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MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS > Cults, communes, isolated sects, independent communities

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message 1: by James, Group Founder (last edited Jul 27, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Have always been fascinated by cults and other religious and non-religious groups who attempt to branch away from society by setting up their own communities...Ones that attempt to be fully independent and self-sufficient...and often are in stark contrast to how the rest of our present civilization operates...

If you share my interest, please post in this thread about any such communes you know of...


message 2: by James, Group Founder (last edited Aug 07, 2017 09:19PM) (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Findhorn Bay seems like a benign or even positive commune (I suspect):

The Findhorn Foundation is a Scottish charitable trust registered in 1972, formed by the spiritual community at the Findhorn Ecovillage, one of the largest intentional communities in Britain.[1]
It has been home to thousands of residents from more than 40 countries. The Foundation runs various educational programmes for the Findhorn community; it also houses about 40 community businesses such as the Findhorn Press and an alternative medicine centre.[1][2][3]

Prior to the Findhorn Foundation in 1972 there was a Findhorn Trust as more people joined Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean, who had arrived at the Caravan Park at Findhorn Bay on 17 November 1962. The Findhorn Foundation and surrounding Findhorn Ecovillage community at The Park, Findhorn, a village in Moray, Scotland, and at Cluny Hill in Forres, is now home to more than 400 people.[1] The Findhorn Foundation and the surrounding community have no formal doctrine or creed. The Foundation offers a range of workshops, programmes and events in the environment of a working ecovillage. The programmes are intended to give participants practical experience of how to apply spiritual values in daily life.

Approximately 3000 residential participants from around the world take part in programmes each year.

Findhorn Ecovillage has been awarded UN Habitat Best Practice designation from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT), and regularly holds seminars of CIFAL Findhorn, a United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), affiliated training centre for Northern Europe.

The Findhorn Garden Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation by The Findhorn Community


message 3: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the state of Puducherry in South India.[1] It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as "the Mother") and designed by architect Roger Anger.[2][3][4] As stated in Alfassa's first public message in 1965, she states that, Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auroville


message 4: by Harry (new)

Harry Whitewolf | 1745 comments Christiania, near Copenhagen, is a pretty well known one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freetow...


message 5: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Hey Harry, have you been to Christiana?
Haven't heard of that community before - it's the only one I've ever heard of that is located with a city. All the others I've come across are in rural areas, usually very isolated rural areas in fact.


message 6: by Harry (new)

Harry Whitewolf | 1745 comments No, I've not been there.

And unfortunately it's not quite the 'Freetown' it had always been any more. The authorities have now interfered with the town's cannabis production, and it's also been prone to some violence (caused by outsiders) in the last decade.

Maybe that's why the other communities you've heard of are in rural areas!


message 7: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace is an eye-opener on this subject.

Cults in Our Midst The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace by Margaret Thaler Singer

Am also interested in benign cults, however (if there actually are any)


message 8: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments How about Mormons?
Do they qualify as a cult?
I vote yes...


message 9: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Holy Hell Official Trailer 1 (2016) -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f2BG...
An inside look at a West Hollywood cult formed by a charismatic teacher in the 1980s that eventually imploded.

HOLY HELL: Documentary Goes Inside Los Angeles Buddhafield Cult https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA3y8...


message 10: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments I ESCAPED A CULT | Cult Education | National Geographic Channel HD -- https://www.goodreads.com/videos/1083...


message 12: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Leah Remini exposes Scientology on the Joe Rogan Experience https://www.goodreads.com/videos/1153...


message 13: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments "Banned Mormon Cartoon" illustrating Mormon Beliefs. This cartoon is an excerpt from our film "The Secret World of Mormonism" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3BqL...


message 14: by James, Group Founder (last edited Mar 24, 2017 12:32PM) (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments From Coast to Coast radio show:

In the latter half, author, ufologist and cryptozoologist, Nick Redfern revealed the hidden histories, agendas, and lore of various overlooked secret orders, clandestine groups, and shadowy organizations. Such groups exist for different reasons, sometimes to gain influence and power, he noted, and other times to enact various rituals, and sacrifices. In the early 1970s, UFO researchers in the UK began to receive curious tapes from an organization calling itself the Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network. It turned out that the secretive organization was actually a very sinister ultra right-wing group that was using the UFO topic as a guise to recruit and infiltrate.

