Monday, December 10, 2012

Is Your Religion a Cult? Pt 3

Last night I was a show called Doomsday Cults. It featured Heaven's Gate, Jim Jones, and Church Universal and Triumphant. A couple years ago, I assessed Jehovah's Witness, 2 sects of Nichiren Buddhism, and Paganism for cultish behavior. Now that I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, it's only fair that I assess them as well. If you disagree with my assessment, feel free to comment. My answers are based on my current knowledge.

Do the members depend upon a charismatic leader,
   or his memory, and upon whom they heap adoration?

     no. Each congregation is autonomous. The president of UUA is Peter Morales. I've been attending the Unitarian Universalists of Fallston for over a year and I don't recall his name ever being mentioned. In fact, I have no idea of what his personal beliefs are.

   Question 2

   Is there pressure to donate all or most of your
   disposable income?
   no. The congregation would like you to pledge a contribution so that it can make its yearly budget. An announcement is made at the Sunday meeting to donate. Members are not told how much to donate.

  Question 3

   Do members devote all or most of their spare time to
   organizational activities?

  not if they don't want to. No one is forced to participate although I have been nudged for some things :)

   Question 4

   Are the members inconvenienced, for example, expected
   to drive long distances to attend large central meetings?

I'm gonna say no. There is a general assembly every year I think but it's not mandatory. If you can make it, fine.

   Question 5

   Do the publications co-opt the names and accomplishments of
   famous people, even though the people being co-opted are not

no, I think. I haven't been pushed to read any UU literature. I have the magazine but it only features members.

   Question 6

   Do the publications ignore the feedback or criticisms
   submitted by rank and file members?

   The magazine has a Letters to the Editor section. I don't know about any other publications.

   Question 7

   Are members with long time chronic problems eventually
   looked down upon and made to feel unwelcome?

   not that I'm aware of

   Question 8

   Are there high-pressure targets for increasing membership?

 no, at least not in my congregation. I was a Friend of the congregation for about a year - year and a half. After going through the Intro to Membership presentation, I wasn't asked again. Ever. I signed up when I felt comfortable.

   Question 9

   Are decisions in the organization made top-down and

    Maybe some, but unsure. Congregations are autonomous and they make their own decisions. I guess they work within a basic UU framework. There will be differences between congregations.

   Question 10

   Are the organization's leaders appointed rather
   than elected?


   Question 11

   Are the organization's charter, mission, rules, and
   by-laws made by the top leaders without consulting the
   rank and file members?

   not sure

   Question 12

   Is there an absence of financial transparency?

   not sure

Question 13

   Are members pressured to give inflated testimonials
   at meetings?

  no. There has never been a testimonial at my UU congregation.

   Question 14

   Are non-believers regarded with aloofness and suspicion?

 no. I was welcomed from day 1. But this question doesn't really fit. There is not really a such thing as a UU non-believer. Non-member, yes.

   Question 15

   Are members told who to vote for in public elections?

  not that I'm aware of

   Question 16

   Does the organization interfere in a member's
   choice of personal lifestyle?


   Question 17

   Does the organization interfere in a member's
   choice of marital partner?


   Question 18

   Are scandals within the organization hidden?

   I'm not aware of any UU scandals. Time to do Google search.

   Question 19

   Does the organization attack competing organizations,
   denominations or religions?

   no, although it has been said that UU is not for everyone.

   Question 20

   Is culture misused, watered down, or bastardized, in order
   to help achieve numerous rapid shallow conversions?


   Question 21

   Are members discouraged from asking a lot of questions?


 Question 22

   Is individuality suppressed and conformity promoted?


Question 23

   Are some of the beliefs, doctrines, or practices bizarre?

   Interesting question. As a whole, UU is quite generic and I mean that in a good way. I guarantee that individually, there may be members who have "bizarre" practices. No one's complaining.

   Question 24

   Is dissent suppressed and hidden?

   no. If you no longer want to be UU, you can leave. They will be sad to see you go but won't force you to stay.

   Question 25

   Are members told that if they discontinue their
   participation, their personal destiny will

   no. Again, they will miss your fellowship.


  1. I love Unitarians. I've been to several UU churches for different occasions and never once had to hide the fact that I identify as Pagan. No one even blinked when I told them. Not only have they seen it all/heard it all, they just don't care. They seem to be genuinely interested in having each person around for his/her unique and individual perspective and contribution, no matter what it is labeled as. :)

    1. that's how I felt as well. After 2 visits, they made me a name tag. There was no pressure to formally become a member. They said I could remain a Friend of the Church (what they call regular attendees who haven't joined) for as long as I wanted.