As most of us know, religions are not widely practiced anymore, but still have large influence on our lives. Modern religions have reaches over the whole world, but as time goes on, Cults are gaining more ground. In The Year of the Flood, one group is described in depth: The God’s Gardeners. But are they a religion, or are they a cult? Without knowing the difference it’s hard to tell.
So what’s the difference?
Religions generally have a mission for its’ followers to go on, and provide support for that mission. Believers are guided to better themselves in the eyes of their religion. The hierarchy of “priests” provide a framework for the path you have to follow to become “whole”. Any group that provides this framework has the authenticity to be considered a religion.
On the other hand, cults are based on unwavering loyalty and belief in its’ leader. Cults follow the framework of emphasizing conformity rather than self-awareness, and is exclusive. The leaders of cult groups will often use techniques to merge everyone into one closely knit group of people, and will provide the simplest answers rather than supporting self-discovery.
But how can we tell if the Gardeners are a cult or a religion? It’s easy. We just have to go back through what we know:
- We know that they don’t believe in technology, which is a major source of information at the moment. However, the Adams and Eves own a laptop that they keep from the other Gardeners. But why do they keep the access to information a secret?
- All Gardeners must wear the same simple clothing. They claim it’s to remove all excess and materialistic objects from their environment, but it seems more like conformity.
- The Gardeners believe in a God, and follow the teachings of the Bible. Although they follow the teachings quite loosely, the versus are used in sermons, and Adam 1 does try to promote self-awareness (as long as it complies with the Gardener ideal).
- The Gardeners are not exclusive: as we have seen, they take in strays and possible traitors to the way of life (i.e. Hammerhead). This shows that they are open to accepting new members even temporarily, as long as they conform for the time they are present.
Obviously we know more about them than this, but these are some major concepts of the Gardener group that is wide spread over the country.
So I’ll leave it to you, readers: Are the God’s Gardeners a cult, a religion, or maybe they’re both?