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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