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Cult is a term, in most contexts pejorative, for a relatively small group which is typically led by a charismatic and self-appointed leader, who tightly controls its members, requiring unwavering devotion to a set of beliefs and practices which are considered deviant (outside the norms of society). This term is also used for a new religious movement or other social group which is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs and rituals, or its common interest in a particular person, object, or goal. This sense of the term is weakly defined – having divergent definitions both in popular culture and academia – and has also been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study.: 348–356 An older sense of the word involves a set of religious devotional practices that is conventional within its culture, is related to a particular figure, and is frequently associated with a particular place. References to the imperial cult of ancient Rome, for example, use the word in this sense. A derived sense of "excessive devotion" arose in the 19th century.Beginning in the 1930s, cults became an object of sociological study within the context of the study of religious behavior. Since the 1940s, the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, labeling them "cults" because of their unorthodox beliefs. Since the 1970s, the secular anti-cult movement has opposed certain groups and, as a reaction to acts of violence, frequently charged those cults with practicing mind control. Sociological classifications of religious movements may identify a cult as a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices, although this is often unclear. Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults, saying that they arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices. Cults, especially nonreligious ones, have also been called high-control groups and compared to miniature totalitarian political systems.There are thousands of cults around the world. Groups labelled "cults" range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions. Source: Wikipedia (en)

Subject - wd:Q11038979

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