The Catholic Church: A Cult In Mainstream Society Essay

1667 Words 7 Pages
When one hears of a cult, one thinks of organizations such as the Church of Scientology, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and small fanatical groups such as the Assembly of God. According to Robert J. Lofton, author of Letters to an Elder, there are two kinds of cults; those that use mind-control, and those that do not. Lofton describes eight characteristics of destructive mind-control cults, saying, “If any group exercises all eight of these control elements, they are, in fact a destructive mind control cult”. Lofton’s characteristics are ‘Environmental Control’, ‘Mystical Manipulation’, ‘Demand for Purity’, ‘Cult of Confession’, ‘Sacred Science’, ‘Loading the Language’, ‘Doctrine over Person’, and ‘Dispensing of Existence’. These eight …show more content…
Members believe that to hear God’s word, they must attend church, and listen to their priests.
Third on Lofton’s list, ‘Demand for Purity’ “Calls for the radical separation of pure and impure or good and evil within an environment and within oneself. The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions. One's conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group as taught in its literature”. By portraying the world as either evil or good, the cult is able to more easily influence the members by telling them which category thing fall into. Catholicism is rife with cut and dry distinctions that fit this characteristic. The Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins, for example, are very clear guidelines for good Catholic behavior. Every Catholic is expected to follow the Ten Commandments and not commit any of the Seven Deadly Sins. These rules for behavior are found in the Bible and are an important part of the teachings of all Catholic priests. By making the definition of immoral or un-Catholic behavior so cut and dry, the Church not only makes moral decisions simpler, but also makes the priests duty at confession much easier.
     Fourth on Lofton’s list of characteristics is the ‘Cult of Confession’, which states that in a destructive mind-control cult “Serious sins (as defined by the organization) are to be