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7 red flags that show you might be in a religious cult

Being aware of these red flags can empower you to make informed choices about your spiritual path.

Religious cult (image used for illustration) [Shutterstock]

Some, unfortunately, morph into cults, characterised by manipulative control and harmful practices.

If you're questioning a religious group you're involved in, here are seven signs that it might be a cult:

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Cults often isolate their members from their families, friends, and former life. They may discourage or even forbid outside contact, creating a closed-loop environment where the leader or group wields immense control over information and beliefs. This isolation can make it difficult for members to see the group's unhealthy dynamics and seek outside help.

Financial exploitation is a common tactic used by cults. They may pressure members to donate significant sums of money, sell their belongings, or even take out loans to support the group or the leader.

This financial dependence can trap members in the cult, making it difficult to leave due to fear of losing their financial stability.

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Cults often demand unquestioning obedience to the leader or group doctrine. Critical thinking and dissent are discouraged, and members are expected to conform to a strict set of rules and beliefs.

This can lead to a loss of individuality and autonomy, as members sacrifice their own thoughts and opinions for the sake of belonging.

Cults often create an "us vs. them" mentality, portraying outsiders as evil or dangerous while positioning themselves as the only true or enlightened group.

This creates a sense of fear and paranoia, further isolating members from the outside world and making it harder for them to leave.

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Cults often rely on their members to recruit new followers to expand their reach and resources. This pressure can be intense, making members feel obligated to bring in new recruits even if they have doubts about the group.

Cults often hold unorthodox beliefs and practices that deviate from mainstream religious traditions. These may involve restrictive diets, unusual rituals, or even physical or emotional abuse.

Members may be pressured to conform to these practices, even if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

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Cults often make it difficult for members to leave. They may use threats, intimidation, or even physical violence to prevent members from escaping.

They may also create a sense of guilt and shame, making members feel like they're betraying the group or even God if they leave.

If you're experiencing any of these red flags, it's important to seek help and support from trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals.

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It's crucial to remember that not all religious groups are cults. However, being aware of these red flags can empower you to make informed choices about your spiritual path and protect yourself from potentially harmful groups.

Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you reclaim your autonomy and well-being.

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This article was completely written by Bard, Google's artificial intelligence chatbot.

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