When UK farm animals were found dead, ritualistically laid out in fields, the killings were linked to the Cult of the Moon Beast, a secret society performing ancient sacrificial rites to achieve more money, power and influence, Redfern outlined. He also spoke about the Loch Ness Dragon Cult, a 1960s dragon worshiping group that was active in the area where Nessie was sighted. A Nessie researcher was harassed by the group, said Redfern, and claimed that the cult was actually sacrificing humans, though this was never completely confirmed.


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 24, 2017 12:37PM) (new)

Hey mr James
I want ask you a question .....

Why is there no topic for chatting among members, I mean, maybe someone wants to ask a question but can not ask because maybe he will not know the right topic for his question

Sorry I wrote it here but I did not know where to write it.....


message 16: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments HAYFA wrote: "Why is there no topic for chatting among members, I mean, maybe someone wants to ask a question but can not ask because maybe he will not know the right topic for his question..."

If you mean like a live chat facility, Goodreads doesn't currently allow such a chat area between group members.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

who told you that ? , All groups include chat topics, they are like any other topic but they do not relate to a specific idea


message 18: by kf (new)

kf (senlecture) | 1 comments HAYFA wrote: "who told you that ? , All groups include chat topics, they are like any other topic but they do not relate to a specific idea"

He means there's no -live- chat.


message 19: by Troy (new)

Troy Beals | 22 comments There is a community that I had considered joining, http://www.dancingrabbit.org, which is more of an organic farming community.


message 20: by Lance, Group Founder (new)

Lance Morcan | 2837 comments Cults and the Group Mind: What Fringe Religious Groups Teach us About Ourselves https://www.newsbud.com/2017/06/02/cu...


message 21: by James, Group Founder (last edited Aug 07, 2017 09:20PM) (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments What about Hillsong?
Seems very cultish to me...

https://www.culteducation.com/group/9...

How Justin Bieber Is Becoming The Tom Cruise Of Hillsong Church http://www.inquisitr.com/4406430/how-...

Hillsong's attitude towards criticism was portrayed negatively by one former member Tanya Levin in her book People in Glass Houses: An Insider's Story of a Life in and Out of Hillsong.[73] Specific criticisms covered authoritarian church governance, lack of financial accountability, resistance to free thought, strict fundamentalist teachings and lack of compassion.[74] In an interview with Andrew Denton, Levin further discussed her experience of Hillsong, which she described as "toxic Christianity".

People in Glass Houses An Insider's Story of a Life in and Out of Hillsong by Tanya Levin


message 22: by Anna (new)

Anna Karen I´ve been to Kristjania in Copenhagen, it´s not based on a shared ideology or lifestyle, except that you could buy, use and sell cannabis there. It had a hippy vibe. There was a little shopping street, with stalls full of all kinds of cannabis. I don´t know how many lived there exactly. It had some coffee houses, and bars etc. I went there a couple of times during the daytime and loved it, the atmosphere was so peaceful (duh) and you could see a busload of kids on a school trip looking around at that special type of commerce, business men were sitting around and rolling joints etc. Some people that I´ve met describe it as being very dangerous and scary, but I didn´t see that side at all (I can imagine that at night, especially later on, it could get that way). The law was changed a few years back because other types of drugs were creating problems, and I think the original founders of the free society weren´t happy with it. It wasn´t easy to become a citizen there, since there wasn´t room for everybody who liked to live there. But anyone could come by, buy weed and hang out.


message 23: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Here's a more positive, heart-warming independent off-the-grid community...

Slab City!

Anyone been there? It's in California. It used to be a military base but hundreds of squatters came and made it their home.

ABANDONED city in America with NO LAWS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUTYS...

That's a nice video by the way...worth a watch if you like eccentric stuff...


message 24: by John (last edited Jan 23, 2018 10:09AM) (new)

John Farebrother | 44 comments James wrote: "Have always been fascinated by cults and other religious and non-religious groups who attempt to branch away from society by setting up their own communities...Ones that attempt to be fully indepen..."

I would advise you to stay away from any kind of cult. Their sole purpose is to enslave and then exploit individuals, before casting them aside once they have served their purpose. People who think they are immune because they have nothing more than a casual interest are easy prey. As I mention in The Damned Balkans: A Refugee Road Trip:

"Whereas in the recent past, prison populations in the UK used to divide along regional lines, with the Cockneys, the Scousers, the Jocks etc. flocking together, nowadays the most potent force behind bars is radical Islam, with gangs of the faithful actively recruiting and converting disaffected and disadvantaged youngsters. Organisations like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with their magic book bearing God’s signature, employ the same tactics in universities. As they say in the Balkans, 'O bidžanglo si phral le bengesko' ('the devil makes work for naive hands'), and 'Naj rašaj bi pustikako' ('all priests have a book')".

