What makes a cult a cult?
How can you tell if a group of people is a cult or not?
After a report about a cat-worshipping, end-times group in Middle Tennessee, a cult expert Janja Lalich was approached to explain what makes a cult a cult.
What is a cult?
A cult is a group or movement held together by a shared commitment to a charismatic leader or ideology. It has a belief system that answers all of life’s questions and offers a unique solution to be gained only by following the leader’s rules. It requires a high level of commitment from at least some of the members.
How do cults startup?
There are four dimensions to a cultic group that we see across the board.
1. Transcendent belief system: Most religions and even political groups will have a belief system, meaning they’re stating how to get to some better place. But what’s different in cultic groups is they have their way to get you there. It’s what I call the recipe for change. To be part of the group, you have to go through a transformational process that dictates to you, and you can’t be there otherwise. That’s the indoctrination program.
2. Charismatic leader: The charismatic leader is the originator of the group. Charismatic leaders are people who are great manipulators; they’re charming. They know how to read people. They come along and offer a message that is going to resonate with somebody. Once they get a few followers, that’s all they need, and then those people go out, recruit more, and build up an aura around the leader.
3. Systems of influence: Then there are the more subtle influences, which is peer pressure. Older members will model for the new members how you’re supposed to behave. Before you know it, you’re so enveloped in this other reality that you don’t look to anything else. You don’t allow yourself to be opened to any further explanations. Your mind has wholly closed in on this new worldview. So the connections to the belief system are kind of the glue that keeps you there. This is your only hope.
4. Systems of control: They think they’re joining something that will give them purpose and meaning. Slowly the heat gets turned up, and you go through the rituals or the study sessions that bring you more and more drawn in. As this process goes on, the person begins to adopt this new worldview that requires new behaviors, which most often requires cutting off from the past. There are all kinds of control mechanisms, which are the rules and regulations. You’ve got to dress this way.
State fines Williamson County ministry $5K, revokes church status
Are The Disciples Of Ram Real? Conjuring 3 Demon Group Explained
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It brings back The Disciples of Ram. While The Conjuring movie series is famous for its real-life cases, the demon group the Disciples Of Ram featured in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It are not. The group is initially mentioned in the first Annabelle movie after a member attacks the central couple at the film’s beginning. Subsequently, a member of the Disciples Of Ram is the villain in The Conjuring 3, establishing the group’s importance across the entire fictional universe.
The Conjuring 3 follows the case of the real-life Arne Johnson. Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in when his girlfriend’s little brother is possessed. Arne invites the demon into him and subsequently commits murder under its influence. The Warrens work to find tangible proof for Arne’s case that he was not in a sound state of mind and therefore not responsible for his actions. They find it in the form of a witch’s totem.
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The Warrens trace the totem back to Father Kastner, who researched the Occult for years to better understand it. They make the shocking discovery that not only did the priest have a daughter, but she was a member of the Disciples Of Ram responsible for planting the totem. Although this mysterious cult is fictional, it does have some true story inspiration. Namely, The Conjuring 3 uses the real-life fear of Satanism and the Occult that rose in the ’70s and ’80s, thanks to high-profile cases like the Manson Family murders and the Son of Sam killer. The Disciples of Ram cult reflects the public’s fear (and misconceptions of) Satanism during that time period.
The origins of the Disciples Of Ram itself are never revealed in any movie across the Conjuring universe. They worship demons and seek to bring more of them into the world. Instead, the franchise peppers in information about specific members over the years. The earliest of whom is Janice Higgins, who eventually became possessed by the demon inside the Annabelle doll. Janice finally took on the moniker of Annabelle and joined a mysterious group as a teen. That group was eventually revealed to be the Disciples of Ram. The cult comes back into play in The Conjuring 3 in the movie’s climax. Ed and Lorraine reach out to Father Kastner, a priest who spent years immersed in the Occult. His daughter rebelled against him and ended joining the Disciples of Ram, much to his dismay.
The repeated mentions of the Disciples of Ram demonstrate that The Conjuring universe intends to continue expanding beyond its existing franchises. The expansive universe was built by taking minor details and characters from The Conjuring movies and creating independent stories about them, such as the Annabelle doll and evil nun Valak from The Conjuring 2. By mentioning the Disciples of Ram again, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It has laid down the groundwork for the cult becoming an essential element in the larger universe, perhaps even creating a movie around it shortly. Detail-oriented moves like this are what have cemented The Conjuring series as a staple in the horror genre.
The Disciples of the Ram are the main antagonists of the horror films Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, part of The Conjuring franchise. They are a satanic cult that worships demons and the devil and seeks to bring them into the world and bring them more power.
It is unknown at what time the cult was founded, and it is unknown who runs it. However, it was joined by Janice/Annabelle Higgins during her teenage years, under the possession of the demon from the Annabelle doll. She ran away from home and joined the cult, though her parents assumed she joined the hippie crowd.
During her two years in the cult, the demon replenished its power through their cult rituals and sacrifices. Then, using Janice/Annabelle, she attracted another cultist and began a faux romantic relationship with him.
Not long after, Janice/Annabelle and the man traveled back to Annabelle’s hometown, hoping to perform a sacrificial ritual to summon demons into a conduit. The two broke into Annabelle’s adoptive parents’ house and violently murdered them both. The neighbors, Mia and John Form, heard the commotion and called the police, but the two killers crept into their homes. Annabelle got ahold of one of Mia’s dolls and locked herself in the nursery. The Thin Man stabbed a pregnant Mia, coming dangerously close to killing the baby. John rushed in and fought the Thin Man but was overpowered and knocked unconscious. As the Thin Man prepared for a killing blow to Mia, the police arrived and shot him dead. The officer then broke down the nursery door to find that Annabelle had taken her own life, and she has painted a symbol in blood next to her. Her corpse still held the doll.
The news reported on the incident, explaining that the two cultists were members of the Disciples of the Ram. The doll was indeed possessed by the demon in Annabelle, who began terrifying the Forms, posing as Annabelle’s ghost, which, considered the amount of time it had possessed her, it might as well have been. Mia seeks the help of Detective Clarkin, who tells her about the cult and its practices. Later, Mia seeks help from her friend Evelyn, who helps her research the cult and discover what is haunting the family is not a ghost but a demon.