What's The Difference Between A Cult and A Religion?

By Bill Borden
Founder of thejehovahswitnesses.org

Some religions are cults and some are not. What's the difference?

Some people have very strong religious beliefs. They equate the teachings of their religion with the teachings of God. You cannot win an argument with them no matter how convincing the evidence. However that doesn't make a religion a cult.

Cults force you to choose been your religion and everyone else. They force you to put your religion first ahead of everything else. They say you're putting 'God' first, but because all religions are run by humans, cult members are never putting God first. Their religion comes first. You are socially isolated from people of other religions because friendships with outsiders is not allowed.

The reality is that when you leave a cult you're putting God first and when you stay in a cult you're putting cult leaders first. This is common sense, isn't it? Yet cults twist the meaning of words to make you believe that leaving them is leaving God. The truth is exactly the opposite. See Loyalty to Jehovah

Here's a good example.

I met a middle age man who's father is a Baptist minister. Some of his brothers and sisters are heavily involved in this religion as well. I asked him about family gatherings. He said there is friction. They don't see eye to eye on religious beliefs. Thus they avoid talking about religion. They still have a good time. They still love each other. They still talk and associate with loved ones and fiends who have different beliefs. Religion doesn't affect outside relationships. All it does is makes it uncomfortable to talk about religion so they avoid the subject.

Now compare the Baptist religion with the teachings of the Watchtower cult. Here's what they say about how to treat people who are excommunicated or 'disfellowshipped'. This affects millions of JW's who have left the religion since 1952. Notice the words, 'God's command' and 'Jehovah's decree' about not associating with family members who leave the cult.

'What if we have a relative or a close friend who is disfellowshipped? Now our loyalty is on the line, not to that person, but to God. Jehovah is watching us to see whether we will abide by his command not to have contact with anyone who is disfellowshipped. ... Consider just one example of the good that can come when a family loyally upholds Jehovah’s decree not to associate with disfellowshipped relatives. A young man had been disfellowshipped for over ten years, during which time his father, mother, and four brothers “quit mixing in company” with him. At times, he tried to involve himself in their activities, but to their credit, each member of the family was steadfast in not having any contact with him. After he was reinstated, he said that he always missed the association with his family, especially at night when he was alone. But, he admitted, had the family associated with him even a little, that small dose would have satisfied him. However, because he did not receive even the slightest communication from any of his family, the burning desire to be with them became one motivating factor in his restoring his relationship with Jehovah. Think of that if you are ever tempted to violate God’s command not to associate with your disfellowshipped relatives.' Watchtower magazine, April 15, 2012, Article: 'Betrayal—An Ominous Sign of the Times!', par 16, 17

For more information please take a look at the Watchtower Shunning Policy and video.

In addition to social isolation from the people outside the religion, cult members would rather die than disobey their leaders. 100% loyalty is required, and the best test of loyalty is their willingness to die. See refusal of Blood Transfusions

  1. Characteristics of a Cult
  2. Are Jehovah's Witnesses A Cult?
  3. Are Jehovah's Witnesses A Dangerous Cult?
Cults are about doing what you're told regardless of what is right. Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you're told.












































































































































































































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