Religions respect the individual’s autonomy.

Religions try to help individuals meet their spiritual needs.

Religions tolerate and even encourage questions and independent, critical thinking.

Religions encourage psycho-spiritual integration.

Conversion to religions involves an unfolding of internal processes central to a person’s identity.

Religions view money as a means, subject to ethical restraints, toward achieving noble ends.

Religions view sex between clergy and the faithful as unethical.

Religions respond to critics respectfully.

Religions cherish the family.

Religions encourage a person to think carefully before making a commitment to join.


Cults enforce compliance.

Cults exploit spiritual needs.

Cults discourage questions and independent critical thinking.

Cults “split” members into the “good cult self” and the “bad old self.”

Cultic conversion involves an unaware surrender to external forces that care little for the person’s identity.

Cults view money as an end or as a means toward achieving power or the selfish goals of the leader.

Cults frequently subject members to the sexual appetites of the leaders.

Cults frequently intimidate critics with physical or legal threats.

Cults view the family as an enemy.

Cults encourage quick decisions with little information.

From “Guidelines for Clergy” by Rev. Richard L. Dowhower, in Recovery From Cults, edited by Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. and published by W.W. Norton and Company. Reprinted with permission.

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