The word 'cult' has negative connotations that bring visions of mentally unstable leaders and brainwashed followers—but other organisations looks as if they are a cult but exhibit none of these negativities.
'Cult' is often used to describe authoritarian groups that practice brainwashing—however, Mathew Schmalz states:
Many organisations rely on strict discipline and obedience.
What is healthy in one culture may be unhealthy in another.
Early Christianity could be considered a cult because Christian beliefs and practices were strange and dangerous in ancient Rome.
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