – (1884-1964) – English customs agent

    • Became a part of the Fellowship of Crotona (explored various witchcraft legends)

    • Found a coven of functioning witches in England and was initiated

      • Dorothy Clutterbuck – initiated Gardner on the eve of World War II (Operation Cone of Power)

      • Covens of witches attempted to prevent Hitler’s invasion of Great Britain by magic

    • He began to call modern witchcraft – Wicca

    • He wrote Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft

    • He also researched various other groups and practices and compiled them into his Book of Shadows

  • Although based in England, Wicca made its way to North America and various other European countries

  • Often the “covens” or different sects focus on fertility, paganism, or female goddesses

Wiccan practice and beliefs
Wiccan Practice and Beliefs

  • Beliefs:

    • Personal Gnosis – even if others do not agree or understand (including other witches), the god or goddess will reward a witch who comes with a sincere heart

    • Nature is Sacred – all things are connected to the sacredness of the world around

    • The Divine are Immanent

    • Control of Universal Process