An alternative view on cults in America

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Intolerance towards Religious Cults in American SocietyThere exist more than six hundred religions in North America that could be classified as "alternative". While most of these religious denominations present trifling threat, seventy-five have been deemed "dangerous cults" by the anti-cult movement (Melton 75). Reports of cults numbering in the thousands contain exaggerated statistics to create public hysteria. These facts are mere speculation made by those devoted to fighting "alternative religion" (Melton 76). To be classified as a "dangerous" religious cult, a group must have a living charismatic leader who claims possessing ultimate wisdom (Porterfield 6). The Old Testament asserts that Moses spoke to God in the form of a burning bush. Followers of Christianity thought Jesus to be the son of God. The prophet Mohammed led Muslims to accept the Koran as a document dictated directly from God. Cults must also have an authoritative power structure. Organized religions depend on a structured system to order holy leaders and to unify followers.

Lastly, a cult must set rigid boundaries. All religions establish a moral code of conduct for their followers to swear by. In actuality, little separates an established religion from a modern religious cultinteractus cults are outwardly rejected, even though they share parallel beginnings with traditional religions.

Persecution of alternative religions today mirrors Roman criminalization of Christianity two thousand years ago. From the beginning, Christianity faced alienated from the massive power of the Roman Empire. Under Roman Rule, if any conquered people rebelled; the punishment would culminate in execution (Payne 102). A common chant heard in Rome was "Christians ad leones" or "throw the Christians to the lions." Early Christians faced gruesome slaughter at the floors of the coliseum; and their deaths symbolized a deep-seated intolerance to the burgeoning religion in ancient Rome (Payne 105). Even efforts made by the...