‘Cults’ only exist in terms of the mainstream society or culture around them.
“Cults” are simply minorities within their mainstream culture.
Christians have been living in Egypt since the 1st century. But by 700AD or so, Egypt’s mainstream society converted to Islam. So now, in Egypt, those original Christians are a fractional minority who believe differently than the mainstream. In Egypt, those Christians are a “cult”.
See how that works?
People need to look down on others. They need to be entertained by, and laugh at, weirdos. They need to be shocked and stunned by “the Other”.
Humans need injustices to get justice for, and enemies to fight.
Governments consider “cults” incipient threats. If a cult has enough billionaires and movie stars in their ranks, and if they have social betterment activities to ‘improve’ society, their governmental threat profile rises. Governments will usually start doing what they can to de-power those threats.
The term cult itself has simply come to mean “illegitimate group”.
You’ll hear people say “They’re not a religion, they’re a CULT!”
These people are trying to convince you the group is abusive and criminal, and not a real religion – which is not abusive and criminal. They forget that the Catholic Church, with its pedophile priesthood, and the murders of millions of indigenous children for centuries, is probably the most criminal organization in human history.
But these people consider the Catholic Church a “real religion”, and not a ‘cult’.
The term “cult” is also used as a mental construct by some. They use this term to “understand” a minority religion which believes differently from the mainstream, and this mental construct makes them feel like they know all about it – when they actually know nothing about it.
Activists thrive on these weaponized over-simplicities and seek to spread atrocity stories about these minorities, further fomenting fear and misunderstanding. This behavior on a wide scale – if allowed governmental power – can lead to genocide.
And has – regularly.
I’ve become pretty apathetic about holding back the tide of anticultism recently. The tribal forces of suppression listed above are way more powerful than I am. There is little I can do about the social tribalism rising up among us these days.
So many wannabe Internet Influencers, especially those huffing to make money on clicks and likes, don’t want to hear any of this: It ratchets down the hysteria and fear they need to instill into others to keep people clicking and watching.