Cult  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
This page Cult is part of the religion series.Illustration: Triumph of Christianity (detail) by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602.)
Enlarge
This page Cult is part of the religion series.
Illustration: Triumph of Christianity (detail) by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602.)

"The difference between a cult or a sect and a religion, is size, a small number of followers vs. a multitude."--Sholem Stein


"Certain cultural artifacts and their makers enjoy a cult following: there is cult fiction, there are cult films and there is underground music." --Sholem Stein

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In modern English, a cult is a social group that is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or by its submission to a particular personality, object, or goal. This sense of the term is controversial, having divergent definitions both in popular culture and academia, and has also been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study. The word "cult" is usually considered pejorative.

An older sense of the word cult involves a set of religious devotional practices that are conventional within their culture, are related to a particular figure, and are often associated with a particular place. References to the "cult" of a particular Catholic saint, or the imperial cult of ancient Rome, for example, use this sense of the word.

While the literal and original sense of the word remains in use in the English language, a derived sense of "excessive devotion" arose in the 19th century.

Beginning in the 1930s, cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior. Since the 1940s the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, labeling them "cults" because of their unorthodox beliefs. Since the 1970s, the secular anti-cult movement has opposed certain groups, and in reaction to acts of violence which have been committed by some of their members, it has frequently charged them with practicing mind control. Scholars and the media have disputed some of the claims and actions of anti-cult movements, leading to further public controversy.

Sociological classifications of religious movements may identify a cult as a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices, although this is often unclear. Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults, saying that they arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices. Groups labelled as "cults" range in size from local groups with a few followers to international organizations with millions of adherents.

Connotation

The word cult in current popular usage is a pejorative term for a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre by the larger society.

Usage of the word has been controversial. One reason is that the word "cult" (as used in the pejorative sense) is considered a subjective term, used as an ad hominem attack against groups with simply differing doctrines or practices, and without a clear or consistent definition.

Etymology

The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices. The word was first used in the early 17th century denoting homage paid to a divinity and borrowed via the French culte from Latin cultus "worship", from the adjective cultus "inhabited, cultivated, worshipped", derived from the verb colere "care, cultivate."

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cult" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools