Universal Medicine: Cult or True Religion

by Rachel Hall Brisbane, Australia

[Sect, Religion or Cult, this post looks at what each means and why Universal Medicine should or should not qualify.]

“…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 in light of the many recent incorrect media allegations about Universal Medicine. Cults are claimed to be deceitful; they are claimed to be harmful to their members; they are claimed to be undermining values. Cults are claimed to be just about every bad thing in the book these days. It is often a label that people apply to a group they don’t like or understand; it is a derogatory and highly emotive term that carries numerous connotations. However, labels are ubiquitous in religious argument: cult, sect, apostate, pagan, heretic, antichrist… and so on. Call someone a name and you don’t have to refute their argument – it makes it easy to toss it aside as the workings of a potentially crazed mind rather than something that may be of value, truth and substance.Why are there two separate words in the English language – cult and religion – that are understood by most to refer to two separate things? Calling new religions ‘cults’ is a very clever scare tactic used by the older religions in order to protect their market share. Christianity sees other religions that do not follow its version of doctrine as cults… so that makes all Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, followers of Islam plus all other religions, and thus a very large proportion of the population, cult members on those grounds.

The Roman Catholic Church for example has been around ever since Constantine. He was a Roman emperor who used Christianity, which was a small cult at the time, as a means to impose his belief systems on the bishops; so he promulgated the council of Nicaea and thereby gained control of the populus.1 Now, over 1500 years later, people in Catholic churches today still recite the creed set down by Constantine.

Many people question the Catholic Church and other religions, seeing them as some of the biggest cults in the World today: they are viewed by many as man-made constructs which have the potential to lead millions of people astray. Religion in its current form has become divisive due to its many man-made and dualistic doctrines which continue to divide, separate and cause wars.

For many, unless you are a believer in a faith, there is often no difference between a religion and a cult. Just because there are two words for something does not mean that they refer to two qualitatively different things. When does a bush become a tree? Does it matter where the cut off point is?… both are green and leafy and essentially the same thing. Could the same then be applied for the words religion and cult? What defines one from the other – is it a matter of lineage, age, numbers and acceptability over something more modern with smaller numbers and more innovative or challenging concepts? Many common religious terms lack a generally accepted, single, current definition; this leads to confusion over the meanings of certain religious terms, such as Christian, cult, hell, heaven, occult, Paganism, salvation, Witch, Witchcraft, Universalist, etc. A reader must often look at the context in which the word is used in order to guess at the intent of the writer.

One of the most confusing and dangerous religious terms is “Cult”. The word is derived from the French word “culte” which came from Latin noun “cultus.” The latter is related to the Latin verb “colere” which means “to worship or give reverence to a deity.”2 Thus, in its original meaning, the term “cult” can be applied to any group of religious believers. However, the term has since been assigned new and very different meanings. The original meaning of “cult” remains positive; more recent definitions are neutral, negative, or extremely negative.

Theological usage: The Oxford English Dictionary defined “cult” as:

“worship; reverential homage rendered to a divine being or beings”

“a particular form or system of religious worship; especially in reference to its external rites and ceremonies”

“devotion or homage to a particular person or thing.”

This is the historical meaning of the word, but is rarely today heard outside of religious circles.

Sociological usage:  A small religious group that exists in a state of tension with the predominant religion. Hinduism might be considered a cult in North America3; Christianity might be considered a cult in India.

General religious usage:  A small, recently created, religious organisation which is often headed by a single charismatic leader and viewed as a spiritually innovative group. A cult in this sense may simply be a new religious movement on its way to becoming a denomination. The Christian religion, as it existed in 30 CE, might be considered a cult involving one leader and 12 or 70 devoted disciples as followers.

Negative meanings: Any religious group which deviates from historical Protestant Christian beliefs is seen as a cult. This definition would include mainline and liberal Christian denominations, Islam, Hinduism and all of the other religions of the world. The vast majority of humanity would belong to cults, by this definition.

Very negative meaning: Popular media usage: A cult is considered a small, evil religious group, often with a single charismatic leader, that engages in brainwashing and other mind control techniques.

There are those who provide lists of what cults do which is criminal, antisocial or just bad; be it heretical beliefs, brainwashing, authoritarianism, involvement in political intrigues, financial skulduggery and/or sexual perversion. The problem here is that there is no behaviour found in the so-called ‘cults’ that cannot also be found in mainstream religions and in society in general.

From the above vastly differing and widely ranging definitions it can be seen that one person’s cult can be another’s true religion.

The label ‘cult’ has been used to disparage and sometimes to justify discrimination. No-one is likely to say that they themselves belong to a cult – what makes it a cult is that other people call it a cult. The Chinese have banned Falun Gong as an evil cult, while in England it is accepted as a variation of a qigong spiritual exercise. In Russia one finds the Catholic church described as a cult4; in Catholic Belgium a government report listed many Christian religions like the Quakers as cults,5 or rather, ‘sectes’ – the concept of a cult being reserved in the French language for more acceptable religions.

It is impossible to generalise about the characteristics of so-called cults – every generalisation can be refuted by at least some of their number. If someone holding a different viewpoint, belief or way of life makes them a cult member, then every person on the planet belongs to their own cult. When we allow and accept groups of people with similar ways and ideologies as being labelled “cult”, instead of for example, a spiritual group or new religious movement, the implications are far reaching and even damaging. The members of that group then have to justify and defend their position, way of life, beliefs and all that they represent. Throughout history new religions have been treated with fear and suspicion – they are, after all, challenging the status quo with their new beliefs and practices. Early Christians were thrown to the lions, Cathars were burned at the stake, and Jehovah’s Witnesses were gassed at Auschwitz. Thus one might argue that unpopular religions can be discriminated against with relative ease throughout the world when they are labelled, and thus made into, “cults”.

The label ‘Universal Medicine cult’ has been incorrectly applied by the media to describe an organisation that teaches of deep self-care, gentleness, equality and love. If love is a cult so be it – as stated above, one person’s cult is another’s true religion. And thus for many who have experienced Universal Medicine there is only one cult that is worth something and that is the cult of Love – an equal love for humanity, for self and for God.


  1. http://www.eaec.org/cults/romancatholic.htm
  2. http://www.nvcc.edu/home/lshulman/cults.htm
  3. http://www.religioustolerance.org/amer_intol.htm
  4. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rt_russi.htm
  5. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rt_belgi.htm

212 thoughts on “Universal Medicine: Cult or True Religion

  1. If we went back to the original meanings of words the world would be so different. I enjoy learning about the etymology of words as it brings back that original meaning and exposes how far we’ve strayed.

  2. The label of ‘cult’ often stems from seeing something as different. Universal Medicine presents the truth that we are all one and the same.

  3. This is a great breakdown of words as applied to religion and belief and how they have come about and are now currently used, and it highlights that the greatest evil and form of control on this planet is the bastardisation of words, for in doing so we stray from the true meaning of what those words mean and in most instances the ‘false’ version that gains prominence is used to hide truth, to dismiss truth and anyone who may present it. ‘Call someone a name and you don’t have to refute their argument’ sums it up … especially if that other brings a truth you do not want to see.

  4. Beauty is in the eye (and in the whole body) of the beholder, naturally so. Ugliness too, by choice; the choice of rejecting what our body registers as natural.

  5. “Many people question the Catholic Church and other religions, seeing them as some of the biggest cults in the World today: they are viewed by many as man-made constructs which have the potential to lead millions of people astray.” Religion has led people astray. Just today we were talking about the culture of a man and woman. It was so evident that what came up was either their beliefs in religion or it was political — no truth to represent and come back to, only through individuals who actually let the love in and out. “Religion” in its current form has become divisive due to its many man-made and dualistic doctrines which continue to divide, separate and cause wars.

  6. Like so many words in society the world cult is bastardised and / or used in the wrong way. Nowadays the word cult is used, as this article also states, for any group that you do not like and or understand. That people do not like or understand I can understand – it is not for everybody – people have a choice to either leave us alone or try to really try to understand what we are doing and how we are living.

  7. “If you fear and hate it, it is a cult.” This seems to be one of the motives for the attacks on Universal Medicine. Jealousy, wanting to get attention and revenge may be others. Fear and hate can only come when there is a lack of understanding and the people doing the accusing certainly lack this.

  8. Your blog really re-iterates the lack of understanding and acceptance in the world – why should a person get vilified for living or believing something different? We may not agree with what others choose or believe but with an approach of understanding and acceptance we would live in a much more harmonious, much less violent world.

  9. What a great read and this document is plainly laying a true foundation for all True religions and should be widely shared to dispel all the gossip and fear mongering that is going on.

  10. When we give groups of people a label it is very dishonouring because we label them all the same, when there is often a vast difference.

  11. Thank you for a great article showing how the word cult has been taken from its original meaning and made into something evil. When I look at the Football clubs and all the various clubs people belong to they could also be called cults.

  12. Thank you for explaining so clearly how the term ‘cult’ came to be bastardised from its original meaning and has been twisted to incite fear into others and scare them away from being involved.

  13. Creating and propagating a false image of something is not hard. It just take mastership in the art of manipulation and dedication. Why such a waste of vital time though? When you try to make sense of the nonsense, is when you realise that things as shown in the surface may not be the truth that appears to be regarding thet question. Of course, you can only say, that you do it to save humanity from a plague. Some people may believe that you are such a nice Samaritan. Yet, there is another possibility: you are reacting with all your might to something you have felt is true. Since some do not want to go there for some reason which may not even come from this lifetime, they engage in extreme activated motion with (against) it as their only way to not feel again what they have felt so clearly. And then the cult story comes to the fore and they feed it and feed it eternally… wasting their life, poisoning their own body and creating such a resentment in it against it because of what it has allowed them to feel. In the second account, the Samaritan disappears from the radar and leaves us with a deep troubled person/group who engage in deep self-harming, that cannot be sustained without external harming and without a narrative that justifies its accusations even if not only is it not true but it is a clear reaction to it.

  14. Rachel thank you for exploring so clearly and thoroughly the word “cult”, there is a lot to learn in this article. I can see that the term “cult” is currently used as a term of convenience, to scare monger and even incite abuse against those that are different and choose another way of approaching God.

  15. Reading this I could feel how I have a biased viewpoint in that any religion that is relatively new and small compared to the traditional, main religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism) as a bit odd to say the least, and this is without even having any knowledge of what they are actually about. Just because they have been around for a long time, and have many followers and have big buildings of places of worship etc., I see them as ‘religion’ and probably would never call them a cult. It feels like there is something at play and claiming themselves as the sole, rightful owner of the word ‘religion’ – which has no bearing whatsoever on what that word actually means in truth.

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