The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices. The word was first used in the early 17th century denoting homage paid to a divinity and borrowed via the French culte from Latin cultus "worship", from the adjective cultus "inhabited, cultivated, worshipped", derived from the verb colere "care, cultivate".
In the 1930s cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior. They have been criticized by mainstream Christians for their unorthodox beliefs. In the 1970s the anticult movement arose, partly motivated by acts of violence and other crimes committed by members of some cults (notably the Manson Family and People's Temple). Some of the claims of the anti-cult movement have been disputed by other scholars, leading to further controversies.
Government reaction to cults has led to controversy. Cults have also been featured in popular culture.
Famous quotes containing the word cult:
“Look at this poet William Carlos Williams: he is primitive and native, and his roots are in raw forest and violent places; he is word-sick and place-crazy. He admires strength, but for what? Violence! This is the cult of the frontier mind.”
—Edward Dahlberg (19001977)
“A cult is a religion with no political power.”
—Tom Wolfe (b. 1931)
“By Modernism I mean the positive rejection of the past and the blind belief in the process of change, in novelty for its own sake, in the idea that progress through time equates with cultural progress; in the cult of individuality, originality and self-expression.”
—Dan Cruickshank (b. 1949)