Once Upon A Wolvog

Stories from the front lines

Cult or Religion?

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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.

cults-vs-religions

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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?

TOM WOLFE

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4 thoughts on “Cult or Religion?

  1. Really cool post!!

    I was going to support the idea that the God’s Gardeners is a religion, but then at the end you put the idea in my head that it could be both. Now I’m leaning towards the belief that technically it is both. However, I think it all depends on whose perspective you’re looking from. I think, the bottom line is that they really did have good intentions. Maybe the connotations of the word “cult” is negative. It sort of makes me think of Charles Manson and satanic paraphernalia (not that I know anything about satanism, it probably has some good points too). Regardless, even though the God’s Gardeners were at some times hypocritical (ex. having a laptop, Adam not telling people the whole truth), their intentions were good. They wanted to promote a peaceful way of living in the face of a world that seemed so cruel to “God’s Creatures”. Toby, at the end of it all, kept the ways of the religion with her. It brought her comfort, and even made her merciful when she was rescuing Amanda, deciding not to murder the two Painballers that had held her captive.

    What I’m trying to say is, at the bottom line, I think it matters less whether or not their title is “religion” or “cult”, but what they stand for, if their intentions were truly good (and they were), and how much comfort they succeeded in providing to their members.

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  2. Whoaaaaa!!!! I thought it was a religion at first but now I think it is both!!! they made the hammerhead change so that she would blend in but was it really to blend in? Or maybe it was to make her try the lifestyle so that she might stay and convert. They could have easily just hidden her in one of the buildings and told her to stay hidden and that they would bring her food and water; until they could relocate her. Maybe by making people dress like the Gardeners and do chores with them, they succeeded in adding people to their group. Also Adam One seemed to be a different person in the Adam and Eve meetings compared to his sermans. Also he knew that Pilar was a none-believer and still convinced her to be an Eve.

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  3. They are totally a cult! At one point the narrator even says that even though they weren’t suppose to have a hierarchy it was obvious that Adam One was the leader. They even have wild and unconventional beliefs like most cults usually do, and practice rituals lead by Adam. They definitely have a cult vibe!

    The truth is the line between religions and cults have always been kind blurry especially when speaking of extremist. Convents can also be taken as ways to keep people close and making them reliant on the religion.

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  4. Interesting post. You make a valid point… It does seem that they are more of a cult than a religion… I see them as a political movement disguised as a religion. The religion is used as a platform… They have a political agenda and an idea on how to overcome the issues society is facing. Perhaps they have created a religion only because it is easier to make devoted follows when you bring God, the after life , etc into the picture. I don’t think Adam One , or any of the Adam and Eves for that matter, are seeking power… They don’t seem like the typical ‘cult’ you would hear of. The leaders amongst them are revolutionaries in my opinion… People willing to do what it takes to build up the opposition and make a change. I don’t necessarily see them as a cult or a religion… Anywho, good post! Interesting thoughts.

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