Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
1. A single, charismatic, leader who claims that a higher power has given him new insights. Usually this involves the leader being the only one to speak with the deity.
2.The leader claims that all rules of the group are divinely inspired.
3. The group represents, according to the teachings, a new religion. Cults tend to take old ideas and make them seem like a new concept. However, the new belief system remains bound to the foundations of other older faiths.
4. The concepts of mind control are usually hidden behind a vale of freedom. They claim that by adopting the new mind set of the group they are making the follower's minds free.
5. The rules of the group demand total dedication to the beliefs. Questioning doctrine is not tolerated. Questioning the decisions of the leadership is not tolerated.
6. The leadership does not abide by the same morality that is taught to the followers. Often this involves improper use of contributions, sexual immorality, and contrary motivations for leadership decisions.
7. The ultimate accomplishment of the group is to provide safety for a immanent hardship. This often involves the end of the world or destruction of an economy. The leadership will use the concepts of fear to provoke devotion to the group. The teachings will stress the salvation of the group from horrible predictions by means of strict adherence to rules and doctrine.
8. The group demands diminished contact with external sources of information. Usually this involves a restriction on contact with people in other chapters of the group and limiting research about the group.
9. The strict doctrine usually involves separation from family and friends that are not in the group.
10. The group demands donations for the leadership, without a clear disclosure of how the money is used.
11. The leadership will have a higher standard of life. Most times this involves lavish houses and expensive cars.
12. Guilt or threats are used to prevent followers from leaving the group. Sometimes this involves threats of death, but mostly it involves a condemnation by the recognized deity if they leave.
13. The group will make claims of prophecy that are often times completely impossible. For most groups, it will be essential to be very vague. The more over the top the claim the more believable, at least from the followers prospective.
14. There is no recognized association to larger religious organizations. This is normally due to the extreme nature of the doctrine the group subscribes to. Often it is because association to a community of believers limits the control of the leadership.
15. Secrecy of the core beliefs. There is usually a slow process to revealing the beliefs. The new members will not have all of the knowledge that the more experienced members possess. This is due to the nature of the beliefs being a hard sell to newcomers.