Cultic relations depend highly on some exclusive and specific factors like disregarding social life as well as social, ideological, religious and ethical values of members. Cult leaders aiming at transmuting recruits in cultic relations, resort to a number of techniques and mechanisms to draw a boundary between within and without and to pave the way for the achievement of their objective. Almost all cultic features act systematically and interactively, however, those mentioned above may be considered the most determining ones common in most cults. They are of a more distinctive nature in political cults and ideological groups in particular due to their mechanism and have managed to take a persuasive and meretricious role.
Cultic relations in nature are opposed to social norms and values due to the anti-democratic structure of cults as well as the opposition of cults to individual and social freedom. In other words, cultic relation is an antithesis to social relations that provides for the evolution of man. Social relations have a determining role in the manifestation of human evolution; in contrast, cultic leaders are opposed to it and make their efforts to instill cultic principles into members by means of brainwashing and thought-reform techniques to replace the dominant faith in members with the heretically innovated cultic ones. Many believe that the promise of enlightenment is one of the main levers at the hands of cult leaders in inculcating recruits with a set of anti-social beliefs:
A total commitment is required to reach some state such as "enlightenment." The form of that commitment will vary from group to group: more courses, more meditation, more quotas, more cult-related activities, more donations. Cults are known to dictate what members wear and eat and when and where they work, sleep, and bathe as well as what they should believe, think, and say. 1
These demands are based on the point that cult leaders divide the world outside and inside into black and white poles and promote the belief that cultic relations end in the evolution and salvation of man and the relations of outside world result in his fatality and deviation. This viewpoint leads to the negation and violation of all social norms and values and ultimately to monopolism and dogmatism. This is a common feature of almost all cults and as Singer puts into words:
On most matters, cults promote what we usually call black-and-white thinking, an all-or-nothing point of view. 2
It is evident that isolation of recruits is necessary for promoting cultic doctrines. Cult leaders have to make members isolated far from any relationship with the outside world before negating social values. One of the basic rights that cult members are banned from is their separation from family, friends, and occupational relations. These constraints are justified under the pretext of the necessity of making a big change in life style:
Cults tend to require members to undergo a major disruption or change in lifestyle. Many cults put great pressure on new members to leave their families, mends, and jobs to become immersed in the group’s major purpose. This isolation tactic is one of the cults’ most common mechanisms of control and enforced dependency. 3
In fact, cult leaders make wide gaps between cultic values and social values like education, progress, success, hope in a better future and natural desires to the point that they consider any inclination to natural desires as an unforgivable sin. From the viewpoint of cult leaders, factors like education, learning, marriage, emotional relations to family members and friends, commitment to outsiders, etc are defined as red lines and taboos. Surprisingly enough, most cults refer to their anti-social approach as a step toward developing a utopian society. According to Singer:
Modern-day cults and thought-reform groups tend to offer apparent utopias, places where all humankind’s ills will be cured. The cults’ lure is, if you just come along, all will be fine, and everyone will live happily ever after. 4
It is evident that members have to ignore all their emotional, ideological, and social attachments to outside world and accept a new set of values and norms that is opposed to the fundamentals of values outside cults; this is a trend spreading in other forms of social movements as well as cult-like groups.
1. Thaler Singer, Margaret, Cults in Our Midst, 1995, p.10.
4. ibid, xxv.