People who know me will know that I sometimes make reference to a 'cult' meeting that my mom forces me to attend on Tuesdays. Today, I thought it was high time to explain what I actually mean by that statement. Sounds pretty scary, right? When people hear the word 'cult', it usually conjures up images of groups like Heavens Gate---compelling members to commit suicide so they could hitch a ride on a comet. Or like Scientology---compelling their members to isolate from outsiders and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to learn to think a certain way and eventually discover the millenia-old secret of an intergalactic war.
The group I'm talking about doesn't portray all those characteristics. As far as I know, it hasn't driven its members to suicide. And as far as I know, though it asks for more and more money there is absolutely no requirement to give it to remain in the group. Members may dissociate with people outside the group on their ownm but it's not outright enforced the way it is in many other cults.
The cult I'm talking about, of course,is the twelve step program. If a self help group for people you've heard of is called _________ Anonymous, it is almost definitely one of these. They purport to cure different addictions such as alcohol, narcotics, gambling, overeating, sex, and more. In actuality, this 'cure' comes with a price that is not often advertised---a religious conversion to a very specific form of Christianity.
I'm sure some of you are gaping at me in shock. These groups, especially Alcoholics Anonymous (henceforth referred to as AA) have widespread acceptance and influence in American society. Some of you reading this may even be members of a twelve step group. If you are, please know that I am not judging you personally or asking you to leave. I could never do that. There is nothing wrong with going to a religion for comfort in hard times, and I am not advocating abolishing AA or forcing it to change. My only argument is that a religion should start advertising itself as exactly that, not as a 'cure'. ( All about the 12 step program, for the uninitiatedCollapse )
One last thing---I applied my knowledge of twelve step programs to this cult test
and scored 26 points. A group getting 10 points or above is a cult, and mainstream religions usually get 5 to 10 points. ( The answers I chose on that testCollapse )
I think that about covers everything I wanted to explain. Any questions, comments, or debate, feel free to leave here.