This book will tell you everything you need to know: Counting the Cost.


message 25: by B. (new)

B. | 234 comments I’m fascinated by cults-always have been. My question is this however: what separates a cult from a religion(I realize there are non religious cults too)? I believe that every major religion at one point was considered a cult....so is it number of followers? Beliefs?

I’ve had many discussions with people of many faiths and their ideas on god, spiritual practices and rituals-none are really any stranger than what I grew up with in the Catholic Church. As I’ve said many times before on these threads, I’ve found Gnosticism and Hinduism which I find so much enlightenment in and now I see the church as much of a cult as any other cult that’s ever existed:they seek to control mindsets and beliefs, they take money from parishioners, they have esoteric rules that only make sense to those on the inside i.e. high level clergy; they refuse to change ideas from centuries ago, they are very judgmental and they get very angry when questioned. If you don’t follow their rules, you can’t get married, can’t get baptized, can’t receive communion etc. All sounds like something concocted by charismatic leaders and followed by people blindly. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, that is not my intent-just pointing out what I saw growing up Catholic.


message 26: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments B. wrote: "what separates a cult from a religion..."

Very little!

I think you hit the nail on the head with the numbers of followers in organized religions supposedly giving those big belief systems more credibility.

In saying that tho, there are often extreme Jonestown-style power dynamics in many of the smaller spiritual cults where one leader is essentially playing God on Earth.


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimliedeka) I think the definition of cult depends on who is using the term. Some people use a list of indicators like charismatic leader, mental abuse, difficulty leaving, etc. to determine where on the spectrum a particular sect lies. There are other people that will just use the term to dismiss a sect with ideas they disagree with.

In a lot of ways, it's a gray area and cult has become a loaded term, like terrorism.


message 28: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments How about the Vatican in Catholicism, Mykayla? You think they are dictatorial at times? And would the Pope qualify as playing God on Earth as well?


message 29: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments To be clear, I wasn't challenging you or assuming you were Catholic (as I'm aware most who call themselves Christian are not usually Catholics). I just meant - what is your opinion on Catholicism - which you've now given.

I do agree with Jim's earlier post about varying definitions of cults. It's probably all semantics at the end of the day.

When it comes to Christianity in the West, I personally do see cult-like behavior in some denominations more than others...Especially the hardcore evangelical or the money grasping ones like Hillsong


message 30: by John (new)

John Farebrother | 44 comments B. wrote: "I’m fascinated by cults-always have been. My question is this however: what separates a cult from a religion(I realize there are non religious cults too)? I believe that every major religion at one..."

Cults aren't ideologies. They are power structures based on total domination.


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimliedeka) I would argue so are religions (power structures based on total domination). For a long time I regarded myself as an atheist, or at least agnostic. The problem really was I saw no value in institutions that substitute faith for experience and claim a monopoly on truth. Now I understand there are alternatives to ceding power over your spirituality.


message 32: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 318 comments I think that early Christianity was definitely a cult. They blindly followed a charismatic leader, they thought the end of days was upon humanity, they had secret information that would save them ,they abandoned family and societal institutions and they put the commune and 'the leader' above all things....A template for blind faith that has been copied many times.


message 33: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimliedeka) My experience from a Catholic upbringing is that religion is about everybody believing the same thing. That thing is a pre-digested revelation that has been footnoted for centuries to the point that it's fairly rigid.

In the modern age, you can leave a church - at least in most places. That wasn't always true. It wasn't all that long ago that you could be killed for heresy if you did that.


message 34: by Tony (new)

Tony Sunderland | 318 comments Could it be that a religion is no longer a cult when it becomes large enough to become part of the social norm. The Pope and his authority is recognised (dare I say) as 'legitimate'.


message 35: by B. (new)

B. | 234 comments I believe the the Roman Catholic Church certainly began its life as a cult considering they systematically murdered alternative Christian or proto-Christian groups like the cathars as well as non-Catholics during the inquisition. They used to sell indulgences and wield political power with an iron fist...popes murdered and were murdered for power. Over time, enough people and money were acquired where it didn’t matter if a few people wanted to leave. Once it was established as the juggernaut that it is, it became mainstream and therefore didn’t need to physically enforce rules-by that point it had successfully brainwashed masses into feeling guilt about anything they did which was perceived as sinful. The pope routinely commands and demands....he excommunicates and changes doctrine at will...he demands tithing in order to keep him and his brothers in high cotton. When there are scandals, like pedophilia, the hide these priests in other parishes or countries instead of turning them over. I decided long ago that no figure head would determine what I was allowed to do in my life, whether by force or by guilt and promise of hell....sounds cultish to me and I was raised in it.

