The risk of overestimating and underestimating “religious cults” in South Africa

  • SP Pretorius University of South Africa
Keywords: Cult, Sect, Alternative religion, Religious freedom, Awareness


In South Africa on a number of occasions the media and other groups have referred to some religious groups as “cults”. The word “cult” is a loaded term which has positive, negative and neutral connotations. Unfortunately, the term has often been used not to describe a phenomenon but to classify groups that are not in line with the standards of society. This has lead to tension between such groups and churches, and members of society. This article reveals that the study of cults is a complex one and one to be pursued with caution. Measures are proposed for the studying of cults in order to provide a balanced overview. In order to provide balanced information on new religions and cults an Information centre associated with an academic institution needs to be established.