Religions vs. Cults

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Difference between Religions and Cults

Since the time of Adam and Eve societies have grown up. As of today, there are hundreds of thousands of societies globally each with rituals different from the others. Religions are groups in these societies that mark some similarities in the way people from different societies live their life.



Religion is defined as a set of beliefs that define the whole paradox of nature. Religions are being associated with a specific supernatural authority at the top of the hierarchy with mankind being made answerable. Religion is also termed as faith or belief system in some places. Religion covers a wider horizon of the society where believers follow the same principles and guidelines and have the same criteria to be judged as being good or bad.

Cult refers to a state of belief where the beliefs or practices of an individual or a group of individuals is considered to be alien. This belief system is related to ritual practices. New religious movements are usually considered to be as cults.


The history of religion is infinite. There have been religions operable for thousands of years. The term cult was, on the other hand, introduced in 1932 by sociologists defining odd characteristics within a specific group of the society. This does not really mean that this date marks the start of this phenomenon instead it was the first time such a social abnormality was termed with a name i.e. cult. The oldest religion is something that human cannot trace because of the fact that there had been religions even beyond the span of history known to men. In the past, people who followed a specific religion and turned away to form a new sect  were defined as cults by sociologists.

Belief System

Religious belief systems are based on the principles of existence. Generally speaking, religion revolves around one spiritual leader who is followed by devotees then institutes group leaders to balance the new system and set rules for everyone to follow the defined right path. The rights of others are respected in almost all religions and humanity as a whole is a concept that is held as very important.

On the contrary, cult system is movement where the followers deviate a bit from the original beliefs and then over the span of time, their beliefs change remarkably. Their belief system converts religion into something that matches the culture more than the teachings resulting in a deterioration of the whole system of religion.

Similarities and Differences

An overall analysis of the religions in contrast with cults shows the following:

  • Religions follow streamlined beliefs and people following them are united over specifically defined principles. The whole system is smooth compared to cults where the people themselves define their new norms, thereby altering the religious belief systems and causing an imbalance.
  • Religions are followed by spiritual leaders who are usually defined by the supernatural power about whom the religion is based while cults are lead by people from within society.

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