I’m not saying modern Christianity in of itself(the belief in Christ as savior) is a cult, but any organized religion by its very definition could be considered a Cult....my earlier point is only that typically “cult” is used in a pejorative way, but many organized religions absolutely were considered cults or may still be depending upon who you ask.

When I googled the definition of cult, this popped up:

a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

“Small” being the operative word...at one point the Catholics and Christian sects definitely fit that mold.


message 36: by B. (new)

B. | 234 comments Tony, yes exactly! That was my thought


message 37: by Lance, Group Founder (new)

Lance Morcan | 2837 comments There seems to be some conjecture in recent posts in this thread over whether Catholics are (also) Christians. It has always been my understanding they most certainly are. Anyone care to clarify?


message 38: by Lance, Group Founder (new)

Lance Morcan | 2837 comments Furthermore, here's an interesting post from the National Catholic Register... http://www.ncregister.com/blog/longen...


message 39: by Tony (last edited Jan 26, 2018 04:28PM) (new)

Tony Sunderland | 318 comments Thanks for the link Lance. Reminds me of the old joke where Saint Peter tells Protestant people to be very quiet when they enter Heaven because the Catholics believe that they are the only ones there! : )

I would think that anyone who believes that Jesus Christ was the son of God who died for the sins of mankind and rose physically from the dead would be called a Christian.


message 40: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments I agree with what most are stating or implying here...the big organization religions shouldn't be immune from "amateur cult inspectors" like us :)

I think we should probably factor Islam into this conversation too...Especially if domination and forcing others to follow the religion/cult according to faith's rules...


message 41: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments B. wrote: "When I googled the definition of cult, this popped up:

a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

“Small” being the operative word...at one point the Catholics and Christian sects definitely fit that mold. ..."


I must admit when I think of a cult, I always picture a small number of people. It's probably easier to be more extreme and controlling over a small amount of people as opposed to large sectors of humanity.

Then again, I guess it could be argued "once a cult, always a cult".


message 42: by B. (new)

B. | 234 comments And then there is CrossFit lol


message 43: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimliedeka) And Amway and Mary Kay


message 44: by Robert (new)

Robert Strupp | 6 comments When my genius, anarchist brother returned from the Vietnam War (fought from a U.K. hospital), he joined a California commune. "Each day, less and less people were working the fields. One day I looked up and found I was the only one working. I left on that day."


message 45: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Eerie Remains of the Branch Davidian Compound - Waco, TX - David Koresh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qG2t...


message 46: by B. (new)

B. | 234 comments I used to drive between Gulfport, Mississippi and Hattiesburg, Ms quite regularly and I would pass this curious set of building that looked like a church mixed with almost like a zen garden and across the street there was a big piece of vacant land with a creepy barn on it-both belonged to “The City of David”. What’s super random is that no one that lives in the area actually know what it’s for-some locals claim weird goings on back in the 80’s....even stranger is that they now have a website that could be a cover.....no one is ever seen on the property but it’s always immaculately kept.

http://m.topix.com/forum/city/gulfpor...

Creepy as hell, whatever it is...I always wanted to write a novel about it, but I’m a terrible writer haha


message 47: by B. (new)

B. | 234 comments Goodreads likes to cut words out of my sentences...the last line should read *im a terrible writer 😉


message 48: by John (new)

John Farebrother | 44 comments The only difference between the Jehovah's Witnesses and ISIS is that physical violence does not feature in the MO of the former. As a terrorist organisation, ISIS has embraced death - and so must its followers. The JWs prefer an army of zombies.


message 49: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments John wrote: "The only difference between the Jehovah's Witnesses and ISIS is that physical violence does not feature in the MO of the former. As a terrorist organisation, ISIS has embraced death - and so must i..."

Hahaha...Jehovah's Witness Zombies...Sounds like a good comedic horror movie!


message 50: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11248 comments Iain wrote: "If you want comedy and zombies trust me, some of the hard-core atheist scientism mob also fit that bill."

Well, the most hardcore atheism is also a bit cult-like in my opinion...It's doing the exact opposite of the "believers" they despise in that they adamantly believe there is no God/Afterlife, without having proof of that.

I'm not talking regular atheists, but rather the ones who have become very dogmatic and won't listen to counter ideas.


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