Two fundamental uses of the word cult exist. In the first, a cult refers to devotion organized as a specific part of a recognized religious institution. A cult can exist in any religion and in any culture. In the second definition, the term cult refers to those systems of worship that emphasize an unconventional doctrine and a vague organizational structure and is often applied to groups whose beliefs and practices deviate from the established norm. In the earliest uses, there was not necessarily a negative context through which a group became identified as a cult. In contemporary society, however, the term has been transformed to suggest an organized group headed by a charismatic leader with secretive, potentially nefarious intentions, which can result in jeopardizing the ...

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