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Word Count: 735
Cult as a word has been around a for long time Its original form was the Latin word cultus which means worship As the word evolved it took on a new meaning The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as Worship reverential homage rendered to a divine being or beings and as a particular form of religious worship in reference to its external rites and ceremonies Yet this is not the word as it is known today According to Websters Third New International Dictionary a cult is a minority religious group regarded as unorthodox Another definition that is closer to its connotation today comes from the Oxford English Dictionary a religion or sect considered to be false or unorthodox or extremist with members often living outside of the conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader In the current events of todays modern society cults have many times been brought to the forefront most often with negative connotations The now famous cult Heavens Gate might come to mind Also the incident at the Branch Dividian Compound where self-proclaimed Christ David Koresh and most of his followers were killed during an FBI standoff at Waco Texas Another example of cults in the media would be the ill fated Peoples Temple in Guyana led by Jim JonesAppel 16 There are countless other cults as well But those three are some of the most widely known groups because some or all of there members were killed as a result of their cults beliefs and value systems With this surgence of cult activity over the last three decades there is need for a more specific definition of the word so as not to include legitimate religions that are not hindering the rights and freedoms of its members There is enough ambiguity in the way the word is defined as to cause confusion about whether the organization is harmful and is a cult or is a religion and does
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