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Never forget that every great religion started as a cult.

Without exception.

As Robert Shrimsley put it in The Financial Times: “One bloke who says he’s got the number of God’s private cellphone, a handful of dedicated followers widely scorned by everyone else, a bit of money and somewhere to preach.”

The site was started by Rick Ross, “cult expert and intervention specialist,” in July of 2002.

The archives are a treasure trove of things fringe.

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About bookofjoe

  • I’m offended… the cult of spiderleaf was no where to be found… I must have the wrong cell phone number…

  • does it include those big “supercults” (© me 2005, lol)like astrologists, mormons, christians, jews, muslims, buddhists et cetera?

  • A cult is nothing but a religion that hasn’t staffed up its PR department sufficiently.

  • A cult is nothing but a religion that hasn’t staffed up its PR department sufficiently.

    So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong!

    (seriously though, classic, thanks for the laugh this morning!)

  • Well this will prove invaluable for The Duke, what with the cult i hope to instigate sometime in the next couple days, provided i can be bothered. Plenty of tips herein. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Joe! For me the question raised here is is there something inherently superior to those cults that become “great religions” or is it really just a matter of social elements like PR?

  • leave it to Eric to actually try to get information… guess who won’t be joining Duke or my cults anytime soon…


  • Eric Olsen

    spidey, please take into account the great amount of care and feeding required to maintain and grow a cult – basically a full-time job. Jesus didn’t do a carpertering once he started preaching, healing and whatnot.

  • For what it’s worth, Jesus isn’t really responsible for promoting or developing “Christianity,” a phenomenon which took place long after his death (believers, add “and resurrection.”)

    Christianity was largely a creation of St. Paul. If he isn’t the patron saint of the public relations industry, he certainly should be.

    Eric, I think that the secret of long-term survival of religions is rooted in the so-overplayed-on-the-net burgeoning science of “memetics” — who has the most powerful ideas and how are they inculcated and passed along?

    Judaism had the very powerful “monotheism” and “chosen people” memes and literally hundreds of cultural practices designed to reinforce them. They’ve survived for millenia (and where the hell are the Hittites these days?)

    Christianity added the incredibly powerful memes of “redemption/salvation/eternal life” to the Jewish matrix and literally exploded.

    Und so weiter.

  • Eric Olsen

    very good points Barry, although Jesus did al the things that one would associate with cult-building in his lifetime, certainly layong the foundation for what was turned into formal dogma and religion.

  • I took a history class at university called The Early Middle Ages, which basically could have been called, Why Did Christianity Succeed? It’s a fascinating story, really. Barry’s correct in pointing out the redemption/salvation/eternal life tenet, which appealed to the teeming poor. Another was martyrdom. Finally, it was Constantine’s conversion that really tipped the balance for Europe and for history.

  • Eric Olsen

    sure, potentates can hold great sway, but wasn’t that more of a result than a cause? didn’t the top-down stamp of approval mostly just confirm what was already going on at the grassroots level?

  • Yes Eric, it tipped the balance in making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. A “cult” that for hundreds of years was persecuted for its beliefs (thus the importance of martyrdom) was now the belief-system backed by the state.

    It is said that Constantine had some kind of vision during battle (I believe) that caused him to convert. However, he may have just been forward-looking and/or saw the writing on the wall.

  • whereas i, of course, will be hands-on throughout the nurturing and creation of Dukery or whatever. Best think up some commandments or some such…

  • Duke: Now that’s a movement I look forward to following with great interest.

  • Brave Kelso

    The late Dr. Singer worked hard but unsuccessfully to prove that the recruiting practices of cults and the social and psycholoogical reinforcement of cult belief were sinister tools and that outside intervention to break the hold of the cult was legally justified. The Courts generally held that freedom of religion included the freedom to follow whatever beliefs felt right. The American Courts have treated all beliefs as equally valid, interpeting the constitution’s disestablishment of religion as barring any substantive examination and evaluation of religious principles and practices. Singer and other cult critics raised the question of whether a religious choice made when a person was in a vulnerable psychological state created by the persuasive techniques of cult recruiters was valid. However considering the wide use of social and psychological persuasive techniques in organized religion, and the wide interest in meditation, mysticim and consciousness altering practices in organized religion, the courts won’t go there. Also, as in addictions treatment, there is also the question of what you can do to alter such an intense emotional state when the victim is feeling so good about his bad choices.