“…if you believe in it, it is a religion or perhaps ‘the’ religion;
and if you do not care one way or another about it, it is a sect;
but if you fear and hate it, it is a cult.” Leo Pfeffer. A humorous quotation, but one that is uncomfortably close to reality.
This is so true of how we perceive one another’s religious views, sad to say. I come to this subject because I have seen recently the slinging of that word at such long term religious groups as the Hasidim.This group of believers has been with us for generations, they do not proselytize, and do not fit any of my own criteria for “cult”.
That word has come to have so many meanings that are derogatory that using it is as bad as using any other four letter word. Originally it’s meaning fit any religious group any where, but it has come to be associated with whatever group was out of favor at the time. It is so disrespectful of another’s sacred space to call their spiritual affiliation a cult, and we should not do that to one another. The above gentleman is Matisyahu, a rapper musician whose sound is both pleasant and unique, he sings of the glory of Hashem as much as I can understand the lyrics, and I do believe I could become a fan, he also happens to be Hasidim.
At Religious Tolerance, a website I rely on for objective information when it comes to those faiths unknown to me, speaks of cults, it’s where I got the above quote. I like what they have to say. If we cannot come to the understanding that there is only one G-d with many different names, then we need to at least respect our neighbor’s faith so long as he respects ours. This is something we need to do with determination. I am aware that we have had so much misunderstanding through the generations that it will take much patience on the part of the many, but the goal is worthy.