Baha'i Faith is not a cult!??

Scott Hakala AKA DavidBinOwen on Reddit

First of all, "cult" is not really a valid sociological term; it's mainly a psychological term. Sociologists use the term "new religious movement" out of neutrality, even for movements which we all know to be cults, i.e. Heaven's Gate. So, DavidbinOwen's appeals to sociology here fall flat. There is no single authorized definition or criteria for determining what is and is not a cult, but there are certain psychological models we can make use of in evaluating the destructive character of organizations. As far as I am concerned, Steven Hassan's BITE model (Behavior control, information control, thought control, and emotional control) fits the Baha'i Faith perfectly. Steven Hassan simply uses the term cult to mean an organization which exerts undue influence through these four means, and although this is obviously not an exhaustive definition, it is a useful one.

Behavior control is a part of every religious movement, but the Baha'i Faith is quite different from most religions in that religious authority is centralized in a single administrative structure. It is the Baha'i Administration and its members who enforce the rules. They personally dictate your behavior when it comes to sex, marriage, finances, etc., whereas with most other religions, a person regulates their own behavior out of an independent desire to conform to religious precepts. It is the same with information control, thought control, and emotional control. All ideologies somewhat facilitate these things, but the key point is that, with the Baha'i Faith, these forms of control and influence are directly exerted by a repressive organization.

Where DavidbinOwen (A BIA volunteer) appeals to the Baha'i principles to exonerate it from the cult accusation, he of course looks at things from the standpoint of a true believer for whom the Baha'i Faith's outward principles actually represent its practical reality. As we all know, this is not the case. Whereas the Baha'i Faith ostensibly promotes the independent investigation of truth, it only does this insofar as the investigation of truth leads one to faith in Baha'ism and its institutions. Baha'is will proclaim the value of free and independent investigation in order to tear down every other religion, but when it comes to Baha'ism, "To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion."

I don't know why DavidbinOwen is suddenly broaching this subject again. As far as I am concerned, it's a rather unproductive conversation. True believers will always deny that they belong to a cult, and the worst of them won't even care. One would do better to simply state the truth about Baha'ism and allow a listener to decide if he would like this organization to be a part of his life. When someone sees Baha'ism's pretty exterior and they receive the typical love-bombing that Baha'is give to "seekers," the religion can seem to be the farthest thing from a cult, but with a little independent investigation, it becomes pretty obvious that, whatever it is, it's not good for anyone.

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